Year-end numbers confirm real estate slowdown in 2011

Real estate activity in Mesa County continued to slow in 2010 as the number and dollar volume of transactions fell to their lowest levels since the aftermath of the oil shale bust in the 1980s.

A total of 2,518 transactions worth a combined $581 million were reported in the county last year, according to year-end stastics compiled by Bob Reece, president of Advanced Title Co. in Grand Junction and a long-time observer of local real estate trends.

Those totals fell below 2009 and were comparable to 1986, the first year of recovery following the oil shale bust in Western Colorado.
Writing in his year-end report, Reece attributed the decline to rising unemployment and related property foreclosures as well as falling prices that left buyers uncertain when to purchase and sellers unable to move their properties.

The situation is likely to persist in 2011 unless improving labor conditions bolster real estate activity and drive prices higher, Reece stated.

The 2,518 real estate transactions in 2010 constituted an 8 percent drop from 2009. In contrast, the number of real estate transactions topped 7,000 in Mesa County in the peak years of 2005 and 2006.
The dollar volume of real estate transactions in 2010 totaled $581 million, a 12 percent drecrease from 2009. Large dollar volume transactions remained flat with 36 sales for $1 million or more in 2010, the same as last year.

According to Reeceā€™s report, the median price of all housing types in the Grand Junction area fell to $180,000 during the fourth quarter of 2010, down 8 percent from a year ago. The median price of all hosuing types in the area peaked at $227,500 in the second quarter of 2008.

The rising number of property foreclosures in Mesa County has exerted downward pressure on prices. Reece said 1,580 foreclosures were filed in 2010, a 47 percent increase from the number of filings in 2009. Even if foreclosure filings trend downward, it could be a year before the decrease affects the market because of the lag between foreclosure filings and sales, he added.

Home construction activity also slowed in Mesa County in 2010, Reece reported. A total of 348 building permits for single-family homes were issued in 2010, a decline of nearly 7 percent from 2009 and fully 25 percent from 2006,when 1,427 permits were issued. The decline in the construction of 1,000 homes a year has resulted in the loss of 3,000 direct and indirect jobs, Reece said.