Oahu homes have been
selling at a record pace

By Russ Lynch

Honolulu homes are selling so fast that the time is near when shrinking inventory will push prices even higher, real estate officials say.

For now, however, there has been huge growth in listings as more and more owners see this as a good time to put their places on the market.

What has many in the industry startled, and pleased, is the speed of sales, which is at record levels.

Scott Bradley, one of those who handle residential real estate at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, said anything less than five months of inventory is pretty small by historic standards.

There are only enough single-family homes listed to last 3.4 months and the condominium inventory is only about 2.6 months.


"The total inventory is dipping and if it gets too low you start to see some pressure on prices," Bradley said.

Figures from the Honolulu Board of Realtors show 331 single-family homes changed hands on Oahu last month, up 26.8 percent from 261 in September last year.

Condominium sales soared to 455 units, and although that was below the 500-plus recorded in each of the previous two months, the volume was 36.2 percent above the 334 sales in the previous September.

Prices were up too, with a median -- the point at which half sold for more and half for less -- of $360,000 for single-family homes, up 16.9 percent from a year earlier, and $158,500 for condominiums, up 18.3 percent year over year.

When will it end? "That's the question. Nobody knows," said Guy Tamashiro of West Oahu Realty Inc., who is also chairman of the Board of Realtors.

"It will probably go on for the rest of the year," he said. "The amount of momentum is there." Despite an increase in new for-sale listings, there are signs that the overall inventory of homes for sale is decreasing, he said.

"Everything is selling, on average, in less than 30 days , which is kind of unheard of," Tamashiro said.

In the booming market, more and more people are deciding it is a good time to sell. A total of 730 Oahu condominium units were placed on the market last month.

"That exceeded anything we have had since at least 1988," said Harvey Shapiro, research economist at the Board of Realtors, and was well up from 459 in September last year and 489 in September 2000.

Single-family listings are also busy, he said. Asking prices are up too, with the median list price among single-family homes reaching $398,000 last month compared to $347,500 a year earlier, an increase of 14.5 percent.

Single-family homes are selling faster than have in 14 years, averaging just 29 days on the market last month.

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