Oahu home sales downshift
Prices continue to rise by double digits while total sales volume declines for both houses and condos
Housing prices on Oahu continued to rise in most regions at the start of the year, but long-suffering buyers gained a greater ability to negotiate as more homes went up for sale.
Even as prices were falling across the country, Honolulu's single-family home and condominium median prices still showed double-digit year-over-year growth in January. In 2005, however, the market showed more promise and finished the year pushing 30 percent appreciation.
More than half of single-family home buyers paid more than $615,000 for an Oahu house in January, a 21.8 percent rise from the year-earlier $505,000, according to figures released yesterday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors. The strength of the condominium market continued to close the gap between house and condominium prices, with the year-over-year median condo price jumping 31.7 percent to $295,000.
As prices continued to rise, the number of sales of both single-family homes and condominiums dropped. The number of houses sold fell 9 percent to 303 in January from the year-earlier 333. Condominium sales also declined 11.6 percent to 504 last month from the 570 in January 2005.
After more than eight years of explosive sales growth, activities indicate a shift to a more sustainable sales rate, said Harvey Shapiro, research economist at the board of Realtors.
"It's hard to tell where the neutral point is, but it's fair to say that we are shifting from more of a seller's market to a buyer's market," Shapiro said.
A greater number of active listings eased supply constraints in January and caused single-family homes to stay on the market longer than they have in the past five years, Shapiro said.
It took an average of 40 days to sell a single-family home in January, as compared to an average of 35 days during the same period last year, he said.
Last month, there were 1,578 single-family homes and 2,125 condominiums being actively marketed for sale, said Mary Flood, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors. This compares to just 961 and 1,378 dwellings, respectively, available in January of last year, she said.
"Although prices for Oahu properties continued to climb, there are more listings available to potential homebuyers," Flood said.
January sales were enough to bring total residential volume to $402 million, an increase of 6 percent over the same period in 2005.
While prices are up year-over-year, performance in some markets is off. The median single-family home price increased only 0.8 percent over December 2005's $610,000, and the median condominium price actually fell 3.3 percent to $295,000 from the prior month's $305,000.