New homes
snapped up

Purchases rose 12.5% in September,
but the average price fell to $363,078
as buyers switched to condos

Sales of new homes on Oahu jumped 12.5 percent in September compared with the previous September, but the average price dropped a little as buyers shifted to condominiums when they found the prices of short-supply, single-family homes beyond their reach, according to real estate consultant Ricky Cassiday.


"The higher the prices go, the more they are going to force people away from single-family homes into condos," for less money, said Cassiday, who prepares a monthly study of new-home transactions.

Sales of new apartments and houses totaled 261 last month, up from 232 in September 2002. The average price of $363,078 was down 3.4 percent from a year earlier.

Cassiday said the fall in the average price came because of a shift in the house-apartment mix. "Also, there were very few high-end luxury units sold in September," Cassiday said.

Affecting everything was the supply-demand situation. There were only 611 houses and apartments available on Oahu in September, a 41.5 percent decrease from 1,044 in the previous September.

New condominiums came on to the market, relieving some of the stress, Cassiday said. The biggest seller was Lanikea, the 98-unit Alexander & Baldwin Inc. project mauka of Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki, where 68 units were sold last month.

Sales began in April for the project, which is not scheduled to be completed until early 2005. There are a few units still for sale, at prices ranging from about $415,000 to about $700,000, according to real estate agents' listings.

Single-family homes in Haseko Realty's Ocean Pointe project in Ewa also sold well, recording 38 deals last month. Castle & Cooke Inc.'s Destiny, a condominium project at Mililani Mauka made up of individual homes, sold 29 units last month.

Bruce Barrett, Castle & Cooke Homes vice president, said sales have been strong and the number of units the company can sell is limited by what it can produce and release into the market. "We only have a few units in all our inventory that are not reserved," Barrett said.

He said he thinks the slight downward shift in the average price last month had more to do with location than with what Cassiday saw as a shift toward condominiums. There have been fewer sales in East Oahu, where prices are highest, and more in West and Central Oahu, where prices are a little lower, Barrett said.

Sales closings, the final step that comes some three months after the sales contract, included 16 homes at Kapolei Kai, the latest of the Kobayashi Group's Villages at Kapolei development.

Those three- and four-bedroom units sold for between $240,000 and $350,000. "We closed our last house (sale) this morning," Kathy Inouye, a partner in the developer Kobayashi Group, said yesterday.

There already is a list of would-be buyers for the next part of the Villages at Kapolei and Inouye said sales at Hokua, the luxury high-rise in Kakaako where Kobayashi is a partner, have been strong. "We'd love to be involved in some other projects on Oahu, including affordable-price units," she said.

Cassiday's research showed 2,102 houses and condominiums sold on Oahu in the first nine months of this year, up 22.8 percent from 1,712 in the first nine months of 2002. The average price for the nine months was $394,961, up 11.2 percent from a year-earlier $355,236.


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