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‘A very strong seller’s market’: More than 300 single-family homes bought in Puna in Q3

Home sales remained vigorous on the Big Island this summer despite a spike in COVID-19 cases and a request by the governor for visitors to stay away.

According to multiple listing service data, 774 homes were sold on the island between July and September, with each of those months an improvement from the previous year. The average sale price for the quarter was $805,000, while the median sales price in September was $499,000.

“My take is that it’s still a very strong seller’s market,” said Jessica Gauthier, principal broker with Salt Water Real Estate in Hilo. “We’re still getting multiple buyers vying for the same home, and the $500,000-and-below market is still very competitive.”

Gauthier said the latest spike in COVID-19 cases had no appreciable effect on interest from mainland buyers, many of whom, she added, have accelerated plans to move to Hawaii now that the pandemic has allowed them to work from home.

As in the past several years, most homes on the island are being purchased in Puna — 307 single-family homes were bought in Puna in the third quarter alone. Within Puna, 172 homes were sold in Hawaiian Paradise Park, 44 in Orchid Land and 35 in Hawaiian Acres.

However, Heather Hedenschau, principal broker at Big Island Brokers in Pahoa, noted that although the generally lower prices of Puna homes — the median sales price in September was $310,000 — has historically attracted mainland attention, the lack of reliable broadband internet throughout much of Puna has dampened interest for certain properties.

“I’m seeing Spectrum vans every day out there hooking up as many homes as possible,” Hedenschau said.

In Hilo, the median sales price in September was $545,000, with 99 homes sold in the third quarter. Gauthier said the market’s biggest weakness at the moment is the lack of available rental properties, particularly in areas like Hilo, where she said renters are often left bouncing from short-term rental to short-term rental.

On the other side of the island, 150 homes were sold in North Kona, with a September median price of $887,000.

Hedenschau said many of the people buying homes today are first-time buyers, who she said likely will begin to be priced out of the market as sales prices continue to rise.

As 2022 approaches, Hedenschau said she expects out-of-state interest will continue to rise, particularly as victims of the most recent California wildfires receive insurance payouts and decide to move to the Big Island. Already some former California residents have come to Hedenschau with insurance cash in hand seeking homes, she said.

“Also, a lot of people have commented to me about how they have appreciated Hawaii’s response to COVID,” Hedenschau said.

Hedenschau said she expects the market to continue to remain strong throughout next year. After that, she said, depends on whether interest rates remain low.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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