Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:45 a.m., Thursday, April 3, 2003

O'ahu condo sales rise

Advertiser Staff

More condominiums were sold on O'ahu last month than in any month since May 1990 as low interest rates and a slumping stock market lured buyers into the market.

In all, 564 used condominiums sold in March with a median price of $169,100, the Honolulu Board of Realtors reported today. That marked a 47.6 percent jump in the number of sales from a year earlier and a 23 percent increase in the median price.

Single-family homes also continued to sell well, just not as fast as condominiums. Last month on O'ahu there were 327 single-family homes resold, up 7.2 percent from a year earlier. The median sales price was $350,000, up 17 percent from a year ago but unchanged from the last three months.

"The market for condos has been strong because it has possibly brought in people who would otherwise invest in the stock market," said Harvey Shapiro, research economist at the Board of Realtors. For the first time since the Japanese investor bubble of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the number of condominiums sold is far outpacing the number of single-family homes changing hands, he said.

Sales of condominiums were up 42 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, while single-family home sales were up 9 percent.

The market has shifted from parity in sales to more condos being sold, Shapiro said. "This is a sign that more investors are involved in our market," he said.

For the past few years, home sales have been booming in large part because of low interest rates. "Interest rates continue to fuel the market," Shapiro said.

It is too soon to tell if the war in Iraq will have an impact on home sales, Shapiro said. The March numbers are for properties that closed in the month. Most of those deals were set in motion in January. Still, Shapiro doesn't expect to see much of a decline due to the war.

"If you look back at Sept. 11, we didn't have a dip (in home sales)," he said.

Shapiro also noted that the inventory of homes for sale is increasing for the first time in more than a decade.

During March, there were 588 single-family homes and 798 condominiums that were placed in active status, a substantial increase from the 464 and 560 dwellings, respectively, that came on the market in March 2002, Shapiro said.