Oahu home sales
Prices were flat in December,By Rob Perez
bucking the downward
trend of past months
Sales of existing homes on Oahu surged in December to the highest level in more than four years, helping cap another strong year for the island's real estate market.
Even on the price front, which has been marked by declining values, there was encouraging news for home sellers. Single-family home prices last month remained unchanged from December 1997. A total of 269 houses sold in December, a 29.3 percent increase from a year earlier and the highest December tally since 1987, the Honolulu Board of Realtors said today.
Condo sales were almost equally robust: 261 sold last month, up 20.8 percent from a year earlier.
The median price for houses -- the level at which half sold for more, half for less -- was $295,000, unchanged from December 1997, the board said. For condos, it slipped 3.1 percent to $126,000.
For all of 1998, 2,495 houses and 2,632 condominiums sold, increases of 23.2 percent and 25.3 percent respectively from the previous year. The median house price fell 3.3 percent to $297,000, while the condo median for 1998 slumped 10 percent to $135,000.
Peter Freeman, the board's president, said December marked the best month for total sales in more than four years. That's unusual because the highest monthly volumes typically are in the summer and fall, with sales usually slowing toward the end of the year.
December also marked the 18th consecutive month of sales gains, Freeman said.
"The housing market continues to be fueled by favorable interest rates and lower prices," he said. "We continue our optimism about our industry into 1999."
On a dollar basis, total volume for 1998 was up 17.7 percent to $1.35 billion, according to the trade group, which has about 3,700 members.
The board's figures do not include sales of new homes on Oahu.