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February 2024 Email Update

The January median price for single-family homes was $1,021,016 (5.3% higher than January 2023) and for condos was $502,500 (1.5% higher than January 2023).  The Oahu housing market showed signs of stirring from its mortgage-rate doldrums with both rising supply and demand.  22.7% more single-family homes closed in January compared to the previous January and 6.2% more condos sold.  One month does not make a trend. Pending sales, homes under contract but not yet sold, are slightly lower than the previous year.  Buyers may start having more selection with more new listings and a greater number of homes available for sale.  January saw 6.3% more single-family homes and 11.1% more condos come on the market compared to January 2023, and there were 10.2% more single-family homes and 12.7% more condos total. Supply is still limited with 2.8 months of single-family home inventory and 3.5 months of condo inventory.
 
Tim did notice it has recently been more difficult to sell Honolulu condos, particularly Waikiki, than other parts of Oahu.  Taking a quick look at active inventory and sales in the past month was revealing.  The months of supply of condos was significantly different as shown below.
 
Waikiki:                                             6.4 months
Moiliili, Makiki, Punchbowl:               5.7 months
Kaimuki                                             3.4 months
Ewa Beach                                        2.7 months
Hawaii Kai                                         2.6 months
Kailua, Kaneohe                                2.6 months
Pearl City                                           2.2 months
Aiea                                                   2.2 months
 
In general, sellers in the suburbs still have the upper hand in negotiations due to lower supply levels than Waikiki and urban Honolulu.  As a result, sellers in urban Honolulu will have to be more competitive on price and offer more concessions during the inspection period when first accepting a contract.

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

Monthly Statistics
January 2024 Market Update

A city council committee approved the FTA’s agreement with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s revised construction plan to end the rail projects route 1.25 miles short of the original plan on January 13th.

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) implemented rolling blackouts on Oahu on January 8th when two large generating units went offline from flooding during a major storm resulting in a lack of baseline power.  Fortunately, HECO did not have to initiate rolling blackouts the following day as initially forecast.  The incident has many people questioning HECO’s priorities to generate more power from unreliable renewable sources like solar and wind over providing reliable electricity to their customers.  The power outages occurred even though the state’s largest battery storage facility started providing backup power a few weeks before.  HECO was clearly defensive of their increased reliance on renewable energy and less reliable electric grid when it claimed that rolling blackouts occurred while the 180-megawatt coal fired plant was in operation.  Prior to its closure, the plant provided 15% of Oahu’s peak electricity usage.  HECO decided to close the plant at the end of 2022 even though it had failed to bring enough renewable projects online to replace the lost capacity.  Regulators critical of HECO’s delays concerning new projects in 2021 had merit, yet they too failed to force HECO to delay the closure of the coal-fired plant.

Governor Josh Green is requesting $60 million from the state legislature to restart a failed computer modernization project that cost the state $8 million.  The State Chief Information Officer (CIO) explained the initial project scope involved two departments, but mission creep resulted in the state requesting estimates to provide a software solution for most of the state’s departments.  The steering committee overseeing the project decided to cancel the project when the contractor could not provide new estimates that met the same budget for the original contract specifications.  The CIO further explained that they decided against trying to recover money from the contractor’s surety bond posted to guarantee project completion because “some things on the government side did not go so well.”  The state did not assign enough employees to the project to fulfill the state’s part of the agreement.  Meanwhile, the state manages its finances on a decades-old mainframe and obsolete software.

The Hawaii Convention Center (HCC) forecasts 2024 revenue of $24.1 million, one of its best years since opening in 1998 and losing $1 million, a drastic improvement since the pandemic related crash in visitor business.  HCC is focused on attracting large multi-venue events which bring in large numbers of visitors and generate state revenue in addition to the rents paid to HCC by the conventions themselves.  HCC has only generated a profit from operations in only three of the 36 years since construction was completed.  Challenges to break even include the state legislature’s unwillingness to fund roof repairs.  Roof leaks cause HCC to spend millions in repairs due to water damage while discouraging organizations from holding large events at the convention center.  HCC is currently managing $145 million in maintenance and repairs not including the $64 million roof repair that the state continues to ignore.

'It's horrendous': $64 million approved for major repairs at Hawaii Convention Center

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) fined two North Shore homeowners almost $1 million each for repeated unauthorized beach erosion mitigation structures in front of their Sunset Beach homes.  The state will waive the fines if the owners remove residences from their shoreline properties and remove the erosion control structures from state land.  Three other homeowners on the same street have been fined over the past year and all have filed contested case hearings over the fines including to two homeowners who received notice of their fines in January.  One homeowner has already lost his contested case and has been ordered to submit plans to remove the structures from his property.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi voiced frustration when criticizing the Honolulu Police Department for its communication failures during critical and emergency situations.  The final straw that broke the camel’s back was a day-long manhunt on New Year’s Day resulting in a dead suspect and two injured police officers.  The mayor then found out 17 days later in the media that police allegedly hit a 25-year-old with a car, beat him, and restrained his father because they thought the two were working with the suspect.  The mayor met with the police chief to voice his concerns and the Honolulu City Council passed a resolution urging all first responders to improve their communications with the public and government officials.

