$5 billion in Oahu homes sold
However, house and condo sales slipped in October from last year
Oahu's hot housing market, where condominium prices hit another record last month, achieved a new year-to-date sales volume milestone in October by passing the $5 billion mark for the first time.
Total sales of homes this year reached $5.05 billion in October, an increase of more than $1 billion from the same period last year, according to data released yesterday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors.
However, the number of single-family home sales dropped 6.6 percent to 412 last month from the same month last year, and the number of condominium sales fell 6.2 percent to 624.
Oahu's total sales volume has never before come close to $5 billion, said Harvey Shapiro, the board's research economist. "The total number of sales continues to be ahead of last year, even with the slowdown that we've had this month," he said.
"Last year, for the entire year, the total dollar volume of sales was only $4.76 billion and we've got two months left in 2005," said Mary Flood, president of the board of Realtors.
Higher prices and interest rates don't seem to have slowed buyers, said Melanie Long, a real estate agent with Dower Realty.
"When our parents were buying, the interest rates were much higher so they don't seem to be too much of a deterrent for buyers," Long said.
Total single-family home sales on Oahu reached 3,936 in the first 10 months of 2005, nearly flat from the same time a year ago. Total condominium sales were 6,831, a 4.1 percent increase from last year.
In October, the median price of a condominium posted a record for Oahu at $290,000, a gain of 33 percent over the same period last year. The single-family home median price of $620,000, which grew by 27.8 percent over October 2004, is just $5,000 below its peak, Shapiro said.
Since the median price of a single-family home on Oahu has hovered in the $600,000 to $625,000 range for the past six months, it is indicative that price increases are being fueled by healthy demand rather than speculation, said Herb Conley, managing director of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties.
"We think the confidence level in Hawaii's economy is extremely high and that the marketplace is being driven by primarily local buyers," Conley said.
While the number of home sales in Hawaii might have dropped, prices have remained stable, and talk of a "bubble" has begun to dissipate, said Scott Higashi, executive vice president of sales for Prudential Locations.
"We certainly don't think the sky is falling," Higashi said, adding that while price increases may become more moderated, that's just a sign of a healthier market.
"We don't see a crash and burn coming," he said. "We think it's a good thing if prices slow down a little bit."