Real estate market not any worse
The Mesa County real estate market played a familiar tune in the first quarter, with a boost in sales demonstrating further indications of stabilization and a slight but continued decline in sales prices showing the market is a long ways from approaching the boom days of the mid-2000s.
There were 687 sales of all types of real estate in January, February and March, a 10 percent increase over the same three months in 2011, according to data from Real Data LLC, a Grand Junction company that tracks all real-estate transactions in the county.
Residential sales, which accounted for 84 percent of the transactions, were up 16 percent over the first quarter of last year. March marked the 16th consecutive month that sales were up year-over-year.
“There’s no signs pointing toward Mesa County being in a recovery right now, but there are signs pointing toward Mesa County not getting any worse. There’s definitely signs pointing toward a potential bottom out,” said Adam Hochevar, vice president of Real Data.
Home sales prices continue to fall, though not at the rate they once did. The median price of $148,500 for a single-family home fell 10 percent from the first quarter of last year but was nearly the same as the $149,750 median price in the fourth quarter. That’s an improvement from earlier in the recession, when median prices dropped $10,000 each quarter between the third quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, according to Real Data.
“The price is somewhat encouraging,” Hochevar said. “We’d rather see the price start creeping up. When we do see the price start creeping up, we’ll know we did bottom out.”
As they have been for the last couple of years, foreclosures are the primary driver behind the low sales prices. They accounted for 35 percent of all sales in the first three months of the year. Foreclosure filings dropped from 357 in the fourth quarter of last year to 344 in the first quarter of this year. But the 344 filings represented a 30 percent jump over the 264 filings in the first quarter of 2011.
The 241 foreclosure sales in the first quarter virtually held steady compared to the fourth quarter of last year (243) and the first quarter of last year (252).
Foreclosures are “a big part of the market and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Hochevar said.