Although single-family home sales prices dipped in July, Maui's real estate market nevertheless is on its way to recovery since the 2009 economic downturn, Realtors said last week.
The long-term trend is for lower inventories, more sales and rising prices, according to the latest data released from the Realtors Association of Maui.
In July, 93 homes and 108 condominium units were sold, compared to the same month last year in which only 76 homes and 82 condo units were sold.
"Our inventory has declined 11 to 14 percent over the past 12 months," association President P. Denise La Costa said. "It's hard to find properties for our clients."
As of Aug. 10, association statistics show that there are 610 homes and 785 condominiums still available for sale in the county, less than the same time last year when there were 690 homes and 915 condominiums for sale in the county.
"The inventory is shrinking, prices go up, buyers and closers scramble and make multiple offers" on a single property, said La Costa, who has been a Maui Realtor for more than 20 years. "The market is getting back to where it was. . . . When inventory is low like this, it means prices will rise, and inventory will continue to shrink if people don't want to sell."
For the month of July, the residential home median price declined to $475,000, the lowest it has been in all seven months of this year so far, and lower than last July's median price of $488,000.
Still, when compared to the first seven months of 2012, the average sales price and median sales price for houses so far this year are still up by double-digit percentages, according to the Realtors' group.
According to year-to-date figures (comparing Jan. 1 to July 31 this year with the same period in 2012), the average home sells for $794,079, up 10 percent from last year's average of $719,600. The year-to-date median sales price, or the midpoint in prices where half of sales are higher and half are lower, for homes in Maui County is $536,250, up 16 percent from last year's median of $461,000.
"Short time-frame (monthly) views do not necessarily reflect the longer time-frame trends," said Terry Tolman, chief staff executive for the Realtors Association of Maui. "Prices are down for this month, but they will be coming back up."
July is traditionally a slower month after the winter-spring rush of showings and sales, he added.
Central Maui recorded the most home sales in July, with 19 houses selling at a median of $409,255. Kihei saw 14 homes sold, with a median price of $531,000. The Upcountry area spanning Kula, Ulupalakua and Kanaio also posted double-digit sales last month with 13 homes sold, with a median price of $537,500. The cheapest median price for homes sold in the county last month were on Lanai, with a price of $255,000. On Maui, the cheapest homes sold were in Makawao-Olinda-Haliimaile, with a median price of $388,500.
Condominium sales were consistent with the association's assertion that real estate prices have been and will continue to be on the rise.
Year-to-date, condo units that have sold in the first seven months of this year did so at an average price of $544,354, up 17 percent from last year's average of $465,649. The year-to-date median sales price for condos is $373,000, up 7 percent from last year's median of $350,000.
Condominiums in Wailea-Makena sold for the highest prices in the county - seven units were sold at a median price of nearly $2.4 million. The most condos were sold in Kihei, 33 condos that sold at a median price of $335,000. Central Maui saw 18 condos sold at a median price of $219,000.
"Well-priced properties are attracting multiple offers making for a quick sale," a statement from the association said. Foreclosures and short sales are "dwindling, with any 'hidden inventory' (or overhang) backlog slowly trickling onto the market."
In the past 12 months, 1,001 residential units and 1,285 condominiums have been sold.
"Before, it was someone just wanted a listing, but now people are more serious buyers," La Costa said. "Prices go back up when there's no inventory, and that's a trend I see continuing."
As prices continue to rise, it is likely that more owners will decide to become sellers and put their homes on the market, La Costa said.
* Eileen Chao can be reached at email@example.com.