Big Island

Upturn in the $1 Million Residential Market on the Big Island

I have three beautiful residential real estate listings in North Kohala at prices ranging from $1,095,000 to $1,599,000 that have been for sale 60—90 days. Today, I am meeting with one of those sellers to review market conditions and where we stand.

Earlier this week our Big Island Hawaii Life team had a mini-caravan to see all our gorgeous listings along Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona, several of which are also in the $1-$1.5 million range. We talked story as we went, and everyone seemed very busy with showings, offers, and even closings–so before speaking with my sellers this evening I wanted to double-check whether that was just us, or an overall trend in the Big Island real estate market.

I researched residential real estate sales from Kailua Kona north through Waimea and Hawi, with listing prices from $999,000 to $1.6 million. For comparison, in 2008 a total of 34 homes sold in that range. Two-thirds of them (21 properties) sold in the first half of the year.

For the first six months of 2009, there were only 11 home sales in the $1-$1.5 million list price range (4 in North Kohala including Kohala Ranch and Kohala-by-the-Sea, and the rest in the Kona district). That’s only about half of the closings we saw in 2008.

From July 1st until mid-September, there 6 closings of homes listed in that price range (three in Kohala Ranch, one at Waikii Ranch, and three in Kailua Kona). But the big surprise was the number of properties in escrow: 5 more properties, the least expensive of which is listed for $1,250,000! That confirms that although the first half of the year was much slower than 2008, the pace is picking up. It is even possible the year could end with as many residential properties sales in this price range as the west side of Big Island had in 2008.

In case you were wondering, 0nly one of the homes under contract is bank-owned. Of the earlier sales, it looks like five were distress sales. The rest were simply realistic sellers.

The statistics show an almost complete reversal of the seasonal pattern of real estate sales we’ve come to expect in Hawaii. Whereas in many areas on the Mainland the biggest selling season is usually late spring and early summer so that kids can be in their new home before school begins, even people planning to relocate to Hawaii rather than just buy a second or vacation home will often be house-hunting here while they escape parka-and-mitten weather.

During the summer there is another flurry of tourism, some of which will translate into property sales—and we all schedule vacations in late September or October when things are slow! We’ve still scheduled our vacations, but it seems like our colleagues will be busy covering for us this year.

By the way, you can check out our galleries on the new Hawaii Life website, or even create your own!

A hui hou,

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(S)
Direct: 808.443.4588

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