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Oahu real estate sales dip in May, but there are signs of market improvements

COVID-19 complications depressed sales for single-family homes and condominiums in May as owners and buyers elected to practice social distancing.

The Honolulu Board of Realtors reported Saturday that May single-family homes sales fell to 248 sales, a 22.5% year-over-year drop. Meanwhile, condominium sales declined to 254, a 51.2% decrease compared to May 2019.

HBR said the median sales price for a single-family home in May rose 3.5% to $797,000, while the condominium sales price declined by 4.4% to $399,000.

“The year-over-year statistics are what we expected – the number of sales were down and median prices remained relatively steady due in large part to lower than usual inventory and continued high demand,” said Tricia Nekota, president, Honolulu Board of Realtors in a statement. “As the state continues to reopen, we are already seeing a steady increase in activity that, in turn, helps to drive our local economy.”

On Friday, Honolulu lifted restrictions on real estate operations allowing for open houses with certain restrictions, including limiting the number of attendees to 10.

“While we’re allowed to restart open houses this weekend, our top priority remains the health and safety of sellers, buyers and agents. Strict guidelines for social distancing, use of face masks, and good hygiene practices are some of the many practices that we will continue to implement,” added Nekota.

However, HBR said it was a sign of improvement that new listings increased by 17% over April, while the volume of listings going into escrow saw a 32% increase from April to May.

Single-family homes were on the market for a median of 13 days, which was eight days faster than they spent on the market in May 2019. Condominiums spent a median 23 days on the market, which was four days faster than in May of 2019.

While unemployment and tourism lockdowns continue to affect the local market, favorable interest rates have made home buying even more attractive for those that are in a position to purchase real estate. Low rates also have helped make home buying more affordable on Oahu, where affordable housing remains scarce.

At the end of May, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.15%, a low that has dipped even further. The Mortgage Bankers Association has reported that mortgage applications were up 18% from a year ago and up 54% from early April to late May.me

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