Demand and prices slipped for previously owned single-family homes on Oahu last month, as the market continued to suffer a hangover from year-ago sales that were inflated by a federal tax credit incentive.
Home sales fell 5 percent to 245 in November from 258 in the same month last year, according to a report from the Honolulu Board of Realtors. It was the third decline in four months, after sales consistently rose during the first half of the year.
The median single-family home sale price slipped 0.8 percent to $585,000 from $590,000. The slight decline represented a second consecutive decrease, after five straight months of increases.
Oahu’s condominium market saw much weaker volume, but a small uptick in the median price. There were 303 condo sales last month, a 24.6 percent drop from 402 a year earlier, while the median price was $315,000, up 1.4 percent from $310,500 in the same period.
Officials with the Honolulu Board of Realtors believe the decline in sales, which materialized in the second half of the year for single-family homes and condos, is largely due to year-ago volume inflated by a surge of sales driven by federal tax credits.
The number of homes sold on Oahu in November with the median price and percentage change from the same month last year:
Source: Honolulu Board of Realtors
The tax credit program designed to help U.S. housing markets recover provided a rebate up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers, and up to $6,500 for repeat buyers. The main thrust of the program occurred last year, and was extended to home purchase contracts signed by April 30 and completed by Sept. 30.
Despite the recent market weakness, Oahu home and condo sales are on pace to achieve full-year gains in volume and prices.
For the first 11 months of this year, the number of single-family home sales is up 13.4 percent, and condo volume is up 11.4 percent.
The median price this year through November is up 2.6 percent for single-family homes at $595,000, and is up 0.3 percent for condos at $306,000.
If the small rises in median prices carry through this month, they will reverse two years of modest declines for single-family homes — 3 percent in 2008 and 7.9 percent last year — and a one-year decline of 7.1 percent for condos last year.
Local economist Paul Brewbaker said it should be no surprise that home sales and prices are generally rebounding given that broad economic recovery began in mid-2009 with the recession’s end. He said the slow and uneven economic recovery along with low interest rates have helped restore confidence among growing numbers of homebuyers.
"Consumers are finding their way back," he said. "All in all, I think we’re in a good place."
Brian Benton, an agent with Prudential Locations and president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, said the number of single-family home and condo sales pending last month were up 22.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, from November 2009, indicating that sales completed in the next two or three months should be higher.
Benton also said relatively low inventory should continue to keep pressure on median prices.
The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization forecasts that median home prices on Oahu will rise 4 percent next year and 4.8 percent in 2012. UHERO projects the condo price will rise 5.5 percent next year and 4.6 percent in 2012.
Oahu single-family home and condominium resales data for November by neighborhood with the percentage change from last year:
Source: Honolulu Board of Realtors Star-Advertiser