Mesa County real estate update: transactions down, dollar volume up

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Annette Miller
Robert Bray

Lower inventories and higher prices continue to slow residential real estate activity in Mesa County. But large transactions bolster the commercial market.

While the number of overall transactions so far in 2019 still lags 2018, the dollar volume of those deals outpaces last year.

For November, 424 real estate transactions worth a total of $148 million were reported in Mesa County, said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Compared to the same month last year, transactions slipped nearly 1 percent, but dollar volume rose 15.6 percent.

Eight transactions accounted for a collective $34 million in dollar volume, Miller said. They included the sale of the Capella of Grand Junction assisted living and memory care facility for $21 million, about 4,000 acres on Glade Park for $6.5 million and the Popeye’s location in Clifton for $2.2 million.

Through 11 months of 2019, 5,007 transactions worth a combined $1.54 billion were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2018, transactions decreased 6.7 percent and dollar volume increased 6 percent.

Large transactions bolstered the year-to-date dollar volume for 2019, Miller said, with 80 transactions accounting for a total of $228 million. For the same span in 2018, 65 transactions accounted for $166 million.

With a month left to go, the numbers for 2019 are closing in on those for 2018. With 5,719 transactions worth a combined $1.55 billion, 2018 was the best year for real estate in Mesa County in more than a decade.

For the residential market, 270 transactions were reported in Mesa County in November, according to numbers tracked by Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction. That’s down 9.7 percent from the same month a year ago.

That brings total residential real estate activity through 11 months of 2019 to 3,610 transactions. That’s down 4 percent from the same span in 2018.

The dollar volume of residential transactions through 11 months of 2019 passed the $1 billion milestone to reach $1.031 billion. That’s 4.2 percent increase over the same span in 2018.

Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate, said low inventories and limited selections continue to slow residential sales.

There were 682 active residential listings in Mesa County at the end of November. That’s down 2.8 percent from the same time last year.

Calculated another way, there were on average 85 fewer homes on the market a month so far in 2019 compared to 2018, Bray said. That monthly average for 2019 decreases even more compared to those for each of the past five years. Compared to 2014, there were on average 398 fewer homes on the market a month.

As demand for homes outpaces supply, prices increase, Bray said. The median price of homes sold through the first 11 months of 2019 climbed to $256,000. That’s an 8.9 percent increase over the same span in 2018 and nearly 40 percent higher than 2014. That makes affordability more of an issue for some potential buyers, he said.

New home construction continues to lag, Bray said. Through 10 months of 2019, a total of 611 building permits for single-family homes had been issued in Mesa County. That’s down 13 percent from the same span in 2018. Bray attributed the situation in part to the availability and affordability of lots upon which builders can construct homes.

Potential buyers might find it difficult to find suitable homes. And some owners are reluctant to sell because they’re worried they won’t find a replacement. But Bray said demand remains strong nonetheless.

Moreover, low interest rates on mortgages have helped to counter higher prices in making home purchases possible for some buyers, he said.

Meanwhile, the pace of property foreclosure activity continues to slow.

Miller said 200 property foreclosure filings and 99 sales were reported during the first 11 months of 2019. Compared to the same span in 2018, filings fell 18.4 percent and sales dropped 32.2 percent.

The 56 resales of foreclosed properties so far in 2019 constituted just 1.1 percent of all transactions, a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.