Housing market moves upward because of dwindling supplies

Amid declining inventories, sales of single-family homes rose 10 percent to 485 units- with median prices jumping 20 percent to $542,000 – in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period last year, data released Saturday by the Realtors Association of Maui showed.

Condominium sales were not as robust, growing only four units or 1 percent, in the January-to-June period. Median prices moved up 6 percent to $372,500 for the half-year, compared to 2012.

Overall, the real estate market in Maui County is continuing its march higher since the Great Recession and is moving into a different stage.

“The market is moving upward because we have no inventory,” said P. Denise La Costa, president of the Realtors Association of Maui, on Monday.

Currently, there are only 19 homes in Maui County under $350,000 and only 134 from $350,001 to $750,000 on the market, she said. In the condo market, La Costa said there are only 156 units for sale under $350,000.

“I haven’t seen those numbers for years and years and years,” she said about the condo figures.

With supply dwindling and prices and mortgage interest rates rising, La Costa said now is the time for buyers to jump into the market, “otherwise they are going to miss out.” Those buyers may have to wait until the next downturn if they don’t act quickly on a home that they like, she said.

Some of the demand is driven by potential buyers who could not secure a mortgage due to stricter regulations and tighter monetary conditions during the recession and saved up, she said. That has resulted in a pent-up demand, which is currently being unleashed in the market.

The high-end sector of the market is blossoming. There are 18 pending or sold properties in the last six months going for more than $3 million in the county. That’s a total of $97.7 million worth of properties.

“That is a lot, a pretty sizable amount,” she said.

In the ritzy Wailea/Makena area, 21 single-family units were sold in the first half of 2013, up 31 percent compared to 2012, the sales statistics showed. The median price was up 110 percent to $2.8 million.

Condo sales in the area also rose, up 14 percent to 67 units in the first half year. The median price was up 15 percent to $890,000, the highest in the county for condos in the period.

As far as sellers, La Costa said there are “hardly any” bank-owned properties on the the market. The real estate data shows 983, or 26 percent, of residential sales and 1,257, or 14.2 percent, of condo sales in the last 12 months were short sales, percentages that have been decreasing for months.

Realtors are seeing sellers who want to move to different parts of the island and others who are moving off-island. There is a sector of sellers who are waiting for higher prices as well, she said.

The half-year report offers “a good slice of the market,” said La Costa.

“The market ebbs and flows so much,” she said. “Prior to six months tends to be irrelevant because things change.”

The largest areas of single-family home sales were Central Maui, 137 units, up 17 percent (median price $416,000, up 14 percent); Kihei, 79 units, down 1 unit ($535,000, up 20 percent); and Haiku, 44 units, up 33 percent ($588,975, down 5 percent).

For condos, the most active areas were Kihei, 216 units, down 8 percent (median price $308,000, up 22 percent); Napili/Kahana/Honokowai, 110 units, down 11 percent ($347,500, up 8 percent); and Kaanapali, 94 units, up 1 unit ($709,950, up 51 percent).

For the month of June, the median price of a single-family home rose to $615,000, the highest since August 2008, the data showed. The condo median price was $390,000, 3 percent higher than the $380,000 in May and 5 percent higher than the $372,990 in June 2012.

June sales of single-family homes “stepped back a bit” to 91 from May’s six-year record of 108, the Realtors Association of Maui report said. Condo sales “remained steady at a solid” 124 units sold, though down 11 percent from the 139 in May.

* Lee Imada can be reached at