Phil Castle, The Business Times
Real estate sales continue to slow in Mesa County on a year-over-year basis in part because of the comparison with what was a fast start for the market in 2018, but also because of what could turn into something of a correction in 2019.
“It’s a combination of both of those,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction and long-time market observer.
Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, agreed. “It could portend a trend of flat sales or slightly down for the year 2019.”
Miller and Bray both said, however, they’re optimistic the Mesa County market will remain healthy overall.
Miller said 288 real estate transactions worth a total of $82 million were reported in Mesa County in February. Compared to the same month last year, transactions decreased 18.4 percent and dollar volume fell 2.4 percent.
Five transactions worth a total of nearly $7.8 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said, including the sale of property along North Avenue for $2.3 million, a manufacturing facility on Blue Heron Road for $2 million and an industrial shop on 10 acres on Grand Park Drive for $1.35 million.
For the first two months of 2019, 581 real estate transactions worth a combined $180 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2018, transactions fell 20.2 percent and dollar volume edged down about a half of a percent.
Miller said the comparison isn’t a fair one because of a surge of activity at the beginning of 2018. Transactions for the first two months of last year rose 34.1 percent on a year-over-year basis even as dollar volume increased 37.9 percent. The year-end totals for 2018 were the highest for Mesa County since 2007.
The overall pace of real estate sales could slow in 2019 and what’s been a seller’s market could turn into a buyer’s market, Miller said. That would follow what’s become a trend nationally and along the Front Range of Colorado.
Still, Miller said she expects seasonal activity to start picking up in Mesa County as early as March. “I’m very optimistic about what spring will bring.”
Bray said 388 residential real estate transactions worth a total of about $109 million were reported in January and February in Mesa County. Compared to the same span last year, transactions declined 18.1 percent and dollar volume dropped 10.5 percent.
The inventory of active residential listings fell nearly 9.2 percent to 635 at the end of February. The average time on market for listings rose 8.6 percent to 76 days.
The median price of homes sold in Mesa County continues to trend upward, Bray said, with a 10.1 percent year-over-year again to $250,000.
Looking ahead, Bray said he expects real estate activity to hold steady or slip a bit in 2019 as a result of three factors: low housing inventories, rising prices and what could be higher interest rates or mortgages.
The Grand Valley remains an attractive place in which to relocate, however, especially for people from the Front Range of Colorado as well as the West Coast, he said. Given higher housing prices in those areas, people can sell their homes, relocate to the Grand Valley, buy or build better homes and pocket the difference.
In the meantime, property foreclosure activity continues to drop in Mesa County.
Miller said 18 foreclosure filings and seven foreclosure sales were reported in February — drops of 37.9 percent and 137.5 percent, respectively, from the same month last year.
For the first two months of 2019, 35 filings and 34 sales were reported, down 30 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively, from the same span in 2019.
There were nine resales of foreclosed properties during January and February of 2019, just 1.6 percent of all transactions and a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.