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March 2023 Email Update

The February median price for an Oahu single-family homes slumped to $987,000 (12.8% less than February 2022) and condos was $480,000 (3.4% less than February 2022) as mortgage rates started rising again due to stubborn inflationary pressure.  The low February sales numbers reflects Oahu’s seasonal market with February being the slowest month of the year.  As a result, you should not read too much into the demand side of the equation.  Pending sales are still weak compared to last year with 31.3% fewer single-family homes under contract and 23.3% fewer condos under contract.  A more telling trend is that the median time it took for a single-family home to sell jumped to 47 days from 13 days and a condo took 35 days to sell compared to 12.  Supply continues to rise with 57.2% more single-family homes on the market and 19% more condos. 

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

Monthly Statistics

You can lower your mortgage interest rate by building your credit score.  Lenders penalize borrowers with credit scores below 680 in the form of interest rates currently 1.5% higher than borrowers with credit scores above 780.  The good news is that the penalty is lower than the 2.75% fee last year.

The visitor market continues to recover with January hotel occupancy rising 8% to 73% overall.  The average daily hotel room rate jumped 32% to $391 and the revenue per available room rose 24% to $286 per room.  January visitor numbers are still slightly lower than 2019 figures with the total number of arrivals about 7% lower than prior to the pandemic.

The Honolulu City Council is targeting Vacation Rental owners with yet another tax increase with Bill 4 passing unanimously in its first reading.  The Bill is likely to pass on March 15th after further review and go into effect July 1st.  The city council is still debating the threshold where the tax increase would occur and the new tax rate.

The four Hawaii members of the U.S. Congress wrote a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) asking the IRS to exempt reimbursements by the military to displaced families forced to shelter in hotels because of the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility.  The IRS notified displaced family members of steep income tax increases resulting from reimbursement payments in 2021 and 2022.  The Hawaii delegation argues that “assistance provided to individuals provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Stafford Act is exempted under article 139 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

The Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association started a 3-hour daily closure of the Royal Hawaiian Beach from 2:00 am to 5:00 am to address safety and sanitation issues from overnight camping at the beach effective March 1, 2023.  Some campers were witnessed digging through the trash at a beachfront hotel and piling up recyclables in the middle of the beach.  Sanitation crews have had to clean up trash and human feces from about 6:00 am to make the beach ready for visitors.  The public will be able to still walk the beach and go to the ocean while the beach is closed.  They just won’t be able to loiter or camp.

Hawaii’s 2005 effort to decriminalize traffic violations helped contribute to the death of a 16-year-old student in a cross walk.  The driver had 164 prior traffic citations and has been repeatedly cited for driving without a license, yet remained free.  The suspect pleaded not guilty to driving without a license nine days prior to this accident, the twelfth time since 2018.  The driver has paid fines when found guilty for traffic violations but has never been jailed.  State legislators should “look at the consequences of the    2005 legislation.”

Tensions between the University of Hawaii (UH) leadership and state legislature has intensified over the past few years as legislators agitate to weaken the state constitutional change to provide greater autonomy in handling its affairs.  Both the head of the Senate Ways and Means and Higher Education committees have gone on record stating that UH President David Lassner should resign.  Critics of the senators claim that they are micromanaging and bullying the UH staff, thus interfering with the leadership’s ability to serve their students.  Opinion columnist David Shapiro highlights the obvious by pointing out that Senator Dela Cruz stated Lassner has served 10 years as President and it should be time to step down while the senator has served for 13 years and opposes term limits for the legislature.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi revealed his $3.4 billion budget proposal that includes building affordable housing, funding park improvements, upgrading the Honolulu Police Department’s (HPD) headquarters, and installing more electric vehicle charging stations.  The budget also includes a $300 property tax refund to be distributed in the summer.

Some Oahu residents said farewell to the 47-year-old Aloha stadium by touring the stadium, walking on the field, enjoying food and festivities, and leaving with a part of the stadium like the plastic seats.  Governor Josh Green announce that he is pushing for a smaller replacement that will cost less than $500 million.  Based on recent government execution, the stadium will be complete in 2040 at a cost of $4 billion.

Thousands Bid Farewell To Aloha Stadium

The 27th Honolulu Festival returns after a 3-year pandemic related break.  The festival features cultures of the Pacific Rim and is a major draw for Japanese visitors.  This event is expected to attract about 1,000 Japanese visitors, about 1/3 of the number that attended prior to the pandemic.  The state hopes that the festival marks the beginning of the return of high spending Japanese tourists.

