Home sales leap 33% in county

Mesa County home sales jumped 33 percent in the first 11 months of 2011 compared with the first 11 months of 2010, according to a Bray Real Estate report released this week.

January through November, 2,085 homes were sold in the county, which had 1,570 home sales during the same months in 2010.

The boost in sales left Mesa County home buyers with fewer options. There were 32 percent fewer homes on the local market this November compared to last November. Bray Real Estate President Robert Bray said that’s because homes are moving faster, and many would-be sellers are renting or leaving their homes vacant until they can sell for a higher price.

The median home-sale price last month was $159,600, down $29,400 from November 2010’s median sale price. More than 90 percent sold locally in November brought less than $300,000. No homes sold for more than $750,000 last month.

Bray said if inventory and sales rates remain at current levels, the county would be out of real estate stock in seven months. Usually that would indicate a healthy real estate market. But not when the inventory below $100,000 would sell out in three months at the current rate while the county’s stock of homes costing more than half a million dollars would take 18 months to disappear.

“It’s quieter in the upper range, so we’re still not in a normal market,” Bray said.

November was the slowest month for home sales in Mesa County since February, with 151 properties sold last month. That’s up 19 percent compared with sales in November 2010. Still, the holiday season and poor weather normally make November a slower sales month, according to Ross Beede, sales manager at Coldwell Banker Home Owners Realty.

Beede said he expects some foreclosed homes to be added to the market in the first quarter of 2012, but he believes inventory still will be tight.

“It’s really good for homeowners that the inventory is low,”  because it generates interest.

That may be true, but Bray said he doesn’t expect a smaller inventory to increase prices just yet. He estimates 30 to 35 percent of homes on the market are foreclosures or “distress” sales that are more likely to sell for less, driving down the asking price for everyone.

“Maybe midyear next year we’ll start seeing some price stabilization,” he said.

Although he’s not sure when home prices will go up, Rick Thurtle, a broker associate with Century 21 Homestead Realty, said he doesn’t expect interest rates to increase any time soon. That’s good news for those who qualify for a home loan.

“There’s so much on the market, people can pick and choose where they want to be. Prices on everything are dropping,” Thurtle said.


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