It's Aloha Friday, I'm Lahaina Lee, and this is your Maui Mid-Month Real Estate Market Report for December 2020. Thanks for stopping by.
We're changing up the format a little bit here, I hope that's OK with everyone. First of all, I'm happy to report, it has been beautiful here on Maui for the last few, well, a very long time. We stopped by Baby Beach this morning. It wasn't very busy on the beach and the temp was a heavenly 81 degrees.
There are signs of economic life returning. That's the good news. Unemployment on Maui is still in the double digits and the lines of folks waiting during the food giveaways are heartbreakingly long. As our Congress slow dances ever closer to our economic cliff, Governor Ige announced the extensions of Hawaii's eviction moratorium through February 14. I expect that is a deep sigh of relief for a lot of folks. Landlords, who also have ongoing expenses, and many of whom are carrying mortgages, just grab the grass and hang on guys.
So how are small businesses, the ones who create most of the jobs, doing? Front Street is buys compared to just a couple of months ago, but nowhere near what it was like this time last year. According to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, arrivals last December were running about 110% of "baseline". This year we're barely at 30%. But, that's better than nothing.
Business on Front Street is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of our old favorites, like MauiBuilt, are gone, some have yet to re-open and there are new ones and some new looks and locations. Star Noodle has taken up the larger, open air space that was previously occupied by sister restaurant Aloha Mixed Plate. The boys at Mala have converted their former parking lot into nice outdoor oceanfront dining spot. It's really great!
Maui's economy, along with the rest of Hawai'i, is dependent on how well we contain COVID. And, while cases are up, based on the daily numbers, I'm not seeing the expected post-Thanksgiving spike that everyone was predicting. Maui has been averaging about 12 cases a day, which is kind of high for us. Heck, I was freaked out when somebody on Facebook reported that there were 10 cases in Lahaina. And, if it's on Facebook, you know it's true.
Precautions are getting tighter and looser. The quarantine period here has been reduced from 14 days to 10. Most people on the street are wearing masks. Most people seem to understand that wearing a mask is better than the $5,000 fine you can get for not wearing a mask. Also, Hawaii has introduced a new app, AlohaSafe Alert. You download it to your phone and, if you've been near another person, with a cell phone who contracts COVID, you'll get an alert. It's all confidential, none of your personal data is collected or shared. Big Brother is not watching you.
And, vaccines are on the way. Actually, some arrived. MauiNow reported that Hawaii received our initial shipment of 975 doses at Queen's Hospital. That seems shockingly low to me, but there were another 3,900 doses scheduled to arrive on December 16.
Real estate continues to thrive across the U.S. with home sales up 27% compared to 2019. Prices are up and interest rates are down. According to a report from Dean Rathburn at Avis Mortgage, today's conforming 30 year fixed rate is 2.375%. A year ago, it was 3.25%. That's great news for both home buyers and home sellers. Some associated not so great news is that, according to the Origination Insight Report, it is now taking 55 days to close a loan.
And here on Maui, it's pretty interesting. Halfway through December, sales are up compared to last December when both the economy and tourism were booming. Let's take a look at the number.
After sales almost come to a complete stop in May, sales in all categories have rallied. You may remember in November overall sales were up 17% over sales in 2019. Home sales were up by 30% and the median selling price was up by over $118,000. There were 9 fewer condos sold in November of 2020 over 2019, but prices held and were actually up by just a fraction, 2.5%
Halfway through the month of December, the trend continues. As of December 15, there have already been 146 closings. That compares with just 124 last year halfway through the month last year. Home sales are up slightly despite the minuscule amount of inventory. That's reflected in an increase in the median selling price which is all the way up to $859. Supply and demand. And condos, last year there were 69 closed by mid-December, this year we're at 83 and the median selling price is up 16%. Oh, by the way, half of the condos that sold, 42, allow short-term rental.
So, if we, all of us together, can keep COVID under control and keep the state open, and if Congress can just get its act together, there might just be light at the end of the tunnel.
That's our real estate market report for the week. If you have any questions about anything that's going on here on Maui, or if you'd just like to say aloha, give us a call, or sent a text or email. Mele Kalikimaka, Hau'oli Hanukaha and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou. Stay well, be safe and Aloha!
Maui's only weekly real estate, economic and life style report, featuring Lahaina Lee Potts.