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Monthly Newsletter Archive: September 2009

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West Hawaii

Real Estate Update

Volume 6 • Issue 9
September 2009


Well the summer doldrums and other things vied for our buyers’ attention in Kona in August. It showed up in a few less house sales this month with only 20, down 7 from July. Condos held at 15 and land had 3 closings again this month… for 38 total sales, our first time under 40 since February.Inventories are down again making this the 5th drop in as many months now totaling an 11% overall reduction… great news! Land was the surprise dropping back under 300 after 5 months of only upward movement. This was our biggest one month overall drop with 50 properties.

Escrows, our pending sales, have now stayed over 100, 4 out of the last 5 months. The last time they did this was the summer of 2007 and the boom was just winding down… almost 28 months ago!

Cash… what can I say… still running strong in Kona with 38% of the YTD transactions being all cash and this month was at 39%.

Our YTD sales have been at least 20% off of 2008 for most of the year but we are catching up! This month we are only down 17% and there is the potential of closing 2009 down by only a single digit!

 Economic News

Statewide foreclosure statistics took a breather in August when compared to July… down 13% to 869 properties. But statistically for Kona we only have 72 either listed, in escrow, or sold this month. In Kohala the number is 38… a pretty small percentage of our overall market. But the coconut wireless says the banks are holding 100+ off the market to keep the prices stable… but the clean ‘ready to move in’ foreclosure is not the norm but the exception so maybe if they are clean they should rethink that strategy while the buyers are still buying!

The Big Island had the dubious honor in July of having the lowest hotel occupancy in the islands at 57.2%. The good news for you is that there are screaming deals for packages and rooms so that you can come and shop with me for a place of your own in Kona or Kohala!

Luxury Real Estate

Things are heating up out at the Kona resorts of Kukio and Hualalai. Both have seen substantial increases in buyer traffic. Kukio’s shows up first with their two recent house sales of $3.1 million and $9.5 million… the only luxury sales in Kona this month.Hualalai was in escrow on 6 luxury properties at the end of August… 2 condos, 1 lot and 3 houses with a combined list price of over $28.9 million… wow! I guess the luxury crowd is getting their feet under them again and coming out for the great buys that are on the market.

There was only one other luxury property in escrow and it is listed at $1.295 million… with a pool, in a gated community and in town.

Inventories in Kona are down slightly for the 3rd month and with 7 escrows things are looking up.

In Kohala, there were five sales over a million… three houses and two condos… wow! The two condos and one house were at the Mauna Kea resort, none over $2 million. A Waikii Ranch with 10+ acres and a 5,400 sf house went for $1.175 million… what a deal!

The oceanfront Puako house took top honors at $6.5 million and closed over asking when the lot next door was included in the sale.

In escrow in Kohala we have a foreclosure house at Mauna Kea and a lot at the Mauna Lani’s newest community Pauoa Beach… both under $1.3 million.

Kohala Update

The sales held over 30 for the 2nd month in a row, a first since the Spring of 2008. Houses led the way but condos weren’t far behind… although land was a ‘no show’ this month.

Escrows are up… way up! They were at 70 for the first time since August of 2007… yippie! Houses by far are the leader here with 41 so look for some strong closings in the months to come.

Inventories are down here also… off 13% from their November 2008 highs by 116 properties. Houses are under 200 for the first time since June 2007.

Year-to-date overall sales numbers show a great improvement up 5% over last month to only 25% off of 2008… more great news!

Notes from Gretchen

First time home buyers are leading the way in home sales… my personal opinion, since I can’t prove it statistically, But I put two in escrow this month and a third has an outstanding short sale offer we are waiting on. Interestingly the two listings I put in escrow this month were all to investors or for second homes.

Short sales are beginning to get a strong reputation for long delays and poor communication between agents… and buyers are starting to ask to not see them! This will drive the prices down further and make them even harder to get approved by the lien holder. If you are considering one, call me for how this works and what the process looks like… before you start looking!


“After frustrating months of looking long distance from California we were about to give up… then we found Gretchen! What a difference experience, knowledge and professionalism made! We exchanged 100’s of emails and phone calls. She tolerated my sense of humor and always maintained her ‘cool’ with all the questions. She walked us through every step of the buying and escrow process. Gretchen is a true ‘find’!”

Randy Osgood/Nena Olwage

Market Snapshot
Closed in August 2009
For Sale in September 2009
s p a c e
20 Homes
17 Homes
400 Homes
193 Homes
15 Condos
13 Condos
339 Condos
311 Condos
3 Land
0 Land
286 Land
116 Land