Maui started the monumental task of clearing debris from the Lahaina wildfires, a process that took workers in the destroyed town of Paradise, CA a year to remove ash, metal, and concrete.  In addition to the sensitive environmental issues of being next the ocean, and cultural issues, workers must contend with operating on a remote island with only one access highway.  Water, dump trucks, bins, and dumpsters had to be shipped in and Maui County created a temporary landfill so trucks would not have too far during the cleanup efforts.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already removed thirteen containers of toxins from paints, solvents, and batteries to disposal sites off the island in November.  A permanent site must be determined since Native Hawaiian activists have stated that the temporary site is too close to the ocean and sits on sacred ground.

Milestone moment as first property is cleared of residential wildfire debris in Lahaina, Maui

Forensic experts identified the last of 100 known people that died in the Maui wildfire, a 70-year-old woman whose husband, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew also died.  Authorities with the help of cadaver dogs sifted through the debris and collected DNA samples from family members to identify all the victims over a five-month period.

The U.S. Navy is receiving a surge of water quality complaints from military families housed around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.  The complaints are similar to those that led to the Red Hill water crisis in November 2021 including chemical smells coming from taps, burning sensations in the mouth when drinking, a visible sheen on the water, strong chemical taste, nausea, skin rashes, and eye irritation.  The Navy announced that it is adding additional personnel to address the increased complaints and the state Department of Health will start random water quality tests at homes in neighborhoods where the complaints are made.

The National Park Service announced a $28 million project to rehabilitate the Kilauea summit area of Volcanoes National Park.  The summit area and its buildings were heavily damaged during the 2018 eruption that buried more than 700 homes, draining the magma chamber below the Halemaumau crate, and causing the caldera to collapse.  The park service will remove damaged buildings and keep the observation deck.  A new $21 million observation observatory is under construction. The construction work will result in reduced parking and temporary closures of certain areas of the park.

Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii (Halemaʻumaʻu crater)

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) announced the debut of the Kilohana Hula Show February 15th. The free show is modeled after the old Kodak Hula Show that ran for 60 years before ending in 2002.  The show will have some modern twists and aims to return authentic Hawaiian dance, song, and culture to the Waikiki Shell.  The show will run Sundays through Thursdays at 9:30 am.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser started imbedding their local news section with the national news section last year for their weekly publication while keeping the local news pages in a separate stand-alone section B on Sunday.  The cost-saving measure did not prevent the state’s only daily newspaper from filing for court-supervised restructuring to reduce debt.  As part of the restructuring, the paper’s two largest debtholders would partner with Carpenter Media Group to potentially buy the Honolulu Star-Advertiser from Black Press Ltd., the current owner.

About 600 unionized nurses at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children went on strike for a week starting January 21st and January 28th pressuring the hospital to place staffing to patient ratios into the contract.  The hospital has offered across the board raises paying nurses a baseline salary of $124,000 to $151,000 per year whose normal hours are three twelve-hour shifts per week.  The hospital is resistant to codifying hard staff to patient ratios and offered staffing guidelines to allow for a surge of patients during emergencies.  The hospital has brought in temporary staffing to provide nursing care at the hospital.  The nurses can’t strike again unless the union gives the hospital a ten-day notice.

The University of Hawaii students have struggled to find housing for years and the school’s failure to maintain their dorms has come into sharp focus in February.  The 530-bed Hale Noelani apartment complex has been closed for seven years and the 656-bed Hale Wainani apartments may be next. UH has never renovated the buildings since they were built in 1978 and 1979. Five other buildings have not been renovated since being built in the 1960s and 1970s. One student was quoted as having only cold water when he moved into his dorm and then only having hot water for the next 2 ½ months.  State legislators have correctly accused UH of mismanaging their student housing and are incredulous that the buildings have not been properly maintained while UH has collected $23 million annually from students staying in the dorms. Maybe it is time that UH take a page from the military and turn over student housing to the private sector.

Kona coffee farmers received a $41 million settlement from coffee sellers that the farmer claimed falsely advertised their coffee beans as Kona Coffee.  The Kona farm belt consists of 600 to 1,000 farms of five acres or less.  The farmers offered lab testing evidence by a University of Utah biologist showing the relative concentrations of rare inorganic materials that don’t change during the drying and roasting process.  Some defendants contested the testing by stating the test results have not been repeated by other labs.  The case was settled before a judge could rule on that motion.

Fire ants were denied entry into the Punahou carnival.  State Department of Agriculture officials quarantined 400 donated plants that were to be sold at the annual event after conducting an inspection.  Unfortunately, fire ants continue to spread and have been reported across much of Windward Oahu, Kahuku, Hawaii Kai, and Diamondhead.

Punahou Carnival detects little fire ants before plant sale

Five-time world champion and defending gold-medalist, Carissa Moore, announced her retirement.  She will compete in two events this year, the Banzai Pipeline (season opening event) and the Paris Olympics.  She plans on starting a family with her husband after retiring from the sport.

Five-time World Champ Carissa Moore to step away from competitive surfing

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

Another Day in Paradise: Hula Dancing

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