Maui Real Estate Newsletter

Aloha!   

Real Estate trends are always best evaluated over a long period of time and with large sample sizes.  Having said that, over the past 2-3 months and with the very small sample of Maui (south Maui, at that) I have noticed what I consider to be a bit of a slow-down.  Could be an anomaly, but I tend to look at our number of “Pending” sales from month to month as an indicator of activity in general.  Our pending sales have dropped 15-20% during that time period.

Then, as coincidence would have it, last week one of my favorite sources, RISmedia Daily e-News, published an article entitled, “Is the Housing Market Normalizing?  One Sign the Tide’s Turning”.

No question the housing market has been strong for the past couple of years—overwhelmingly in favor of sellers.  Now, though, there are some very early indicators that the market may shift.  Price reductions across the board are becoming more common; this summer has seen 14.2% of homes nationwide adjust their prices downward.

For the most part, larger reductions have been seen on higher-priced properties and on the West Coast (Hawaii?).  Entry level homes and those priced at or below area medians are holding and still in high demand.

So how seriously should one take these early indicators?  Aaron Terrazas, Senior Economist at Zillow thinks it’s a little too early to judge these premature signs.

“It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market,” Terrazas says.  “Home values are still expected to appreciate…over the next twelve months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return to a more normal trend.”


This month’s Featured Property offers across the board appeal, whether you’re getting into the market for the first time or you’re looking for that perfect, affordable Wailea condo for the in-laws to stay in when they come to visit.

Wailea Ekahi- 45A (MLS #379474) is the least expensive short-term rental for sale in Wailea at the present time.  Many of you know that the iconic Wailea Ekahi complex was the first condominium project built in Wailea in the mid-1970’s, and to this day, its popularity has never wavered. 

This preferred 1BR/2BA unit is situated at the highest point in the complex, with expansive tropical garden views as the property meanders down to the oceanfront.  Paddle ball courts and four seldom-used swimming pools are on-site—one of the pools conveniently close to this tastefully appointed unit.  Enjoy an artist’s palate of a Hawaiiana floral display from your very private and spacious lanai as you sip your favorite late-afternoon beverage.  New carpeting, designer touches, and remodeled bathrooms offer a turnkey experience for you and guests.

What a lovely gift for you and your family—ownership of this fabulous condo. 
Wailea Ekahi 45A.  $835,000.

Click Here for all Kihei Condos for Sale
Click Here for all Wailea Condos for Sale
Click Here for August Statistics

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island and away from all news media, you know that the islands were recently threatened by Category 5 Hurricane Lane.  It sputtered and puttered along for several days just offshore in the Pacific until it finally tucked tail and headed out to the deep blue sea.  Unfortunately, Hawaii (aka The Big Island) took the brunt of the storm and suffered severe flooding out and around the very same part of the island that has been spewing molten lave for the last many weeks.  Maui, Oahu, and Kauai were totally spared, as is often the case.  The last serious hurricane to really cause significant damage to Maui was in 1950.  Favorable tradewinds and higher elevation wind shear seem to always come to the rescue.  Here's a little hurricane humor for you:

As your summer winds down, visions of Maui this winter may be dancing through your head.  Make it a reality.  Come visit.  I’m always happy to sit down over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, or two, and talk Maui Real Estate, or…

Mahalo nui loa,

Michael Blaz

Aloha!   

Many of you who receive my Newsletter, or perhaps friends or loved ones, may have been affected by the horrendous wildfires that are sweeping through northern California and other states, as well.  You are in my thoughts and I extend the deepest of sympathies if you have suffered losses.  On a much smaller scale, my house was severely fire damaged this past 4th of July due to errant fireworks and it’s not something I would wish on anyone.  Fortunately, I have insurance but dealing with the claims adjusters, contractors, Homeowner’s Association, etc., has been all-consuming.  Just know that there are better days ahead.

Recently I had the opportunity to work with a client looking to do a 1031 Exchange from a rental property he owns in Idaho to an investment/vacation rental condo in Maui.  His plan was to purchase something now that he can generate some income from until he’s able to make Maui his full-time home.  He would then move into his investment unit or sell it and purchase something else with the money (then pay the capital gains, of course).  He has about $250,000 equity in his relinquished property and would be comfortable replacing it with something up to $1,000,000.

In other words, he was looking for something that will “pencil out”.  As I have reported many times through the years in my Newsletters, “penciling out” has become a virtual myth.  Unless one pays cash, it is very unlikely that a net income can be generated; 75-80% cash in at least.

Nonetheless, we pursued the impossible dream.  After looking at several condos, he realized that not only were the numbers not going to work for him, but he didn’t really want a condo as his future home!  So we switched gears and I suggested he look at single-family homes with ohanas or separate cottages in the $800,000 to $900,000 price range.  He liked the thought of having some acreage as well.

Our search then turned to Haiku, where properties with ohanas or cottages on 2 acres of land are available in that price range.  Since long-term rentals on single-family homes have gone up astronomically over the past few years here on Maui (and everywhere, I believe), we were able to create a scenario where he could rent out the main house to cover roughly a $600,000 mortgage, and keep the ohana for his own use!  His $250,000 from his exchange was looking pretty good now as a down payment.  In addition, single-family homes typically appreciate at a higher rate than condos, so his equity would enjoy better leverage over time.

This same strategy generally holds true regardless of the initial price point of the real estate.  High-priced condos are going to generate significant income but when you factor in higher property taxes and upwards of $2,000 or more in monthly maintenance fees, the numbers will still look better with the home/ohana condo combo—especially if having use of the place yourself is important to you.

