Listings increase fourfold in 1 year

Average price slips, real estate group says

Half as many homes were sold during the first three months of this year compared to last year, according to Grand Junction Area Realtors Association data.

Home sales numbered 1,055 in the first quarter of 2008 and dropped to 509 in the first quarter of 2009.

And as of May 21, the Grand Valley had 2,177 residential homes on the market, up 486 from this time last year, association chairman Sandy Barger said.

Meanwhile, the average sale price for a home is down from $236,461 in the first quarter of 2008 to $229,102 in the first quarter of 2009, or 3.1 percent, according to the Realtors Association.

“There’s not a terrible drop in selling price. There’s just much less demand,” Barger said.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency measured a 0.95 percent drop in single-family home prices on all transactions this January through March compared to the same months in 2008. It’s the first time Grand Junction has seen a year-over-year drop in price during a quarter since the third quarter of 1986.

Real estate Web site Zillow.com put the year-over-year change closer to 8 percent for all types of homes, estimating the average abode sold for $203,883 in the first quarter of 2009. Zillow adjusts its home-price index to include a more even sample of home types, so no one type of home is over- or underrepresented, in case one price bracket is particularly popular.

Zillow estimated the bottom tier of homes sold for an average price of $160,620 in Grand Junction and the top tier for $284,939. That’s a 5.5 percent year-over-year drop for the bottom tier and a 13.9 percent drop for the top tier.

Buyers largely are steering away from luxury homes costing $500,000 or more, Bray & Co. real estate agent Tom Kenyon said, but bargains priced up to $250,000 are selling well.

Buying a home for which mortgage payments will be comparable to monthly rent payments, plus a new $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, could lead to recovery down the line, Kenyon said. However, as long as unemployment continues to rise — the rate was 8.2 percent last month in Grand Junction — Kenyon believes the bottom of the real estate slide still is approaching.

“Not that there’s no hope,” Kenyon said. “The market’s just slower.”

Bob Colony, a real estate agent with Heiden Homes, expects the warmer weather to bring out at least a few more house hunters.

“Through the summer and the fall we might not be booming, but we’re going to sell homes,” Colony said.

“I don’t think we’re going to completely recover between now and the end of the year,” he added. “I think we’re going to be looking at 2010 when things start picking up.”


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