Real estate outlook: steady and healthier

Annette Miller
Annette Miller
Robert Bray
Robert Bray

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Real estate transactions in Mesa County lag slightly behind last year, although sales volume remains up. And a continued decline in property foreclosure activity reflects what industry observers consider a healthier overall market.

“The market is holding steady with healthier transactions,” said Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction.

Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, said market recovery in Mesa County continues to lag behind other areas of Colorado, but he expects year-end numbers for 2014 to come close to matching those for 2013.

Miller said 372 real estate transactions worth a combined $80.7 million were reported in Mesa County during July. Compared to the same month last year, transactions lagged 2.6 percent. Dollar volume edged down six-tenths of a percent.

The comparison is less impressive in part, though, because July 2013 was a such a strong month for real estate activity. Compared to July 2012, the latest numbers reflected an almost 21 percent increase in transactions and nearly 29 percent increase in dollar volume.

Miller said an increase in commercial real estate activity has bolstered the market.

Bray said July was a good month for the residential market as well with increased activity for homes priced above $350,000. On the other end of the spectrum, when homes priced for $150,000 or less come on to the market, they often attract multiple offers, he said.

The latest figures bring real estate activity in Mesa County through the first seven months of 2014 to 2,049 transactions worth a collective $447.4 million, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2013, transactions retreated 2.7 percent and dollar volume advanced 4.4 percent.

“It looks like we’re keeping pace with 2013,” Miller said, describing the recovery as slow, but steady and healthier.

Bray said activity was slower at the beginning of 2014 in part because of inclement winter weather, but since has accelerated. “It’s slowly catching up with last year.”

Both Miller and Bray said they expect year-end numbers for 2014 to come close to those for 2013, when 3,589 sales worth a total of $769.6 million were reported. Those totals were the highest since 2008, although far below what was a more robust market before the recession.

Miller said she’s encouraged by another market trend, and that’s the continued decline in property foreclosure activity in Mesa County.

For July, 41 foreclosure filings and 33 foreclosure sales were reported. Compared to the same month last year, filings tumbled nearly 37 percent and sales dropped more than 21 percent.

Through the first seven months of 2014, 336 foreclosure filings and 265 foreclosure sales were reported. Compared to the same span in 2013, filings fell almost 24 percent and sales declined more than 33 percent.

The sales of foreclosed properties constituted just 10 percent of all transactions in July and 12 percent of all transactions during the first seven months of 2014, Miller said. Those proportions keep moving closer to what Miller considers a healthy market.

“It all continues in the direction we’d hoped,” she said.