Local real estate market continues slow rebound

Home sales in Mesa County plateaued in the first quarter of 2013, but a bump in the median sales price and a drop in foreclosure filings and sales suggest the real estate market is continuing its climb out of the hole.

There were 577 single-family residential sales in January, February and March in Mesa County, four fewer than the same time last year, and the 700 sales of all types were three more than the first quarter of 2012, according to Real Data LLC, a Grand Junction company that tracks all real estate transactions in the county.

While the number of sales were virtually unchanged, the dollar value of those sales increased, a positive sign for the market. The dollar value of single-family residential sales exceeded $109 million in the first quarter, a 12 percent hike from the same time in 2012. The median price increased 8 percent, from $149,000 to $160,000, compared to the first quarter of 2012, and it was up nearly 3 percent from the fourth quarter of last year.

The first quarter of 2013 marks the fourth consecutive quarter in which the median sales price was higher year-over-year.

That $160,000 median price is still down 29 percent from a high of $226,000 posted in the second quarter of 2008, “but the price jump we’ve seen in 2012 and the beginning of 2013 is clearly an encouraging sign,” according to a Real Data report.

Foreclosure rates, for years a significant drag on the market, plummeted in the first quarter, another indication the market is turning around.

The 190 foreclosure sales in the first quarter were down 18 percent compared to the fourth quarter of last year, while the 182 filings — a leading indicator — were off 33 percent compared to the fourth quarter. The 190 sales were the fewest since the fourth quarter of 2010, and the 182 filings were the fewest in four years. It also marked the fifth straight quarter the county saw a drop in filings, according to Real Data.

While the foreclosure picture has improved, an 8 percent-plus unemployment rate remains a sore point and is holding the real estate market back from significant improvement.

“We are confident in saying that the local market has slogged through the worst of it and reached a better place — not great, but better,” Real Data’s report says. “With a bit of economic luck, we are hopeful that sustainable growth is on the horizon.”


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