It's not the interest rates. It's the inventory!
Aloha, here we are, 3 weeks into the New Year. Where has that time gone? A lot of people are glad to see 2022 in the rearview mirror. Inflation went crazy, mortgage rates doubled, Russia invaded Ukraine, and I'm sure you may have a few items of your own.
There are some good thing happening on Maui. There is one quick Maui update which is especially important if you are on the West Side; it seems the hospital that almost all of us thought was dead was only in a coma on life support. Joanne Johnson, the VP of the West Maui Hospital Association, reported that they have permits and have started grading the land. It is expected to be completed in 2025.
Nationally, real estate is still getting a lot of press. We hear tales of how bad things are for buyers and sellers. Specifically, interest rates are too high for buyers and properties are not selling so sellers have to lower their price.
But that is the national news, and as the bumper sticker says, "this ain't the mainland."
So, how is the Maui real estate market? It depends on what part of the market is important to you.
It's easy, and natural, to compare today's market to 2021 and the first half of 2022 and conclude that the market is terrible. The last 3 months of 2022 felt like someone slammed on the brakes. However, with us getting into the new year we can see buyers slowly coming back and sellers listing properties again.
In December, there were 66 homes sold. That is a big drop off from December of 2022 which had 118 sales. Looking all the way back through the last 5 years, the month of December averages 90+ sales. We also saw 400 and sometimes over 500 homes on the market during those years. So, sales can't get back to normal until inventory gets back to normal.
Oh, and, by the way, if we were selling 90 homes a month and there were 400 listed for sale, that's still a seller's market.
Last December there were 171 condos sold. This December there were only 67 sold. The 171 sales in 2021 is close to a record high and the 67 sold last month is close to a record low, but still higher than the Great Recession.
There are currently 271 homes for sale on Maui. That is the most homes we've had for sale since December 2020, exactly 2 years ago. This year's low tide mark for the number of homes for sale in a month was in April with just 165 homes. That represented barely a month and a half's worth of homes. Now we are all the way up to 3.8 months of supply. It is still solidly a seller's market.
The last time the Maui single family home market was balanced, meaning it wasn't a buyer's market or a seller's market, was 2018 when there was 5.9 months of inventory. By 2018 supply had dropped into the 4's and kept falling. Today we are almost back up to 4 months of inventory after finishing 2021 with 1.9 months' supply according to the Realtors Association of Maui.
At the end of the month there were 206 condos for sale. That is the first time the number of condos for sale broke 200 since May 2021.
In 2018 the condo market tilted seriously toward sellers when inventory dropped to just over 4 months. Inventory stayed in that range until 2020.
In early 2020 Maui got down to 3.4 months of inventory. Then Hawaii started quarantine, and sales came to a virtual standstill. Inventory levels did start to rise dramatically at that time, but didn't hit the magic 6 month level until 3 months later in June. Inventory climbed steadily until August, hitting 743 condos for sale, creating 6.8 months of inventory, and then began a gentle decline.
Within 6 months inventory dropped more than half. At the same time sales more than tripled. That trend continued, and toward the end of 2021, we hit the proverbial bottom of the inventory barrel when there weren't enough condos for sale to last for even 1 month.
You would think that with almost anything else if the supply doubled there would be a huge amount of inventory which would drive down prices. Our inventory has actually more than doubled all the way up to 1.9 months of inventory, but it's still a seller's market.
Pending sales represent properties that are under contract but have not yet closed. Pendings are the pipeline that tell us how many sales are likely to happen in the next couple of months.
Back in March of 2021, I remember seeing the number of properties under contract on Maui was over 900. We all thought that was amazing, unbelievable, and that it couldn't possibly last.
We were right!
Since that record high, the number has dropped to a mere 341 overall, including 105 homes under contract and 179 condos under contract. The last time we had that few condos under contract was back in July of 2020. I cannot trace the number of pending homes as far back as I'd like, but it appears the last time we had this few homes under contract was likely during the Great Recession.
In December of 2008 there were just 54 homes sold compared to 66 for December of 2022. One big difference is that there were 1,722 homes for sale at the end of 2008. Today there are only 271 for sale.
SELLING PRICES: average and median sold price
We look at average and median prices in all categories. A lot of people like to know the average price; however, we tend to use median for most of our analysis, because the median is less likely to be skewed by outliers of a few very high priced or very low priced sales.
