Real estate activity accelerates with big year-over-year gains

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity continues to increase in Mesa County with what one long-time executive described as “exceptional” year-over-year gains in sales and dollar volume reported in August.

While the pace is expected to slow in the fall and winter, year-end numbers for 2016 will exceed 2015, said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction. “Yes — easily.”

For now, what’s typically the busiest time of the year for real estate sales has been, said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction. “This summer has just definitely picked up.”

Miller said 487 real estate transactions worth a total of $113 million closed in Mesa County in August. Compared to the same month last year, transactions jumped 44.9 percent and dollar volume rose 33.4 percent.

“It was an exceptional month,” Bray said.

Four transactions accounted for a total of $5.8 million, Miller said, including the sale of a greenhouse and surrounding farmland in Palisade for more than $2 million, the sale of a house near 25 and G roads for $1.5 million and the sale of another residence near 20 1/2 and M roads for $1.3 million.

Because real estate closings lag behind sales, August closings reflect transactions that occurred anywhere from 10 to 60 days beforehand depending on whether they involved cash or financing.

The latest gains bring year-to-date numbers through the first eight months of 2016 to 3,123 sales worth a collective $718 million, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2015, transactions increased 15 percent and dollar volume grew 8.3 percent.

Year-to-date numbers offer a broader look at the real estate market, and the charges are substantial, Miller said. “They are big gains.”

Bray said 309 residential real estate transactions worth a combined $72 million were reported in Mesa County during August. That brought year-to-date totals to 2,241 homes worth a combined $516 million. Compared to last year, transactions have increased 8 percent and dollar volume 15 percent.

The median price for homes sold during the first eight months of 2016 was $200,000 — up 5 percent from the same span last year, but still down 11 percent from the peak market in 2008, Bray said

According to the latest results of a monthly analysis conducted by CoreLogic, Grand Junction home prices rose 1.1 percent between June and July and 5.5 percent between July 2015 and July 2016. The California-based research firm includes foreclosure auctions and short sales in its calculations.

Bray said the residential inventory in Mesa County has increased slightly with 1,080 active listings as of the end of August, giving prospective buyers a bit more selection. At the current pace of sales, though, that’s only about a three-month supply and constitutes 43 percent fewer homes than what was on the market six years ago.

The pace of new home construction also has accelerated, he said. The number of single family building permits issued in the county in August was up 14 percent over the same month last year, bringing permits issued year-to-date up 5 percent.

Bray and Miller both said they expect real estate activity in Mesa County to slow as 2016 comes to an end, but still outpace 2015, when 4,060 transactions worth a collective $984 million were reported.

Meanwhile, Bray and Miller also said they’re monitoring increasing property foreclosure activity in the county.

For August, 33 foreclosure sales and 50 foreclosure filings were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same month last year, sales held steady. Filings increased 56.2 percent, however.

Through the first eight months of 2016, 247 sales and 374 filings were reported. Compared to the same span in 2015, sales rose 22.9 percent and filings advanced 17.6 percent, Miller said.

Still, the 178 resales of foreclosed properties from January through August 2016 constituted only 6 percent of all transactions — well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.