Real estate watchers see slight progress
It may be a new year but the story remains the same as it was in 2011 for Mesa County’s real estate market: more homes selling for less.
In January, 158 homes were sold in the county, according to a Bray Real Estate report.
That’s a 30 percent increase from the 122 local homes that sold in January 2011, a 60 percent bump from the 99 homes that sold in the county in January 2010 and a 132 percent jump from the 68 local homes sold in January 2009.
Home sales may be headed up, but they still have some catching up to do to return to pre-recession levels. Thirty more homes were sold in January 2008 in Mesa County than were sold in January 2012.
And the median price for those home sales four years ago was $221,296, according to the Colorado Association of Realtors. January 2012’s median home sale price in Mesa County was nearly two-thirds that amount, $148,600, according to the Bray report.
Bray Real Estate President Robert Bray said he was a little surprised to see so much more activity this January than last January, especially since he said late October through early March usually is the slowest time in the real estate market.
He wasn’t surprised to see sale prices drop, but he predicts that trend will ease this summer or fall as fewer foreclosed homes enter the market and give other sellers competition through their lower sales prices.
Foreclosure filings fell 28.9 percent in 2011 compared to 2010 in Mesa County, and completed foreclosures dropped nearly 13 percent year-over-year, according to the Colorado Division of Housing.
“It may mean we’re headed toward stabilization, but we’re not stabilized yet,” Bray said.
Even with fewer foreclosures, Bray said he expects foreclosed homes to have a higher-than-normal presence in the local real estate market for at least another two years.
Homes still take a bit of time to get from the end of the foreclosure process to the end of a sale, and foreclosures remain more prominent now than they were three years ago.
Metro Brokers owner and broker Jan Garber said she is optimistic more homes will sell in 2012 because she had more success in 2011 than in 2010. But she doesn’t expect a speedy return to pre-recession sales figures.
“I just know this crunch is worse than ‘82, and that took five years to stabilize,” Garber said, referring to the localized economic collapse of 1982. She said she expects a slower turnaround this time “because this is worldwide.”
Mike Miller, a real estate agent with Century 21 Homestead Realty, said January’s real estate activity was “kind of mixed.” He said there was more activity, but demand for lower-priced homes has led to fewer homes available in that price range.
“It would be a good time for sellers to get in, especially if the demand is there,” Miller said.
There were 502 fewer homes on the market in Mesa County in January 2012 than in January 2011, according to the Bray report, leaving 858 active listings last month.
Bray said low-priced homes are entering the market, but not in numbers as high as he expected.
Because 76 percent of sales in January were for homes priced at $200,000 or less, Bray said the median sale price may rise by the end of this year simply because buyers may have fewer options.