Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Kauai Real Estate 

Last week we had a huge number of properties go into escrow as you will see on my excel spreadsheet.  The numbers are showing some nice activity for properties that are able to be sold at a price reflecting current comps which is key at this point in our market.  The mainland buyers are those that have been watching for a while and feel now is the time to “pull the trigger”.  Resident first time home buyers are using their tax credit to take advantage of the low priced homes which start below the $300,000 mark or condos in the Lihue area that start in the low $100,000 range.

Island wide 68 homes have sold year to date compared to last year’s 44 homes being sold.  In Poipu the condo market is dominated by vacation resorts which are up to 9 condos having been sold compared to 3 condos having been sold this time last year, a gain of 200%.  In Princeville, where the condo inventory is huge and inventory is high condos sales are up to 17 compared to last years 8. 

The median sales price is showing some signs of life but is not rising as quickly as the number of sales which is creating a perfect storm for buyers; good inventory, some signs of Hawaiis economy stabilization, soft real estate prices and good interest rates. 

For a list of what went into escrow, sold or came on the marekt CLICK HERE 

Hawaii Resort Market Home Sales Improve

Home sales in Hawaii’s resort market began to show a rebound in 2009, with just a 2 percent decline in sales from the previous year, according to a report from Data@Work.  The 2 percent decline was on the heels of the 37% drop in 2008 and is the smallest decline since 2006 when the slide started.  The report noted that the lower-priced homes and condominiums have seen more activity than the higher-priced properties. 

Resale’s dominated the market with only Maui showing numbers for new construction.  Statewide prices have fallen a third of what they were (for Resort Home sales only) since 2007 they have stabilized for the last three quarters.  Here are the numbers: 

Kauai had 226 resales

The Big Island 253 resale’s

Maui had 214 new construction sales and 200 resale’s

Oahu with 170 resale’s.

Hawaii’s economy is starting to show signs of growth with slight increases and the slide backward stopping.  Accommodations and food service — which serve as indicators for tourism — saw jobs grow by 4 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2009 and that  increase is consistent with a rise in visitor spending toward the end of the year. 

Visitor arrivals are forecasted to rise 2.9%.  To quote Bonham who co-authored this report with UH economists “The basic picture is one where the economy is improving, there’s more evidence now than there was one quarter ago. [However,] it’s still a modest recovery.” 

Kauai Representative Angers Governor Linda Lingle 

Kauai’s Representative John Mizuno is in some deep kimchee with Governor Linda Lingle.  At a March 19thcommunity meeting here in Kauai some people in the audience reported to Gov. Linda Lingle that state Rep. John Mizuno stated her administration is “passing out contracts to friends” when he was asked about state Human Services Department contracts.  

Governor Lingle sent a strongly worded letter to the Representative and here is an excerpt; 

“Reportedly you responded that the department does this to ‘give contracts to their friends, if indeed you said this, then I must ask for the factual basis for such assertion or demand a written apology from you for such unfounded and patently false accusations.  Baseless allegations damage the reputation of state employees who manage our procurement process and ensure that we abide by standards of fairness and impartiality.  I expect to hear promptly from you regarding this unfortunate matter.” 

John Mizuno responded that he was not sure what he said and that he will talk to his staff to see what he actually said.  He wants to be respectful, he states, and wants to make sure of the language that was said before he issues a reply. 

“How’s The Weather????” 

That’s the question that I get whenever I get a call from the mainland.  I like the question because I’ve usually got a pretty good answer.  This week has been the same mixed bag that we had last week, it is noticeable warmer however.  We have sunshine then no sunshine, wind then no wind, showers then it clears.  It’s truly a case of if you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes.  That’s our life right now on Kauai.

Weather, Good Rates, Kauai Lagoons, Buffalo, Smart Growth

Weather Report……

The winds were really with us again in the first part of this week along with sudden downpoars.  Then it got just beautiful; sunshine, not too hot….not too cold….sunny….and then came the rains again.  It’s been a bit of a mixed bag and we all are running out and enjoying the good weather when it shows up.  So if you don’t like the weather?  Wait a half hour!

