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April 2024 Email Update

Here is our 4/10/2024 e-mail update. We send the newsletter after the Honolulu Board of Realtors posts the preceding month’s statistics on their website. You can read past newsletters by visiting the link below.  Our quarterly newsletter includes valuable real estate information not included in our monthly updates

Past Newsletters
You may also listen to our Monthly Newsletter from our recently created podcast, Real Estate Tips of the Day & Quarterly Real Estate Articles by clicking the link below:
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The March median sales price for single-family homes was $1,100,000 (1.5% higher than March 2023) and for condos was $500,000 (6.7% lower than March 2023). Demand slowed after showing signs of improvement in the first two months of the year. The number of sales of single-family homes in March dropped 2.5% compared to March 2023 and the number of condo sales dropped 22.5%. The supply of single-family homes continues to creep upwards with 7.4% more available and the supply of condos jumped 29.6% higher compared to March 2023. There are 2.7 months of single-family home inventory and 4.0 months of condo inventory.

You can review more detailed current and past real estate market data on our website using the link below.

Monthly Statistics

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) settled the commission lawsuits agreeing to pay $418 million over four years. Additionally, NAR has agreed to change rules regarding how buyers and sellers pay commissions. Two changes include:
·      NAR will no longer require listing agents to set compensation for buyer brokers, and
·      NAR will create a rule to prevent MLS listings from showing buyer broker compensation offers.
The rules do not require a buyer to pay their buyer broker directly. Buyers can negotiate buyer broker compensation as part of their offer price.
 
According the 2020 U.S. Census, 75% of Laihaina residents had a mortgage on their home. They still owe the monthly payments even though their homes have been destroyed. The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) published an analysis of mortgage delinquencies of Lahaina’s residences showing an unsurprising spike after the August 8th wildfire. 296 mortgages were delinquent between August and November 2023, only seventeen of which were delinquent in July. The median delinquent balance of mortgages remaining delinquent during the four months was $9,360 and UHERO expects the delinquent balances to grow.
 
Police arrested a woman for arson after she received a 45-day notice to vacate the property so the landlord could sell. The landlord’s husband had passed away and he instructed his wife before he passed away to sell the home because he considered it a fire hazard. The tenant lived in the home for over 40 years and her monthly rent was far below the market rent. Stott Property Management LLC reviews the rent of all leases set to expire and recommends rent increases as market rents rise. Charging below market rent results in having fewer funds to maintain the house and creates tenant dependency on the low rent. Problems often occur when landlords require tenants to move because they realize they can no longer afford to live in a home they grew accustomed to.
 
Mayor Rick Blangiardi claimed on March 14th during his state of the city address, “a year ago I stood here and explained how DPP was using AI to pre-screen applications and that the average pre-screen wait time had gone from an average of five months to an average of five weeks. Today it takes three days.”  The statement is not consistent with Tim and Tracey’s permit application for their addition. Their contractor submitted the permit application on October 2nd, 2023. As of March 14, 2024, the permit application was still not prescreened (164 days). Tim would be interested in the data DPP was using to report their performance.
 
Governor Josh Green announced he did not need to implement a short-term rental ban on Maui because enough vacation rental owners agreed to house victims of the wildfire destroying Lahaina. Out of state landlords, particularly on Maui, should take note that the Governor still has an issue with them. In his press conference, he continues to blame out of state landlords for Hawaii’s affordable housing crisis. He has instructed the attorney general to create a task force to go after illegal rentals starting in West Maui. He wants the attorney general to target owners on the mainland, in particular. In his press conference, Green stated: “Tax amnesty would be the carrot, and the stick would be that if you are violating the laws, ultimately you lose your property. That’s the severest consequences.” Green continues to blame landlords who rent to visitors as the reason for island residents moving to more affordable states. “We don’t support mainland folks making a ton of money while our people are trying to find housing after a fire. I promise not to swear today in the press conference, but I am still thinking it, OK? I’m going to swear after the press conference.”

Governor: It's time to push back against illegal vacation rentals

Investors expect to dedicate at least $1 billion over the next five years to convert downtown Honolulu’s office space into rental property, fee simple condos, hotels, retail, activity centers, and food and beverage venues. Modea, a reuse project recently blessed, will convert part of the 22-story Davies Pacific Center into 352 fee simple condos. Investors hope the efforts will result in a more balanced downtown environment allowing the area to thrive outside the 7am to 5pm workday.
 
The Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) forecasts Hawaii’s visitor numbers will not recover to 2019 levels until 2027 and has lagged the recovery of the state’s overall economy. Tourism represented 17.2% of Hawaii’s economy in 2017. Hawaii’s GDP in the third quarter of 2023 was 97.7% of Hawaii’s GDP in 2019. DBEDT’s director stated “our new forecast has three implications:

  • Our economy is going to grow slowly in 2024, and while it is not a recession, it will be slower than our growth last year and slower than the nation’s economic growth.
  • It will take longer than expected for our economy to recover to the pre-pandemic number, about seven years for tourism and job recovery.
  • The impacts of the Maui wildfire may last a few years and the impacts will continue to affect the other counties.

 
DBEDT reported visitor numbers dropped for the seventh straight month. The number of daily visitors in February dropped 3.2% compared to February 2023 and 4.4% compared to February 2019. Total visitor spending dropped 2.4% compared to the previous February and the length of time visitors are spending in Hawaii has fallen 2.3%. Hawaii is experiencing stiff competition from other countries like Europe and Japan where the strong dollar has made the locations relatively inexpensive.
 
