“Is Maui Real Estate Getting Too Hot to Handle?”

February 12, 2021

The feeding frenzy continues… January stats are out and the numbers are stunning. January 2020 was really the last full month that, for better or for worse, the pandemic wasn’t around yet to skew the real estate sales numbers. On a day-to-day basis, I only track activity in south Maui (Kihei, Wailea, Makena) because that’s where I have established my client base. Even in the “Gold Rush” years of 2004-2008, the highest number of pending sales I recall was 210 at any given time. Right now, there are 225 combined pending sales (homes and condos) for just south Maui!
The numbers are even more dramatic comparing island-wide statistics from January 2020 to this January. Last January, there were 140 condos pending; this January there are 231. Same for single-family homes—97 last year, 122 this year. And all this in spite of a 16.9% increase in median price for homes year-over-year!
There are several possible reasons why homes, and especially homes in Maui, are in such high demand:
  • The pandemic has motivated buyers to leave the densely populated cities behind in favor of safe harbors, like Maui.
  • The trend towards working from home had started long before the pandemic, but has been amplified many times over as a result of the pandemic.
  • Maui is a favored destination resort community and many people have already identified it as an ideal place for retirement. The pandemic added a degree of urgency to that plan.
  • And somewhere amidst it all, the age-old rule of supply and demand is influencing decisions.
Ok, so that explains the high demand for single-family homes, but why the sudden spike in condo sales? I have mentioned more than once over the last many months that condo sales have been sluggish due to the crash in the vacation rental market. Very simple—lack of inventory in single-family homes—that supply and demand thing again. Can’t find an affordable, suitable home to buy? Then let’s at least grab a condo for now and see what the future brings. Occupancy rates for vacation rental condos have inched up to about 40% (less than half what they typically are during high season), although the long-term prognostication still suggests a slow recovery over many years.
Click Here for complete January Maui real estate statistics
It seems inevitable that somebody would want to flip the coin over to see what’s on the other side. If trends in real estate have taught us anything over the last many decades, we know that what goes up must come down. “When” is the question.
Here’s one of the first articles I’ve come across that even mention the good old “housing bubble” thingy. While it’s interesting, it will spin your head around a bit with its contradictions. I’ll give you a little taste then you can decide whether to “click” to it or not:
“Vaccines are being distributed. Hospitalizations seem to be on the decline in several areas. Now it’s time to think about life after the pandemic. What habits and cultural shifts are going to stay? Which ones are going to be thrown to the wind as soon as possible?
Experts at HousingWire believe that, for the most part, whatever happens in a crisis stays in a crisis. This is to say, they don’t expect that we will continue to bake our own bread and make time for afternoon walks once all businesses and commerce are back to full steam…”
Suffice it to say that time will tell.
For me, this raises the question of ‘when is the best time to buy a home’? When prices are going up or prices are going down? Of course, we will never know how high or how low they will go until they start going in the other direction, right? A very wise and sage old Realtor (even wiser, sager, and older than me) explained to me long ago that the best time is when you’re ready! Today’s high price could be next year’s best buy. If you can afford it, you want it, and it fits into your lifestyle, the time to buy is now! I bought my home towards the peak of the market in 2006. It took a horrible dive in 2007/8. It is now worth 40% more than what I paid for it.

Why the question mark after “19” you might ask? With the latest news focusing on the many “variants” the virus is morphing to, one wonders if the #19 will change or suffixes will be added.
Like most states, Hawaii, and Maui County, are enjoying a bit of a slowdown in new active cases. Maui still shows 245 new cases in the past 14 days, a rate of 17.5 cases per day. Like most of you, I am becoming weary of the whole thing and somewhat ambivalent to tracking the numbers.
From what I read, Maui is on-track with most places around the country with its vaccine administration program. I recently received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and was generally impressed with how organized, well-staffed, and efficient the whole thing was. For me, though, and for most of us it will still be masks, social distancing, avoiding large groups of people especially indoors, and hand-washing. Sigh. Will we ever again get to see all those smiling faces under those masks?
While the State continues to tweak the pre-test travel requirements, the 72-hour prior to departure plan is still being enforced. As I understand it, choosing to quarantine in place for 10-14 days is no longer an option. No pre-test, you’ll be on the next plane back to where you came from apparently.
Today, 6 of the 16 properties that went “Pending” were on the market for less than 10 days. Perhaps more surprising, 4 of the other 10 have been on the market for over 200 days—buyers are digging deep into older inventory to find something they can call their own.

Kai Malu, 150 Townhomes nestled high on a ridge in the fabulous Wailea resort community hit the market in 2007 with such a splash that the developer had to go to a lottery to select the lucky buyers. 14 years later, it continues its reputation as one of Wailea’s iconic condominium properties.
The 1,796 sq. ft. floor plan is well thought out and generous by design. This particular unit has one of the few private and gated wading pools to enhance the appeal of the outdoor entertaining area where casual dining in the presence of nightly magnificent sunsets becomes a way of life. Priced at $1,399,000 no doubt will make this one of the 10-day-or-less properties I’ll be writing about next month.
Let’s make an offer!
For many years this last section to my Newsletter had been my favorite. This is where I loved to share special events—lifestyle events—occurring here on Maui. Quite often, that would include the annual Film Festival and any big-name concerts playing on Maui. For the last 11 months, there has been nothing to report.
So now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Maui’s two newest intimate entertainment facilities!
First, say “aloha” to da Playground—Maui’s fabulous new Sports Bar by day with 20+ big-screen TV’s strategically located around the facility that changes to a high-tech, sophisticated music venue by night. Social distancing, masks required, and a state-of-the-art ventilation system maximize your safe enjoyment. Conveniently located at the Shops in Maalaea, next to the Ocean Center, come see big (or little) sporting events and some of Maui’s best musical entertainment.
Next, if jazz is your thing, Jazz Maui, located on Vineyard St. in old town Wailuku may be just your cup of clarinet. Reserve a table in the semi-outdoor environment exclusively for your party, even if you’re just a party of two. Relax with a great meal and your favorite beverage while Maui’s renowned jazz musicians (and seriously, we have some great players here on island) dust off their instruments and treat you to an early evening delight. Sorry, but I believe both venues are adults only.
Well, th-th-that’s all folks! By my estimate, this is consecutive monthly Newsletter #204, beginning in April, 2003. Oh sure, I bitch and moan every first of the month but once I get into it I really do enjoy it. I hope you do, also. And for all my hard work and dedication, my greatest joy would be helping you find that perfect Maui property to call your own!
Stay safe, be well, be kind. Remember Malama Pono—“Do What’s Right”!
And Realtors, as always, your referrals are most appreciated and always rewarded!
P.S.  And this just in!  Median single-home price for January–$980,000, up from October’s high of $867,500!

Michael Blaz
Maui Realty Associates
(808) 283-9093 cell
(808) 879-5510 fax

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