Friday, January 17, 2003

Home sales stay strong

The neighbor islands post increases
in most categories for 2002

By Lyn Danninger

Neighbor island real estate sales, which led the charge in the recovery of Hawaii's real estate market several years ago, showed strength again in December and contributed to another impressive year overall.

On Kauai, the median price of a single-family home in December stood at $399,500, a 39.8 percent increase over December 2001's median.

Condominium prices on the Garden Isle also moved up. A median price of $214,504 was a 19.2 increase over December 2001's median of $180,000.

The number of homes sold on Kauai also rose, climbing to 42 during December, compared to 28 sales the previous year. Kauai recorded a total of 533 single-family home sales and 468 condominium sales for the year. The median price for a single-family home in 2002 was $399,000. For condominiums that number reached $210,000.


Both the number of sales and the median prices over the course of the year indicate strong activity in the market, though Kauai Realtors continue to fret about a diminishing supply of homes for sale.

"It was a good year for us, but for the average family paying $399,000 is difficult," said Realtor Betty Bell of Century 21 All Islands Koloa office.

Still, Bell predicts strong activity for this year.

"I think it's going to continue, although Realtors are going to have to work hard to find properties to list," she said.

On Maui, the story is similar. The median price of a single-family home in December showed a 31.9 percent increase to $400,891 over the previous December's median of $304,000. The median price paid for a condominium also rose, reaching $205,500, a 16.8 percent increase.

The number of single-family homes sold on Maui throughout 2002 showed a 2.7 percent drop to 978 from 1,005 sales in 2001.

Despite the drop in sales, the median price paid for a single-family home on Maui throughout 2002 rose 27 percent to $375,000 from the previous year's median of $295,000.

The drop in the number of sales in 2002 was likely a reflection of the island's dwindling housing inventory, particularly in low to medium prices, rather than slowing buyer interest, said Keoni Ball, broker-in-charge at Wailuku's Carol Ball and Associates realty firm.

Premium rental prices have also kept a number of properties off the market, Ball said.

"Rentals are so high so why would people sell a rental when they are making all this money? That's one problem. The other problem is if you sell your property, where are you going to live and how much more will it cost and will it be as good?" Ball said.

Although supplies of existing homes presents challenges for the coming year, Ball thinks several new projects could help alleviate some of the shortage.

"There are several new developments that will be out this year and will help the central area for sure," he said.

On the Big Island, where home prices show the most variation, condominium prices had some of the strongest upward movement, rising from a December 2001 median of $134,250 to $183,000 by the end of 2002. Single-family home prices also continued to rise, achieving a median price of $232,000 in December, up from a median price of $219,000 in December 2001.

The median price of a single-family home on the Big Island for the entire year was somewhat more modest, settling at $194,000.

Condominium median prices on the Big Island reached $165,000 for the year. The previous year's median finished at $136,750.

Dave Lucas at Century 21's Kona branch also predicts another good year in his district, and says prices will continue to rise.

For single-family homes in the Kona area, there won't be much selection for under $300,000, he said.

Sales in South Kona and especially the Kau region are now attracting more buyers because they are seen as more affordable, especially for local buyers, he said.

"In Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, anything under $100,000 doesn't last. We're selling homes up to about $200,000, so prices are good there as long as you don't mind driving for an hour and a half (to Kona)," he said.

There is still plenty of interest in the Kona area from offshore buyers, either for second homes or retirement homes," Lucas said.

But there is some light on the horizon as several new projects come on line in the coming months. Developers will likely have few problems moving those properties, Lucas said.

"So far they seem to be able to sell everything they build," he said.

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