Gary's Blog

Friday, May 28, 2010

Southern California Rebounds!

It is easy to predict the future when it comes to Maui real estate. Take a look at the Southern California market six months earlier, and you know what is to come.

California State University Fullerton (my Alma mater) has been publishing a Southern California Leading Economic Indicator index for decades. The most recent 0.87 percent increase in the index for the first quarter was the biggest jump since the first quarter of 2004, and suggests a boost in regional economic activity over the next three to six months. The employment component of the indicator also signals growth. This sector just saw its first increase since the third quarter of 2007.

We just had an interesting election to replace Abercrombie in the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican Charles Djou just became the newest member. He will need to win the GOP primary and election later this year in order to retain his seat. This is a clear signal to Washington that even Hawaii, one of the most liberal states in the nation, and birthplace (?) of President Barrack Obama, is not happy with status quo in Washington.

Good statistics in home sales- sales of existing homes rose 7.6% in April from a year ago. That sparked a 4% increase in new home prices.

Jobless rates declined in 34 states and the District of Columbia in April. Only six states reported higher rates, and 10 states remained the same.

Mortgage rates are near all-time lows, under 5% now, thanks to the big scare in the European Community. The record was 4.83% in December, so I would suggest we can expect rates are about as low as we can hope for. What a great time to be a buyer of Maui real estate!

For example, a Wailea Palms unit just went on the market for 499k! Unheard of prices out there, motivated sellers, and low interest rates make this a prime time to buy.

Call me and I'll shoot you my list of short sales, REOs and super-steals!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Very Few Foreclosures and Short Sales in Wailea or Makena

Stocks didn't hurt for long over the Europe debt fears. The market just won't go down. That can only mean one thing, it is going up.

Foreclosures are down 2% in April from the same month in 2009. Still, the numbers are high. About 12% of all households with a mortgage had missed at least one payment in March. Thankfully, many Wailea and Makena real estate owners don't have mortgages, so the ratio is incredibly low here. As a matter of fact, there is only one bank-owned property in the entire area. And just five short sales listed on the mls fall in the Makena/Wailea district. All lower-end condos, except one house in Makena, under construction, not yet completed. That one will be a true bargain for the right person.

Retail sales rose 0.4% in April, stronger factory output is also helping our national economy. Retail sales rose in the first three months of this year at the fastest pace in three years, according to the Commerce Department. Industrial production posted a 0.8% gain in April. Total business sales gained 2.3%- the sixth straight increase and the best showing in four months.

GM announced that it had a great quarter. Revenue is up 40% over the first quarter of last year, and its net income rose to $865 million in the quarter, quite a nice reversal from the $6 billion loss in the same period one year prior. If people are buying cars, their probably buying airline tickets to Maui too!

Home construction rebounded last month, to the highest level in 18 months. I would find it hard to believe that the tax incentives have anything to do with building today, considering those incentives ended as of April 30.

In all, we are seeing some great signs here in South Maui. This is supposed to be our slow season. Tell that to the buyers. Properly priced properties are flying off the shelves here in Kihei, Wailea, and Makena.

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Super Price on a Vacation Rental in Honokowai

I just listed today a 1 bedroom, 1 bath unit at Honokowai Palms for $99,900. The last sale in there was a fixer-upper for the same price, and it sold immediately for 105k. You can check out pictures and details on my website at, type in mls # 343272.

This will be gone quickly. If you want a bargain, check this out!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

April was a Very Encouraging Month!

The U.S. economy got what it needed in April: A burst of hiring that added a net 290,000 jobs, the biggest monthly total in four years! These job gains came mostly from private employers, surprisingly. Also, a separate survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found smaller companies were more optimistic in April about future economic trends than the previous month. That optimism index rose to 90.6 from 86.8, the highest since September 2008. Optimism leads to new jobs. New jobs leads to more disposable income, which leads to better vacations in gorgeous destinations like Maui! Those of us in the Maui real estate business like that kind of news, for sure.

A real encouraging month, April saw existing homes and condominiums on Oahu selling like hot cakes. The numbers were an increase of 52.9% for homes and an increase of 48.3% for condos, compared to t he same month last year. The median price paid for single-family homes in April was $563,000, down 6.2% from April, 2009. The median price for condos fell 2.2% in the past year, to $308,000.

Nationwide, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in March, rose 5.3% to 102.9 from 97.7 in February, and is 21.1% above March 2009.

More flights to Hawaii are being offered by Delta Air Lines, American, Continental and Hawaiian. Many new flights are coming from Tokyo Haneda airport in Japan, which has been off limits to U.S. carriers since 1978. Also, Korean Air recently announced that it will add additional service from Seoul to Honolulu beginning on June 12, 2010. The carrier plans to add three additional weekly flights every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, around 780 additional air seats per week, to supplement its existing daily service from Incheon International Airport to Honolulu International Airport. More Asians to Honolulu means more Asians to Maui. And more Asians to Maui means good things for the Maui economy, and the Maui real estate economy. Halelujah!

Alaska Airlines made two announcements on additional routes, adding a second year-round, daily service between Portland, Oregon and Honolulu starting September 20th ( the airline currently flies between Portland and Maui) and a nonstop daily flight between Kahului, Maui and San Diego, California beginning October 1st.

I have always been a proponent of letting free market take care of challenges. Such as when two airlines went out of business two years ago here on Maui. See what happens? The free market moves in, and fills the void, as needed. Are you listening, Mr. President? (oops, sorry for the political commentary... I couldn't help myself.)

Also Notable:

  • March Pending Home Sales increased 5.3% from February.
  • Nationwide foreclosures in April down 2% from April 2009.
  • The ISM manufacturing index rose to the highest level since June 2004.
  • As expected, the European Central Bank (ECB) made no change in rates.
  • Oil prices declined more than $10 per barrel to $75 per barrel.
  • The Canadian dollar is back to almost par with the U.S. dollar. We who work the higher-end market (like Wailea Real Estate) love to see the Canadian dollar strengthen. That brings the conservative, all-cash buyers into our market. This plays a big part in the huge volume increases we have seen in Maui real estate sales.
  • Cruise ship passengers for year-to-date 2010 increased 6.8% to 59,690 from 55,908.
  • Maui led the statewide first quarter 2010 resultswith an 8% increase in arrivals due to substantial April 2010PAGE 3Cgains for both Canadian 20.1% and U.S. Westvisitors 9.5%, which drove Maui occupancy up8.5 percentage points to 72.5%.
  • Maui saw substantial increases for March 2010from U.S. West 15.6%, U.S. East 10.6%, Japan5.3%, and Canada with 21.4% more visitors.March 2010 was especially strong with 14.2%more visitors, the third consecutive month of increase.
  • Maui’s visitor spending was up 25.2% over lastMarch to $257.7M, and spending per person perday was up 9.4% to $175.20 for the sameperiod.
  • The foreclosure auction of the Makena Resort was postponed until May 28th due to new
    background information to be provided to potential bidders. Deemed the most complex foreclosure auction in Maui County history, the former Maui Prince Hotel involves 1,800 acres, golf courses and other developments.

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