Mesa County real estate sales slow, but no big downturn foreseen

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Lynn Thompson
Annette Miller

Low housing inventories continue to slow real estate transactions in Mesa County, but nothing yet portends a significant market downturn.

“I’m definitely not running scared here,” said Lynn Thompson, president of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.

Annette Miller, the senior vice president of  Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, agreed. “It’s still a very active market. These are still good numbers in the grand scheme of things.”

Miller said 549 real estate transactions worth a total of $164 million were reported in Mesa County in June. Compared to the same month last year, transactions decreased 3 percent, but dollar volume rose 7.2 percent.

Seven transactions worth a combined $19 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said. Those deals included the sale of the Rose Park Mobile Village for $5 million, the sale of property owned by Grand Junction Pipe for $4.4 million and a warehouse that formerly housed Allen Unique Autos for $3.3 million.

The latest numbers brought transactions for the first half of 2019 to 2,562 worth a collective $756 million, Miller said. Compared to the first half of 2018, transactions fell 10.5 percent and dollar volume rose 2.6 percent.

Forty-one large transactions during the first half of 2019 accounted for an accumulative $97 million. That’s $39 million more than the total dollar volume of 34 large transactions reported in the first half of 2018, Miller said.

Thompson said 1,807 residential real estate transactions worth a total of more than $507 million were reported in Mesa County during the first half of 2019. Compared to the first half of 2018, transactions dropped 10.6 percent and dollar volume decreased 5.7 percent.

Thompson said he wasn’t surprised by the declines given lower housing inventories. At the end of June, the number of active residential listings stood at 788, down 10.8 percent from the same time in 2018 and 18 percent from 2017.

Buyers face more difficulty in finding homes, and potential sellers are more reluctant to put their homes on the market because they’re concerned about finding other properties, Thompson said.

New construction has failed to keep pace with increased demand, he said. The number of single family building permits issued in Mesa County during the first half of 2019 was down 15 percent from the first half of 2018 in part because cold and wet weather hampered building at the beginning of this year.

Meanwhile, housing prices continue to rise. The median price of homes sold during the first half of 2019 rose 7.3 percent to $251,000, Thompson said. Higher prices make it more challenging for some buyers to purchase homes.

Miller said the uncertainty associated with a presidential election year also could affect the local real estate market later this year and next year.

Miller and Thompson said year-end numbers for transactions and dollar volume might not match those for 2018, the highest for Mesa County since 2007. But Miller and Thompson also believe the market remains healthy overall.

Property foreclosure activity continues to slow. Miller said 100 filings and 61 sales were reported in the first half of 2019, down 30 percent from the first half of 2018.  The 39 resales of foreclosed property constituted just 1.5 percent of all transactions during the first half of 2019, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.