There is light at the end of the tunnel. The economy is reopening and there are less-and-less new COVID-19 cases in Hawaii. Our housing market has remained resilient. April 2020's statistics showed that the median single family and condo home prices both went up.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications increased 9% in the last week of May. Mortgage rates are in the low 3% to the high 2% range -- another client is refinancing her property. Despite our very limited housing inventory, people are still looking to buy; I am currently in escrow with a buyer.
The COVID-economy is something we have not seen before. As I often said in the past few months, our housing market is quirky. One out of three people in Hawaii are unemployed, home prices have increased and mortgage rates are low, tourism is shutdown, the stock market is rallying, and the federal government provided a stimulus package for struggling businesses.
Where do we go from here? I honestly do not know. Social distancing will be the new normal and I hope a vaccine is created sooner than later. As we journeyed through the thick of the pandemic, the data shows that some properties are still being sold and some people are excited to buy. Rather than predicting the future, I have focused on what I know.
For sellers, I have noticed some homes sell quicker than others. With open houses being something of the past, I feel vacant homes will have a better opportunity of selling than homes that are occupied. Also, desirable properties will be even more desirable. If you are looking to sell, objectively analyzing your home is more important than ever. This is not easy to do since your home is your castle.
If you are looking to buy, analyzing your employment stability is important. Despite mortgage rates being low, buying a home within your means might be better than buying at the max of your pre-qualification amount. You could shop for deals, however, desirable properties are still selling for a premium.
98-611 Kilinoe Street #7E2 Aiea, HI 96701 • $480,000 (Fee Simple) • MLS: 202009400. Despite the around the clock responsibilities of being a parent, I was able to help my client in listing his Newtown Meadows 2-bedroom/2-bathroom/2-parking condo. We spent a few months prepping for the listing; I actually took my client's call the day or day after my son was born. Knowing we had some time, we spent the next few weeks on our due diligence. Some of the things we addressed were doing some minor repairs, prepping the disclosure statement, and ensuring the tenant's move out was smooth.
Although we were targeting a list date in June, we were able to accomplish all our tasks sooner than later. We listed the property on May 20th and we opened escrow a few days later.
Listing a property during a pandemic can be challenging because there are a lot of unknowns. My client and I felt confident because not many listings come up at Newtown Meadows. We priced aggressively and the unit was remodeled and well maintained. In other words, I think some buyers could see our listing as being "desirable."
I have been meeting with a few prospective sellers and buyers over the past few months. Each client's situation is different and the COVID-economy is something I am constantly monitoring. Greg and I have an upcoming Ahuimanu Gardens listing. The property will be vacant and we are working with the seller to prep the unit. Also, I have been advising two separate clients about the sale of their Manoa homes.
A New Real Estate
Due to social distancing, open houses are no longer allowed. There is a restriction on how many people can be in the home during a showing. Some agents are using virtual open houses. I question if this is an effective strategy because I am not sure if the average buyer will purchase a home by viewing it on a Facebook Live video. Technology has made selling and buying real estate easier and more efficient. However, I think buyers will want to be physically in the home before they submit an offer.
Are you looking for PPE? I recently ordered some cloth face masks from Tori Richards. Also, I recently purchased the Sani Beam. The Sani Beam is a portable UVC sanitizer. I think products like the Sani Beam will be part of our new normal.
This is not real estate related, but I am putting this in the universe. My family and I have been hunkered down at home for months. Assuming things continue to improve, it appears dine-in will be allowed at restaurants. I look forward to having a hot bowl of wonton soup at Duk Kee. Due Kee is my go-to spot for local Chinese food. Let me know if you are interested in joining me.
Stay safe and healthy.