It has been a wild ride for the local real estate community in 2020, and given the strange circumstances throughout the world in 2020, real estate professionals consider it a major win that the number of residential properties sold in 2020 will end up slightly higher or about the same as the number of properties sold in 2019.

“In March, we thought real estate would be bad,” said Stewart Cruickshank, sales manager for Bray Real Estate. When COVID-19 caused the shutdown in the spring, not only were realtors working from home, there were a few weeks when they weren’t allowed to even show property. Title agencies continued working, but developed drive-by closing procedures so customers buyers and sellers didn’t have to meet in-person.

The demand for real estate, however, remained strong, and construction is considered an essential industry, so many local housing developments continued building and selling houses at record numbers.

“We are at 532 units,” said Tamra Allen, community development director for the city of Grand Junction, “the most we’ve issued since the Great Recession.”

If anything, the pandemic brought more buyers to the market, as some locals realized their homes didn’t work well for staying at home, and out-of-area buyers realized that they didn’t want to stay wherever they lived prior to moving to the Grand Valley.

“We’re probably seeing about 50% of our buyers from out of town,” Cruickshank said. “They’re people who can bring their jobs with them.”

Inventory levels are at record lows, and have been low all year, but according to Cruickshank, the lack of inventory wasn’t the real issue throughout 2020.

“Inventory wasn’t bad; we still sold the same number of houses we did last year,” Cruickshank said. “We always had inventory coming in, but the demand was higher, and we sold it as fast as it came in.”

According to the Bray Report, there were fewer than 400 residential properties for sale across all price points in both October and November. The huge demand and the limited supply helped to drive up both the average and the median price of real estate in the Grand Valley.

“The median price of real estate is $372,235 and the average price is $330,291,” said Ann Hayes with Keller Williams. “Both are historical highs for Mesa County.”

With single-family home prices rising, condos and townhomes are looking more attractive. Unfortunately, the Grand Valley doesn’t have a plethora of available townhomes or condos.

“There’s less than a one-month supply of townhome inventory,” Hayes said.

Developers are realizing that townhomes need to be part of the picture for residential real estate, representing opportunities for first-time buyers, as well as those who don’t want the suburban experience of a single family home on a lot that needs maintenance.

Although commercial real estate activity remained strong, some large projects, such as the construction of the Dillard’s store at Mesa Mall, the construction of Canyon View RV park near I-70 and 23 1/2 Road or the construction of the Railyard at Rim Rock apartments, slowed down because of the pandemic. All three were originally scheduled to be complete before the end of 2020, but all three have been delayed. Restaurants and retail real estate activity took a hit, as 2020 played out to be a difficult year to open or expand.

In spite of that, some projects had enough momentum to continue. Dale Beede with S.U.R.E. LLC (Straight Up Real Estate) is seeing Rivertown Center, a commercial project he’s worked on for more than seven year, coming to fruition.

“It’s such a blessing to have SCL Health as a tenant for the project on Patterson,” Beede said. “I’m very fortunate to have them in there; they make the rest of the development viable.”

Construction continued at Las Colonias Park, and the city was able to open the lazy river feature at the park, which proved to be an incredible success.

“It was very well-received by the community,” said Allen. For families that may have had to postpone spring break or summer vacation plans, the new river play area at Las Colonias proved to be a welcome solace. The city opened the dog park at Las Colonias in the fall, and the first business tenant, Rocky Mounts, has moved into the commercial area at the park. The second commercial building is also under construction, with tenants who are eager to be at the riverfront business park.

The city continued its construction at Dos Rios, the public/private development along the river on the other side of the Fifth Street Bridge. The city was able to build and open the bike playground, thanks to a grant from Colorado Health Foundation, and has been steadily building infrastructure for the riverfront development throughout 2020.

Next week, Real Estate Weekly will take a peek at some of the projects and housing developments that will be coming to the Grand Valley in 2021.

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