Selling prices for homes have been up, down, and all around for the last 2 years. However, the average selling price for the last 2 months has been just over $1.3M. That is well off this year's high of $2,255,363.
The median selling price has hovered just over and under the million dollar mark. That is off the year's high of $1,255,000, but it is a much less dramatic variance than that of the average. One might look at those numbers and conclude that prices are coming down, after all, that's what the press is saying. But you know how statistics can be. Based on what I see, I believe that the demand for the very high end, multimillion dollar homes, as opposed to the low end multimillion dollar homes, peaked and hasn't come back yet. That's what has lowered the average and median price points.
Another set of datapoints to dissuade us from the idea that prices are coming down is a disconnect between listing prices and selling prices. The average asking price for a home on Maui is $3,695,000 and the median list price is $1,794,000.
So, you can look for longer days on market and more asking price reductions, but don't expect any big changes in actual selling prices.
Condos have also been up and down a bit in terms of selling prices. However, the average selling price for a condo is still over $1 million and the median is in the high $700's. With so few condos on the market and such a high percentage of cash sales. I don't see prices easing in this segment either. The all-time median selling price was set at $856,250.
Is it a good time to buy? Is it a good time to sell?
The only question more prevalent than those two is, "how's the market?" It always depends on what part of the market you are interested in and whether you are thinking like a buyer or a seller.
If you are thinking of selling, there has never been a better time. With so much speculation about the condition of the market and some pundits saying the market is in for a big correction, if you really want to sell and not just test the market, it's a great time. There is still high demand and low supply. And while I don't expect to see prices drop, I expect prices will be flat or have less than normal appreciation. We got our big dose of appreciation over the last 2 years.
So why is it a good time to buy? First, we don't expect to see prices drop. Also, if you are financing, rates seem to be pretty stable. Some lenders have adjustable rates down in the 4's. If you are leery of adjustable rate mortgages, ARM's, look again. Today's ARM's are not like those that got so many people in trouble back in the day. Today's ARM's have a fixed component that doesn't change for up to 10 years.
Another point in favor of those buying on Maui is that we do not expect prices to drop. We expect slow, steady appreciation. So you won't benefit from trying to time the market. If you find the perfect property, or if it's at least 85% perfect, you should probably buy it.
Get more information and details
To get more information on property and trends, you can search all properties listed for sale at www.AlohaGroupMaui.com. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do our best to get an answer for you. As we get more requests for information, we’ll add new sections to the website, newsletter or both.
About Aloha Group Maui
Aloha Group Maui was founded by L. Lee Potts, MBA, REALTOR® R(B) and Barbara S. Potts, MBA, REALTOR® R(B) and former California CPA. Our team consists of talented professionals; Cheri Miller R(S), Suni Novotny R(S), Keri Nicholson R(S), Myra Plant R(S), Anthony Freda R(S), Courtney Stice, R(S), Kathy Becklin, R(B), Heather Zidell, R(S), Magdalena Odonnell R(S), and Tony Brown R(B). We are businesspeople, and we treat our clients with the same care and service attitude that we would like to receive when we do business. We are in business for pleasure and profit. We expect that most of our clients will enjoy the property they own in Maui (pleasure), and it would be nice for everyone if your property performs well for you (profit). Real estate can be highly speculative, and profits are never guaranteed. So if you are buying property in Maui, it’s a good idea to surround yourself with a professional team.
Lee Potts is the former President of an international software company and former Marketing VP of a publicly traded franchise organization. Lee and Barbara are both licensed under Keller Williams Realty Maui.
Barbara Potts was a CPA with Ernst and Young before joining Apple Computer back when both Steve’s were there (Jobs and Woz). She was also Director of Strategic Marketing for Grass Valley Group, a division of Tektronix, and a business broker in California.
Copyright 2023 L. Lee Potts
Statistical information in this newsletter is based on actual sales information reported to the Realtors Association of Maui, Inc. While this information is deemed reliable, it is not guaranteed. This newsletter is for informational purposes only and not intended as advice for investment or any other purposes. Real estate is considered to be highly volatile, and purchasers and sellers of real estate should always seek expert outside advice before investing.