Has Hawaii's real estate market turned the corner?

Joe Paikai, Honolulu Board of Realtors president
Joe Paikai, Honolulu Board of Realtors president

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gone are the days when For Sale signs dotted the landscape. The number of homes on the market on Oahu is the lowest it's been in years. Prices are up. Sales are down. Demand is greater and that's reflected in low inventory.

"The reason? I think the sellers are waiting for the prices to continue to escalate," says Joe Paikai, the Honolulu Board of Realtors president. Then, they say, 'Okay, now's the right to sell'."

Last month, the median sales price for a home on Oahu was $600,000 - an increase of more than 2.5% from 2011. New listings were down more than a quarter, and Honolulu has 3.7 months of inventory left – down 35%.

Median price for a condo: $319,000 which is a 4.5% jump over last year. New condo listings are down 2%, and 4.5 months worth of inventory sits on the market now. Many realtors consider a market balanced when there's a 6 month supply of homes for sale.

A single family home on Oahu stayed on the market an average of 30 days, and 33 days for a condo. Last year at this time, they were averaging 40 to 45 days on the market.

Bidding wars are even back in some neighborhoods. Buyers are hunting, and when they find the best value, they jump on it. "People are starting to feel good so the consumer confidence is a lot better than it was a year ago or two years ago," adds Paikai.

But he remains cautiously optimistic. Among other things, the Board of Realtors looks at unemployment numbers as a gauge and until there's marked improvement, Paikai won't say we've turned the corner yet "I like to be optimistic about it and say 'Yes, we have'. I think things are looking better than it did a year ago, but we don't know where things may still go."

Where they go may determine if there's a boom or bust to come home to.

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