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Home sales in Hawaii take hit amid pandemic

Hawaii’s real estate market is now getting pounded from complications of COVID-19.

The Honolulu Board of Realtors issued a report Wednesday showing that resales of Oahu homes in April fell more than 20%, though median prices were up modestly.

On Hawaii island and Kauai, sales last month plummeted roughly between 20% and 60%, with mixed impacts on prices.

Sales data for Maui homes in April was not yet released as of Wednesday afternoon.

In the state’s largest housing market, Oahu, the number of single-family homes sold fell 22% to 248 in April from 316 in the same month last year, while the number of condominium sales dropped 28% to 343 from 476 in the same period.

“As anticipated, our housing market is confronting challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic, including a steep decline in sales and listings,” Tricia Nekota, president of the real estate agent trade association, said in a statement.

Median prices, meanwhile, were up modestly.

Single-family homes sold for a median $809,000 last month, up 5.5% from $766,750 a year earlier.

The condo median sale price was $450,000 last month, up 7.4% from $418,950 a year earlier.

The median price is a point at which half the sales were at a higher price and half at a lower price. This measure can be swayed by the age, location, quality and size of homes sold.

According to the report, which is limited to previously owned homes, homeowners are listing fewer properties for sale. Other factors constraining sales include a prohibition on open houses, tighter lending criteria, thousands of local job losses and a near halt of tourism.

The number of active listings in April was down 25% for single-family homes and 9% for condos.

“Sellers and buyers are exceedingly cautious as they juggle their perceptions and the reality of economic security amid these uncertain times,” Nekota said.

Last week, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell lifted a few restrictions on real estate activities to allow in-person meetings when something can’t reasonably be accomplished remotely and to allow property viewings, inspections, appraisals and other services by appointment provided that no more than three people are involved and social-distancing guidelines are followed.

Another incentive for home buying is mortgage interest rates hitting historic lows in recent days.

Still, the squeeze on home sales is expected to get worse in the months ahead. That’s because sales reported in a given month reflect signed purchase agreements made one to three months before and after other work that includes property viewing and mortgage qualification.

Hawaii’s “stay at home” order went into effect in late March.

“We expect to see a greater impact on housing sales next month,” Jason Lazzerini, president and CEO of local brokerage firm Locations, said in a separate report.

Lazzerini noted that the number of Oahu home purchase deals that went into escrow in April was down 43%.

HOMES

APRIL SALES MEDIAN PRICE

2020 248 $809,000

2019 316 $766,750

Change -22.0% 5.5%

CONDOS

APRIL SALES MEDIAN PRICE

2020 343 $450,000

2019 476 $418,950

Change -27.9% 7.4%

Source: Honolulu Board of Realtors

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