101520-Sunday Biz-CPT

Christopher Tomlinson

Christopher Tomlinson/The Daily Sentinel

This home is for sale at 619 28 3/4 Road in Grand Junction. There were 357 homes sold in Mesa County in September, a 6% increase from September 2019. The median price for those sold, however, is $285,000. That’s a 12% increase from 2019.

The housing market in Mesa County isn’t the healthiest it’s ever been, but it certainly isn’t starving.

The Bray Real Estate report for September shows that there are fewer houses on the market than in past years, but those that are listed are snatched up pretty quickly, often by people moving from out of town and retirees. It also shows that people are taking advantage of 2.125% interest rates on 15-year loans and 2.625% on 30-year loans.

“Right now, middle class families can take advantage of this market and low interest rates,” said Linda Romer Todd, a broker with Associated Brokers & Consultants, Inc. “But the catch is that inventory is tight.”

The Bray Report is a snapshot of the local housing market. It’s an amalgamation of all the data from home purchases across all agencies.

There were 357 homes sold in Mesa County in September, a 6% increase from September 2019. The median price for those sold, however, is $285,000. That’s a 12% increase from 2019.

Right now, housing in Mesa County is a seller’s market, said Stewart Cruickshank, sales manager with Bray Real Estate. They want a buyer who won’t fall through and, therefore, can be more picky. And sellers often side with the more financially secure options.

“We can list any price for a house but the true value of a home is where the buyer and seller meet,” Romer Todd said.

That meeting point between the two parties is getting more expensive. In 2020, 2,934 homes have been sold in Mesa County, only 48 fewer compared to 2019. Of that number, just 510 homes were priced below $200,000.

Romer Todd and Cruickshank say more home buyers are moving to the area from large metro areas and from other states.

“The pandemic has really shown people that if they’re working from home, then they don’t need to live in big cities, they can live somewhere like Grand Junction with more outdoor activities in their backyard,” Romer Todd said. “For our retirees, Grand Junction’s health services like St. Mary’s, Community Hospital and the VA Hospital are really appealing.”

Cruickshank estimated that about 40% of Bray’s buyers in September were from out of town.

Those with more disposable income might be taking advantage of the market at the moment, but Cruickshank said the low interest rates on loans mean that even middle class families can take a chance on their dream home.

But the inventory limits the choices.

There were only 405 active listings at the end of September, a 48% drop from 781 in September 2019.

“We have a small inventory. At the moment, we could sell all of our houses on the market in less than 30 days. That’s not great,” Cruickshank said. “A listing could go up on Saturday and by Sunday evening it will have three or four offers.

“But I’d rather have that kind of market than one with a thousand homes that we can’t sell. That’s just my opinion, though.”

On the building front, Mesa County has issued 576 building permits in 2020, more than it did at any point between 2009-2017, a 4% increase from last year. Some of those, though, are pre-sold houses, meaning they were bought before they were built. In 2018, there were 642 building permits and 556 in 2019.

Multiple brokers said that most of the homes being built are going to be of the more expensive variety.

“A lot of them are in these new neighborhoods that aren’t even on Google Maps,” said Hal Heath, a broker with Metro Brokers Grand Junction.

Cruickshank said the market will always correct itself, but that this trend of expensive homes, loans at low interest rates and high demand will continue for a few years.

Because of that competition for a house, it’s important that home buyers make sure they’re pre-approved for loans and have good financial standing so that they can stand out from the crowd.

“Please, make sure to meet with a broker and mortgage lender,” Cruickshank said. “Make sure your ducks are in a row because now is the time.”

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