There was fear COVID-19 would tank Hawaii’s housing market. The opposite has happened.

Updated: Dec. 4, 2020 at 5:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The median price of a single-family on Oahu rose in November as prospective homebuyers offered over asking price in nearly half of transactions.

It’s a seemingly surprising development ― and a rare bright spot in a struggling economy.

Locations, a real estate firm, said that the median price for a single-family home on Oahu in November was $877,500. That’s up 11% from a year ago. The median condo price was up 2% to $425,000.

The median price means that half of homes went for above that while half went for below it.

Driving the demand ― and prices: People who didn’t lose their jobs wanting to capitalize on extremely low interest rates and mainland buyers who can now work remotely,

Locations President and CEO Jason Lazzerini said he thinks home sales and prices could continue to rise into 2021, despite the slow economy overall.

“If you could buy let’s say a half a million dollar home six months ago, that same home, the monthly payment has gone down 10-15% because rates are so low,” he said. “So even though the price has gone up, because the rates are so low, your monthly payment has gone down.”

The firm reported that Oahu single-family homes were on the market for a median of just 11 days in November. That’s an all-time low, which means homes are being snapped up quickly.

“Usually this time of year is slow because everybody is preparing for the holidays and whatnot. But it’s remarkable how people are out there. They’re not buying toilet paper anymore, they’re buying houses,” said Hazel Unciano, a Locations real estate broker.

Unciano helped Juan and Minako Rivera buy their home in Ewa. The Riveras were looking to purchase a house for more than a year. They finally did after four attempts and competing against 18 other offers.

“One of the last houses we put in an offer on, a person offered $50,000 above asking price. So obviously we didn’t win that one,” Juan said.

Locations said bid-ups for single-family homes reached an all-time high of 46.3 percent in November.

Eathan Ozawa with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty said the entire year has been unpredictable and he’s unsure what 2021 will bring.

“You would think it would drop the market, but it didn’t,” Ozawa said. “If renters aren’t able to pay their rent, and landlords aren’t able to make their mortgage payments, how is all that going to unfold when the moratorium is done?”

Under the latest emergency proclamation, there are no rental evictions at least until next year.

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