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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 14, 2006

Maui home resales cool

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Home resales on Maui dropped last month, but prices stayed high, especially for condominiums that sold for a record median of $525,000.

The median price for previously owned single-family homes sold in March reached a three-month high at $705,000. Maui home prices reached a record $780,000 last May.

Keone Ball, president of the Realtors Association of Maui, said he believes that sales volume and prices in the market are cooling, but that several more million-dollar condo purchases in luxury resort areas last month skewed median prices higher.

"I don't think the market is going way up," he said. "It's not all of a sudden going to drop off, but it is going to adjust."

According to Maui Realtors Association data, the median condo price jumped by $90,000 from $435,000 in February. The increase was spurred largely by roughly twice as many million-dollar condo sales in Wailea and Ka'anapali resort areas, and fewer sales in lower-priced Central Maui. The previous condo median price high was $455,000 in November.

The median is a point where half the sales were for more and half for less.

Terry Tolman, executive vice president of the association, said that because Maui's housing market is significantly smaller than O'ahu's, the median sale price tends to be swayed more easily by relative few sales at either the high or low end of the market.

"Few high or low sales have a greater effect on the statistical numbers without necessarily indicating a big market swing one way or another," he said. "A few more months of tracking will give us a better view of where the market is headed."

Ball said the direction is likely to be flat or slightly down. He said more properties are being listed for sale, which is elevating competition among sellers who face increased pressure to lower asking prices or accept lower offers.

During the height of the market last year, inventory was lower and sellers were more likely to receive offers above asking prices.

Ball also said fewer sales could be happening because buyers are waiting with an expectation that more property will come on the market at perhaps lower prices.

Last month there were 105 single-family home sales, down 15 percent from 123 a year earlier. There were 139 condo sales, down 24 percent from 182, in the same comparable period.

For the first three months of the year, the number of single-family home sales was down 18 percent to 249 from 302 a year earlier. The median sale price was up 14 percent to $699,000 from $611,250.

Year-to-date condo sales were down 11 percent to 383 from 430, while the median price was up 15 percent to $460,000 from $401,000.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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