Mesa County real estate sales keep pace

Annette Miller
Annette Miller
Robert Bray
Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

While real estate activity in Mesa County slowed a bit in comparison to what was a robust month at this time last year, year-to-date sales continue to outpace 2015.

Moreover, the trend is expected to continue despite the distractions of a presidential election, industry observers say.

“We’re going to finish out the year well ahead of 2015,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, agreed. “I think it’ll be another decent year.”

Miller said 454 real estate transactions worth a total of $105.7 million were reported in Mesa County during July. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 2.5 percent, but dollar volume decreased 5.6 percent.

The latest numbers included four large transactions worth a combined $5.3 million, Miller said: the sale of a 440-acre farm and ranch property for a total of $2.94 million, the sale of a residence and 16 acres on 24 Road for $1.2 million and the sale of an industrial shop and office on Valley Court for $1.15 million.

Still, six big deals during July 2016 accounted for a total of $13.6 million. And the month was an especially busy one for real estate activity, Miller said. “There were some high bars to reach.”

Year-to-date real estate sales for 2016 continue to exceed 2015, however. Through the first seven months of 2016, Miller said 2,636 transactions worth a collective $605 million were reported. Compared to the same span in 2015, transactions  were up 10.8 percent and dollar volume was up 4.5 percent.

Bray said 310 residential real estate transactions worth a combined $71 million were reported in Mesa County during July. That brought year-to-date totals to 1,912 homes worth a collective $439 million. Compared to last year, transactions have increased 4 percent even as dollar volume has jumped 13 percent, he said.

The median price for homes sold during the first seven months of 2016 was $198,000. That’s up 5 percent from the same span in 2015, but still down 12 percent from the peak market in 2008, Bray said.

According to the latest results of a monthly analysis conducted by CoreLogic, Grand Junction home prices rose 1.1 percent from May to June and 5.5 percent between June 2015 and June 2016. The California-based research firm includes foreclosure auctions and short sales in its calculations.

Miller said August is already shaping up to be a busy month for closings and he upward trend should continue through the remainder of the year.

Presidential elections tend to distract some potential buyers who postpone decisions until the race has been decided. But for others, life — and real estate transactions — go on, she said.

Bray said low inventories continue to affect the residential market. With 961 active listings as of the end of July, overall inventory is down 4 percent from last year. Given the supply of homes and pace of sales, there’s only a month to three months of inventory for homes priced at less than $300,000.

The pace of new home construction is accelerating, though, with a 4 percent increase in the number of single family building permits issued in Mesa County year to date, he said.

Bray said he expects real estate activity to continue to outpace last year, inventory levels to remain lower and new home construction to pick up.

Meanwhile, Miller and Bray said they’re monitoring property foreclosure activity in Mesa County and an increase attributed in part to layoffs in the energy sector.

For July, 39 foreclosure filings and 27 sales were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same month last year, filings dropped 31.6 percent and sales fell 3.6 percent. Through the first seven months of 2016, Miller said 324 filings and 214 sales were reported. Compared to the same span last year, filings increased 13.3 percent and sales advanced 27.4 percent.

Still, the 155 resales of foreclosed properties from January to July of this year constituted only 6 percent of all transactions — well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.