The U.S. Navy announced it completed removing the residual fuel in the Red Hill storage facility. The Navy started defueling in October and successfully removed 104,703,574 gallons of fuel over the past five months. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) started the Regulatory Interim Defueling Inspection to verify and document the actions required by the EPA Consent Order and DOH Emergency Order are complete. The Red Hill defueling task force officially turned over authority to a new Navy task force created to permanently close the storage facility.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging the Community Representation Initiative (CRI) to mediate with the U.S. Navy as the CRI meetings have become more contentious. Residents, activists, and people directly impacted by the Red Hill water crisis make up the CRI. A federal consent order created the CRI out of requests by the community to provide input into the defueling and shutdown process. Members of the CRI frequently accuse the Navy of withholding information and dodging questions. The EPA acknowledges the Navy is limited in what they are able and required to share in the forum hosted by the CRI. Many residents are skeptical of the Navy’s transparency and competence. The EPA tested four homes and released a report in December documenting drinking water in three of the homes contained traces of petroleum after previous testing by the Navy showed no traces.

The City and County of Honolulu filed for an extension in finding a replacement site to the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Kapolei. The city was originally supposed to close the landfill in 1997 and has been unable to find a suitable new location ever since. An existing state law places restrictions on waste disposal facilities. The new landfill must be located at least one-half mile away from residential areas, schools, hospitals, airports, and tsunami inundation zones. Additionally, the Board of Water Supply has urged the city to prevent locating a landfill above the island’s aquifers. According to the city’s Deputy Corporate Council, there are no alternative landfill sites outside of federal property that meet the state’s restrictions and the Board of Water Supply’s request. The mayor and managing director are currently discussing with federal officials the feasibility of establishing a landfill on federally owned land.

City continues to debate location of new landfill site

The closure of Wahiawa’s emergency room for emergency repairs on March 18th for air conditioning repairs exacerbated an already worsening emergency room (ER) capacity problem on Oahu. The Honolulu Department of Emergency Services briefed the Honolulu City Council on the capacity constraints. During peak hours, patients had to wait in the ambulance for up to three hours because the ER was too full and could not admit additional patients. Health care professionals point to an aging population and delayed preventative screenings during the pandemic as reasons for the consistently full emergency rooms. More patients are visiting the hospital and staying longer, resulting in fewer available beds when ER patients no longer need immediate care. Oahu hospitals are expanding ER space, but a shortage of healthcare workers means adding additional capacity will take time.

The last known Pearl Harbor attack survivor living in Hawaii was buried next to his late wife at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe on March 7th. He died on January 10th at the age of 102 in his Aiea home overlooking Pearl Harbor’s battleship row.

The last survivor of the USS Arizona, Lou Conter, died on April 1st surrounded by his family at the age of 102. Conter helped rescue fellow sailors escape the Arizona and was one of 335 crewmembers who survived. Japan killed 2,390 Americans in the Pearl Harbor attack and 1,177 were members of the Arizona. After the attack, Conter became a pilot, flew the VP-11 bomber, and survived the enemy shooting him down twice. After World War II, he became an intelligence officer and flew combat missions in Korea. He was known for helping create the Navy’s first survival, evasion, resistance, and escape program known as SERE. He then advised Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. He was a true patriot.

Last survivor of USS Arizona, attacked in Pearl Harbor, dies at 102

Board members of the State Foundation of Culture and the arts selected a Native Hawaiian artist to convert the state Capital’s reflecting pond into a dry work of art depicting the waters around Hawaii. The reflecting pools have periodically leaked into the building for decades and the state struggled to keep the water from fouling.

The U.S. Mint released a new quarter featuring the late U.S. Congresswoman, Patsy Takemoto Mink. Mink authored the Title IX law outlawing sexual discrimination in education and revolutionizing college athletic opportunities for women. The recently played LSU-Iowa women’s basketball contest was the most watched NCAA tournament game (men’s or women’s) since 2012.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii and the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation will close Bellows Field Beach Park to overnight camping from May 1st through August 29th to protect nesting green sea turtles. Community, military, and park officials have documented past human nighttime activity like illegal offroad vehicles on the beach, campfires, dogs off leash, trash dumping, and the use of artificial lights which threaten the safety of the nesting turtles, the nests, and hatchlings. Weekend and daytime use of the park will remain open during the nesting season.

Overnight camping suspended at Bellows Beach to protect nesting honus

Lahaina’s banyan tree is fighting a twig borer infestation but is still generating new growth. Certified arborists have removed about one-third of the dead wood infested by the insect. The lead arborist likened the 150-year-old tree to a patient with a weakened immune system. About one-third of the tree’s greenery has returned and the main trunk is healthy. Arborists apply organic compost tea around the tree every two or three months and have harvested fledgling trees to grow larger in pots for future planting around the historic banyan and in other county and state parks.

Arborists begin critical trim of Lahaina's beloved banyan tree to spur more growth

The University of Hawaii’s (UH) men’s volleyball team rose to the #1 ranking in the country on March 11th after beating #14 Lewis, then #1 Grand Canyon, and #5 UC Irvine during the Outrigger Volleyball Invitational tournament. Tragically for UH, outside hitter and player of the year candidate, Spyros Chakas, suffered a season-ending injury and UH lost three of their next six matches.

The Waikiki Aquarium celebrated its 120th anniversary on March 16th. It is the second oldest aquarium in the country.

Waikiki Aquarium sea-lebrates it's 120th anniversary

Take a look at our Another Day in Paradise's Video

Another Day in Paradise: Oahu 

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