Phil Castle, The Business Times
Real estate sales accelerated in Mesa County in March, adding to double-digit increases in transactions and dollar volume for the first quarter compared to last year.
“There has been dramatic movement,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.
Annette Miller, administrative coordinator at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, agreed, describing the latest numbers as “very active.”
Bray and Miller said they expect strong demand and low interest rates to continue to drive up sales despite low residential inventories.
Miller said 558 real estate transactions worth a total of $199 million were reported in March. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 24.3 percent and dollar volume jumped 63.1 percent.
While the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions began to affect Mesa County in March 2020, real estate closings lag behind sales. Year-over-year differences in real estate sales will become more notable in April and May, Miller said. “There will be huge jumps in statistics.”
Large transactions also accounted for a $23 million difference in dollar volume, she said. Eleven transactions worth a combined $28 million were reported in March 2021, compared to three transactions worth a total of $5 million in the same month last year. The latest transactions included the sales of a 2,275-acre ranch on Glade Park for $11 million, the former Timberline Bank building on 24 Road in Grand Junction for $3.8 million and a shopping center in the Orchard Mesa area of Grand Junction for $2.4 million.
For the first quarter of 2021, 1,333 transactions worth a collective $438 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the first quarter of 2020, transactions increased 22 percent and dollar volume rose 31.5 percent.
According to numbers Bray Real Estate tracks for the residential market, 360 transactions worth a total of nearly $131.4 million were reported in March. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 12.5 percent and dollar volume rose 33.8 percent.
For the first quarter of 2021, 868 transactions worth a total of nearly $297.8 million were reported. Compared to the first quarter of 2020, transactions increased 8.5 percent and dollar volume rose 26.8 percent.
Real estate activity increased despite what Bray said is the lowest residential inventory he’s seen in his 46-year career in real estate in the Grand Valley. As of the end of March, there were 156 active listings, down 73.8 percent from the 596 listings at the end of March 2020.
Bray said inventories typically increase during the second and third quarters, and he’s hopeful that’s the case again this year.
Meanwhile, the pace of new home construction continues to increase, he said.
For March 2021, 101 building permits for single-family homes were issued in Mesa County, up 46.4 percent from the same month a year ago, For the first quarter of 2021, 274 permits were issued. That’s an increase of 100 permits and 57.5 percent over the first quarter of 2020.
The increasing proportion of new homes on the market and the higher prices for which they sell have contributed to higher median prices, Bray said.
The median sales price of homes sold during the first quarter of 2021 rose to $309,000, up 14.9 percent from the first quarter of 2020.
Bray said the latest real estate numbers reflect a combination of factors. The Grand Valley has attracted people whose remote work enables them to live anywhere they choose. The economic outlook has improved as COVID-19 vaccinations increase and pandemic restrictions ease. Although interest rates have moved up, they remain near historic lows.
“It portends a good year for the residential real estate market,” he said.
Miller said continued demand drives the market, a trend she expects to continue.
There’s also a question, though, of whether or not foreclosure activity will increase when pandemic restrictions on foreclosures are lifted, she said.
In Mesa County, foreclosure activity is nearly nonexistent, she said. No foreclosure filings were reported in March and there were only two for the first quarter. Two foreclosure sales were reported in March and seven during the first quarter.