The Hawaii real estate market has always struggled with a short supply of homes for sale relative to demand. And for most of the last ten years, the national real estate market had the same issue: In January 2009, there were 14.3 million houses listed for sale on Realtor.com. By January 2018, that inventory had fallen to just 6.2 million homes—and prices naturally reflected that scarcity.

Prices have been climbing here in Hawaii as inventory levels have been shrinking: The median price for a single-family home on Oahu is now $812,500, while the median price for condominiums hit $428,000 in September, both breaking records.

Hawaii Housing Facts: Ancient Hawaiians had their own architects – skilled builders of the kahuna class
who were called poe kuhikuhi pu’uone. They directed larger-scale building projects like heiaus, fish ponds
and irrigation systems. Construction would involve entire communities, under the sponsorship and direction
of an ali’i and under the direct supervision of the poe kuhikuhi pu’uone. The term is still used today.

Some national numbers show we may soon be in for some improvement: Realtor.com’s most recent housing report shows that nationally, new listings are up by 8 percent compared to year-ago figures, while the inventory of homes is down by just 0.2 percent compared to a year prior.

The year-over-year improvement in new listings was the biggest we’ve seen since 2013, and portends a more buyer-friendly market in the weeks or months ahead.

“After years of record-breaking inventory declines, September’s almost flat inventory signals a big change in the real estate market,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com®. “Would-be buyers who had been waiting for a bigger selection of homes for sale may finally see more listings materialize.”

Hawaii trends typically lag mainland trends by a few months, so if the mainland is seeing some reduction in inventory pressure, we could see some of our inventory improve in the next few months. We’re not suggesting prices are going to fall. Nobody can predict prices. But if inventory improves, buyers may soon see more choices, and that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates have been on the move, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reaching 4.9 percent. On a historical basis, that’s still quite low, but mortgage rates have been artificially low for most of the last decade. Rates in the 2000s were mostly between 5 percent and 7 percent, so what we’re seeing is more of a reversion to the mean in the capital markets.

Hawaii homebuyers shouldn’t be discouraged by the high median home prices. There are homes all over the Islands available at a variety of price points, and suitable for all kinds of buyers—and with inventories beginning to pick up, buyers will benefit from having more choices available.

So with interest rates generally rising, and national inventory numbers improving, now’s a great time to get pre-qualified for a mortgage, so you’re in a position to pounce on that dream home when it comes up for sale.

Click here to start the process of getting pre-qualified – and don’t hesitate to call us at (808) 891-0415 with questions.

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