Existing housing sales way up on Oahu

AP News
Posted: Dec 03, 2009 7:49 PM

November saw Oahu's existing single-family homes and condominiums market rise sharply compared with November 2008, with one economist saying the market has begun to bounce back after bottoming out.

The Honolulu Board of Realtors reported that the 249 homes that traded hands last month represented a 46.5 percent increase, while condo sales exploded 102.5 percent to 407.

Oahu's housing market has come back from an artificially low bottom associated with last year's financial panic and has begun to "rebound into a stabilization phase that will run through 2012," economist Paul Brewbaker said.

Median sales prices remained flat in November at $590,000 for homes and $320,000 for condos, the board said. The median price is the middle price of the total number of homes sold.

Sometime between 2012 and 2014, Brewbaker expects Oahu's housing market to meet the last price peak, which he said stood at just under $645,000 for single-family homes in 2007.

"The pattern has always been that once sales rebound, it takes about three years for prices to rebound," said Brewbaker, senior economic adviser to Bank of Hawaii and chairman of the state's Council on Revenues.

The federal tax credit and historically low interest rates were keeping homeownership within reach for qualified buyers, Board President Sandra "Sam" Bangerter said Wednesday.

The tax credit allows qualifying first-time homebuyers to recover up to $8,000 on the purchase of a home. The deadline had been Dec. 1, but the federal government extended the stimulus through April.

IHS Global Insight, an economic research firm, said the added stimulus will mainly shift buyer demand from the second half of next year to the first half of next year.

"A temporary tax credit shifts activity across time, but does not generate much new activity," it said.