Record-breaking year for real estate in Mesa County ends with a bang

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Robert Bray
Annette Young

A record-breaking year for the Mesa County real estate market ended with a bang in a $22 million commercial transaction.

While 2022 might not keep pace with 2021, the outlook remains encouraging at this point.

“I don’t see much in the way of another good year,” said Robert Bray, chief executive officer of Bray & Co. Real Estate in Grand Junction.

Annette Young, the administrative coordinator at Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, said she expects strong demand to offset the effects of low inventories and rising interest rates on mortgages.

Young said 562 real estate transactions worth a total of $256 million were reported in Mesa County in December. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 4.8 percent and dollar volume jumped 52.4 percent.

Just 23 transactions accounted for a total of $66.3 million in dollar volume, Young said. That included the sale of the Coronado Plaza shopping center for $22.3 million, the single largest transaction of 2021, she said.

Three apartment buildings on Chipeta Avenue in Grand Junction with a total of 28 units sold for $7.5 million. A commercial warehouse on South Seventh Avenue in Grand Junction sold for $3.35 million, she said.

The December numbers brought the year-end totals for 2021 to 6,193 transactions worth a combined $2.359 billion. Compared to 2020, transactions increased 9.4 percent and dollar volume rose 34.5 percent to the highest level ever in Mesa County.

Dollar volume previously peaked at $1.73 billion in 2009. The record for transactions remains intact at 7,198 in 2005.

Young said the record for 2021 reflects the increase in transactions, but also the increase in prices and types of property that were sold.

There were 179 transactions worth more than $1 million and accounted for a total of $414.5 million in dollar volume, she said. Of those, 120 transactions were more than $1 million, but less than $2 million.

According to numbers Bray & Co. tracks for the residential market in Mesa County, 322 transactions worth  combined $123 million were reported in December. Compared to the same month a year ago, transactions decreased 6.1 percent and dollar volume increased 13.9 percent.

For all of 2021, 4,047 transactions worth a total of nearly $1.49 billion were reported. Compared to 2020, transactions rose 1.6 percent and dollar volume increased 18 percent.

Bray said he was pleasantly surprised by the activity in December as well as the year-end total for transactions. “We finished the year good.”

The increase in year-end residential dollar volume to what Bray believes is a record wasn’t surprising given the rising prices.

At $330,000, the median price of homes sold in 2021 increased 15 percent from 2020.

Rising prices were a reflection in part of a combination of low supplies and high demand, Bray said.

The 213 active residential listings at the end of December represented a 24.2 percent decrease over the same time last year and one of the lowest numbers Bray said he can remember in his long career in real estate.

New home construction has increased. Bray said the number of single family building permits issued in Mesa County in 2021 will set a record. But that hasn’t been sufficient to keep pace with demand.

Looking ahead to 2022, Bray said he expects demand to remain strong from people moving to the Grand Valley as well those already living here. While listings likely will increase, inventories will remain low. Interest rates that had moved up and down will probably increase on a more steady basis. The interest rate on a 30-year mortgage could climb to 4 percent by the end o the year, he said.

Prices will continue to rise, but not at the same pace, he said. “I would be really surprised if that continues.”

Young said she anticipates continued growth in the real estate market in 2022, although not necessarily to record levels.

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

Young said 27 foreclosure filings and 21 foreclosure sales were reported in 2021. That’s down 71 percent and 30 percent, respectively, from 2020.

The seven resales of foreclosed properties in 2021 constituted just a tenth of a percent of all real estate transactions and a fraction of the 10 percent threshold Young considers indicative of a healthy market.