The sea cliffs, or pali, as seen from a home for sale in Kukuihaele, near the Waipio Valley Lookout, Hawaii Island.
We all know the banks have changed the mortgage application process, including better buyer qualification. It is no longer possible to breathe on a mirror and get a loan, and that’s good. Unfortunately the new requirement guidelines have gone way overboard, as anyone who is trying to get a home mortgage knows. For example, the average credit score of successful buyer is now 760. Before 2004 it was 720. That’s a whopping increase. Why? Because there is not enough money to make new home loans.
Early this month local economist Paul Brewbakwe agreed with the Oahu real estate industry that property prices on that island are set to climb higher than the current median home sale price of $664,000. The highest median price on record was set at $685,000 in 2007. Depleted inventory and no new construction are driving the housing price spiral.
Then about two weeks ago it was reported that May 2012 median home sale prices on Maui set a record low. The Maui economy, like the other neighbor island economies, is falling farther behind Oahu’s recovery. The good news is the neighbor islands will eventually follow Oahu. Here, West Hawaii, Big Island housing inventory continues to fall. Rising prices must follow if this continues. In neighborhoods along the Kona-Kohala Coast, custom home building has returned.
Recently a rumor has been winding around the Big Island. Today I called my favorite Title Guaranty escrow officer and confirmed there is no truth to the rumor. Title Guaranty is still accepting short sale escrows.
That’s a huge relief. Since the REO (bank owned) property inventory has artificially dried up, and the non-distressed property inventory has also dwindled since last year, the market can do something with those short sale properties. Like find buyers for them.
Condo sale prices on Hawaii’s Big Island have climbed higher in 2012 year to date. With the exception of January where prices decreased by 8.7%, Big Island condo sale prices increased in February 6.2%, March 55%, April 3.7% and in May 18.3%. The 2012 monthly unit sales were more uniform than last year, but with bad economic news continuing to come out of Europe, I fully expect U.S. consumer confidence to wane into the summer. That should trigger a fall in Big Island condo purchases, as the island is largely a second home market.
One of the many sweet and healthy treats grown in Hawaii, the Apple Banana, is a snack favorite with the keiki (children) of the area.
Apple bananas are available year round.
The banana plant is often erroneously referred to as a tree, rather it is a large herb with edible fruits. The herb successively produces fruit indefinitely without discrimination to seasons.
Last weekend Mauna Kea Resort hosted Hawaii Island’s 2012 Jazz and Blues Festival. Though I could not attend the Saturday night oceanfront bash at the hotel’s luau grounds, I did make the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Manta Pavilion overlooking Kauna’oa Beach (aka Mauna Kea Beach). Skip Martin sang one of his new songs accompanied by flugelhorn and keyboard.
The video was hard to capture as the Manta Pavilion restaurant is built almost entirely of wrap around picture windows. Despite video underexposure, the audio is very good. Thank you Skip Martin for your kind tolerance of my video camera!
I recently sold a home to a retired couple ready to move to our pretty little Waimea town after just a couple visits. Another family who asked me to help them buy a vacation home in Kona a couple of years ago is also getting ready to make the move to live in Hawaii full time. Both families just asked the same question: what tips can I share to help them settle into the community? I immediately began asking lifestyle questions. What activities do you currently enjoy? What volunteer work do you do? What have you always wanted to do? Right now, how do you spend your day?
Hula practitioners say the Merrie Monarch Festival is the most prestigious hula competition in the world. The three day festival is held each spring in Hilo town on Hawaii Island. Hundreds of dancers from all over the world compete for titles in two dance styles: kahiko (ancient) and auana (free or modern). Hula, indigenous dance and storytelling, has been reborn twice. First by King David Kalakaua in the late 1800s and again when tourism spiked in the mid-1900s.