Mesa County real estate sales keep pace

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Mesa County real estate activity so far in 2016 continues to outpace 2015 with year-over-year increases in the number and dollar volume of transactions.

Heading into the busy summer season, the outlook remains mostly upbeat, although low residential inventories and the distraction of a presidential election could constitute headwinds.

“I still expect a good year,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, agreed. “The numbers are right in there with a nice step forward, which is what we like to see.”

Miller said 386 real estate transactions worth a collective $88 million were reported in Mesa County during April. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 2.4 percent and the dollar volume rose 4.7 percent.

Four large transactions accounted for $8.2 million in dollar volume in April. But that was less than the four deals worth a total of $10.4 million reported the same month last year.

Through the first four months of 2016, 1,200 real estate transactions worth a combined $278 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2015, transactions increased 8.3 percent and dollar volume jumped 15.4 percent.

Bray said 286 residential real estate sales worth a total of $68 million were reported in Mesa County in April. That brings the year-to-date totals to 863 homes sales worth a combined $192 million. While sales slipped 1 percent, dollar volume rose 10 percent on higher median prices and increased sales of more expensive homes, he said.

The new year started out slow for the real estate market with wintry weather in January slowing sales, Bray said. But the pace since has picked up.

Bray and Miller said they expect the pace to quicken even more heading into summer and fall and what’s traditional the busy part of the year for the local real estate market.

“It sure feels like it,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, home prices continues to rise. Bray said the median sales price for homes sold during the first four months of 2016 was $192,000. That’s up 7 percent from the same span in 2015.

According to the latest results of a monthly analysis conducted by CoreLogic, Grand Junction home prices edged up two-tenths of percent between February and March, but were up 6.6 percent over the past year. The California-based research firm includes foreclosure auctions and short sales in its calculatons.

Low home inventories could have an effect on the market, though, Bray said. As of the end of April, there were 937 active residential listings in Mesa County, about half  the inventory of years past. With the exception of homes priced at $500,000 and higher, there’s only a two- to six-month supply of homes at most prices ranges given the pace of sales.

More homes could come on to the market during the busy season, and Bray said he also expects new home construction to increase.

The presidential election could serve as a distraction for some potential homebuyers who’ll put off buying decisions until after the race has been decided, Bray said.

Miller said the labor market remains a key factor affecting the real estate market.

Miller said she’s also monitoring property foreclosure activity. Through the first four months of 2016, 171 foreclosure filings and 114 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County. Compared to the same span in 2015, filings were up 14 percent and sales jumped 34.1 percent.

Still, the 89 resales of foreclosed properties from January to April this year represented 7.4 percent of all transactions — below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.