Pete Jalbert, 38, is part of the Maui Real Estate Team based Pa'ia. While he's an active licensed Realtor, he's also one of Maui's top real estate bloggers. Jalbert, an early adopter of the form, started writing island real estate news online in 2005 and has been at it ever since.
Maui Weekly spoke with many agents and brokers, and found that while many can talk a great real estate line, only a few can also really write it well. Jalbert is an exception. He attributed his ability to consolidate a great deal of meaty data into a readable format to "a graduate degree in anthropology."
Here are parts of his most recent reports for April and May 2013, somewhat edited and used with his permission.
Pete Jalbert of the Maui Real Estate Team in Pā‘ia is a long-time blogger on local real estate. He has a knack for incorporating a great deal of meaty detail into a readable format.
According to Jalbert's most recent blogs, there were 77 homes sold in April in Maui County with a median sales price of $500,000. The April 2012 numbers were 79 sales at a median price of $469,000. That is a 3 percent decrease in sales activity compared to last year and a 7 percent increase in median sales price.
The highest sales price for a home during the month of April was $8,150,000 for an estate property in the One Palauea Bay subdivision in Makena. That was one of four sales over $2,000,000 in Maui County during April. By comparison, there was only one sale over $2,000,000 in April 2012.
May had the highest sales volume for single-family homes since June of 2007. In May, Jalbert wrote there were 105 homes sold in Maui with a median sales price of $540,000. By comparison, last May there were 64 closes with a median sales price of $381,000. That is a 64 percent increase in activity and a 42 percent increase in median price compared to last May.
The highest priced home sale in May was $9,900,000 for an oceanfront estate on 6.5 acres in Kapalua. This was one of six homes sold over $2,000,000 on Maui in May. Three of the closes were in Kapalua.
Home sales over $1,000,000 for the first five months of the year are up 44 percent over the first five months of 2012.
In April, Jalbert counted 142 condo sales with a median sales price of $369,995. Last April, there were 129 condo sales at a median price of $399,000. That calculates to a 10 percent increase in activity over last year and a 7 percent decrease in median sales prices.
The highest priced condo sale in Maui County in April was at Honua Kai Resort. A luxurious three-bedroom unit at this West Maui beachfront resort sold for $4,450,000.
The Honua Kai transaction was one of six condo sales priced over $1,500,000. There were also six condo closes over $1,500,000 in April of 2012.
One of the condo price points that saw a clear bump in activity was the $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 range. There were 14 sales in that bracket this year versus only six last year.
Sales activity was busiest at Honua Kai, Ho'olea in Wailuku and Wailea Ekahi. (Ho'olea is a new development that prohibits vacation rentals.)
The condo activity here in April was brisk. The 142 April condo sales tied for the second busiest month in the last five years. The only month to exceed that sales volume benefited from a significant volume of new development closes based on contracts originally signed back in 2005 and 2006.
The high volume of sales was driven by increased activity in the vacation rental and second home condo markets. This activity helped to offset decreased activity in the lower price ranges of the vacation rental prohibited condo market.
This segment saw sales decrease largely due to decreased inventory. With decreased inventory, the few offerings that came on the market at reasonable prices were snatched up quickly and frequently had multiple offers.
These dynamics are pushing prices up steadily. The price increases are moving slowly from the bottom of the market to higher price points.
In May, Jalbert found 140 condo sales with a median sales price of $381,500. In May 2012, there were 113 sales with a median price of $336,000. That calculates to a 24 percent increase in sales volume and a 14 percent increase in median price compared to last year.
The increase in sales this year over 2012 is being driven in part by activity in higher price ranges. Condo sales over $1,000,000 during the first five months of the year are up 66 percent over the first five months of last year.
The highest priced condo sale for May was $4,300,000 for a three-bedroom listing at Wailea Beach Villas. That was one of seven condo sales over $1,500,000 that month.
There were 14 land sales reported for April 2013 with a median sales price of $497,500. In April 2012, there were eight land sales with a median price of $365,000. That is a 75 percent increase in sales activity and a 36 percent increase in median sales price.
There were 18 land sales reported in May 2013 with a median sales price of $305,000. The May 2012 land sales figures were 16 sales at a median of $330,000. That is a 13 percent increase in sales activity and a 9 percent decrease in median sales price.
There was quite a bit of luxury activity in the land market as well with six sales that closed over $1,000,000.
REOs & Short Sales
There were 13 bank-owned sales (REO) that closed in April. In April 2012, there were 21 REO sales. That is a 39 percent drop in REO sales compared to a year earlier. REO condos have become particularly scarce with only three REO closes last month. That is only 2 percent of the condo sales volume.
There were 16 bank-owned properties that closed in May. Last May, 32 REOs closed. That is a 50 percent reduction in REO closes and continues a trend we have seen throughout the year.
There were 15 short sale transactions that were completed successfully in April compared with 32 short sales last April--a 53 percent decrease.
There were 22 short-sale transactions that closed in May compared to 18 short sales that closed in May 2012. While the number of short sales was higher this May, they constituted a smaller percentage of the overall sales numbers than they did in May 2012.
In addition to the numbers reported above, Jalbert noted other interesting data while compiling the recent statistics.
The home market saw a nominal decrease in activity due largely to decreased inventory.
Demand is there for properties, but inventory is lacking--particularly at or below Maui median sales prices. For example, he wrote, just looking at Maui and excluding Molokai and Lana'i, there were 22 sales under $400,000 in April. For the same month last year, there were 30 sales on Maui under $400,000. That is a 27 percent decrease in activity.
Stronger demand at higher price points in the market offset most of the decreased volume at the low end.
What does this all mean for buyers and sellers?
Busy season may be over, but Jalbert said he wouldn't expect real estate activity to sag much at all. In general, entry-level properties in communities around the island are likely to see the most competition among buyers.
Like many Realtors who spoke with Maui Weekly, Jalbert would not speculate on what lies ahead or if the upward trend will continue. He noted that because of Hawai'i's complex foreclosure laws, there are still many homes in foreclosure and other forms of financial limbo. He also cited unconfirmed reports of institutional buying in the foreclosure market.
One thing he wanted to make clear is that the jump in home medians is not an accurate reflection of a change in property values. Most properties on island are seeing an increase in value. There are some neighborhoods and condominium complexes that are seeing particularly strong increases in prices. That being said, the island is not seeing 42 percent price appreciation. The jump in medians is due to both price increases and a decrease in inventory at lower price ranges.
Jalbert observed that as the market heats up, he doesn't blog as much as he used to, because "I am just too busy."
For more blogs by Jalbert, visit www.mauirealestate.com/blog/author/pete.
Commercial real estate will be covered in an upcoming issue.