Real estate update: transactions down, but dollar volume up

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Annette Miller
Annette Miller
Robert Bray
Robert Bray

While the number of real estate transactions continues to decrease in Mesa County, the combined dollar value of those deals keeps increasing.

Although low residential inventories have affected sales, persistent demand and the prospect of steady or even lower mortgage interest rates bodes well for the local market, industry observers say.

“It’s still healthy,” 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 2019 might not match 2018, but still should be a good year.

Miller said 449 real estate transactions worth a combined $136 million were reported in Mesa County in March. Compared to the same month last year, transactions fell 1.8 percent and dollar volume rose 19.3 percent.

Five large transactions worth a total of nearly $17 million bolstered dollar volume, Miller said. Those deals included the $6.7 million sale of a former medical office building at 790 Wellington Ave. in Grand Junction that now houses Strive as well as the Aspen Ridge Alzheimer’s Special Care Center at 622 28 1/4 Road for $5.4 million.

For the first quarter of 2019, 1,030 real estate transactions worth a collective $316 million were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same quarter in 2019, transactions dropped 13.1 percent even as dollar volume climbed 7.8 percent.

Miller said the latest quarterly numbers suffer in comparison to what was an especially robust start to 2018 and the biggest proportional year-over-year increase in transactions in 24 years.

Bray said 723 residential real estate transactions worth a total of $202 million were reported in Mesa County during the first quarter of 2019. Compared to the same span last year, transactions fell 10.5 percent and dollar volume declined 1.9 percent.

The inventory of active residential listings fell to 626 at the end of March, 15.7 percent below the level at the same time last year. “The inventory, I think, is still kind of the monster in the room,” Bray said.

Inventories typically increase in June and July as more residents put their homes on the market, and Bray said he expects a seasonal bump again this year.

The median price of homes sold in Mesa County continues to trend upward with a 9.2 percent year-over-year increase to $250,000.

Bray said demand remains strong. “There’s a lot of buyers out there actively looking.”

Miller and Bray both said the prospect of steady or even lower long-term interest rates on mortgages also could bolster the market.

While the number of real estate transactions could hold steady or decline in 2019 compared to 2018, Miller and Bray said they expect the Mesa County market to remain healthy.

Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to drop.

For the first quarter of 2019, 61 foreclosure filings and 44 foreclosure sales were reported, Miller said. Compared to the same quarter in 2018, filings fell 17.6 percent and sales declined 18.5 percent.

There were 14 resales of foreclosed properties during the first quarter of 2019,  just 1.4 percent of all transactions and a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy market.