Prices hit their highest levels
last month and houses sold faster
than in any other period
Oahu home sales kept up their sparkling pace last month, with prices hitting their highest levels ever and houses selling faster than in any previous month.
Single-family homes averaged only 25 days on the market, the shortest time from listing to sale since the Honolulu Board of Realtors began keeping records in 1987.
The median price for an existing single-family home going to a new buyer was $395,000, up 9.7 percent from the year-earlier median of $360,000 and squeaking past the previous record of $394,500 set in August.
Adding to the steady climb through the earlier months, the September lift continued an income boom for those in the real estate businesses.
The total dollars spent on buying existing houses and condominiums on Oahu was $2.56 billion for the first nine months of this year, up 37.7 percent from $1.86 billion for the nine months of 2002, said Mary Begier, Board of Realtors president.
The nine-month dollar volume came close to the $2.6 billion total for all of 2002.
Last month, 419 single-family homes changed hands, up 26.6 percent from 331 in September 2002.
Condominiums also sold at a rapid pace, although without hitting records.
There were 703 condominium resales last month, up 54.5 percent from 455 in the previous September but not beating the record of 769 resales in May 1990.
The condominium median price was $180,000, up 13.6 percent from the $158,500 September 2002 median, the price at which half the units sold for more and half for less.
While mortgage rates have risen after hitting record lows, the trend has not been straight up and the rise has not yet cut into sales, said Board of Realtors research economist Harvey Shapiro.
"Mortgage rates have been unpredictable, showing no definite trend, but continue to be very low," Shapiro said.
John Higgins, owner of west Oahu real estate firm John Higgins Realty, disagreed, saying there has been a big enough rise in interest rates to affect sales.
"Interest rates did go up from 4.5 percent in early June to 6.75 percent in early September" and that put some tight-budget buyers out of the market, he said.
Mortgage lenders posting their rates on the Board of Realtors Web site www. hicentral.com show current rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage ranging from 4.9 percent to 5.5 percent, with varying charges, or "points," attached.