Real estate sales in 2009 bottom out

Real estate sales in Mesa County plummeted to their lowest levels in 20 years in 2009, as the recession left people unable or unwilling to jump into the market.

A report produced by Heritage Title Company in Grand Junction shows there were a total of 2,737 sales last year. That was 39 percent lower than the 4,459 sales recorded in 2008 and the lowest since nearly 3,600 sales were recorded in 1989.

The dollar volume of last year’s real estate sales — $661 million — totaled less than half of the $1.38 billion in volume in 2008, Advanced Title Company President Bob Reece said.

On the other hand, the number of foreclosures in the county climbed from 469 filings in 2008 to 1,291 last year, he said.

Foreclosures shot up as the year progressed. Reece said there were an average of 130 foreclosures per month in the last six months of 2009, roughly double the amount in the first half of the year. Last month alone, there were 201 foreclosure filings.

Reece said foreclosures are a primary indicator of the health of the real estate market and how it may be trending. He said the high rate of foreclosures will push housing prices down, because foreclosed properties tend to sell for less than similar properties.

For him, the number of foreclosure filings will have to drop for two or three months in a row before he believes the real-estate market will rebound. And that recovery won’t happen quickly, Reece said.

“Do I think that 2010’s going to better than 2009? I don’t,” he said.

“I just don’t see a quick turnaround at all. Even if energy companies come back in a more substantial way than they have so far, that would bolster this market, it would improve it, but it won’t get rid of the central cause of it.”

Reece said he thinks there is a large, “pent-up” demand for housing, with people preferring to sell and buy here rather than somewhere else.

“Once that breaks loose, you’re going to see a lot of transactions. I just don’t know when that’s going to happen,” he said.

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