Home sales up again


POSTED: Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hope for recovery in the Oahu residential real estate market was buoyed by increased home sales in July, the second month in a row that it has gone up.

Home resales for July were at 265, or 5.6 percent higher than in July 2008. In June, 254 homes were sold, up 9.5 percent compared with June 2008.

The median price of a home went up to $595,000, a 4.6 percent increase from June, and the highest price in four months, according to the latest statistics from the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

It was, however, still 4 percent less than the same month a year ago.

Sandra “;Sam”; Bangerter, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, called it a welcome change for the current housing market.






The number of homes sold on Oahu in July, with the median price and percentage change from the same month last year:


July 2009265
July 2008251
Median price
July 2009$595,000
July 2008$620,000
July 2009327
July 2008365
Median price
July 2009$312,000
July 2008$329,900



Source: Honolulu Board of Realtors


“;While we're continually monitoring economic conditions, both nationally and locally, the numbers we're seeing for the Oahu residential real estate market may be indicating that we're already past the bottom,”; said Bangerter.

The median price of a condo in July was $312,000, up 0.6 percent from June but down 5.4 percent from a year ago.

Condo sales did not fare as well, with 327 sold in July, a 10.4 percent drop from the same time last year.

Research economist Harvey Shapiro credited shrinking inventory for keeping price levels relatively stable despite a lower demand for housing.

In July, 1,653 homes were listed, a 20.8 percent drop from the same time a year ago. Last month, 2,279 condos were listed, a 17.2 percent drop from a year ago.

Shapiro also said he hopes government stimulus plans will bear fruit for the housing industry as it has for the auto industry — but that remains to be seen.

“;The indicators are all positive,”; he said. “;Prices are not declining. They look like they may have hit bottom and are coming up now. It looks like the curve has shifted.”;

Median days on the market, which measures the speed of a sale, also remained relatively flat for homes, at 46 in July, compared with 45 in June.

Median days on the market for condos stretched to 56 in July, compared with 45 in June.

While lending restrictions are tighter than in previous years, Prudential Locations says its First-Time Homebuyer Stimulus Plan, in which it is advancing a maximum $8,000 tax credit to participants, has been successful.

Since launching the program in late March, the company has about 250 first-time homebuyers who are in escrow or have closed on sales contracts, said Prudential's vice president of sales, Scott Higashi. Prudential has offered 15 seminars helping first-time homebuyers learn whether they are qualified for the federal program as well as to take them through the process. Three more are scheduled for this month.

The only issue is a looming deadline requiring the buyers to close on sales by Dec. 1, said Higashi, meaning they should be in escrow by September or early October.

On the high end, Anita Bruhl of Mary Worrall Associates Sotheby's says prices in Kahala seem to be holding up.

Bruhl, who calculates her own numbers for Kahala, recorded six sales in the first quarter and 12 sales in the second quarter of this year (excluding oceanfront and leasehold properties).

“;There are buyers out there,”; she said. “;If a house is priced right, it will sell. The buyers are out there but taking their time. You have to find some sweet spot.”;

Bruhl says she closed on a home sale last month and has another set to close this month.

While some transactions have been challenging, Bangerter, also the principal broker for Re/Max Kai Lani, said she's feeling optimistic. The market seems to be picking up, she said, given that one of her agents closed on three sales this month.

For the first seven months of the year, 1,372 homes have been sold, down 17.5 percent from the same period a year ago, and 1,707 condos were sold, down 32.3 percent from last year.

The year-to-date total dollar sales volume through July was recorded at $1.52 billion, down 34.5 percent from the $2.3 billion produced a year ago.