LIHUE — Real estate sales and prices continue to grow on the Garden Isle.
In October, there were 49 single family homes and 57 condominiums sold on the island.
The median sales price of a home on Kauai was $713,000, up nearly 9 percent from last month and more than 14 percent since October 2016.
“Surprisingly, there are 17 properties for sale on Kauai above $10 million,” said Jimmy Johnson, real estate broker for ReMax Kauai. “My friend has a Secret Beach estate listed for sale at a cool $70 million.”
This nearly 12,000-square-foot mansion is located on more than 15 acres along Kauapea Road in Kilauea.
“Hanalei Bay continues to hold the highest concentration of high-end properties on the Garden Island,” Johnson said.
The median selling price of vacant land in Koloa, Lihue and Kawaihau ranged from $300,000 to $400,000, while land in Hanalei was double that figure.
“The median sales price has increased since 2016, so it is a good market for sellers considering the low inventory,” said Andrea Healey, a Realtor at Oceanfront Sotheby’s International Realty. “It appears that more qualified buyers are entering the market as closed sales have increased since 2016, while borrowers are still riding the wave of low interest rates.”
The largest number of homes sold on island were in Koloa with 48 sales for a total of more than $40 million. Waimea had the least amount, with three single family homes sold for a total of $1.5 million.
Hanalei had 28 homes that sold for a total of more than $23 million. Kawaihau saw 27 sell for nearly $14 million, and Lihue had 21 sell for almost $7 million.
“From my small-office perspective, the market has been strong for a couple of years on the residential side where prices have been steadily rising,” said Wil Welsh, principal broker for Wai’Oli Properties. “Much of that has been driven by low interest rates, stronger economic conditions on the Mainland, and, after a long period of relative austerity in the country, there’s a pent-up demand to loosen the belt, enjoy life, move to paradise.”
Median sales price for a condominium was $510,000, up more than 16 percent since last month and nearly 16 percent compared to last October.
“With the rising prices for homes and land, condominiums look like a bargain with their generally lower asking prices,” Welsh said. “Buyers can see themselves getting at least a toe-hold on their dreams, spend time on the island, and rent out their condos when they’re here.”
“On Kauai, the most ‘affordable’ homes are on the Westside, but the inventory everywhere is limited,” he added. “When available, homes in the Lihue/Kapaa area priced under $500,000 rarely last two weeks on the market.”
Real estate transactions are taking longer to close than in past years for a number of reasons, including more complicated and demanding mortgage processing after the drop in 2008 driven by big-institution predatory lending, bundling/selling of bad mortgages and other financial finagling, according to Welsh.
“Regulations at the grassroots level have strongly affected individual borrowers, increasing the time and energy in getting a loan,” Welsh said. “Ask someone who has gotten a mortgage loan lately, and likely they came out feeling like a terrorist suspect.”
Regulators have also come down on small-office mortgage brokers and appraisers, adding layers of verification and procedures that slow the process, according to Welsh.
Other requisites, such as inspecting or fumigating for termites, also add to the list of requirements that need to be met before transactions can be finalized.
“Though we have a shortage of termite inspectors and tenters, we have found creative ways to overcome those obstacles to ensure timely closings,” Healey said. “Pre-listing termite inspections have been instrumental in giving our sellers visibility before their home hits the market.”
Aloha Termite Kauai is one of the only companies on island to offer termite fumigation tenting. The small business employs about 30 workers who specialize in all types of pest control.
“We can only do what we can do, but I do have room for the right jobs,” said Aloha Termite owner John Montalbo. “It really all depends on the size of the house, where it’s located and other things involved. Sometimes we can’t fumigate when there’s tenants living in the homes.”
“Then there’s some jobs that are really difficult to do, especially on the North Shore,” he added. “There’s some crazy big houses that can be tricky too. We had one of those Saturday. Going through the whole process, from inspection to getting estimates and the job done on schedule, everything all together was probably two months.”
Despite some potential slowdowns, Kauai made up just 7 percent of real estate sales statewide compared to Oahu with 57 percent, Hawaii Island with 20 percent and Maui with 16 percent.