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May 2024 Email Update

Here is our 5/10/2024 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 April median price for single-family homes was $1,100,000 (10% higher than April 2023) and for condos was $528,000 (5.6% higher than April 2023). Demand in April for single-family homes jumped 26% higher and for condos rose 2.6% higher than the previous year. Supply in April for single-family homes was 15.5% higher and for condos was 37.8% higher as sellers are encouraged by Oahu’s high sales prices. There are currently 2.8 months of single-family home inventory and 4.2 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

Tourism officials describe a disappointing Golden Week and highlight the challenges Hawaii faces in convincing Japanese visitors to return in pre-pandemic numbers. Japanese visitor counts during the Japanese holiday were estimated at 60 to 70% of 2019 levels and experts don’t expect a full recovery until 2026 if ever. Experts point to several factors creating headwinds for Hawaii’s most important international market.

  • Airlines currently charge roundtrip surcharges of about $480 per passenger.
  • Okinawa, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, Guam, and Europe are gaining ground through aggressive marketing campaigns. Singapore offers four-star hotel rates of $450 per night, half of a Hawaii four-star hotel.
  • Hawaii’s infrastructure is aging compared to other destinations. Endless construction projects occur in Waikiki and water main breaks plague Oahu. Hawaii’s convention center roof has leaked for years.
  • Waikiki and Honolulu struggle to manage the homeless camps.
  • Oahu has eliminated access to bus tours to areas the Japanese want to visit.
  • Restrictions to commercial activities prevent Japanese from taking wedding pictures at popular spots like Waimanalo Beach. Okinawa uses this lack of accessibility to highlight visitors can take wedding photos at their popular beaches.

