Gary's Blog

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mortgage Rates at Record Low!

Mortgage rates hit a record low this past week at 4.78% for a conventional 30-year mortgage. This is the lowest since records were first being tracked in 1971. Last year at this time, rates averaged 5.97%.

This should do well for the nation's real estate sales, which will do well for Maui real estate sales. Especially the low-end, with the tax credit incentives and low rates, buyers find it hard to pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

This is my third real estate cycle in my career, and my experience says that typically we see the turnaround start at the low-end of the price spectrum, and work its way up.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This is the best we have seen in a decade! Bidding wars for houses in some cities have pushed home sales up nearly 36% from their low-point in January. The National Association of Realtors said resales rose 10.1% in October, from September's volume. It was far better than economists expected, according to Thomson Reuters.

It is well known that Maui real estate follows the rest of the country, especially the California and western U.S. markets. Good times ahead!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Maui-bound Flights!

Beginning Monday, November 9, 2009, Alaska
Airlines will fly between Maui and Oakland
California, four times a week. On Tuesday
November 10, Alaska will begin three times a
week service between Oakland and the Big
Island. The new flights are operated with Boeing
737 aircraft that accommodate 16 passengers in
first class and 141 in the main cabin.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hawaii Anticipates Tourism Boost

The 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation will be hosted here in Hawaii where over 10,000 people will attend. This is the first time the APEC summit has been held in the United States (!) since 1993, when it was held at Blake Island, Washington.

This should bring lots of publicity and awareness to our beautiful state, right about the time our economy is booming again!

The Summit will be held at the Hawaii Convention Center in November 2011. It features leaders of 21 participating countries, senior government officials, business leaders, international economists, Asia-Pacific experts and worldwide media.

There hasn't been a high-level international gathering in the State of Hawaii since 2001, when the Asian Development Bank met here. Let's hope for a similar economic run that we saw after that last event!!

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Friday, November 13, 2009

3rd drop in foreclosures hints at recovery

3rd drop in foreclosures hints at recovery; state-by-state chart
By Paul Wiseman, USA TODAY

Foreclosures fell for the third-consecutive month in October, another sign the worst of the housing crisis may be past.
RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif., real estate firm, reports Thursday that foreclosure filings totaled 332,292 last month, down 3% from September but up 19% from a year earlier. The figure means that one of every 385 homes received a foreclosure notice in October.
"It looks like it's leveling out," says Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, N.J. "We're not seeing further deterioration in the housing market."
RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said that the third-straight monthly drop was unprecedented and perhaps a sign "that the foreclosure tide may be turning" but warned that "the fundamental forces driving foreclosure activity in this housing downturn – high-risk mortgages, negative equity and unemployment – continue to loom over any nascent recovery."
Four states – California, Florida, Illinois and Michigan – accounted for 52% of last month's foreclosures.
Seven of the 10 U.S. metropolitan areas with the worst foreclosure rates were in California: Vallejo-Fairfield; Modesto; San Bernardino ; Bakersfield ; Merced; Stockton; and Sacramento.
Nevada continued to have the nation's worst foreclosure rate: One in 80 Nevada homes got foreclosure notices in October. In Las Vegas, the figure was even worse: one in 68.
But foreclosures were down 4% in Nevada from a year earlier – the first year-over-year drop in the state since RealtyTrac started monitoring the figure in January 2006. RealtyTrac said a state foreclosure mediation program "may be slowing the inflow of distressed properties into the foreclosure pipeline."
Foreclosures shot up 56% in Illinois last month from September.
RECOVERY WATCH:Tracking the economy; see VIDEO
"Despite all the efforts and resources directed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, we continue to see foreclosure activity levels that are substantially higher than a year ago in most states," Saccacio said.
Baumohl says vulnerable homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages are benefiting from low interest rates that keep a lid on monthly payments. But he's worried that rates will rise – and hurt homeowners struggling to make their payments – as the economy improves and businesses start competing for credit with a deficit-ridden federal government.

If you would like to see the chart, state by state stats, shoot me an e-mail.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hawaii is the 2nd Happiest State!

Here are the top 10 states and their average well-being scores (out of a possible 100 points):
Utah: 69.2
Hawaii: 68.2
Wyoming: 68
Colorado: 67.3
Minnesota: 67.3
Maryland: 67.1
Washington: 67.1
Massachusetts: 67
California: 67
Arizona: 66.8

To read the whole article, click:

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dow Hits 13 Month High

It seems Wall Street is pretty excited that the world is holding down interest rates. The extension of the Home Buyer's Tax Credit is good for real estate sales as well. What a great time to buy Maui real estate!

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Growth in Productivity and GDP Posted

Productivity - output per hour of work - jumped at the fastest pace (9.5%) in six years, in the July - September quarter, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Also, the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level in 10 months.

GDP growth was reported at 3.5% for that quarter as well. The recession will be "officially" over if we see one more quarter of growth.

Good news for the near future real estate sales on Maui!

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Senate OKs Homebuyer Credit Extension

The Senate ok'd the extension to June of 2010 the $8000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. Also, they expanded to include a $6500 credit for people who have lived in their current residences for at least five years, as long as a buyer enters into a binding contract before April 30. It doubles the income ceiling for qalification to $125,000 for individuals. The credit is available for homes purchased at under $800,000.

That will help many buyers here on Maui!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

REOs and Short Sales on Maui

The recent stats for Maui real estate are interesting.

Last month, 75% of all sales were under 700k. 10% were 700k to $1 million, and 15% were over $1 million.

There are 151 properties in escrow in South Maui, not counting short sales. Short sales are not possible to count, as most agents do not report them as Pending sales until the lender has accepted the offer price and the seller has accepted the lender’s terms.

Last month 39% of all sales were either REOs (real estate owned by a bank) or short sales. 15% were REOs, 24% short sales. I just came from Southern California where 60% of all sales in Orange County are REOs or short sales, so Maui is still holding it’s own.

Sales are holding up. August 2008 actually saw two more units sell than in August of 2009. But for September ‘09, we had 54 sales in South Maui, vs. 44 in September of ’08.

Coldwell Banker Island Properties is doing quite well. Last year in October we closed 50 transactions. This year we closed over 60.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Developer Applies to Restore Rennaissance Wailea

The Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort developer wants to bring the hotel, closed since September 2007, back to life. If financing can be arranged, the development direct for Kobayashi Group LLC told the Maui Planning Commission that they would like to amend the sma and other permits the hotel got in 2006, and name the renovated resort, with 290 rooms, 1 Wailea Resort and Residences. Previously, prior to closing, the resort had 349 rooms.

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