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Big Island

North Kohala Real Estate Makes a Comeback

At least 33 homes have already sold in Kohala since July 2009, compared with only 7 in the previous 12 months.

The Kohala Coast—the area surrounding the rural towns of Hawi and Kapaau on the Big Island—will always be a desirable place to live. After a slow year, more and more buyers are finally able to buy land or a home here.

This time one year ago, the market for homes and land was frozen. In the first quarter of 2009, only ONE parcel of land sold–and that one had owner-financing. In the same quarter, only FOUR homes were sold. These included a little bit of everything: a bank-owned foreclosure at $155,900 on Kynnersley Road, a limited service listing (essentially for sale by owner) for $430,000, and two homes in upscale Maliu Ridge for $750,000 and $990,000. Even more telling of the deadened real estate market, there was little or nothing in escrow at the end of the quarter, as four parcels of land closed in April and no sales at all were recorded in May and June!

Affordable home sales take off.

In the second half of last year, however, residential sales took off. The two biggest factors were sellers becoming realistic about prices in a “buyer’s market” and first-time buyers looking to take advantage of the Federal Housing Tax Credit. Thirteen homes sold in the second half of 2009, ten of them priced at under $350,000, including four under $200,000.

To put this in perspective, during the North Kohala Community Development Plan process in 2007, the Affordable Housing Focus Group found that the last time there were houses available under $250,000 in Kohala was 2003! The trend continued into the first quarter of this year with 7 homes sold, 3 of them under $350,000 and 13 more houses in escrow in Kohala as the quarter ended.

Sale of luxury homes also increases.

This Puakea Bay Ranch luxury home (MLS# 230535) located in a gated oceanfront community with equestrian trails offers 6,900 sq. ft. of living space as well as a 3,000 sq. ft. lanai.

The other good news was that 2009 ended with the sale of a beautiful home on 4.5 acres near Hawi for $1,150,000—the first sale above the $1 million mark in over a year. Today, interest in high-end properties continues, with a great ocean view property sold at Maliu Ridge in the first quarter and two homes at the gated community of Puakea Bay Ranch having current offers on them.

Currently, there are only two homes available for sale at Puakea Bay Ranch: a gracious home of over 6,900 sq. ft. home priced at $2.2 million (MLS# 230535) and an oceanfront estate with 9 bedrooms, over 11,000 sq. ft., and of course pool and tennis court priced at $13.5 million (MLS# 232548).

Land, too, is finally selling.

Land sales also picked up again in the second half of 2009, with five properties sold ranging from 3 acres to a 23.5 acre oceanfront parcel. Three of these were local buyers and the others Mainland residents purchasing for “future retirement.” The MLS shows three parcels of raw land closed so far this year (although one lot was part of the sale of the adjacent home at Maliu Ridge), and another three are under contract. These land figures exclude the parcels sold along the coast for under the State’s Legacy Land Conservation Program—another piece of good news for Kohala.

Overall, the market is really picking up.

Real estate agents look at the amount of “inventory” versus the pace of sales to determine the direction of prices. Although new homes are always coming on the market, and although there are a few properties in the foreclosure process that will continue to dampen prices, this healthy rate of sales would normally mean prices will begin to stabilize and creep upward.

What difference a year makes!

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(S)
Direct: 808.443.4588
Email: beth@hawaiilife.com

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Katie Minkus, R(B)

April 9, 2010

Call me conservative, but I’m not quite ready to jump on the “prices are creeping up” bandwagon… Hawaii real estate generally operates with quick peaks and valleys, with lots and lots and lots of years spent in the “trough” (valley). My prediction is we’ll not see anything significant in terms of price increases until closer to the end of 2011 when we’ve sold through (hopefully) the remaining distressed properties. We’ve not yet seen the end of the foreclosures and short sales, there is another wave coming.

On a positive note, I am THRILLED to see properties trade in North Kohala for under $200,000 as that means there is “affordable” housing available for our local community. While most of the world relates to Hawaii as a vacation paradise, to those of us who live and work here, this is home, and like the rest of the nation, we too aspire to the American dream of home ownership. With jobs scarce and wages low, prices like this mean many buyers who were priced out of the market for the past 7 years can now consider owning their own “piece of paradise.”

Great post, Beth – keep ’em coming!

Katie Minkus, R(B)

April 9, 2010

Call me conservative, but I’m not quite ready to jump on the “prices are creeping up” bandwagon… Hawaii real estate generally operates with quick peaks and valleys, with lots and lots and lots of years spent in the “trough” (valley). My prediction is we’ll not see anything significant in terms of price increases until closer to the end of 2011 when we’ve sold through (hopefully) the remaining distressed properties. We’ve not yet seen the end of the foreclosures and short sales, there is another wave coming.

On a positive note, I am THRILLED to see properties trade in North Kohala for under $200,000 as that means there is “affordable” housing available for our local community. While most of the world relates to Hawaii as a vacation paradise, to those of us who live and work here, this is home, and like the rest of the nation, we too aspire to the American dream of home ownership. With jobs scarce and wages low, prices like this mean many buyers who were priced out of the market for the past 7 years can now consider owning their own “piece of paradise.”

Great post, Beth – keep ’em coming!

Diane Chavez

April 9, 2010

I was checking out the amount of Hits some of the Waimea
homes were getting from our Web site data bank. It seems to indicate the frequency of interest has greatly increased in the last two months according to the searches I ran. When I ask prospective Buyers if they are motivated to try for the tax credits available up until June 30th I am surprised that often I hear it will not make an impact on them deciding to make an offer. Some buyers, however, are thrilled the tax credits are available but are stuck waiting for a short sale approval so it is not certain they can close by the deadline which is frustrating. For those individuals who may be trying to qualify for the credit keep in mind the optimum last date to get an acceptance and try to close on time is just around April 30th 2010. I hope the recent activity in interest is a good sign for Buyers and Sellers alike. Aloha
Diane Chavez RS, ABR, GRI
diane@hawaiilife.com

Diane Chavez

April 9, 2010

I was checking out the amount of Hits some of the Waimea
homes were getting from our Web site data bank. It seems to indicate the frequency of interest has greatly increased in the last two months according to the searches I ran. When I ask prospective Buyers if they are motivated to try for the tax credits available up until June 30th I am surprised that often I hear it will not make an impact on them deciding to make an offer. Some buyers, however, are thrilled the tax credits are available but are stuck waiting for a short sale approval so it is not certain they can close by the deadline which is frustrating. For those individuals who may be trying to qualify for the credit keep in mind the optimum last date to get an acceptance and try to close on time is just around April 30th 2010. I hope the recent activity in interest is a good sign for Buyers and Sellers alike. Aloha
Diane Chavez RS, ABR, GRI
diane@hawaiilife.com

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