If you had asked me in April whether home sales in Kohala would match the strong level of residential sales in 2019, I would have been doubtful. Our local economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which affects our local buyers. And the last time visitors from the Mainland could arrive without needing to quarantine for 14 days was almost 5 months ago.
And yet, even if not one home sold other than those closed to date and currently in escrow, the area from Hawi through Kapaau to the end of the road will have as many sales in 2020 as in 2019. Recent experience of multiple offers on my newly released listings points to a backlog of demand and the likelihood of a record year.
What is Selling in North Hawaii Residential Real Estate in the COVID-19 Environment?
The “affordable” homes in Kohala are typically single wall construction homes that housed plantation workers before being moved to their current locations when the sugar company shut down. Some of the more affordable housing stock was built later under special programs, or in the Ainakea subdivision which offered smaller lots at then affordable pricing.
Prices for these homes have continued on their upward curve this year. In 2008, the lowest sale price was $345,000; in 2019 there were 14 sales below that price but to date only 5 sales are that low. The lowest was a foreclosure sold at auction for $293,762.
I am now seeing first-time buyers looking up to $450,000! With mortgage interest rates at their lowest level ever, first-time buyers are able to afford to buy with a mortgage payment less than market rent for a similar property.
The median home price means the price where half the sales were lower and half the sales were higher. If there are more higher-priced homes, that moves the median price up faster than the price of a similar home has actually increased. That is what we are seeing in Kohala right now, as buyers look for homes near Hawi on acreage. Of the 36 properties sold or currently in escrow, 24 of them are on at least one acre. This fits with national trends of real estate buyers prefer a bit more space if the current or future pandemics — or simply lifestyle changes such as more remote work opportunities — require them to spend more time at home.
With only 14 active listings in the Hawi to Kapaau area, and showings for the most part still taking place virtually, this is a great time to connect with a local real estate agent if a home in Kohala is in your future.