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Oahu buyers paying more for larger houses during pandemic

HONOLULU (AP) — Demand for bigger homes, reduced inventory and near historic low interest rates have helped Oahu’s housing market set a price record for a second straight month.

The median sale price for previously owned single-family homes rose to $880,000 in September, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

A Honolulu Board of Realtors report said the increased price point Tuesday was 13 percent above the high figure of $777,000 a year ago.

The previous record mark set in August was $839,000, which was $4,000 above the high point of $835,000 in July 2019.

September sales volume for single-family homes of more than 2,000 square feet of living space increased 38 percent over the same month last year, the realtor report said.

There were 39 percent more sales of homes priced between $700,000 and $1.49 million, and 43 percent additional sales of homes of over $1.5 million. Sales volume dropped 36 percent for homes under $700,000.

The number of single-family home sales on Oahu rose 13 percent to 391 last month from 347 a year earlier.

Some real estate agents said extended government emergency orders aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus have caused many people to spend more time living and working at home, prompting purchases of larger accommodations.

“Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how buyers think about purchasing a home, causing them to reevaluate their housing goals and priorities,” Tricia Nekota, president of the real estate agent trade association, said in a statement.

Philip Garboden, a University of Hawaii professor of affordable housing economics, policy and planning, said he suspects low interest rates enable higher-income households to buy bigger and more expensive homes.