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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Single-family home resales top '00 pace

 •  Chart: O'ahu home resales for November

By David Butts
Advertiser Staff Writer

Sales of existing single-family homes on O'ahu rose nearly 5 percent in November from a year earlier, while condominium resales fell 12.5 percent, as attractively low mortgage rates were balanced by consumers' concerns about the economy.

"The fact that there was an increase in single-family home sales, with a small decline in condominium sales, demonstrates that buying demand in our housing market continues and is enhanced by the favorable financing rates," said Peter Freeman, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, which released the statistics.

The real estate industry has been one of the bright spots in the O'ahu economy after the Sept. 11 attacks, which caused a dramatic drop in tourism.

While the year-on-year sales numbers showed growth, the real estate market in November was down from last month.

The report said 267 single-family homes sold on O'ahu in November, up from 255 in November 2000, but down from 306 homes sold in October this year. The median price paid for a home, $310,000, was also up from a year ago, when the price was $295,000, but down from October's median of $325,000.

"We still believe that the events of Sept. 11 had minimal impact on the O'ahu housing market," Freeman said in a statement. "Sales reported for November include many properties that had signed sales agreements during September. Most contracts assume a two-month escrow time."

Condominium sales totaled 302 in November, down from the 345 units that sold in November last year. Meanwhile the median condo price jumped 11.9 percent to $136,500.

Single-family home sales for the year through November are 8.1 percent ahead of last year, and condominium sales for the year are 8.9 percent ahead.

Mortgage rates in the United States reached a 30-year low last month. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage in Hawai'i fell as low as 6.2 percent near the end of October and has since climbed to 6.87 percent.

While interest rates have encouraged home buyers, concerns about job security and the economy have had a negative impact.

Visitor arrivals to Hawai'i were down 30 percent in October. Job cuts, many by retailers and hotels, sent Hawai'i's unemployment rate surging to its highest level in two years. Nearly 30,000 Hawai'i residents have applied for unemployment benefits since Sept. 11, about three times the number that applied in the same period a year ago.