Median single-family home price jumps to $769,000

This four-bedroom  single-family home at 3176 Noho Loihi St. in Wailea is for sale for $2,475,000. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

This four-bedroom single-family home at 3176 Noho Loihi St. in Wailea is for sale for $2,475,000. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The median price of a single-family home in Maui County soared to $769,000 in March, the highest monthly benchmark in more than a decade, the Realtors Association of Maui reported this week.

But it remains to be seen whether the highest middle-of-the-road home value seen since the third quarter of 2006 is a aberrant spike or part of a trend toward ever-higher price tags for Maui homes.

Association Chief Staff Executive Terry Tolman was reluctant to speculate on what’s been driving the surge in home prices.

There’s hundreds of real estate transactions in Maui County, and “each one is a unique story,” he said.

Some trends include a rising number of baby boomers reaching retirement age and wanting to live on Maui; or they’re in poor health and want to sell their Maui homes and return to the Mainland, he said. The administration of President Donald Trump and the stock market rally may be making some people confident in the future and willing to invest money in Maui real estate, he added.

“Some are gutsy and some not,” he said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to go.”

Meanwhile, island real estate agents report being “busier than hell,” Tolman said.

It’s clear, though, that most of the money buying single-family homes and condominiums is coming from outside the state, he said.

“Most of us can’t afford to buy,” he said.

The last time a single month’s median reached the height of March was in September 2006 when the midpoint price of homes also was $769,000. The Realtors Association has records going back to 1993, and the highest median price for single-family homes in a single month was $780,000, a record set in May 2005 and tied in July 2006, according to the association’s statistics.

Those high marks came during real estate’s heyday before the nationwide housing bubble burst in late 2007 and the subprime mortgage crisis struck the following year, bringing the nation’s worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The association’s statistics show that the county’s single-family home prices hit bottom in May 2012 when the median was $382,000. Since September 2012, there’s been no month when median prices fell below $412,000.

Looking at the regional details of single-family home sales in March and comparing them to March 2016 may help understand what submarkets kicked up the median price at the end of the year’s first quarter.

For example, last month’s numbers show the sale of five homes in the luxury area of Wailea-Makena, for a median price of $3.25 million. That compares with no sales in the area in March 2016. In Kihei, the sales volume was the same over a year, 14 homes in March, but the median price in the South Maui area rose 23.8 percent to $801,850.

Meanwhile, in Central Maui — consistently the county’s single-family residential sales volume leader — the number of homes sold dropped 22.6 percent while the median price increased 12.8 percent to $593,000 from March 2016 to last month.

The Kula-Ulupalakua-Kanaio region had the third most sales in March (11, compared with 12 a year earlier), while its prices gained 32.6 percent to $915,000.

Year-to-date sales statistics show three months of transactions and provide a better indication of trends.

Overall, Maui County saw a sales volume of 230 single-family homes in this year’s first three months, down 11, or 5 percent, from 2016. The median sales price went the other direction, rising 15 percent to $699,000.

Central Maui saw 71 sales, nearly 31 percent of the county’s total, but volume was off 11 percent while the area’s median price rose 10 percent to $580,000. Kihei posted the second-busiest three-month period, recording 35 transactions. But the area’s volume was down 8 percent while the South Maui region’s median single-family home sales price went up 27 percent to $770,000.

For inventory, there were 700 single-family homes available on the market in March, or 2.6 percent above the 12-month average of 682.16. Looking at a five-year trend of homes available for sale in March, there were 761 on the market for that month in 2016, 746 in 2015, 685 in 2014, 645 in 2013 and 756 in 2012, a couple of months before Maui’s low point for median sales during the recession.

In March, condominium sales volume of 130 units increased nearly 26 percent compared with March 2016, while median prices dropped 21.1 percent to $390,000.

For the first three months of the year, condo sales volume in the county was up 17 percent to 341. The median price increased 12 percent to $475,825.

The most active area for condominium sales was Kihei, where Realtors reported 123 condos changing hands, or 36.1 percent of the county’s total sales volume. The median Kihei condo price was up 11 percent to $395,000 for the year to date.

The second-busiest region for condo sales was Napili-Kahana-Honokowai, where there were 59 sales for the year (down 2 percent) while the median price slid 21 percent to $345,000 per unit. Wailea-Makena had the third most condo sales, 49, up 88 percent, while the luxury area’s median price grew 23 percent to $1.2 million.

Central Maui recorded 37 condo sales for the year, up 3 percent, while its median price was up 30 percent to $345,000 — although still 27 percent below the county’s median condo sales price.

For condo inventory, there were 1,002 units up for sale in March, or 2.1 percent higher than the 12-month average of 981.33. The five-year trend for condo inventory leading up to this year shows 1,100 condos on the market in March 2016, 1,062 in 2015, 912 in 2014, 964 in 2013 and 1,146 in 2012.

For the association’s full statistical report, go to www.ramaui.com.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.

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