So, this month’s Featured Properties will provide you with some excellent examples:

MLS 376409—Come home to your private gated oasis with detached cottage tucked away on a .6 acre parcel in the iconic Maui Meadows neighborhood in south Kihei.  Featuring 5 BR’s and 3 BA’s, you’ll love the pool/entertainment pavilion giving way to the ultimate indoor-outdoor Maui lifestyle.  $1,545,000!!!

MLS 377499—Let’s take a run to Kula 200, Upcountry’s premiere 2 acre subdivision.  Again, private, gated with a tree-lined driveway (see the cover shot above) taking yo back to a 4BR/3BA 3,500+ sq. ft. house and a 1,131 sq. ft. cottage that lives like a full-sized home.  You’ll never want to leave!  $1,840,000!!!

MLS 379193—How about 3.5 very accessible acres in sunny Haiku (no 4-wheel drive required) with two full-sized homes grandfathered in under previous building codes.  Share the large lap pool between the two homes and cash some nice rent checks from the fully licensed vacation rental that one of the homes is currently being used for.  $2,000,000!!!

MLS 379175—If Upcountry and large acreage is not really your thing, how about direct oceanfront in South Maui?  Yes, this one is “toes in the sand” for sure featuring a gracious center courtyard, waterfalls, and lily and koi ponds.  17,250 sq. ft. of the direct oceanfront real estate might get some “oohs” and “aahs”!  $4,395,000!!!

Click Here for July Statistics

For many of you summer vacation is over early and the kids are back in school; others over the next couple of weeks.  If you do get a chance to get back here with the family, I highly recommend the Maui Ocean Center if you haven’t already experienced it.  And while you’re there, drop into Beach Bums Grill for the best authentic barbecue on Maui.  I think even you folks from Texas will like it!  And, of course, if you’re here during Humpback Whale season, book a whale watch with the Pacific Whale Foundation, leaving from the same Maalaea Harbor as the Ocean Center and Beach Bums.

As always, thanks again for taking time to read my Monthly Newsletter.  Truly, I do it all for you!

Mahalo nui loa,

Michael Blaz
(808) 283-9093

Aloha!   

The advent of “Smart Homes” and the AI technology associated with them are becoming more widely accepted and popular.  Like so many other things, today’s nuances in housing technology will no doubt quickly become tomorrow’s norm.  It’s a generational thing, though; at this point in my life owning a Smart Home is not high on my list of to-dos.  My home is already smart enough for me.  I have remotes for all my TV’s, my stereo, my DVD player, my split-system A/C, and even my fantastic Tempurpedic bed that adjusts up and down head and feet, and even shakes and shimmies if I push the right buttons.

But I am not the wave of the future.  New homebuyers are now able to select from more and more options, most of which can be managed from one’s Smart Phone.  Like any new technology, though, there are glitches along the way—many of them security related.

A recent article published in the online Real Estate blog, RISMedia, does a good job of considering the pros and cons—and risks—of Smart Homeownership.  Rather than me plagiarizing the whole thing, click here to link to the actual article.  I have to ask, though, does it take a Smart Person, with a Smart Phone, to operate a Smart Home?

I know many of you who receive this Newsletter consider Maui your home-away-from-home.  Like where you live, politics--though Maui style--are playing a more and more prominent role in our daily lives.  While our local government is non-partisan, our Mayor and all 9 of our County Council (the legislative body, if you will) are up for re-election come this November 6.  And all incumbents are being challenged, many by newcomers, in what is sure to be a spirited primary election on August 11.  Click here for a comprehensive list of candidates and districts being represented.

I’ve lived here for over 20 years now, and have always considered this community’s ability to get along and respect one another regardless of differences that come up from time to time as one of the many special things about this place.  Perhaps fueled by the vitriol and anger so prevalent in our national Government today, there is a pervasive divisiveness that is beginning to undermine the Aloha spirit that we have come to take for granted here. 

Two recent events over the past couple of years have threatened the long-time culture of the island and have caused residents to take sides, thus creating a divide not seen here ever before.  First one was a community uprising to place a moratorium on GMO farming until more research could be done.  Monsanto has had a “research” facility on Maui for many years, and while they were low-keyed about it, they began planting more and more corn, papayas, and other produce from genetically modified seed.  Without getting into needless detail, a referendum was placed on the ballot and the moratorium approved by over 50% of the voters. 

Farmers using Monsanto’s methods feared losing their farms and means to an income.
Monsanto then spent millions of dollars and went to court and finally had the moratorium invalidated.

More recently, the 100+ year-old sugar industry shut down, leaving about 700 people unemployed.  While the main reason for the shutdown was financial—HC&S was losing money for several years—impetus from many residents here to ban cane burning (myself included), deemed to be a carcinogen and harmful to one’s respiratory health, received more of the headlines.

Thus the “old guard” is feeling threatened by the changes—newcomers if you will—that are responsible for these changes.  So this year’s elections—pitting the old ways against the new-- reflect these differences and are resulting in rhetoric uncommon to our Aloha lifestyle.

In closing, interest rates have been hovering around 4.5% on 30-year fixed loans for several weeks now, but some experts are predicting a slight bump in the near future.  Read more here.
There are still many options out there for first-time homebuyers, though, with 0-5% down payment required and attractive interest rates.  Feel free to contact me for more information.

Next month I will return to the Featured Properties format you have come to expect.  Meanwhile, here are June Statistics and know that I am happy to do a customized search for you for that perfect Maui home or condo.

Mahalo nui loa,

Michael Blaz
(808) 283-9093

Blogs for September 2018

The Real Estate Market: Is the Tide Turning?

Posted on September 01, 2018

Aloha!   

Real Estate trends are always best evaluated over a long period of time and with large sample sizes.  Having said that, over the past 2-3 months and with the very small sample of Maui (south Maui, at that) I have noticed what I consider to be a bit of a… Continue Reading