December home sales drop 19%


POSTED: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sales of single-family homes on Oahu continued to fall as 2008 came to a close, with 194 sold in December, down 19.2 percent from the same time a year ago.




Home sales down

        The number of homes sold on Oahu in December with the median price and percentage change from the same month in 2007:

Single-family home sales
December 2008:194
December 2007:240
Median price
December 2008:$626,500
December 2007:$610,000
Condo sales
December 2008:243
December 2007:353
Median price
December 2008:$305,000
December 2007:$320,000

        Source: Honolulu Board of Realtors 


The drop in sales occurred as the median home price increased by 2.7 percent to $626,500.

Condo sales also declined 31.2 percent, with 243 sold in December at a lower median price of $305,000 compared with 353 the same time a year ago. In December 2007 the median condo price was $320,000.

Still, December home prices on Oahu were more stable than for many mainland cities, said Sandra “;Sam”; Bangerter, newly elected president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

“;Prices have softened in most areas on Oahu, but the percentage declines have been only single digits,”; Bangerter said. “;It's reported that mainland prices have fallen between 18 and 30 percent, while the Honolulu housing market shows remarkable price resiliency, even with the number of reduced sales.”;

For 2008, home sales dropped 24.4 percent to 2,741 from 3,627 a year ago. The median price in 2008 was $624,000, down 3 percent from $643,500 in 2007.

Condo sales dropped even more, by 28.5 percent to 3,933 in 2008 compared with 5,499 in 2007, while the median price remained the same at $325,000.

Board research economist Harvey Shapiro said the Honolulu sales figures reflect the impact of the current economic crisis, which started in mid-September. But prices being paid are still close to where they have been for a couple of years, he said.

“;If demand continues to weaken or even stay as low as it is now for an extended time, prices will have to fall even further to keep the housing market moving,”; he said.

Sales activity could also pick up on Oahu within the next few months if the federal Troubled Assets Relief Program is successful, he added.

Median days on the market remained relatively steady, having increased to 49 days for homes in 2008 compared with 47 days in 2007.

For condos the median days on the market climbed to 45 days in 2008 compared with 42 days in 2007.

Real estate agents are bracing for a tough year in 2009 but say it will be a buyer's market.

“;Looking at 2009, I'm excited,”; said Chason Ishii, president of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. “;No. 1, when you really look at it, the federal government has been very supportive of the housing market and is doing everything possible to help stimulate it.”;

Interest rates are also at an all-time low, Ishii said, meaning buyers have increased purchasing power, while sellers are becoming more realistic about prices.

“;We're going to see it turn into an excellent buyer's market in 2009,”; he said. “;All the stars are lining up.”;

Abe Lee of Abe Lee Realty said he does not expect the market this year to get any better, given lenders' tight restrictions. Real estate agents will have to buckle down and work even harder, he said, for a piece of the pie in the down economy.

“;You're going to be working harder for less money,”; said Lee, who teaches real estate seminars.

However, homes will still be moving, he said. People are selling their homes because of a personal life change, whether it is a marriage or divorce, and also upgrading.

Lee said he expected prices to continue to decline this year, but in the range of between 10 percent and 20 percent, and not as dramatic as the 50 percent cuts seen in Las Vegas.

In 2008, East Honolulu neighborhoods continued to command the highest median prices ($936,000 in Diamond Head and $850,000 in Hawaii Kai), while the Leeward side recorded the lowest median price ($465,000 in Ewa Plain and $380,000 on the Leeward Coast).

The total dollar sales volume generated from the housing market in 2008 was $3.68 billion, down 26.1 percent from $4.98 billion produced a year ago.