Phil Castle, The Business Times
Real estate activity in Mesa County through 11 months of 2016 has exceeded all of 2015 — not to mention what Robert Bray initially had anticipated for this year.
“2016 has clearly exceeded my expectations, and I’m happy that it has,” said Bray, chief executive officer of Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction.
Annette Miller, senior vice president of Heritage Title Co. in Grand Junction, described 2016 as a year in which people seemed to become accustomed to economic and market conditions and were no longer putting off home purchases. “2016 was a very good settling year,” Miller said.
While interest rates could move higher and exert an effect, the outlook for 2017 remains upbeat. “I think it’ll be another favorable year,” Bray said.
Miller said 348 real estate transactions worth a total of $82.7 million were reported in Mesa County during November. Compared to the same month last year, transactions increased 9.8 percent. While the sale of a home on I 1/2 Road and a ranch near Mesa accounted for $5.8 million, dollar volume still dropped 2.7 percent. That’s because three large transactions last year accounted for a total of $15 million.
The latest numbers bring real estate activity through the first 11 months of the year to 4,234 sales worth a collective $993 million. Compared to the same span last year, transactions increased 13.8 percent and dollar volume rose 10.5 percent as it edged closer to the $1 billion threshold. For all of 2015, 4,060 transactions worth a total of $984 million were reported.
With a month still left to go, 2016 will go down as the best year for real estate activity in Mesa County since 2008. The market last peaked in 2006, bottomed out in 2011 and has improved every year since then.
Bray said the residential portion of Mesa County real estate sales in 2016 similarly has topped 2015.
Through November, 3,061 transactions worth a total of nearly $704.6 million were reported. Compared to the same span last year, transactions increased 10.5 percent and dollar volume jumped 17.2 percent, Bray said. The median price of residential real estate sold through the first 11 months of 2016 increased 6.8 percent to $204,000 compared to the same span in 2015, he said.
Bray said several factors contributed to increased real estate sales during 2016, including continued low interest rates on mortgages and increased inventory on the market.
Active real estate listings have grown 3 percent, he said. Higher prices have enabled some homeowners who preciously owed more on their mortgages than the properties were worth to bring their homes to market to break even or pull some equity out.
New home construction also has increased with a 6 percent year-over-year gain in the number of single-family building permits issued in Mesa County, he said.
Although some people are moving to the area, most of the increase in real estate sales has been driven by local activity and homeowners moving up. Bray said.
While interest rates could move higher in 2017 and reduce the number of people who qualify for a mortgage or amount they borrow, Bray said he expects the overall Mesa County market to continue to grow in 2017. “I see good, clear skies for ’17”
Miller said she expects the market to continue growing, although perhaps at a slightly slower pace.
Meanwhile, property foreclosure activity continues to increase in Mesa County. Miller said 37 foreclosure filings and 32 foreclosure sales were reported in November. That’s a 12.1 percent increase in filings and 52.4 percent increase in sales over the same month last year.
Through 11 months of 2016, 499 filings and 334 sales were reported. That’s a 13.9 percent increase in filings and 22.8 percent increase in sales over the same span in 2015.
Still, the re-sales of foreclosed property through 11 months of 2016 represented only 5.5 percent of all transactions. That about half the 10 percent threshold Miller considers indicative of a healthy real estate market.