Single-family home prices rise, but not to 2007 levels
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Sales slowed and inventory rose in Oahu's residential real estate market in March, according to data released yesterday.
But real estate experts said they saw demand rise in some neighborhoods, as buyers realized they were in charge.
While the $628,000 median single-family home price paid on Oahu last month was a rebound from February's three-year low -- and the highest since November 2007 -- the result was still 2.4 percent below March 2007.
The median price paid for a condominium unit, $329,300, represented a 2.6 percent gain for the year. However, it was a 1.7 percent drop from February's record-setting median.
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About the best that could be said about Oahu's residential real estate market last month is that conditions here still are better than on the mainland.
"Even with the instability in the finance industry, the market for Oahu residential properties appears to be holding, unlike the very negative conditions we hear about on the mainland," said Dana Chandler, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, which released March sales data yesterday.
While the median single-family home price paid on Oahu rebounded from last month's three-year low -- and, at $628,000, was the highest since November 2007 -- the net result still was a 2.4 percent year-over-year dip.
Oahu's condominium market in March took the opposite path. The median price paid for a condominium, $329,300, represented a 1.7 percent drop from a February record. However, it was a 2.6 percent gain for the year.
Both markets experienced a significant decline in sales volume. Single-family home sales fell 14.5 percent and condominium sales declined a staggering 27.5 percent.
"Absolutely, it's a declining market. But it's not bursting," said Chason Ishii, president of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties.
Demand for Hawaii real estate has held strong and interest rates have stayed low, creating positive fundamentals in the market, Ishii said.
"We couldn't believe the turnout that we had for open houses on Easter Sunday," Ishii said. "It appears that buyers now know that this is their market."
Buyers are looking to take advantage of an inventory buildup, Ishii said. Last month, there was 11.8 months of remaining single-family home inventory as compared to 3.2 months in March 2007, he said.
The build-up in inventory has lowered prices in some neighborhoods. Still, the limited availability of land and housing on Oahu should prevent any significant downturn in prices, said Harvey Shapiro, research economist at the Honolulu Board of Realtors.
"There is a continued demand for residential properties, especially in the high-end, which could be an outgrowth of the weaker U.S. dollar and other local factors, such as our low unemployment and pleasant climate," Shapiro said.
As a result, some real estate agents have started to see multiple offers again, said Bee Tan, a real estate agent for Kahala-based Hawaii Realty Associates.
"The market isn't what it was. I used to see 12 offers sometimes on properties when we were short on listings back in 2003, 2004, 2005," Tan said. "Still, last month, I saw multiple offers in two Hawaii Kai waterfront neighborhoods."