Gary's Blog

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Economic Statistics Still Good

While recent recessions in the past have been revived by consumer spending, so far the strength this time actually comes from the manufacturing sector. For example, businesses boosted spending on equipment and software in the most recent quarter by 18.2%. And foreigners snapped up U.S. goods, which propelled U.S. exports by 22.4%, the biggest increase in 13 years.

Economists are predicting continued growth in this quarter, of about 3%. That compares to a phenomenal 5.7% growth rate in the 4th quarter of '09.

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Great Tourism Numbers Just Released

Tourism numbers are all up! Visitor count for January is up 2.4%. Visitor spending is up 5.7%. Visitor spending per person per day is up 3.2%. Further evidence that America is feeling better this year than last. And we all know that consumer sentiment drives consumer spending. And consumer spending drives 70% of the U.S. economy.

Airlines are increasing their numbers of seats coming to the State this spring. Continental and Alaska Airlines are planning a 5.1% increase in the number of seats from California. Air seats from the eastern U.S. will be increasing by 6.3%, and international flights are forecast to rise 6.7%

This is already helping Coldwell Banker Island Properties sales. We have been putting about two new homes in escrow every day for about the past six months. This month, the numbers are approaching three new escrows per day.

What a time to buy Maui real estate! If you are a buyer, what a great time, as the sellers are still very motivated to bargain. They will soon realize, however, that the worst is behind us.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Home Prices Up Again!

Now for seven successive months we have watched home prices rise across America. The Standard and Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday rose 0.3% from November to December. Only five of the 20 cities in the index showed declines from November to December. Los Angeles and Phoenix posted the largest increases. In Denver, prices rose for the 10th month in a row while San Francisco saw its eight monthly-gain. More listings are receiving multiple offers above the asking price.

People are realizing the bottom is creeping away.

When to buy Maui real estate? Looks like the time is now!

In other news, the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism says it continues to expect a gradual recovery in Hawaii's economy beginning this year. Total visitor days and expenditures are projected to increase this year by 2.1% and 2.3%, respectively.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Maui home Sales up 48% from 2009!

To see the full article, cut and paste this link into your browser:

In other news, today's Maui News actually had a positive article in the Opinion section! Talking about bustling tourism in both Lahaina and Wailea area.

The Fed announced yesterday that the key Federal Funds rate is expected to continue to stay at a record low, especially in light of the 0.1% DROP in the CPI last month. That is the first time the core CPI rate has dropped since 1982. Fueled by housing and auto prices.

Also in today's paper was an article entitled "Mortgage Crisis May be Slowing", with the percentage of homeowners one month late on their mortgage dropping to 3.6% from 3.8% in the previous quarter. Hawaii still rates among the lowest percentage of homeowners with a missed payment, or in foreclosure, in the nation.

Another area I like to watch as an indicator of the tourism trend is the airlines. United Airlines just announced they are adding nonstop service from Chicago to Maui. In addition, a number of daily direct flights between Maui and Southern California will begin this spring.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Maui Occupancy UP!

Hooray! December occupancy in vacation rentals is up to 62.3%, vs. 57.4% 12 months earlier. That's not only good for Maui real estate owners, but also good for all the other businesses that attract tourists, such as restaurants, golf courses, tours, etc. That is good for all of us here on Maui!

In other good news, Japan's GDP is up at a 4.6% rate in the fourth quarter of '09, about 25% better than economists expected.

More good news was announced just today. A stronger-than-expected uptick in housing starts (591,000) confirms that the housing market has bottomed out after its steepest slide since the Great Depression. Still a far cry from the 2 million units per year from four years ago, it is a move in the right direction.

Other recent economic data also point to an economy bouncing along the bottom. A report today showed that industrial production, as measured by the Federal Reserve, continued to expand in January.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jobless Rate Improves

January's unemployment rate is down to 9.7% from 10%, that is good news! It was the first drop in seven months. The Labor Department survey found that 541,000 more Americans had jobs in January compared to December.
- The number of part time workers who want full-time work but cannot find it fell by nearly 1 million.
- The average workweek grew to 33.3 hours from 33.2.
- Temporary-help services added 52,000 jobs, the fourth monthly gain
- The manufacturing sector added jobs for the first time since January 2007.
- Retailers added 42,100 jobs, the most since November 2007, before the recession began.

In a separate report, productivity rose by a seasonally adjusted 6.2% in the fourth quarter. That was the third straight quarter of sharp gains.

CNN, eat your heart out! They hate good news!

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Maui home sales up 48% from 2009!

Maui's housing market experienced dramatic swings in sales of single-family homes and condominiums in January compared with the same month a year earlier.

There were 46 single-family home sales on the Valley Isle last month, a 48 percent rise over 31 in the same month a year before, according to the Realtors Association of Maui.

The strong gain coincided with big jumps in January sales reported earlier on O'ahu, Kaua'i and the Big Island. But for Maui the jump came off a dramatic year-ago low.
Sales in January 2009 marked a low for any month since February 1997, according to trade association data.

Also lackluster was the median sale price that was down 16 percent to $469,000 last month from $558,000 a year earlier.

The number of Maui condo sales was down 31 percent to 71 last month, from 108 a year earlier. Again, the year-ago figure was somewhat of an anomaly as the most for any month since 2007 when Hawai'i's housing market was still hot.

A new condo project in Ka'anapali called Honua Kai helped produce many of the sales in January 2009, according to Terry Tolman, chief executive of the Realtors Association of Maui, which includes sales of previously owned and new homes in its data, unlike data compiled by the Honolulu Board of Realtors that excludes new-home sales.

The median price for Maui condos was down 47 percent to $424,000 last month from $805,000 a year earlier. Again, the swing was influenced by the Honua Kai project. In Ka'anapali, there were eight condo sales last month for a median $722,500. A year earlier, there were 69 sales for a median $1.17 million.

The median is a point at which half the sales were for a higher price and half for a lower price, so a large number of new luxury condos will push the median higher.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Factory Activity Fuels Growth

For the sixth straight month, The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose. January read 58.4, vs 54.9 in December. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

New orders, a sign of future growth, jumped in January to its highest level since 2004. So did current production. Order backlogs grew, along with prices companies paid.

The 7 million lost jobs will take some time to get replenished, but that time will come. In the meantime, for those out there with cash in the pocket, now is the time to consider Maui real estate!

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