Mesa County House Sales Improving, But Still Way Down

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

This week, second quarter reports for home sales in Mesa County were released. While they show improvements from earlier this year, the numbers are still way down from where they were a year ago. One local real estate agent we spoke to says it's a trend she and others are definitely feeling.

Associated Brokers agent Marla Gibeck has been showing the home at 2428 Spanish Branch Court since November. Six months later, it's still empty -- even after dropping the selling price more than $10,000.

"At this point I'll be losing money on this house and it's still is not selling," said Gibeck.

She says a house like that would have sold in less than a month during the peak of the market in 2007. But times have drastically changed.

"I think the economy has a lot to do with it," said Gibeck. "I think people are afraid and they don't know what's going to happen."

According to new figures released by the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder's Office, 717 real estate sales were made in the county during the second quarter of 2009. That number is up a little more than 200 from first quarter sales -- but it's nothing close to the 1,381 properties that were sold during the second quarter of 2008.

"It's depressing, discouraging," said Gibeck.

In terms of dollar volume, the local real estate market raked in $748.3 million in sales during the first half of 2008 -- during the first half of 2009, only $296 million. That's a drop of 60 percent.

"It's a really tough market right now," said Gibeck.

The number of permits issued to build new homes are up from earlier this year -- 125 in the second quarter versus 78 in the first quarter. However, the 203 permits that have been issued so far in 2009 are down 50 percent from 404 permits issued during the first half of 2008.

Gibeck says while she's optimistic things will eventually improve, she doesn't see any short term recovery, especially with so many houses for sale.

"People know there's a lot out there, so they're a lot more selective and take a lot longer to buy a house," said Gibeck.

The one bright spot in the new report -- the number of refinance loans only fell 3 percent from where they were this time last year. Experts say record low interest rates and new tax incentives have helped those rates remain steady.

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