Mesa County real estate sales stay on pace

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray
Annette Miller

With a month left to go in 2020, real estate activity in Mesa County has nearly matched sales and dollar volume levels for 2019.

Even as persistent demand and low interest rates have bolstered activity in the midst of a pandemic, low inventories have kept residential sales from increasing even more. The trends are expected to continue into 2021.

“I really think it’s going to be a pretty good residential 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, said 468 real estate transactions worth a total of $153 million were reported in Mesa County in November. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 10.4 percent and dollar volume rose 3.4 percent.

Several large transactions bolstered dollar volume, including the sales of a commercial property on U.S. Highway 6 & 50 for nearly $3.4 million, industrial property on 12th Street for $1.7 million and agricultural land and a residence on 33 3/4 Road for $1.2 million.

While five transactions accounted for a combined $8.5 million, that was far less than transactions a year ago that included the sale of the Capella of Grand Junction assisted living and memory care facility for $21 million and 4,000 acres on Glade Park for $6.5 million.

The latest numbers bring year-to-date totals for 2020 to 5,122 transactions worth a total of nearly $1.6 billion. Compared to the same, 11-month span in 2019, transactions increased 2.3 percent and dollar volume rose 3 percent.

For all of 2019, 5,393 real estate transactions worth a collective $1.67 billion were reported. Real estate sales peaked in Mesa County in 2006 at $1.72 billion.

According to numbers tracked by Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, 300 residential real estate transactions worth a total of almost $106 million were reported in November. Compared to the same month last year, transactions edged up 1 percent and dollar volume jumped 22 percent.

Through 11 months of 2020, 3,656 transactions worth a total of $1.16 billion were reported. Compared to the same span in 2019, transactions were nearly flat even as dollar volume increased 11.6 percent.

Bray said low inventories have dampened sales of existing homes, but also pushed up prices and promoted new home construction.

As of the end of November, there were 351 active residential listings in Mesa County — about half the inventory of a year ago and what Bray said was the lowest level he’s seen during his career.

As many as half of those purchasing homes come from outside the area, he said. Existing homeowners remain hesitant to put their houses up for sale because they’re afraid they won’t find suitable homes to replace them, he said.

A limited supply and strong demand pushed the median price of homes sold in November up 15 percent to $305,000. For the first 11 months of 2020, the median sales price rose 12.2 percent to $286,000.

New home construction has increased, Bray said. For November, 64 permits for single-family homes were issued in Mesa County, up 36.2 percent from the same month last year. A total of 714 permits were issued through the first 11 months of 2020, up 8.5 percent over the same span in 2019.

Although nothing remains certain in the midst of a pandemic,  Miller and Bray said they expect 2021 to look a lot like 2020.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity has slowed in Mesa County.

Miller said 85 foreclosure filings and 28 foreclosure sales were reported in the first 11 months of 2020. Compared to the same span in 2019, filings fell 57.5 percent and sales dropped 71.7 percent. The 29 resales of foreclosure properties during that span constituted less than 1 percent of all transactions, a fraction of the 10 percent threshold  Miller considers indicative of a healthy real estate market.