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Home sales up, Realtors cautious

LIHUE — The total number of properties sold last month on Kauai is slightly higher than a year before, but some Realtors are saying those numbers are not necessarily a positive sign.

Overall real estate sales figures for the island show that 94 properties sold last month, up from 89 in January 2018.

Forty-eight single-family homes sold in the first month of 2019, compared to 45 in 2018, and condo sales dropped by the same number, down to 31 from 34. Vacant land properties made up the majority of the overall difference — 13 lots were sold last month compared to just nine the year before.

A cursory glance at the number of sales could lead to an interpretation of positive growth, but Ron Margolis, a broker with eXp Realty in Kapaa, cautioned against drawing any firm conclusions based on those figures, and said the significance of those statistics requires a closer look.

Kauai’s real estate market slowed down toward the end of 2018 after a prolonged period of growth. Margolis and some other Realtors said last month that the market slow-down was the start of the market correcting itself, and predicted that 2019 would be a less-robust year than 2018 had been.

Now, a month into the year, Margolis is sticking with his prediction, saying that while some neighborhoods may still be fostering strong real estate sales, he is not seeing any indication that the market as a whole is picking up.

“The market is continuing to level, but there are areas where the inventory is limited and the demand is still high, where that may not be the case,” he said.

For the majority of the island, Margolis said he is seeing fewer calls on listings, and properties are staying on the market longer.

Kauai Board of Realtors President Kelly Liberatore said it may be too early in the year to predict where the market is headed with any degree of certainty, but she too has noticed some buyer reluctance.

“We’re still getting pushback from buyers,” Liberatore said, adding that while low interest rates are continuing to add momentum, “the forward-looking seller is asking for more, but the buyer is sill resisting.”

Her husband, Mike Liberatore, also a Kauai Realtor with Coldwell Banker Island Properties, also predicted a slow year in real estate, and hasn’t been surprised so far.

“It’s doing exactly what we said it was going to do,” he said Friday. “It’s slowed down a lot right now.”

Mike Liberatore said that while there is plenty of inventory on many parts of the island, sellers are simply asking too much. He said he has seen a lot of houses that are only worth about a half-million dollars, often listed between $600,000 and $700,000.


Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or
Source: The Garden Island

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