Before we say goodbye to the spirit of Thanksgiving and usher in the busy Christmas season, Real Estate Weekly wanted to remind readers that there are good things happening in the local real estate market that make professionals thankful, and that should make anyone who’s thinking of buying or selling a house thankful, too.

This may sound like a broken record, but perhaps the biggest reason to be thankful when it comes to real estate is the continued historic low rates.

“These are the lowest rates in our lifetime,” said Cole Sjoholm, mortgage loan officer with Cherry Creek Mortgage. Interest rates vary and are dependent on a number of factors, but right now, it’s now uncommon to see 30-year fixed rates in the 2s and 3s.

“A lower interest rate allows buyers to increase their purchasing power,” Sjoholm said. “Lower rates mean lower principal and interest.”

Low inventory is also starting to sound like a broken record here in the Grand Valley, as real estate professionals have been proclaiming the low inventory levels for several years. This year, inventory levels have gotten worse, as many people who didn’t have to sell chose not to, since COVID concerns may have caused them to not want people touring their homes.

Low inventory isn’t a bad thing for sellers, however, as it mean there may be fewer homes on the market, which could mean homes are on the market for less time, and sell for a higher price than they did last year.

“People are thankful for getting good prices on their houses, and not having them on the market for long,” said Anna Rickenbach with RE/MAX 4000. “There are a lot of interested, well-qualified buyers, and people are getting their homes sold quickly for top dollar.”

Year-to-date sales are down about 1% for the entire year, which is fairly remarkable given that inventory levels have been down all year and Realtors couldn’t show houses at all for a few weeks in the springtime when everything but vital services was shut down due to COVID-19 concerns.

Several things are happening right now that may help to alleviate the low inventory levels, including the number of building permits issued in 2020, which was 6% higher than the number of permits issued in 2019. While the building permits issued in the first quarter were most likely for homes that have already entered the market, permits issued since September will be for homes that have yet to enter the market.

There are also a number of subdivision in various planning stages working their way through the processes in both Grand Junction and Fruita. In Grand Junction, there are 12 subdivisions that are in their final stages, with a combined total of more than 250 single family lots that will come into the market in 2021. There are also a number of multi-family projects working their way through the planning process.

Multi-family housing, which includes apartments, condos and townhomes, can all take some of the pressure of the real estate market. First-time or downsizing buyers may choose to look at condos or townhomes because the maintenance is usually less, and the price is often lower than a single-family home. Apartments can take pressure off, as transplants may decide to rent if they can find a nice apartment, while they get to know the area and figure out where they want to live.

“COVID slowed us down, but we will be open by February 22,” said Steven Chandler, the building superintendent at The Railyard at Rimrock, where there will eventually be 196 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The complex will have a clubhouse with a gym, an outdoor swimming pool and meeting rooms, as well.

Grand Junction continues to draw people from across the country, and those people aren’t all retirees. Working at home during the pandemic has made people and companies realize that employees don’t have to live where the company is headquartered.

“A fair amount of our buyers are working remotely,” said Silas Colman with Copper Creek Builders, who estimates that at Copper Creek North, where his company has been building single-family homes, close to 60% of the total buyers are from out of the area.

Copper Creek is also building multi-family housing at Copper Village, where it has already built two apartment buildings, and plans to build more apartments and some townhomes.

Many locals are thankful for the community spirit seen in real estate professionals, who always rally around community needs; this year has been no different. The Young Professional Network (YPN) of the Grand Junction Area Realtor Association recently held its fourth annual turkey drive and distribution day, gathering not just turkeys, but all the trimmings for a Thanksgiving feast for 125 families.

“We appreciate our clients and our neighbors,” said Tyler Harris with Bray Real Estate, who is part of YPN. “We’re just local people selling houses. I’ve been blessed and I like to give back to the community.”

This year, as it has for decades, GJARA will be donating toys to the Salvation Army for its annual Christmas toy drive. If you’d like to contribute, contact your favorite local realtor or the GJARA office to find out how you can make a donation.

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