• Gary Mooers
  • 08/25/20

Home Sales & Prices Hold Steady

Homes sales and the median price held steady in July while condo sales plummeted 44% and the median price rose slightly compared to 2019.

Inventory of homes fell 15% to 399 units; condo inventory went in the other direction with 141 more units on the market, up 27% to 656 units.

For homes, there were 86 sales in July, one less than July 2019. The median sales price was $777,595, down 1.3% from $788,000.

The number of days homes were on the market increased 13% to 148 days. The percent of list price was down 1.7 percentage points to a still healthy 95.2%.

Condo sales fell 44% in July to 91 units, down 71 units. The median sales price was $502,530, up 1.5%. There was little change in the percent of list price received, 97.4%.

By region, the largest number of home sales was in Wailuku, 25, nearly double the total from a year earlier. The median sales price was $746,600, up 12%. The second highest region by sales was Haiku, with 10 ($792,500 median price) and Kihei, 9 ($817,000).

The largest number of condo sales by region remained Kihei but only 28 units, down from 79 a year ago. The median price was $425,000. Lahaina had 18 sales ($542,500 median price) and Kaanapali, 14 ($1,347,500)

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Opening Resort Bubbles with Safety

Unions representing workers at Maui's larger hotels said they're open to the idea of resort bubbles but emphasized the need to collaborate with resort companies on stringent safety measures to reduce risk of staff exposure.

"Local 5 welcomes measures like 'travel bubbles' that offer our members the opportunity to get back to work, but no one should have to worry about work endangering the safety of our families and the community."

On the heels of a decision to delay a pre-travel testing program, Gov. Ige announced an order that allows counties to establish resort bubbles as another way for travelers to quarantine.

The concept of resort bubbles, where travelers would stay on-site bounded by geofencing tracking, has been floated in the last month as a way for Neighbor Islands' hard-hit hotels to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Aug. 13, officials with Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and Wailea Beach Resort unveiled plans to a group.

While government officials emphasize that planning is still in the early phases, residents have been vocal online about various concerns, such as hotel staff safety, geofencing logistics and possible intermingling among tourists and residents. Mayor of Maui and Kauai counties discussed resort bubble ideas and addressed rumors about the privatization of beaches, which they say are unfounded.

"We continue to work on digitizing and refining the travel screening process, as well as developing enforceable, safe alternatives to self-quarantine."

The order also extends the 14-day inter-island and trans-Pacific travel quarantines through Sept. 30.

"We are still in the beginning phases of all these aspects, and so we have pushed off the reopening of Hawaii to at least October 1st, if not longer, depending on contact tracing, as well as digital monitoring, as well as testing before they arrive here in Hawaii."

"The concept of 'resort bubbles' is intriguing and could help provide jobs while keeping the community safe and healthy. We will work with the hotels to ensure strict safety measures are implemented and ensure hotel workers, who will be at high risk of exposure, are properly protected, trained and educated."

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Maui County Jobless Rate is Highest in State

Maui County's jobless rate hovered at 21.3% in July, about the same as the previous month but the highest among the state's four counties.

The unemployment rate was 21.6% in June, a year ago, the rate was 2.6%.

Maui island's rate was higher, 22%, in July, down from 22.3% in June. Molokai's rate was 7.9%, about the same as the 8% a year earlier, while Lanai's was 4.8%, up from the 1% in 2019.

By comparison, Honolulu's jobless rate was 11.1%; Hawaii County's. 12.8%; and Kauai's, 18.7%.

The county figures were not adjusted for seasonal changes, though with the economy wracked by COVID-19 and no tourism, the adjustments matter less.

The state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 13.1% in July, down from 13.4% in June. The national rate was 10.2% in July.

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With No Tourists, Retailers Are Closing For Good

Some owners in the latest wave of Maui small business closures said federal relief wasn't enough to buoy them through the pandemic's economic woes - especially when there was no end in sight.

"It not only wipes out all our homes and dreams, it's also left us in debt," Paia Mercantile owner Michelle Earl said.

Despite receiving loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, Micro Business Loan Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, rent is still high while revenue is low, along with reopening delays, were forcing Earl and her wife to shutter six Maui retail stores this month.

Retailers Horses R Us, Brown-Kobayashi and Adrienne Jay Boutique also have announced closures. They will be added to a growing list of Maui businesses shuttering doors for good amid the pandemic.

The number of businesses reporting that they would not survive COVID-19 rose from 6% to 17% with the delays in the reopening of tourism, according to the study. Also, 75% of businesses needed to make staff cuts and other reductions, and roughly a third anticipated making deeper cuts in the months to come.

Horses R Us, a riding equipment and apparel retailer in Kahului, will close at the end of this month after two decades. Owner Jennifer Brittin-Fulton said Friday that she is not the only frustrated businessperson in the state.

"There's no end in sight. Our leaders don't seem to have a plan. They will say something, and then they will change it."

Boots and shirts are still for sale at Horses R Us.

Other local small businesses that closed due to the pandemic include Da Kitchen in Kihei and Kahului; Details Boutique and Valley Island Seafood in Kahului; Afterglow Yoga in Kihei and Lahaina; and Sea La Vie and Sailboards Maui in Paia.

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Maui Hotel Revenues Still Lowest In State

Maui County hotels saw a slight uptick in room revenue and occupancy from June to July but still lagged behind other counties as major resorts remain closed during the pandemic.

Hotels in Maui County were making $25 in revenue per available room in July, down 93% from a year ago, with an occupancy rate of 12.1%, down 70.7 percentage points, and an average daily rate of $206, down 52.4%.

These were improvements over June, when room revenue was $16 and occupancy was 7.2%. June's average daily rate was slightly higher at $218.

Lodgings in other counties also saw increases from June to July but still fell far short of the typically booming summer months.

Hawaii island hotels fared the best, with room revenue of $40 in July, down 81.7% from a year ago; an occupancy of 24.7%, down 58.7 percentage points; and an average daily rate of $164, a 38.2% decline.

Statewide, revenue per available room dipped to $36, an 86 % decrease from a year ago, while occupancy fell to 20.9%, a difference of 64.4 percentage points over last year. The average daily rate slid 42.7% to $174.

Tourism numbers continue to dwindle under Hawaii's 14-day mandatory quarantine for trans-Pacific travelers, an order that Gov. David Ige recently extended to Oct. 1 in light of rising COVID-19 cases across the state.

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