Hawaiian Electric Company’s (HECO) failure to maintain adequate generating capacity has caused several rolling blackouts on the Big Island in addition to the rolling blackouts initiated on Oahu back in January. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) appears to be more concerned with the state’s renewable energy timeline and catering to environmental groups than ensuring residents receive reliable electrical service. In addition to allowing HECO to close Oahu’s 180-megawatt coal fired plant without providing sufficient replacement capacity, PUC rejected a previously approved project by Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC to provide electricity by burning eucalyptus trees and other wood products when an environmental group, Life of the Land, challenged the revised contract over objections to projected greenhouse gas emissions if the power plant was allowed to operate. HECO cut power to Big Island residents on January 30th, February 13th, April 14th, and has requested customers conserve energy from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm since March 25th due to insufficient generating capacity. All three rolling blackouts were initiated on days when calm conditions prevented the Big Island’s two wind farms from producing electricity during peak demand. Neither HECO nor PUC has owned up to their poorly managed renewable energy transition as the root cause of the rolling blackouts. Declining to comment is the current mode of operation. Tim and Tracey recently witnessed load shedding in South Africa due to government mismanagement and noticed disturbing similarities between outcomes. In addition to insufficient electricity, Cape Town has suffered severe water shortages from the country’s failure to maintain sufficient infrastructure. The Board of Water Supply’s struggles to recover from the Red Hill fuel leave Tim wondering when the next shoe will drop on Oahu.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) turned down Governor Josh Green’s request to build 1,000 temporary new homes for Lahaina wildfire survivors after Green spurned FEMA’s offer of delivering thousands of trailered mobile homes with kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms as undesirable and undignified. One of the governor’s representatives stated at the time Green turned down FEMA’s offer, “Governor Green objects to establishing refugee camps and trailer parks for wildfire survivors who have endured such a devastating trauma.” During a March 27thpresentation, Green said that he spoke with other state governors who accepted the trailers and regretted it. He stated, “they ended up resulting in a lot of chaos and conflict.” Green declined to provide details of such trouble when the Honolulu Star-Advertiser requested the information. A 2019 New York Times photo used in the Sunday paper shows the FEMA trailers survivors of the 2018 Camp Fire in California lived in and they appear in decent shape. Meanwhile 900 families consisting of 2,300 individuals are still living in hotels eight months after the tragedy.
Governor Josh Green signed a bill into law on May 3rd giving the counties more authority in regulating short-term rentals including the ability to outlaw them. Maui mayor, Richard Bissen, has introduced legislation to eliminate all of Maui’s currently legal vacation rentals across the island. Green hopes the remaining counties follow suit, forcing landlords who have followed the law to choose between renting long-term, keeping their units vacant when they are not living in Hawaii, or selling. Tim and Tracey just stayed at a Houston VRBO with their two children and significant others while celebrating Tim’s father’s 80th birthday. Staying together as a family was preferable to staying at a hotel in three separate rooms. Time will tell how Hawaii’s visitors and landlords will react to this new legislation.
In an apparent response to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser article describing commercial boating struggles on Maui from Lahaina Small Boat Harbor’s destruction during the August wildfire, the state lifted the restrictions at Mala Wharf limiting commercial use. The state announced Lahaina Small Boat Harbor’s refueling station is scheduled to become operational on May 18th. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Boating and Recreation estimates it will take three years to return Lahaina’s harbor to full operation. The state Department of Health declared the coastal waters around Lahaina safe for ocean recreation on April 11th.
The state Board on Land and Natural Resources is set to fine some owners of Marni Point Condominiums, an agricultural condo development east of Turtle Bay, $3.1 million for destroying two acres of critical habitat for the endangered, yellow-faced bees and installing an unpermitted iron fence that contributed to the death of a female Laysan albatross. The board delayed the vote on the fine because lawyers for the defendants’ plan on filing contested case hearings. The landscaper hired by the developer cleared 106 heliotrope trees, forty makai of the shoreline (on state land), which is critical habitat for the bees. The landscaper also removed naupaka brush and other vegetation along the shoreline. The high wash of waves now reaches farther inland due to the removal of the vegetation resulting in destruction of a healthy beach, dune, and inland environment. The nesting albatross became entangled in the fence when startled by landscapers with weed whackers. Volunteers tried to rescue the albatross and immediately took it to a vet where it died. A follow-up necropsy determined the albatross died from intentional blunt-force trauma to the head.
The U.S. Navy announced low level hydrocarbon detections since last summer were the result of false positives created by Chlorine in the tap water samples. Chlorine is added to drinking water to disinfect it prior to delivery to consumers. The lab test previously used was a wastewater testing method approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the process did not account for Chlorine in the drinking water. The Navy has started using a new test which neutralizes the Chlorine in the samples, eliminating the false positives. The Navy evaluated the new technique by injecting a concentration of jet propellent in some samples, verifying the test accurately detects the presence of fuel in drinking water.

Navy says no jet fuel in its drinking water after concerning spike in chemical detections

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) received $125 million in funding from the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) after completing the projects amended full funding agreement. Prior to the latest funding, HART had received $806 million of the $1.55 billion committed to the rail project by the FTA. HART will receive the remaining $619 million in four payments when HART meets the milestones set by the full funding agreement.

A Civil Beat article detailed Hawaii’s pay to play environment in government contracting and highlighted a well-known secret to longtime residents. Who you know is far more important than qualifications or skillset when landing lucrative contracts in Hawaii. The April 17, 2024, article describes a yearly event where lobbyists and executives seeking contracts dropped cash and checks into a lockbox before eating sushi and drinking free beer and wine with Hawaii’s most powerful public servants. Many guests of the party sought lucrative contracts to refurbish Hawaii’s airports. Of the 59 companies bidding on the work, almost half of the contracts were awarded to fourteen companies, all who placed campaign contributions into the metal lockbox. Since 2006, 20% of Hawaii’s campaign donations have come from people working for fifteen companies. These donations often peaked just before the companies would receive large contracts from the county or state governments. The recipients of the most campaign cash represent a who’s who in Hawaii government including former mayor Kirk Caldwell, former governor David Ige, current governor Josh Green, current mayor Rick Blangiardi, current Lt. Governor Silvia Luke, current U.S Senator Brian Schatz, and current Senate President Ron Kouchi. The legislature recently sent ten “good governance bills” to the governor for signature but none of the bills addressed campaign contributions.

