West Hawaii Real Estate Update: September 2023


The Kona market is holding fairly steady with overall 66 sales in August. We are still running at 52% cash buyers, but with interest rates so high that is understandable. You can also now finance a purchase loan right after purchasing with cash and sometimes that is the most advantageous way to “win” the purchase in a tight market. The seller doesn’t have to wait for you to get your loan.

In the under a million category, we saw 9 houses and 23 condos close. We had 5 land sales this month and all were under a million.

The third quarter is never a super productive one. Too many graduations, vacations and family reunions to distract buyers, and then we go straight into the holidays for the fourth quarter, further distracting them. The second quarter is always the most productive in practically any given year, and this year was no exception. I’m fairly confident 2023’s third quarter will not match 2011, with its 198, which was the next lowest third quarter in recent memory. An average third quarter comes close to 250.

Overall this year we have sold 543 houses, condos and land.  In 2022, we had 755 and in 2021, we had 1,127 by the end of August. So we are 28% lower than last year and 52% below 2021.  Wow… that is a lot of missing sales!


Gretchen and her team were the absolute best at reminding us why using a professional makes all of the little problems of the process, not become big problems and more importantly not let the sale get canceled. Her connections with other professionals in the field of relocation and moving were also spot on and helped make our sale of our beloved condo a fantastic occurrence. Do not worry with her in your corner.


kona houses – condos – land all price points

Economic News

  • Per the census report the majority of Native Hawaiians live outside of the state now, how sad! Hawaii County has 59,000, second only to Honolulu which has over 200,000. Las Vegas has 23,000 and San Diego has almost 11,000.
  • Hawaii ranks number 2 in the most expensive state to die in, I didn’t even know people tracked this! On average it is $13,430 for cremation/burial and $19,292 for end of life care. Only Alaska was higher by $1,000.
  • If you are looking for a new adventure the next time you are in town, try Big Island Bees in Kealakekua. They offer tours and hands on experiences… sounds fun!
  • Hawaii County hotel occupancy was 69%, now mirroring more closely the drop in vacation rental occupancy that is hovering around 50%.
  • A recent report has now placed Hawaii as the first state in history with a median house payment above $5,000 a month!
  • There are only two insurance companies that will insure Lava Zones 1 and 2, and one of them is exiting the market. The huge losses they incurred during the 2018 eruption drove them out of the area and increased rates by roughly 400%.
  • The Post Office in Kona is thinking to split its operation between retail and mail carrier facilities.  They are thinking to move close to the new Safeway which would be terrific, I think!

Notes from gretchen

I received a surprise honor this past month, I was 19th out of the top 25 in the state for women-owned businesses. Pacific Business News regularly asks for our stats, and I always provide them, but didn’t think this was one we would have a chance at… boy was I wrong! We are one of two Big Island businesses on the list and the only one in Kona… girl power!

In real estate companies for 2022, we came in 25th for the PBN survey as well… not too bad for my small office!

Sales slowed for me at the first of the month but I have closed 25 transactions for $18 million so far this year and am still number one in resales again so far this year. So overall not a bad year. The rental business is growing so if you need us on that front, please reach out!


Insurance has been a rising conversation of late since insurers are no longer looking at their losses geographically like they used to. They are looking at them nationwide. This means when there is a hurricane in Florida or a fire in California, the rates will go up everywhere now.

And because their losses have been getting exponentially larger with climate changes, they are anxious to keep prices high and only insure properties they think are worth their risk.

I recently bought a 20-year-old house and was told I had to reroof it to get insurance! I had never heard of that. Turns out it is a new thing, since dried-out shingles will blow off in a hurricane. I was able to get a roof inspection that negated this need but what a surprise in escrow!  More next month on other issues…

rentals in kona

Available Now

Kona Sea Ridge Renovated, turnkey 2/2 Available now, for a lease of 3 to 6 months
Kona Sea Ridge Renovated, turnkey 2/2 Available now, for a lease of 3 to 6 months
Kailua-Kona Fabulous 3 bedroom/ 2 bath home Huge ocean views, spacious covered lanai, big back yard

thought for the day

“It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”

~ Betty White

out on the town

view of empty mall in atlanta in 2023

I had to make a quick trip to Atlanta to help my sister with a family emergency in September and I shot this photo inside a huge mall at 10am… it was EMPTY! Every business was closed, and we were the only two people there except the maintenance staff!

This once thriving mall has seemed to just shrivel and die… I had read that this was happening but to see it was so sad. I remember shopping there for Christmas whenever I was in town, and it was just packed with shoppers no matter what time of day you went. In the winter, my folks would sometimes turn into “mall walkers” to exercise out of the cold and to people watch. The carousel at the huge food court thrilled all of my sister’s kids over the years.

I know Amazon is popular and we have to use it here since we don’t really have a mall but wow, what a form of Americana that seems to have had its heyday and now is a thing of the past… sigh.

west hawaii real estate market snapshot



As always, thank you for subscribing and reading my monthly newsletter! If
you have any real estate questions about West Hawaii please feel free
to call or email me today!