Real estate activity picks up

Annette Miller

Annette Miller

Robert Bray

Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate activity picked up in Mesa County in August with double-digit proportional increases in the number of transactions and dollar volume.

The pace could slow as inventories of existing homes shrink and prices and interest rates rise. But the latest numbers still reflect what industry observers consider a healthy market.

“It’s always good when you see plus signs,” 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 growth has remained mostly steady through 2018. “We’ve stayed pretty consistent.”

Miller said 570 transactions worth a combined $148 million were reported in Mesa County in August. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 11.8 percent and dollar volume increased 17.5 percent.

Five large transactions accounted for a total of nearly $8.65 million in dollar volume, Miller said, including the sale of the Pine Country Truck & Trailer Sales property located at
2520 U.S. Highway 6  & 50 for $2.7 million, the sale of an 18-unit apartment building at 416 Independent Ave. for $1.94 million and the sale of a 12-unit apartment building at 1535 Poplar Drive for $1.55 million.

The latest numbers bring total real estate transactions in Mesa County through the first eight months of 2018 to 3,978. Dollar volume passed the $1 billion milestone to $1.075 billion. Compared to the same span in 2017, transactions rose 11.2 percent and dollar volume jumped 26 percent.

If the current pace of activity continues through the end of the year, 2018 would end with 5,967 transactions worth more than $1.6 billion. The Mesa County real estate market peaked in 2005 in terms of the 7,198 transactions that year and in 2006 in terms of the $1.7 billion in dollar volume.

Bray said 388 residential real estate transactions worth a total of $100 million were reported in Mesa County in August. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 30 percent and dollar volume increased nearly 37 percent.

Bray attributed the gains in part to a seasonal increase that tends to occur as homebuyers try to get settled before the start of the school year.

Through the first eight months of 2018, 2,784 residential transactions worth a combined $734 million were reported. Compared to the same span last year, transactions increased almost 6.8 percent and dollar volume rose more than 16.3 percent.

Inventories of existing homes for sale remain low, Bray said, with 929 active listings at the end of August. That’s just a 2-month supply at the current pace of sales.

As demand outstrips supply, the median sales price of homes continues to rise, he said, reaching $240,000 for August.

New home construction hasn’t yet increased enough to keep pace, but has helped fill the gap, Bray said. For August, the number of single-family home building permits issued in Mesa County was up 41 percent over the same month last year.

Miller said she expects real estate activity to slow heading into the fall and winter. But year-end dollar volume for 2018 still will top 2017 by 10 percent to 20 percent, she added.

Bray said he expects three factors to present headwinds for the remainder of 2018 and into 2019, including low inventories, higher prices and rising interest rates on mortgages that could reach 5 percent by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to slow in Mesa County.

Miller said 23 foreclosure filings and 11 sales were reported in August — down 28.1 percent and 59.3 percent, respectively, from the same month last year. Through the first eight months of 2018, 183 filings and 118 sales were reported. Compared to the same span in 2017, filings dropped 32.5 percent and sales decreased 40.1 percent.

The 73 resales of foreclosed properties during the first eight months of 2018 constituted less than 2 percent of all real estate transactions, well below the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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