Good News On The Interest Rate Front

Last Tuesday the Federal Reserve has left its key interest rate near 0% which is where it has been since December 0f 2008.  This decision has been both applauded and blasted, some say that this policy “could be” creating a new bubble in financial markets and others are worried that the interest rate will rise once the Feds complete their purchases of 1.25 trillion in mortgage backed securities.

At this time the Federal Reserve is stating the “rates should stay this low for the foreseeable future.”

Kauai Lagoons Resort Pops Back Up On The Radar

Marriott Vacation Club began selling time-share units last Wednesday at its 520-acre Kauai Lagoons Resort.  It’s been very, very quiet at Kauai Lagoons since Marriott stopped construction of the $1.4 billion resort project in 2008 and this is the first we’ve heard of them since then.

Construction however is not being resumed, according to Ed Kinney, spokesman for Orlando, Fla.-based Marriott Vacation Club International. These are for existing units and prices start at $40,900 per week depending on location and the season.  “We certainly need to sell it out first,” Kinney said. “Then we can evaluate construction moving forward.”  August of this year is when the first guests are expected to arrive.

Hanalei; Where The Buffalo Roam

Did you know we have a buffalo ranch here on Kauai?  It’s true and it’s also located on the North Shore in the town of Hanalei on some 250 acres.  Bill Mowry, the owner of the ranch, is reporting that someone is poaching his buffalo, at one point he had 70 heads and now down to 50.  He reported to our newspaper that he has been kept some night with the sound of shots being fired.  Poaching is on the rise here on Kauai both at the buffalo ranch and cattle ranches.  One reason could be that people could be using buffalo meat for drug money since it is such a rarity.

“Smart Growth” Community Proposed by Grove Farm

Near “Airport Road” Grove Farm Company is proposing to develop some 130 acres into a “smart growth community” which will have its own grocery store, movie theatre, bank, YMCA and many other business.  Wailani, as its being called, will have retail and residential buildings with the goal being the whole community sustains itself, everything you need will be within walking distance.

Still a long ways off with a build out period to be 10 years it does show a commitment to the future that we are seeing with other companies notably Hyatt, Marriott and on Oahu Disney (just to name a few).  Filing for final subdivision approval will be done this summer and the jobs that it will bring to Kauai are sure to further stimulate our economy.

Sales Up For Kauai Real Estate and a New Format…..

In addition to posting what has sold and what came on the market for the last week I will also post what went into escrow.  This way you can also keep up with our activity that way.  Several of my readers asked to see a compilation of the activity that I see during the week for units going under contract.  You’ll see that we, once again, had really nice number of sales for the week.  For the “new look” on my excel spreadsheet CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Rain, Wind, Rain and Wind

Three pressure systems have been circling the islands this last week giving us weather that will change at the drop of a hat. For the most part the earlier part of the week was wind, wind and more wind with showers on and off. By Friday, Saturday and Sunday the days would sift constantly from nice sunshiny “wear a tank top” weather to the skies suddenly darkening and strong down spurts of rain making us run for cover. It’s been a week of not being able to count on to plan as far as the weather goes but it’s better than most places in our nation (I am told).

Road Widening Project

A question that I’ve been asked, and have asked myself, is “when is the new Safeway Shopping Center in Puhi going to break ground????” The answer to that question came in the form of an announcement of the Kaumualii Highway Road Widening Project this last week. Ground breaking officially took place last Wednesday in a ceremony attended by officials and the Mayor. The $39 million dollar project will take two years to complete and will bring many jobs here to Kauai.

Taking the 2 lane highway to 4 lanes will reduce traffic and make life easier for island residents and visitors alike. The 2 mile stretch of road to be worked on is between the old Lihu‘e Plantation mill bridge to Anonui Street at the entrance to Komohana Subdivision just west of the Puhi Road intersection. The widened Kaumuali‘i will include sidewalks and should have more room for bicyclists. Intersections will also be upgraded and improved the entire length of the project. Safeway has said they will delay their project until this work is completed. The Department of Transportation is saying they are “not taking the blame” for the delay but it makes sense that Safeway would put off their plans while this major project is being done near their new center.