Police issued 37 second degree criminal trespassing citations on April 22nd, petty misdemeanors, to hikers defying the law and climbing the “Stairway to Heaven” before workers started dismantling the stairs. The contractor expects the $2.34 million demolition work to take about six months, weather permitting.

City to unveil plan to remove iconic 'Stairway to Heaven' trail

Waimanalo-born Chad Rowan, known as Akebono in Japan’s sumo wrestling world, died on April 10th in Tokyo at the age of 54. Some sumo purists gave Akebono, Japanese for dawn or daybreak, not much of a chance because they doubted the 6’8” 280 lb. athlete could get low enough and generate sufficient leverage to be effective. Akebono won the Emperor’s Cup 11 times in his 13-year career.

The University of Hawaii (UH) men’s volleyball team’s streak of four consecutive NCAA finals appearances has ended with a straight sets loss to UC Irvine. The anteaters were the opponents when UH star, Spyros Chakas, suffered a season ending injury. UH started the season 17-1 and finished 6-6 without Chakas in the lineup.

The #2 UH Wahine water polo team swept the Big West regular season and tournament to advance to the NCAAs with a record of 22-3 overall. The NCAA tournament will be held in Berkeley, CA from May 10th through May 12th.

The Hawaii Humane Society (HHS) is encouraging people to foster animals for one or two weeks to help alleviate the chronic overcapacity at its two Oahu shelters in Honolulu and West Oahu facilities. The HHS spokesperson pointed to the high cost of living and lack of pet-friendly housing as reasons for the large number of surrenders in Hawaii. Foster families receive pet supplies with their foster animal as part of its Couch Crashers program.

Zoe Green, a special education teacher and part-time Kahaluu ice cream vendor won Good Humor’s “Joy Driver of the Year” award which includes a $20,000 grant to improve her business. She decided to put a generator and cooler on a trailer and tow it with an e-bike to sell ice cream and shave ice to residents in her neighborhood on weekends and holidays. Zoe plans to use the funds to buy something larger than her bike to deliver her treats.

Kaiwi, a Hawaiian monk seal, appears to enjoy the Waikiki limelight. She gave birth to her third pup on Kaimana Beach in Waikiki on April 30th and officials quickly cordoned off most of the beach to keep the public a safe distance from the endangered seals. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends staying at least 150 ft. from mom-pup pairs. The two are expected to remain on the beach for five to seven weeks until the pup is weaned.

Monk seal Kaiwi gives birth to new pup at Kaimana Beach

Tim and Tracey returned to the islands and noticed that the Kolea, or Pacific Golden Plovers, had changed their feathers from the winter brown to their more striking black and gold plumage. Kolea fly nonstop for 72 hours in late April, early May, from Hawaii to their breeding grounds in Alaska. They return, to Hawaii from late July to early November (the summer chicks arrive the latest) to spend the winter. Many Kolea return to the same Hawaii locations year after year to the delight of residents. The oldest recorded Kolea lived 21 years.

Tim and Tracey returned from an extended vacation to the continent of Africa. While visiting South Africa, they were surprised by locals greeting them by saying Howzit, the same greeting many local Hawaiians use. Their travels took them to South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, and Egypt. They thoroughly enjoyed the wineries and food in South Africa, viewed the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls bordering Zimbabwe and Zambia, marveled at the dunes of Namibia, enjoyed witnessing the wildlife of Kenya, learned more about Egypt’s amazing history, and snorkeled around unbelievable coral reefs in the Red Sea.

Africa 2024 

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

Another Day in Paradise: Oahu

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