Median price for Maui single-family homes averaged above $700K in 2018

Condo prices up 12 percent, breaching the $500,000 mark

Russ Rudolph tidies the yard of his home in Kihei’s Moana Estates on Thursday afternoon. Rudolph said he and wife, Juliet Lee, bought the house new in 2007 and now have it on the market for $1,248,000. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui County averaged more than $700,000 in median home prices over 2018 — the first time that’s happened in at least two decades.

The Realtors Association of Maui reported Tuesday that median single-family home prices averaged $710,000 over the course of 2018, topping the $695,000 average in 2017. The county closed out the year with seven straight months of median single-family home prices over $700,000.

January 2018 set the tone — that’s when median housing prices surpassed $700,000 and would only dip below that mark in February, March and May. The monthly median price exceeded $700,000 from June to December, with October’s median of $774,223 nearly tying the $780,000 record set in May 2005 and July 2006.

Referencing association data online that goes back to 1998, the closest the county has come to the $700,000 annual average was shortly before the Great Recession, when median housing prices averaged $679,000 in 2005 and $693,300 in 2006.

The median is the halfway point in the series of sales prices and can offer a better assessment of the market than average sales, which can be skewed by large sales.

Median prices for condominiums in 2018 also reached pre-Great Recession heights, averaging $500,000 for the first time since 2008 — jumping 12 percent from 2017. Condos were most expensive in November, when the median price was $528,650.

Inventory for both homes and condos was on the decline last year — an average of 529 single-family homes were on the market per month, which was 9.7 percent less than the previous year. The average of 603 condos on the market per month was a 19 percent decline from the previous year.

Homes were on the market for slightly less time than in previous years — an average of 145 days as compared to 146 in 2017. Condos were on the market slightly longer, averaging 155 days as compared to 154 days in 2017.

For just the month of December, the median price for a home was $708,750, up 3 percent from the same month in 2017. There were 94 sales closed in the month, up from 90 in 2017.

For condos, the median sales price jumped 14 percent to $493,500. Closed sales for the month were down 20 for the month to 120.

While Japanese are the top foreign buyers of real estate in Hawaii, Canadians are the biggest foreign buyers in Maui County, according to statistics from Title Guaranty Hawaii. From January to September of last year, there were 82 foreign sales totaling $95.7 million in Maui County.

Canadian buyers accounted for 70 of those sales and spent $83.9 million — mostly in West and South Maui. Japanese were a far second with four sales and $6.5 million.

Among Mainland buyers, Californians were the top spenders, with 355 sales worth $351 million. Washington residents were next with 94 sales and $91.7 million. Local residents still were buying the most property overall — 1,341 sales totaling $827.5 million.

As prices climb higher each year, Gina Duncan, president of the Maui Realtors Association, said that “changes in lending programs are trying to address getting more folks qualified for housing.”

“Lending restrictions are easing, and with programs utilizing less than 20 percent down like the 100 percent USDA funding in most areas of Maui and First Time Homebuyers programs being offered, this is helping,” Duncan said.

Duncan said that the association has supported the return of the housing grant assistance and funding for Na Hale O Maui and has advocated for apartment-only zoning because “affordable housing begins with affordable rentals.”

When asked about rising prices for condominiums, which once offered a more affordable alternative to homes but are now creeping out of range, Duncan said that “as with all statistics, a high-priced sale can skew data, especially with limited inventory. That does not mean that we are still in a rising market.”

Cassandra Abdul, executive director of Na Hale O Maui, does see some hope in the local housing market.

“I think we’re already seeing some slowdown in the market, although it doesn’t feel like it,” Abdul said.

However, with the current prices, she said that a “median-income family cannot qualify for a median-priced home.” In 2018, the area median income for a family of four was $81,400, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

The Realtors 2018 report showed the affordability index fell for both homes and condos. For homes, the affordability index for 2018 was 47, down 8 percent from 2017; and for condos, the index was 68, a 14 percent decline. The index offers the percentage that the household median income for the region will cover toward a median priced home with prevailing interest rates. The higher the number, the greater the affordability.

Unable to afford homes on their own, some families turn to the nonprofits that are working on creative solutions for the county’s housing woes. Abdul said there are about a half-dozen nonprofits providing affordable housing in Maui County, from Lokahi Pacific, which blessed its 16-home Mokuhau Subdivision in Happy Valley about a year ago, to Habitat for Humanity, which is working on 10 single-family homes in the Kahoma Residential Subdivision.

Na Hale O Maui, which keeps prices affordable by holding the land in trust and selling the home to the owners, plans to break ground on its 12-unit housing project in Kahoma in February.

Abdul sees stories of hope in the families that have bought affordable homes from Na Hale. She recalled a Coast Guard surplus house that Na Hale bought in Kahului and sold to a family for $225,000. As the family grew and the husband got a job as a police officer, they were able to sell the home back to Na Hale and purchase a market-rate house. Abdul said that’s been the case for several families who started with Na Hale.

In total, Na Hale has placed 33 families in homes and is preparing to place a 34th family by February or March.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but it’s hard when you’re doing one house at a time or five houses at a time, because the demand is so huge,” Abdul said.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at