Mesa County real estate sales top $2 billion

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray

The number of real estate transactions in Mesa County continues to trend down compared to what was a busier time last year. But higher prices and large commercial deals have propelled the year-to-date dollar volume past the $2 billion milestone.

There are signs the market could return to more normal levels of activity with seasonal slowing. Concerns persist over the COVID-19 pandemic and rising interest rates.

But the overall outlook remains upbeat, said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray & Co. Real Estate in Grand Junction. “This year generally was a good year, and I feel pretty good about next year.”

Annette Young, administrative coordinator at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, said higher prices and lower inventories could slow activity, but demand likely will remain strong.

Annette Young

Young said 440 transactions worth a total of $170 million were reported in Mesa County in November. Compared to the same month last year, transactions fell 6 percent and dollar volume rose 11.1 percent.

Just 11 transactions accounted for a collective $22 million in dollar volume, Young said, including the sale of 1,480 acres of grazing land north of Unaweep Canyon for $4.5 million, a commercial building and warehouse on Valley Court in Grand Junction for $2.75 million and a luxury home and horse property on Home Ranch Court for $2.15 million.

The latest numbers bring year-to-date totals for 2021 to 5,621 transactions worth a combined $2.1 billion. Compared to the same span in 2020, transactions increased 9.9 percent and dollar volume jumped 32.6 percent.

With a month still left in 2021, dollar volume already has topped the previous peak of $1.73 billion in 2009. Transactions remain below the 7,198 reported in 2005.

According to numbers Bray & Co. tracks for the residential market in Mesa County, 290 transactions worth a total of $117 million were reported in November. Compared to the same month last year, transactions decreased 10.8 percent and dollar volume increased 4.5 percent.

“We’re seeing some signs of a normal market,” Bray said.

Demand remained strong this time last year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions initially curtailed activity. This year, some seasonal slowing has occurred, he said.

Low inventories continue to play a role as well, Bray said. The 313 active residential listings at the end of November constituted a 10.8 percent decline from the same time a year ago.

Dollar volume continues to increase, though, along with price appreciation. At $364,500, the medium price of homes sold in November was up 21 percent from a year ago.

Year to date, 3,747 residential transactions worth a total of nearly $1.4 billion were reported in 2021. Compared to the same span in 2020, transactions edged up 1.2 percent while dollar volume jumped 17.4 percent.

Bray said he expects transactions for 2021 to come in at or slightly below 2020. Dollar volume already has surpassed the nearly $1.3 billion recorded last year.

Looking ahead  to 2022, Bray said he expects some seasonal slowing in real estate activity through early spring, but then an increase in the pace of sales. The COVID pandemic remains an uncertainty. If interest rates on mortgage increase, that could push some potential buyers out of the market.

Young said higher prices and lower inventories could slow the pace of real estate activity. But as millennials reach the age when post people buy homes, demand likely will remain strong.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow in Mesa County. Year to date, 25 foreclosure filings and 18 foreclose sales were reported, Young said. That’s down 70.6 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively, from last year.

The seven resales of foreclosed property so far in 2021 constituted less than 1 percent of all transactions, a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Young considers indicative of a healthy real estate market.