The following analysis of select Maui real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Hawaii’s economy offered a mixed bag of growth in the fourth quarter of 2018. Employment declined 1.4% but the unemployment rate was a healthy 2.3%. Over the past year, the economy has shed 9,300 jobs, and annual job gains have been negative for the past three months.
On Maui, employment growth dropped 1.9% and was negative for the whole of the fourth quarter. That said, there are 78,600 persons employed and over 3,400 job openings on Maui. The unemployment rate was 2.3%, up from 1.7% a year ago. The market’s civilian workforce has been in decline since last summer, which may be artificially keeping the unemployment rate low. The contraction in employment during fourth quarter doesn’t overly concern me as it is likely just seasonal.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- In the fourth quarter of 2018, 510 homes sold, a drop of 9.4% compared to the last quarter of 2017.
- Two markets saw growth in sales over the same period a year ago. The Spreckelsville/Pala/Kuau market saw an impressive 25% increase in transactions and Wailuku/Kahului saw sales rise by 6.9%. There was a significant decline in sales in Wailea/Makena/Kihei.
- The contraction in sales came as inventory levels dropped by 9.2%. It is possible that this is due to the 2018 volcanic eruption that occurred on the Big Island but, at this point, that is just speculation. I will be watching the data as we move through 2019 to see if this is the case or if there are other reasons for the slowdown.
- Inventory growth slowed, and this lack of choice may be why we saw sales drop. That said, well- positioned and well-priced homes are still selling relatively quickly.
- The average home price in the region rose 3.8% year-over-year to $866,107.
- Affordability is an issue, but the drop in interest rates at the end of 2018 may stimulate buyers. I will be watching the numbers in the first and second quarters closely to see if we experience a turnaround in price growth.
- Appreciation was strongest in the Wailea/Makena/Kihei market, where prices rose by 22.8%. Two areas saw prices rise between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the final quarter of 2018, and three markets saw average sale prices drop.
- The average number of days it took to sell a home on Maui dropped 24 days compared to the final quarter of 2017.
- The amount of time it took to sell a home fell in four markets with market time rising only in the Wailuku/Kahului area, but that increase was a modest six days.
- In the fourth quarter of 2018, it took an average of 67 days to sell a home. The fastest moving market was in Wailuku / Kahului and the slowest was Lahaina / Kaanapali / Kapalua.
- Even with the slowdown in home sales in fourth quarter, housing demand is still there, as the drop in market time demonstrates. I anticipate we will see more activity and rising sales as we move through 2019.
For the fourth quarter of 2018, I have placed the needle in favor of sellers, but the market may be approaching equilibrium. Although there was a drop in home sales and price growth was fairly modest, we saw a small decline in pending sales, which may limit closings in the first quarter of 2019. That said, I remain positive about the longer-term outlook for home prices and demand on Maui.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.