Tuesday, January 26, 1999


Neighbor isle
home sales up
again in ’98

Maui led the way as its condos
attracted the most buyers

By Jerry Tune
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Neighbor island home and condominium resales posted double-digit gains last year, ranging from 16.2 percent to 79.2 percent, with most of the buyers coming from the mainland or looking for second homes.

The only sales decline was in East Hawaii condominiums, a drop of 36.7 percent.

The 1998 gains followed another good year in 1997, which had increases ranging from 15.9 percent to 172 percent over the 1996 totals.

Home resales statewide, including Oahu, rose to 4,579 from 3,692 in 1997, an increase of 24.0 percent, according to figures compiled by the Prudential Locations Inc. Condominium sales rose 26.8 percent to 4,405 last year from 3,475 in 1997, according to the figures which are for resales and do not include new home sales.

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The statewide median home resale price dropped 0.3 percent to $240,718 last year from $241,462 in 1997. The median price for condominiums fell 3.6 percent to $139,554, down from $144,729 in 1997.

Since 1996, annual statewide home and condo resales have jumped 46 percent.

On the neighbor islands, Maui led the way in the number of resales with a total of 1,685 home and condominium resales in 1998, according to the Prudential Locations figures.

"We saw the return of the mainland buyers and they are making pretty good deals, especially at Wailea and on the west side," said Scott Sherley, president of the Maui Board of Realtors. "These condos were previously owned by the Japanese who bought them from the mainland buyers" during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Sherley noted that prices have edged up slightly on Maui, but he called that a "normal market" and not like the huge increases during the Japanese buying spree. "It's still a buyer's market," said Sherley, vice president at Max Sherley & Associates. "And there is a lot of creative financing available."

He said the mortgage interest rates are the best he has seen in 15 years, and this has enticed some first-time local buyers into the market.

Neighbor island resale prices were mixed last year, with the biggest increase in East Hawaii condominiums (27 percent) and the biggest drop in East Hawaii homes (2.9 percent).

Realtors say that most likely is due to several changes in the Hilo-area population that has a weak job market, many foreclosures, and more elderly people moving out of their homes. But low mortgage rates have been another key factor in stimulating sales for those who have jobs.

"We're also getting a lot of first-time home buyers -- people who couldn't afford to buy before," said Helene H. Taijiri, president of the Hawaii Island Board of Realtors.

She said the market is active but new listings keep coming in to keep the inventory high.

"A lot of our old houses are coming up for sale because a lot of our population is getting older," said Taijiri, an agent with Ala Kai Realty Inc.

"Some are passing away and others are moving in with their adult children."

Taijiri said she doesn't think that prices have bottomed out yet. "I'm still reducing prices on my listings," she said.

Kauai saw the biggest percentage increases for resales, at 55.3 percent for homes and 79.2 for condominiums.

"We got a lot of West Coast buyers, including people from Northern California who have a lot of disposable income because of their booming economy," said Edward MacDowell, president of the Kauai Board of Realtors.

Most of these buyers went to the Poipu and Princeville areas, said MacDowell, president of Vision Properties Inc. He also said that first-time buyers are taking advantage of the low mortgage interest rates.

Oahu's 1998 home and condo resale rates, were up 24.8 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively, from 1997, according to Prudential Locations' figures. That differs slightly from increases of 23.2 percent for homes and 25.3 percent for condos reported earlier this month by the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

Prudential Locations said Oahu's median home resale price was down 2.3 percent in 1998, less than the 3.3 percent drop recorded earlier by the Realtors' board. Median prices of condominium resales in 1998 were off 10 percent from 1997, according to both Prudential and the board.



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