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Median home price reaches historic high

Realtor group points to lack of inventory as one culprit

This 53-acre lot along Omaopio Road is for sale. Maui County’s median price of a single-family home in August was $837,500 — the highest monthly median price on record. This photo was taken Wednesday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui County’s median sales price for single-family homes last month reached a historic high of $837,500, the second time this year that the median price surpassed the $800,000 threshold, a real estate report said.

The median sales price for homes in August skyrocketed 19.6 percent compared with the same month in 2018, according to a Realtors Association of Maui report released Tuesday. The price set a record for RAM tracking, which dates back to 1993.

April’s $819,500 median home price had been the highest until August. This year is the first time median sales prices, the midpoint of all sales prices, have exceeded $800,000. (Median prices often offer a better assessment of the market than average prices, which could be skewed by a few extreme amounts.)

The median sales price for condos last month dipped slightly to $496,950, a 0.6 percent decrease from the same month last year. Condos spiked in June to $522,000, the highest mark in a decade. The historic high for condos is $805,000 set in January 2009.

Gina Duncan, RAM president, pointed to lack of inventory as a reason median and average prices are going up. She added that this time of year is typically slower. The August 2019 number of Maui sales was down 10 percent for residential and 6 percent for condos compared with 2018.

Inventory, the number of properties for sale in active status at the end of a given month, also reached historic lows in August for both homes and condos. Compared with last year, home inventory dropped 14.8 percent to 443; condos tumbled 23.4 percent to 458. Inventory tracking dates back to 2010, according to RAM.

Duncan cautioned, though, that in order to gain a full picture of the market, price ranges in different areas need to be considered.

“Kahului median residential actually went down 3 percent and some luxury areas of the west side also saw decreases,” she said.

Duncan said there will continue to be demand pushing up pricing through the end of the year, especially in light of recent interest rate decreases. The Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate July 31, and 30-year mortgage rates have continued to decline.

Single-family homebuyers found the highest median sales prices last month in Wailea/Makena at $9,037,736 (five units sold) and the lowest in Spreckelsville/Paia/Kuau at $570,000 (one sold). The most units were sold in Kihei, with 20 selling at a median price of $875,750.

Condo buyers saw the highest median sales prices last month in Kapalua at $1,865,000 (four sold) and the lowest on Lanai at $193,000 (one sold). The highest number of units were purchased in Kihei, with 59 selling at a median price of $480,000.

Duncan also said the real estate market should be viewed in its entirety, with the total of homes, condos and land sold last month. Along those lines, Maui County saw a 14.3 percent drop in number of closed sales, a 5.1 percent increase in the median price and a decrease of 16.4 percent in the number of units for sale.

On the national level, the RAM report said, the lack of affordable homes and the persistence of historically high housing prices are leading to lower-than-expected existing home sales.

Also, it said professionals should continue to monitor the market for signs of continued imbalances.

“Although the inventory of affordable homes at this point remains largely stable, it is stable at historically low levels, which may continue to push prices higher and affect potential buyers across the U.S,” RAM said.

RAM releases local market stats for the previous month within the first 10 business days of each new month. For the full report, visit www.ramaui.com.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.