New FHA Loaning Requirements

The Federal Housing Administration commands about 40% of the mortgage market and they have imposed new lending rules that some are calling a “healthy change”. The guidelines include a hefty down payment for low FICO score borrowers and an increase in the upfront mortgage insurance premium to 2.25% (it was 1.75%). The 10% down payment is required for borrowers with FICOs of less than 580. The MIP will be increased in a few months from the current charge of 1.75 basis points. This change is welcome yet long in coming, for the past four years FHA was an ‘anything goes’ environment.” Any change from the FHA being as big as they are will surely affect some housing market segments.

Bank of Hawaii Number One Bank on Forbes List

The number one national bank listed on Forbes ranking is our very own Bank of Hawaii. Citing the bank’s robust capital ratios, its stock performance and the small percentage of money tied up in bad loans, Another Hawaii bank, Central Pacific Bank, was near the bottom of the list, ranked 92nd out of 100.

 Citing Bank of Hawaii’s ultra conservative standards in the heat of the housing market this bank did not get in the trouble that it’s giant counterparts like Bank of America and Citigroup did. Additionally Bank of Hawaii did not take government TARP money last year, which diluted the stocks of many of the banks that took the bailout. Central Pacific was among them.

Kauai Real Estate News

Really, really nice sales activity last month as noted in my excel spreadsheet. We had 16 sales close last week and I’ve noticed a lot of properties going “contingent” on our MLS service. For a list of what came on the market and what sold last week CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Housing Rebounding?

“Oahu Home Sales Continue At Fast Pace”  “Maui Home Sales Rise As Prices Fall” “Kauai homes sales jump 82 percent”   These are the headlines that we are now seeing on the front pages of our newspapers and they are accompanied by statistics to support their headlines.  Got my attention!  I thought I’d check out what Kauai did island wide for the month of February.  By using real statistics as inputted into our Multiple Listing Service here’s what I found: 

For the Month of February 2010 

The entire island had an increase in sales by 81.83% over February of 2009.  All areas of the island showed positive growth with the exception of the area of Waimea which had a decrease in their residential housing.  In the Kapaa area condos and commercial land were also down. 

The median price increased by 10.71% island wide.  Overall Island wide every sector improved modestly.  

Inventory needs to clear out before we see any price increases and I’ve seen similar figures like these for the last couple of months.

For a current list of what came on the market and what sold last week


Orange County California Benefits From New Flights Being Added to Hawaii 

Continental Airlines is adding three new flights from Honolulu and Kahului on Maui to the West Coast starting yesterday (Sunday, March 7th).  Continental will launch a flight from Maui to Los Angeles and another from Maui to Orange County also a flight from Honolulu to Orange County.  These routes had been announced last December. 

Green Cars Come to Poipu

Warren Doi and Justin MacNaughton are bringing a new business to the south shore of Kauai along with a partner that you might have heard of, The Grand Hyatt.  Together they are offering “on-demand” transportation to the visitor industry.  Visitors can now rent their vehicles on an hourly basis and are provided with a “cost-effective, green alternative.”  For $15 an hour guests can rent one of four custom-made, family-friendly Ford Hybrid Escapes with all the latest technological frills.   

Currently visitors to the resort will rent a car that might sit in the parking lot unused for several days of their vacation.  Statistically 50% of the visitors to the Hyatt do not have cars and rely on shuttle, buses or taxis.  This service is available to everybody in the area and the duo hope that this is only the start of a new “Going Green” Win-Win method of tourists transporting themselves around the Garden Island of Kauai. 

Bethany Hamilton Movie 

The teenage surfer who lost her arm to a Tiger Shark on the north shore of this island has inspired millions of people who saw her appearances on shows like Oprah and The Ellen Degeneras Show.  Bethany Hamilton, who was 13 years old at the time of the attack, was surfing on the north shore off Makua Beach in October, 2003.  She lost her left arm from just below the shoulder to the Tiger Shark but was able to make a full recovery and is now surfing again. 

She’s poised and mature beyond her years and credits her faith to sustaining her through the recovery.  Her story is now being filmed on the north shore and is being directed by surfer Sean McNamara who spent several years directing the “Baywatch” television series and knows his way around surf and beaches.

Actress Anna Sophia Robb plays Bethany in the film and three days are being spent filming here in Kauai with the remainder will be done on Oahu.