Rising prices help grow real estate inventory

Real estate inventory continues to grow in Maui County, propelled in part by some of the highest prices in the last eight years, January data from the Realtors Association of Maui show.

As of Saturday, the active, pending-continue to show and contingent status inventory was 686 units, a number which has been growing steadily since the 582 units in September, the data showed.

The report narrative cited rising prices for the growing inventory, turning homeowners into sellers. The median price for single-family homes was $691,500 – the highest for a month since 2006. That was 36 percent higher than in December and 26 percent higher than in January 2013.

For condo units, the median price for January was $437,000, up 20 percent from December and 47 percent from last January, the report said.

Someone bought a home for $11.9 million, the No. 1 selling price for a property in January; the top condo price was $3.9 million for the month, the report said.

While the inventories and prices were rising, sales for residential units were lackluster, up one unit to 64 homes sold in January compared to 2013. There were 13 fewer home sales in January than in December.

Condo sales were brisk, up 48 percent from January 2013 to 93 units. As with homes, condo sales were off month over month, 27 units lower than in December.

Terry Tolman, Realtors Association of Maui chief staff executive, noted Monday that there is a trend for increased sales in December followed by a dip in January, especially with single-family homes. Buyers and sellers may have extra incentives to close by the end of the year, including for tax reasons, he said.

The fewer sales this January also could be the result of the rising prices, with some potential buyers being priced out of the market, Tolman said.

“The low point in the market has passed,” said the report regarding first-time homebuyers. “The opportunity is fading quickly. If you can’t buy now, start saving your down payment for the next market cycle.”

The regions with the most brisk sales for homes were Central Maui, 13 homes sold, $404,000 median price; Kihei, 11 homes, $585,000; and the high-end Wailea-Makena region, seven homes, $2.7 million.

The region with the highest median price was Spreckelsville/Paia/Kuau, with $ 4 million for three sales.

Kihei topped the condo sales with 32 units at a median price of $400,000; followed by Napili/Kahana/Honokowai, 23 units, $357,500 median price; and Kaanapali, 10 units, $1.2 million median price.

Lanai condos had the highest median price for the month, $1.7 million on two sales.

Tolman cautioned that while the statistics show an aggregate number, each sale has its own special dynamics.

“If you latch on to one particular number, you’re kidding yourself,” he said about prices.

The condition of the property, location, other properties for sale in the area and whether the listing is “well-priced” are among the factors that come into play in a real estate sale, he noted.

The January data show that homes were on the market for an average of 130 days – that’s the longest since July.

He also noted that the “shadow inventory” of bank-owned homes is dwindling and is no longer a force on the market.

Only 18.2 percent of home sales in the last year were real estate-owned properties. That’s down from the 45 percent of home sales in January 2012.

The complete report may be found at www.ramaui.com

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.