Rebuilt home market
Sales, prices beginning to rebound in Mesa County
The Mesa County real estate market continues to stabilize with more properties selling at higher prices compared with the first half of 2012, Grand Junction area real estate agents said.
“The monthly median price continues to trend upward for residential properties sold through the multiple listing service,” Realtor Mandy Rush said.
Median home prices, for example, jumped more than $30,000 from a low of $149,000 in January to a high of $180,000 in June, Rush said.
With a median price of $180,000, just as many homes sold for above that price as below that figure during the month.
Meanwhile, when the prices are averaged, the figure for June sales of single-family residences comes to $199,833, up 12 percent compared with June 2012, when the average sold price was $178,333, broker Joe Tripoli said.
“If you have a house under $200,000, you’ve seen some pretty good appreciation this year,” broker associate Ron Jens said. “The trend started reversing when March and April came about. The market is definitely starting to show signs of strength.”
These numbers are consistent with the median price for June nationwide, which saw a 12.6 percent increase compared with June last year, according to a RE/MAX survey of 52 metropolitan areas.
“The housing recovery, which began in 2012, is continuing to produce significant increases in home prices and sales,” the survey said.
The total number of properties sold so far this year also points to a real estate market that is stabilizing, Rush said.
Records from the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder show a total of 1,725 properties sold through June compared with 1,635 sold for the same period last year, a 5.5 percent increase, Rush said.
“One important thing to look at is the number of houses under contract,” Tripoli said. “The number of houses under contract in June was up 15 percent compared to June of 2012. That’s very positive because we’ve got to have more houses under contract, especially if we’ve got more houses coming on the market.”
In June alone, the market saw a 9 percent increase in the total number of active residential listings compared with June 2012, Tripoli said.
“It definitely depends on the price point,” Rush said. “From the standpoint of going out and showing properties, it seems like we have more to look at in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.”
Through June 2011, for example, the total number of properties that sold in the $300,000 to $500,000 range was 125. For the same period in 2012, the total was 151. So far this year, 182 have sold in that price range, said Rush, who relied on data from the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office and compiled by Heritage Title.
The price rebound could be due in part to the decrease in the number of foreclosure filings in the county.
About 300 fewer homes went into foreclosure during the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year, Rush said.
Foreclosure filings dropped from 687 through June of 2012 to 375 for the same period this year, a 45 percent decrease, she said.
“This has been the largest decrease in overall foreclosure activity since the peak in 2010,” Rush said.
The resale of foreclosed homes comprised 12 percent of all real estate transactions for the first half of 2013. By comparison, foreclosed homes made up 25.6 percent of the market for the same period in 2012, she said.
“This continues a two-year downward trend of the market share held by the resale of foreclosed properties,” Rush said.
“The driver for us right now is inventory. That’s what it always comes down to. It’s always supply and demand,” Tripoli said.
The data compiled so far this year probably doesn’t provide a sufficient basis to make a forecast about the future though, Tripoli said.
“Rather than making a prediction, I think it’s more important for people to understand that historically, housing has been a good investment, but it is a long-term investment,” he said.
Some mixed signals
Signs of a strengthening residential real estate market contrast with less positive signs on the commercial side, at least in the unincorporated areas of Mesa County.
The number of commercial building permits pulled in Mesa County through July is “way down” compared with the same period in 2012, said Mike Mossburg, a Mesa County building official.
Only two commercial building permits were issued at the county through July compared with seven issued during the same period in 2012.
Residential building permits pulled in Mesa County through July also lagged, with a total of 119 permits pulled this year compared with 126 pulled during the same period last year.
“The activity that you’ve seen in the county in the past was predominately oil field service-related, so that’s diminished,” Mossburg said.
The story was different in Grand Junction, where 11 commercial building permits were issued through the city through July, compared with seven issued during the same period in 2012.
Residential building permits issued by Grand Junction through July also bested the 2012 residential numbers with 133 pulled this year compared with 99 pulled during the same period in 2012.
Overall, Mesa County recorded a 9 percent drop in total building permits issued through July, while Grand Junction recorded a 36 percent increase.
Montrose County also showed increased building activity. Total building permits issued for unincorporated areas of the county are up 34 percent through July, compared with the same period last year.
“These are terrific numbers and I’m proud we’ve been able to keep up with increased demand with our reduced planning and development staff,” Montrose County Manager Rick Eckert said. “I hope this is the beginning of a long increase in building activity.”