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December 2023 Email Update

The November median price for single-family homes was $1,100,055 (4.3% lower than November 2022) and for condos was $516,179 (7.5% higher than November 2022).  Demand continues to decline with 6.3% fewer homes and 8.8% fewer condos sold last month compared to the previous November.  Pending sales have fallen 12.1% for single-family homes and 14.2% for condos indicating a further drop in demand for December and January.  The number of new properties coming on the market is falling since homeowners want to hold onto their current low interest mortgages, yet the overall supply of homes has been slowly increasing because it is taking longer to sell.  There are currently 3.1 months of single-family home inventory and 3.4 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
October 2023 Market Update

Lowering inflation has occurred in most sectors of the economy except for housing.  Rising prices and rising interest rates have made buying a new home beyond the reach of many would be buyers and price increases are expected to rise in 2024.  The National Association of Realtors considers a mortgage payment equal to 30% of a household’s income as affordable.  Current prices and mortgage rates have resulted in less than 50% of households with the financial ability to buy a median priced home.  Economists blame a structural issue in the housing market that has resulted in few existing homes available to buy because sellers are unwilling or unable to abandon their low interest rates.  Failure to build enough new housing throughout the United States is the policy failure of most states, including Hawaii, contributing to the housing market’s structural issue.  

The editor of Pacific Business News summed up Hawaii’s challenge in building affordable housing.  A person attending a community meeting passionately described the need to build single-family homes for less than the median price of about $1 million and in the same breath mentioned being against further growth.  Since that seems to be the current attitude in Hawaii, people must realize that more housing must be built, or prices will remain elevated, and more people will leave Hawaii in search of better opportunities.  Hawaii lost 11,000 residents from 2012 through 2022.  The states gaining the most Hawaii residents were California, Washington, Texas, North Carolina, Nevada, Maryland, Florida, and Georgia.

A condominium task force established to identify issues related to condo associations and their systems to resolve owner disputes plans to ask the legislature to direct the state auditor to conduct a study instead of reporting on the issues themselves.  The task force acknowledges individuals have been targeted for retaliation by condo boards yet does not want to make recommendations that have a negative impact on property ownership.

Hawaii suffered its third straight drop in visitor arrivals and spending in October.  734,582 visitors arrived in October 2023, a 3.2% drop compared to October 2022 and a 7.4% drop compared to October 2019 (before the pandemic).  Maui wildfires continue to impact the visitor industry and are expected to depress numbers for months.

Alaska Air has reached an agreement to buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1 billion in cash and by assuming $900 million in debt.  The combined airlines will have a market share of over 50% of Hawaii’s flights.  The transaction will provide Alaska Air a new hub in Honolulu and routes to Asia while Hawaiian customers will be able to fly to additional U.S. destinations.  Hawaiian will continue to operate under its Hawaiian brand.  Hawaiian Airlines has lost money in the past 14 of 15 quarters.

 

Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines CEOs break down $1.9 billion cash merger

A wildfire east of Mililani Mauka blazed in remote and difficult to access mountain terrain burned 1,638 acres over fifteen days.  The wildfires serve as a reminder to Oahu residents of the danger wildfires pose to the densely populated island. The fire has burned parts of the Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge containing some of the last intact native forest on the island.  The forest refuge is home to endangered species including the ilii elepaio birds, the pupu kani oe tree snail, and the opeapea (Hawaiian hoary bat).  One concern of environmentalists is what vegetation will grow in the burned areas since Hawaiian native plants evolved without encountering regular fires and fires are not part of their natural life cycle. The Koolau Mountains Watershed Partnership is planning to coordinate with the Fish and Wildlife Service to control any invasive species that may grow in the burned areas and plant native species.

Wildfire burning above Mililani Mauka area grows to 1,100 acres, still 30% contained

A fatal stabbing at the state’s new mental health facility raises overcrowding concerns.  The psychiatric hospital’s opening was delayed by staffing issues, a lack of procedures, and construction defects.  Once the issues were sorted out, the state court system proceeded to fill the facility above capacity, revealing the state government’s inability to provide enough capacity to manage the actual demand present for housing people who the courts have deemed being a danger to themselves and others.  Currently 325 patients are housed in a facility designed to take care of 297 patients.  To house the patients, beds have been placed in classrooms, conference rooms, and seclusion rooms normally reserved to restrain patients in an emergency.  The current situation is not new since the Hawaii State Hospital has struggled with overcrowding and a lack of adequate staffing for years.

The state of Hawaii reported insurance claims from the Maui wildfires on August 8th for West Maui and Upcountry Maui.  As of September 30th, Lahaina residents have filed 3,732 residential property claims including 1,683 total loss claims totaling $1.29 billion and insurers have paid $660.4 million.  1,985 personal vehicle claims were filed, including 1,440 total loss claims totaling $25.3 million and insurers have paid $21.6 million.  Upcountry Maui residents filed 299 residential property claims including 12 total losses totaling $32 million and insurers have paid $15.8 million.  63 personal vehicle claims including 25 total losses totaling $602,000 and insurers have paid $510,000.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) awarded a $53.7 million contract to a Native Hawaiian organization to build a temporary school for children whose Lahaina school was destroyed.  USACE is currently designing and supervising the installation of modular buildings for the temporary school.
 

