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Home prices up slightly

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    This Kamehameha Heights house has been on the market since April. The 1,070-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms is listed at $699,000, which is down from an initial $725,000.

A recovery for Oahu home prices still looks hesitant six months into the year, as the median sale price for previously owned homes in June rose not quite 1 percent.

Single-family homes sold for a median $575,000 last month, up 0.9 percent from $570,000 in the same month last year, according to data from the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

The slight gain followed a 12 percent jump in May, which in turn was preceded by a 6 percent dip in April.

For the first half of the year, the median sale price for Oahu homes is up 2.6 percent to $585,000 based on about 1,500 sales.

The number of sales is up 32.5 percent year to date, but was up only 8.4 percent in June at 285 sales compared with 263 in the same month last year.

Even if they are mostly small and somewhat inconsistent, transaction and price gains to date reinforce that the single-family home market is still on pace to reverse two years of price declines.

"The June statistics show that Honolulu’s real estate market continues to recover," said Brian Benton, an agent with Prudential Locations and president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors.


The number of homes sold on Oahu in June with the median price and percentage change from the same month last year:

June 2010 285
June 2009 263
Change +8.4%
June 2010 $575,000
June 2009 $570,000
Change +0.9%
June 2010 396
June 2009 287
Change +38.0%
June 2010 $300,000
June 2009 $310,000
Change -3.2%
Source: Honolulu Board of Realtors

In Oahu’s condominium market, sales were up 38 percent to 396 in June from 287 a year earlier. However, the median price was down 3.2 percent to $300,000 from $310,000.

For the first half of the year, condo sales are up 46 percent while the median price remained flat at $305,000 compared with the same period last year.

The market performance so far this year is running a bit ahead of what some local economists predict will be a nascent median price gain for single-family homes and a slight decline for condos.

In March, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization with input from Paul Brewbaker of TZ Economics predicted the single-family home price this year will rise just 0.9 percent.

UHERO predicts that the median condo price will decline 1.1 percent.

For June, the median price change for single-family homes appeared to be influenced by a larger-than-normal number of homes selling in the Makaha-Nanakuli area, where prices are typically lower than any other part of the island.

There were 25 sales in the region for a median $272,500. Only the Ewa Plain had more sales. A year ago, four other areas had more sales than Makaha-Nanakuli.

Looking at median prices of 21 regions on Oahu for the first half of the year, eight regions had increases and 12 had decreases. One region had no sales.

In the most active region, the Ewa Plain, the median was up 2 percent to $443,500 on 260 sales this year through June. The median price in the next most active region, Kaneohe, was down 3 percent to $627,000 on 150 sales.

Donna Maier, an agent with Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, said that generally the market has improved since last year, and is being helped by record-low interest rates and relatively limited inventory.

Maier closed a sale in May on a home in Kaneohe’s gated Haiku Plantations subdivision after receiving five offers one day after listing the property on March 31. Four of the five offers were above the home’s $1.2 million list price, and the home sold for $155,000 higher.

"It generated very good offers," she said, adding that she put a lot of work into preparing the home for sale, including additions of furniture, art and plants. "I think we got top dollar."

Some observers suspect that buyer demand may let up a bit now that a federal stimulus tax credit for homebuyers has expired.

The rebate worth up to $8,000 for first-time buyers or up to $6,500 for repeat buyers was available on home purchase contracts signed before May 1, provided sales closed by June 30.

The June 30 deadline was extended by three months to help buyers whose pending purchases were delayed, but many of the last sales aided by the federal stimulus should be reflected in the June sales report.


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