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October 2023 Email Update

The September median sales price for single-family-homes was $1,050,000 (4.5% lower than September 2022) and for condos was $532,500 (6.0% higher than September 2022).  Higher interest rates continue to weigh on demand with 16.5% fewer single-family homes selling in September compared to the year before and 24.2% fewer condos selling.  The market continues to search for a bottom.  There were 7.6% fewer single-family homes listed in September and 14.1% fewer condos.

 

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

 

 

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization’s (UHERO) third quarter forecast includes the immediate impact of the wildfires on Maui’s economy and their estimates for the eventual recovery.  UHERO reported Maui visitor numbers plunged by nearly three-quarters immediately following the wildfire resulting in revenue losses of $13 million per day.  Visitor numbers have just begun to recover in late September.  Visitor arrivals are expected to reach 50% of 2022 numbers by the end of the year and reach 80% by the end of 2024.  Unemployment numbers have surged to over 11% and the state is once again struggling to process the claims because they still have not updated their computer systems.  The wildfires displaced about 7,000 individuals and it will take years to replace the destroyed housing.  UHERO expects the impact on the rest of the state will be muted.  Tim and Tracey’s friend has a tour business on Oahu, and she has had several cancellations since visitor plans included a visit to Maui.  Time will tell how much Oahu visitor numbers will be impacted through 2023 since many people have already made and cancelled planned trips to Maui and elsewhere.

When Maui Mayor Richard Bissen on September 27th announced that West Maui would be gradually reopened for tourism beginning October 8th, some members of the Lahaina community protested.  The displaced residents want their kids back in school, a plan for underground utility lines, establishment and better management of firebreaks with expanded use of reclaimed wastewater, and water for irrigation of traditional crops.  The demand for resources appears at odds with the island losing $13 million per day in lost visitor revenue.  It appears the next few months will be contentious as West Maui tries to recover from the devastating wildfires.

The first day of the planned opening on October 8th was quiet with small groups gathered to honor family and friends lost during the wildfire at the intersection of the Lahainaluna Bypass and the Lahainaluna Road into West Maui.  People laid fresh flowers at the site where crosses represented victims of the wildfires.  Flags from Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, Mexico and more represented the nationalities of those that lost their lives.  Some local leaders do expect things to get more tense if the county and state continue to fail in support of the families in need.

UHERO published Hawaii Housing Factbook in June to specify the challenges Hawaii residents face when trying to pay for housing.  UHERO just released the Hawaii Housing Dashboard to compliment the factbook and allow users to delve into this interactive platform and pull up statistics about Hawaii’s neighborhoods.  For instance, over one-half of Oahu renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent and over one-quarter of renters spend more than 50% on rent.  The median housing age is 47 years and only 24,000 housing units have been added over the past five years.  The median length of time to acquire a housing permit stands at 153 days.  To access the dashboard, visit the website:

 

 

The 2020 U.S. Census reported a majority of Native Hawaiian and part Native Hawaiian people live outside of Hawaii. 46.7% of Native Hawaiians live in Hawaii versus 55% living in Hawaii according to the 2010 Census.

The City and County of Honolulu noted violent and property crimes have dropped significantly since Safe and Sound Waikiki was implemented September 5th, 2022.  Assaults dropped by 4%, burglary dropped 31%, criminal property damage dropped by 28%, and breaking into automobiles dropped 35%, and theft overall dropped by 6% compared to the same period one year ago.  Safe and Sound Waikiki utilized the combined efforts of the city’s vice squad, foot patrol officers, and the community policing team to discourage continuing crime.  The mayor stated the program will focus its efforts helping the drug-addicted and homeless population in Waikiki to build on the first year’s success.

The City and County of Honolulu purchased vacant land in Kailua’s Coconut Grove neighborhood to build 42 one-bedroom and two-bedroom affordable apartments for rent.  Through a public-private partnership, a developer will be provided with a land lease to build and rent out the rentals at “affordable” rents.  There was no mention of the number of off-street parking that has been a bone of contention in the community.  Street parking is already difficult to find, and the problem will compound if sufficient off-street parking is not provided.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the City and County of Honolulu to meet the pollutant discharge requirements at the Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The plant discharges exceeded the limits for Enterococcus, bacteria from fecal matter over 13 days in April and May.  The EPA ordered the installation of new bacteria treatment technology and to conduct major repairs to the biological treatment units.  The city plans on installing an ultraviolet disinfectant system in 2025.