Honolulu Festival

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) proposed a 15% annual increase to its operating budget to $108.9 million despite its continued delays in starting passenger service.  The increase is required to cover the principal payment of bonds constituting 95% of HART’s operating budget.  The beleaguered and cash-strapped agency is still negotiating with the Federal Transportation Agency (FTA) for the remainder of the federal funds dedicated to the project.  The FTA has not yet authorized the shortened route ending in Kakaako versus the originally planned Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Heavy rains on Oahu led to a boulder landing in an Aiea couple’s bedroom.  Fortunately, no one was injured when the boulder stopped 10 feet from the sleeping couple.  The couple bought the property that backs to a steep incline four years ago.  The Board of Water Supply, which owns land above the property, is investigating where the boulder came from.

North Shore cinematographer, Larry Haynes, died of a heart attack near his car after filming his stand-up paddleboard ride using his GoPro camera mounted on his helmet.  He was recently in the surf filming the Eddie Akau Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay last month.  He spent the final 30 years capturing images of the world’s greatest surfers.

Erosion is once again a concern for Hauula residents as a sink hole forces emergency repairs on a 30-foot stretch of Kamehameha Highway’s shoulder.  The road’s collapse temporarily trapped a sewage truck until neighbors helped free the front wheel from the hole.  A $500,000 project to shore up the road is expected last five to ten years will start next month.

The Sea Based X-Band Radar (SBX-1), referred to Oahu residents as the golf ball, returned from its longest deployment ever spanning 662 days.  The SBX-1 is in Pearl Harbor to remove the rust that accumulated during the deployment near Alaska and undergo a $68 million upgrade.  72 sailors operate the SBX-1 when underway and are primarily made up of government contractors from Raytheon and Northrup Grumman.  The SBX-1 is the only mobile part of an advanced missile intercept system including stationary radars in Alaska, California and Japan.

Take A Tour Of The 'golf ball' Radar Ship At Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

The University of Hawaii (UH) men’s basketball team finished second in the Big West and the women finished third.  Both teams are gearing up for the conference tournament where the champion gains an automatic bid to the NCAA’s March Madness.

The pandemic demand for dogs of all stripes has reversed and both the Oahu and Maui Humane Societies are struggling with the number of sheltered dogs.  The shelter houses stray animals and animals surrendered by their owners.  The most common reasons for surrendering an animal are that the family does not think they can afford to move them, available pet housing is unaffordable, or housing restrictions limit the ability to care for larger dogs.  The Humane Societies are asking for volunteers to foster a dog to ease the overcrowded facilities.

A recent two-month drone deployment identified a second group of humpback whales breeding in the northwest end of the Papahanaumokuakea Monument.  The Hawaiian distinct population feeds off Alaska and breeds among the main island chains of the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai.  A second group, suspected to be the West Pacific segment feeds in the Bearing Sea and the Aleutians but scientists have been unable to find out where they breed.  They now suspect that this segment breeds in the northwest end of the monument but further investigation is needed

New research reveals that humpback whales annually visit the Hawaiian islands and Papahanaumokuak

Kiluauea is quieting down during its latest two-month eruption with the summit deflating and the number of earthquakes falling.  The volcano has followed a similar path recently and scientists unsure if and when the volcanic activity will surge again.  Kilauea was silent for about one year when 30-foot volcanic geysers erupted in Halemaumau crater on January 5th.

The state cited a Maui man for harassing a young humpback whale and a pod of spinner dolphins at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.  The man snorkeled after the adolescent humpback whale almost touching its fin and could be heard laughing in the background of a video recording.  The man also led a group of snorkelers who chased after the pod of spinner dolphins.  Federal law prohibits swimming with and approaching a humpback whale or spinner dolphin within 50 yards.

Strong winds buffeted Oahu on March 7th and 8th with wind gust between 40 and 60 mph knocking down trees and disrupting power across the island.  A combination of saturated ground from a month of rain combined with the high winds toppled large trees blocking roads and sidewalks.  Falling trees and mudslides are more likely to happen in the next few days according to weather forecasters.

Kaimana, the Hawaiian monk seal who gave birth on Waikiki Beach six years ago, gave birth to the Hawaii’s first pup in 2023.  The pup was named U’i Mea Ola, U’i for short, which is Hawaiian for “beautiful survivor.”

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

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