Can you say "improvement"? I think that is the word I would use to generalize the numbers in Mesa County's third quarter real estate trends just released by Heritage Title Company. Overall real estate sales are up. In third quarter statistics, sales transactions went up by 13% year over year, 2011 to 2012; 938 compared to 830 a year ago. Even more impressive is the 21.6% increase in dollar value of the properties sold: From $152.2 million up to $185.1 million. Comparing third quarter dollar value to the year as a whole, this has been an especially productive sales quarter since the year to date increase in sold property value is up 12.7%.Median price is the middle of the range of prices; the middle price in the list of all property prices sold. The median price has been much more sluggish to increase, moving up only from a 2011 median of $160,000 to about $170,000 this most recent quarter. The other popular measure of pricing, the "average" price of a property for sale during the past three month period has fluctuated between $190,000-$195,000. The higher average may be a result of higher prices on the high priced properties. One supporting fact for that idea is the presence of four transactions on properties in excess of $1 million during the quarter. Those few sales alone accounted for nearly $11 million in sales volume.Foreclosures remain a local real estate enigma. About 1,000 foreclosures have been filed year to date, an increase of 105 cases or 11.2% more than YTD in 2011. Conversely, 13.5% fewer foreclosures have been completed based on records at the Mesa County recorder's office. The report notes that 24% of sales during January-September this year were foreclosed properties.So, the number of foreclosure filings is up while the number of sales is down? Where are those other properties? Some are cured or redeemed by the property owner; a few are purchased at weekly foreclosure auction, but there are a lot of properties in the community with foreclosure paperwork taped to the door that have yet to see action to get them back into private ownership and occupancy. Home building is looking up with 100 third-quarter building permits representing a 32% increase in new construction over the same quarter in 2011. The report stated that 307 new construction permits have been issues YTD for a very healthy 40% increase over the first nine months of last year. Record low interest rates have kept lenders busy with a 56% increase in real estate loans this quarter over the same period last year. Year to date, 6,067 loans were filed which represents a 31% increase over 2011. That reflects both purchase and refinance loans. People sometimes ask me why we have less homes for sale this year than last? I think a large part of the answer to that question is reflected in these loan numbers, where we can see there is a lot of refinancing going on.If other measures of the economy are doing as well as the real estate and mortgage industries are doing, we have strong reasons for a bright out outlook on the economic future of our Mesa County economy.Source: Heritage Title Co., Annette Miller, 970-241-8555Doug Van Etten is an associate broker with Keller Williams Colorado West Realty and is also the founder/organizer of the Real Estate Investors Network (REIN). Van Etten has been helping homebuyers, sellers and investors with their real estate needs since 1992. Contact Van Etten at DougVE@kw.com or 970-433-4312. For information on the REIN, info@REIN-WesCO.org.