 

 

Bill Wong, the architect who pleaded guilty to bribing members of the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP), still has an active license and is submitting plans for permitting approval.  The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), the state’s licensing authority, has yet to take formal action against the architect.  The DCCA’s only comment was that a complaint was opened and pending with the Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO), the complaint department.  The DCCA can suspend or revoke licenses for failing to maintain a record of “trustworthiness, fair dealing, and financial integrity,” and after a criminal conviction “directly related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the licensed profession or vocation.”  Wong was sentenced in July and will be serving time starting January.  It will be interesting to see if he loses his license before reporting to jail.

The success of community centered visitor management at Ha’ena State Park on the North Shore of Kauai has state officials hoping the effort can be duplicated throughout the state to create a more sustainable tourist industry.  Hawaii residents chaffed at 10.4 million visitors mobbing the state in 2019, straining the state’s park facilities.  The state park set a daily visitor cap, charges nonresidents an entry fee, and visitors must pay for parking when they use the park’s shuttle service.  Community members meet visitors when shuttles arrive to make sure they have enough water, point out lifeguards on duty, and give times to leave different hiking spots to make the last departing shuttle at 6:40 pm.  The area was a breadbasket for Native Hawaiians before the state park was created and poor management resulted in invasive plants and trees overwhelming the landscape.  Local families started caring for the park by ripping out invasive trees, restoring a traditional waterway, and planting kalo (taro) for the community.  A 60-page document on replicating the model has been published and communities like Kealakua on the Big Island and Wai’anapanapa on Maui hope to implement the program.  The Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii county funded stewards at Waiuli and Lehia beach parks to manage visitor traffic.

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and Maui police have come under criticism for blocking traffic out of Lahaina while the wildfires spread.  Maui police claim they were directing traffic from downed power lines even though HECO had de-energized them six hours prior and the downed lines posed no threats.  Residents spent up to 2 ½ hours trying to navigate Lahaina’s narrow streets since the two main thoroughfares were blocked by police or HECO’s utility workers.  No timeline has been established for releasing a detailed analysis of the town’s evacuation.

The University of Hawaii (UH) Wahine volleyball team started the season at a respectable 12-5 and 5-1 in the Big West Conference trailing first place UC Santa Barbara by one game.  The UH Warriors football team is off to a much slower 2-4 start, 0-1 in the Mountain West conference.  UH has a chance of improving its record since the next four opponents have losing records as well.

A lost sea turtle hatchling was recently rescued at a skate park and placed in the ocean.  Hatchlings rely on moonlight and celestial light to find the shore when emerging from their nests.  Apparently, this hatchling was one of fifty that became disoriented by artificial lights and headed mauka (towards the mountain) instead of makai (towards the ocean) while only seven of their siblings headed in the right direction.  More sea turtles are nesting on Oahu and the biggest threat to the hatchlings is artificial light.  Researchers encourage the public to refrain from using flashlights on the beach during nesting season and keep at least 10 feet from sea turtles and their nests.  The city turned off the lights at Sandy Beach on Sunday in anticipation of hatchlings emerging from six honu nests.  The lights will be turned back on when researchers verify that the eggs have hatched.

 

 

Groups of leaves were seen sprouting on Lahaina’s 150-year-old banyan tree giving the community hope that the historic tree will survive.  Arborists continue to volunteer their time to aid the tree’s recovery.

Kilauea ended less than two months of quiet with an eruption in Halemaumau’s crater on September 9th.  The eruption is currently contained in the crater and is not a threat to surrounding communities.  Vog has returned with this latest eruption.  The volcano spewed 190,000 tons of sulfur dioxide the first day and then emissions lowered to about 49,000 tons per day.

All Pro tight end Russell Francis died of a plane crash on October 1st in New York.  Francis was a quarterback for Kailua High School before playing his senior year in the mainland and going to college at Oregon.  He caught his first college pass from June Jones, who later coached at the University of Hawaii.  He played nine seasons with the New England Patriots and six with the San Francisco 49ers.  He was as a sports director for KGMB-TV Hawaii and participated in several American Savings Bank Commercials.

 

 

New England Patriots and six with the San Francisco 49ers.  He was as a sports director for KGMB-TV Hawaii and participated in several American Savings Bank Commercials.

Former UH football coach Bob Wagner passed away October 3rd on the Big Island at the age of 76.  Coach Wagner headed UH’s program for nine years and was the second winningest coach behind June Jones.

Tim and Tracey welcomed a new seven-month-old yellow-lab puppy into their home, appropriately named Buddy.  Tim has decided their dogs should be named Buddy in the future, and it seems to make sense.  Many people have walked up to the puppy while walking on the beach to pet him saying hey Buddy.  They then ask what his name is.  Buddy is quite the rascal in the morning and constantly searches for things he should not have until Tim takes him on his morning walk.  He does get quite mellow once he works through his manic puppy energy first thing in the morning.  Tim and Tracey absolutely love him.

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