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply voted to raise rates for most Oahu customers by more than 50% over five years.  The first 10% raise will occur on February 1st and the next 10% hike will occur on July 1st.  The rate increases only affect the water portion of a customer’s bill, not the sewer portion.

A two-week training exercise in Hawaii from November 1 through November 10 involved active duty, national guard and reserve members from the U.S., New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Thailand.  Joint exercises included the largest airdrop to date involving 16 aircraft delivering 966 paratroopers and 1.8 million pounds in cargo and the first mass personnel airdrop of 458 jumpers from eight aircraft.  The joint exercises took place on Oahu and the Big Island.

Officer Candidates from Indonesia attend training in Hawaii with ROTC and National Guard OCS

A Navy Poseidon P8-A overshot the runway at Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base and slid into Kaneohe Bay about 100 yards off the runway on November 20th.  There have been no known fuel leaks, and the Navy is working with Boeing to safely remove the plane from its resting place on a coral reef.  An underwater video shows the two parts of the plane resting on the reef and damage appears to be minimal.  The Navy started pulling the plane backwards onto the runway on December 2nd, 13 days after the plane slid into the bay.  The recovery took more than 16 hours with floating roller bags lifting the plane off the coral reef prior to bringing the plane back on shore.  The Navy estimates it will cost about $1.5 million to salvage the plane.  Divers inspected damage to the coral caused by the plane and oil boom anchors installed as a preventive measure to contain any oil leakage.  The seals on the plane were not compromised and the water quality did not indicate any fuel leakage.  Department of Land and Natural Resources divers will try to re-attach large coral heads broken off during the accident using epoxy.

Live report from Kane'ohe Bay where a P-8A overshot the runway and landed in the bay

The U.S. Navy has successfully drained 99.5% of the 104 million gallons of fuel from the Red Hill Storage Tanks as of November 17, 2023.  The remaining fuel from the tanks will be removed during phase two of the operation.

Governor Josh Green announced a $150 million fund to help compensate family members of the 99 people killed in the Maui wildfires and to those survivors that have been severely injured.  Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), the state of Hawaii, Maui County, and Kamehameha schools have contributed to the fund.  Each family is projected to receive $1.5 million if they agree to release the parties from liability stemming from the fires.  The program is voluntary, and families can opt to continue their lawsuits if they would rather seek higher claims from the defendants.  The state projects participants receiving initial payments between April and June 2024.

Hawaii Humane Society on Oahu has requested help in either adopting a pet or allowing an adoptable pet, crash your couch for two weeks if you are not ready to adopt.  The Oahu campuses in Moiliili and Kapolei have been overcrowded since October 2022.  For more information, visit hawaiianhumane.org.

The state Department of Agriculture has filed suit against five “bad actor” nurseries that, according to the suit, continue to ship plants known to be infected with fire ants or the coconut rhinoceros beetle.  State lawmakers have pressed the department to release the names so that other nurseries are not financially harmed by the issue.

A judge dismissed a lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu by Friends of the Haiku Stairs to block removal of the stairs popularly known as “The Stairway to Heaven.”  The city has approved a contract worth $2.26 million to remove and dispose of the stairs.  The city has not announced a start date.

The University of Hawaii (UH) Rainbow Wahine volleyball team lost in the second round to the second seeded Oregon Ducks finishing with a 24-9 record.  UH played in its 30th straight NCAA tournament and has made it to the second round three of the six years under coach Robyn Ah Mow.

A renovated Genki Sushi restaurant in Ewa Beach has replaced its system of delivering sushi to customers using conveyer belts to sushi delivering robots.  The robots don’t currently take orders and simply deliver sushi and help buss tables.  The robots are a hit with kids and Genki’s employees are still working out how to make the best use of their machine teammates.

Amazon is finishing up a three-story, 595,000 square foot warehouse after two years of construction on Sand Island.  The facility will have solar power and infrastructure to charge electric delivery vehicles.  Amazon plans to warehouse frequently ordered items to improve delivery times.

Amazon to hire 500 for new distribution facility on Sand Island

Halobacteria, a single-cell organism found in high salinity water, has likely colored the water at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge a bright pink color.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the wetland and bird sanctuary.  It has been monitoring the pink water since October 30th and is working with the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources on any action.  The University of Hawaii has been analyzing samples.  Coincidentally, Maui’s official color and the island’s official flower, the lokelani, are pink.

We typically don’t mention individual crimes, but we have not heard of this “enterprise” before.  Two men have been charged with selling cocaine, ecstasy, fentanyl, and magic mushrooms via two vending machines, one at a Honolulu after hours club and another at a fake health food store.

Tim and Tracey attended the daughter’s, Ashley’s, wedding on November 18, 2024.  The delightful couple created a celebration fitting their personalities and interests to a tee.  They were grateful to have so many family members and friends attend the joyous event.

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

Another Day in Paradise: Mele Kalikimaka 

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