Maui real estate totals dreadful
Half-year sales of condos, homes at 57% of what they were in 2008
The Maui News
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
POSTED: July 10, 2009
In a depressed Maui real estate market, Realtor Alana Rucynski of ERA Pacific Properties works amid stacks of foreclosure documents Wednesday in Kihei as she speaks with a client. She is a member of Joe and Jodi Hogin’s foreclosure team, which is handling more than 40 foreclosure properties islandwide.
Halfway through 2009, Maui's real estate market is nearly 57 percent of the size it was in the same period last year.
From January through June 2008, 989 single-family homes and condominiums sold in Maui County. For the same period this year, 560 homes and condos sold, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Realtors Association of Maui.
If the same rate of sales continues through the second half of this year, there will be fewer house and condominium sales for the whole year - about 1,120 - than there are real estate agents on the island, about 1,300.
Commissions, based on 6 percent of the sales price, are off even more. The total value of closings in the first half of this year was $405 million (not counting undeveloped lots). In January to June 2008, the total was $911 million.
Association President Bob Lightbourn said people think Realtors rake in money from sales, "and that's not true." He estimates that in good times, Maui real estate agents average about $45,000 to $50,000 a year, and that this year, as a general guess, it will be more like $25,000 to $30,000.
Although the number of sales is way down, prices are down significantly, although not nearly as much as in some of the worst areas on the Mainland. Single-family sales averaged $761,252, which was $126,000, or 14 percent, less than a year ago.
Condominiums were down twice as far, to an average of $685,564, which was $305,000, or 29 percent, less than a year ago.
There were 285 closings on single-family homes for the first six months of the year, giving a turnover of $217 million, which is 49 percent off of last year's midyear sales of $425 million. There were 275 condo closings, for a total of $189 million, 62 percent less than last year's sales amount of $490 million.
In normal times, more condos sell than houses, and - at least until recent years - condos sell for less. Sales of multimillion-dollar condos are now part of the mix, and even with falling prices, the average condo sold for a million or more in Kapalua, Kaanapali and Wailea-Makena and on Lanai. Lanai was the priciest, with an average of $1.9 million and five sales, compared with one last year.
Lightbourn said he thinks Maui's real estate is catching up - or down - a little bit with the poor condition of property sales in the rest of the country.
"I think we still have a little air to let out," he said Wednesday. He said he thinks he can detect a bit of an upturn between the first and second quarters this year, but unevenly distributed.
There were 1,087 houses and 1,616 condos either for sale, pending sale or awaiting a contingent sale this month. At last month's absorption rate of 62 houses and 45 condos, that would appear to indicate an 18-month supply of houses and a three-year supply of condos on the market, but the estimate is not so simple to make.
"People are still testing the market," Lightbourn said, no matter how unlikely a high offer would seem.
Days on market is a more reliable measure of the absorption, and this number has been fairly steady and even is dropping a little.
For houses, the time to a sale was 113 days in June, and that hasn't been so short since October 2006. However, June was an exceptional month. Days on market this year have fluctuated between 140 and 221. In 2008, the range was 134 to 209.
For condos, June was also a quick month, at 115 days, and, again, that was exceptional. It was even lower, 111, in May, but otherwise the range of 135 to 228 was not different from 2008's range of 143 to 204.
Median prices, which mark the point at which half of sales were for more, half for less, tracked average prices closely.
Single-family median prices were off 14 percent to $510,000. Condo medians were off 27 percent to $420,000.
There are about 80 bank-owned houses for sale now, but the feeling is, Lightbourn said, that the banks are holding back, in order not to flood the market and depress prices even further.
He said short-sellers, who need lenders' permission to take a loss (which the lenders then absorb), have been getting answers more quickly, in a month instead of two months.
Lightbourn said he thinks this situation is due partially to banks not being staffed to handle more foreclosures and short sales than they are doing now.
But he said the uptick he thinks he can tease out of the sales numbers is small, maybe a 5 or 6 percent increase in number of sales, and no movement up on prices. "It's not a great deal," he said.
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