Mesa County real estate sales lag, but increase anticipated

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Annette Young

Real estate sales continue to lag in Mesa County, but activity could increase in coming months.

“I really do anticipate we’ll see some interesting movement in the marketplace in the second half,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray & Co. Real Estate in Grand Junction.

While higher interest rates on mortgages have slowed sales compared to last year, growing residential inventories offer more selection and demand persists, Bray said.

Annette Young, administrative coordinator at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, said she expects year-over-year numbers to become more comparable given slowing in the market during the second half of 2022. She agreed with Bray in one respect:  “It seems that demand remains tight.”

Robert Bray

Young said 370 real estate transactions with a total of $156 million were reported in Mesa County in May. Compared to the same month a year ago, transactions fell 28.8 percent and dollar volume declined 33.9 percent.

Young said 10 transactions worth a total of $15.7 million bolstered dollar volume in May 2023, including the sale of the Econo Lodge in Grand Junction for $3.1 million, a residence and 53 acres of farm land in Loma for $1.9 million and a residence and 30 acres in Whitewater for $1.9 million.

Through the first five months of 2023, 1,444 transactions worth a combined $610 million were reported, Young said. Compared to the same span in 2022, transactions decreased 34.2 percent and dollar volume fell 35.1 percent.

Young said she was pleased the number of transactions increased from the 320 in April, a seasonal uptick associated with what’s usually a busier summer season.

Overall, though, activity has declined as higher interest rates affect the affordability of financing and in turn sales, she said. “It’s just a whole different market.”

Year-over-year numbers likely will become more comparable in the third quarter because of slowing last year, Young said. Moreover, some prospective homebuyers still will make purchases when the right opportunities arise and refinance when interest rates subside.

According to numbers Bray & Co. tracks for the residential real estate market in Mesa County, 300 transactions worth a total of nearly $134 million were reported in May. Compared to the same month last year, transactions decreased 16.4 percent and dollar volume fell 13.3 percent.

Through the first five months of 2023, 1,137 transactions worth a total of almost $479 million were reported. Compared to the same span in 2022, transactions declined 26.6 percent and dollar volume retreated 25.8 percent.

Bray said the year-over-year decline has held steady. “The consistency with the marketplace continues.”

Given higher interest rates, Bray said he expected a sluggish first half of 2023. But he said’s more confident the second half will be more robust.

Uncertainty associated with the federal government debt ceiling has ended, and interest rates could relent, he said. Moreover, demand persists with multiple offers on many home sales.

Residential inventories have increased, Bray said, a combination of homes that have remained on the market longer as well as a seasonal influx of new listings. At the end of May, there were 468 active listings. That’s an increase of 23.8 percent over the 378 listings at the same time last year.

Still, the latest number of listings constitutes less than a two-month supply at even the slower pace of sales, he said.

The median price of homes sold in May rose 2.8 percent to $406,000, but was unchanged through the first five months of 2023 at $380,000 compared to the same span in 2022.

In the meantime, property foreclosure activity has increased on a year-over-year basis, but remains low overall, Young said.

For May, 27 foreclosure filings and three sales were reported in Mesa County. For the same month last year, 16 filings and no sales were reported.

Through the first five months of 2023, 113 filings and 17 sales were reported. For the same span in 2022, 120 filings and seven sales were reported.