Upward trends in real estate expected to continue

Robert Bray
Robert Bray
Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Phil Castle, The Business Times

The increasing sales activity that’s made 2017 the best year for real estate in Mesa County since before the recession is expected to continue in 2018.

“I don’t see anything in the way,” 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, agreed. “I just think it’s just going to flow right into 2018.”

The upbeat outlook reflects a combination of factors that include not only improving economic conditions and the confidence that goes with it, but also comparatively lower prices and a higher quality of life that’s attracting more people to the area, Bray and Miller said.

With a month still left to go, the number of real estate transactions and collective dollar volume of those sales in 2017 already has topped 2016.

For November, Miller said 371 transactions worth a total of $96 million were reported in Mesa County. Compared to the same month last year, transactions rose 6.6 percent and dollar volume jumped 16.1 percent.

Seven large transactions accounted for a total of $14 million, Miller said, including the sales of the Eastegate Shopping Center in Grand Junction for $3.15 million, a Motel 6 on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction for $2.6 million and a commercial property located at 2893 North Ave. in Grand Junction for $2 million.

The November numbers brought the totals through 11 months of 2017 to 4,906 transactions worth a total of nearly $1.2 billion, Miller said. Compared to the same span in 2016, transactions rose 15.9 percent and dollar volume climbed 19.1 percent.

Annual real estate dollar volume in Mesa County peaked at $1.72 billion in 2006, bottomed out in the bust that followed the boom at $585 million in 2011 and has increased every year since.

Bray said 3,480 residential real estate transactions worth a combined $845.2 million were reported in Mesa County through the first 11 months of 2017. Compared to the same span in 2016, transactions increased 12.6 percent and dollar volume rose 18.6 percent.

The median sales price of a residence has increased to $218,000, Bray said. That’s a 7.1 percent gain over the past year, although still below a high of $225,000 set in 2008.

The average time on the market for a residential listing has shortened 16 percent to 63 days, he said.

Meanwhile, the inventory of existing homes on the market continues to shrink — down 13.3 percent over the past year to 821 active listing as of Dec. 1, Bray said.

New home construction has picked up, though, he said. At 63, the number of single family building permits issued in Mesa County in November was up 50 percent over the same month last year. The number of permits issued through the first 11 months of 2017 was up 43 percent over the same span in 2016.

Miller said growth in the Mesa County real estate market over the past year has been consistent as well as understandable — based on improving economic and labor conditions and more people moving to the area. “It’s the whole picture.”

Bray said he expects the upward trend in real estate activity to continue as the comparatively lower price of housing and higher quality of life to attract more people from the Front Range and other areas. The passage in November of ballot measures to increase funding for schools and public safety likely will play a role in that process, he added. “It was just a great message.”

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

Miller said 32 foreclosure filings and 18 foreclosure sales were reported in Mesa County for November. That was a 13.5 percent decrease in filings and 43.7 percent decrease in sales compared to the same month last year.

Through the first 11 months of 2017, 356 filings and 251 sales were reported, she said. Compared to the same span in 2016, filings dropped 28.7 percent and sales declined 24.8 percent.

Through the end of November 2017, the 205 resales of foreclosed properties constituted 4.2 percent of all real estate transactions, Miller said. That’s less than half the 10 percent threshold she considers indicative of a healthy market.