PUHI — Local homeowners Jerry and Mi Raquel are looking for an additional home.
“At our age we pay a lot of income tax, so maybe we get another house to get a little money going,” Mi said.
The Raquels, who live down the road on Oio Street, surveyed a Puhi house on Friday after their morning walk. Home prices in the Puhi area, however, were out of their price range.
“You can see you have to spend a lot of money,” Mi said. “Twenty years ago, the price was low; now it’s double. That’s too much. Everything is so expensive now.”
Jerry said he doesn’t understand how local families will be able to purchase homes.
“The property around Puhi alone come up around $500,000,” he said. “The thing is, how people going to live? Unless they come up with the minimum wage like in L.A.”
Julie Black, Kauai Dreams Realty principal broker and owner, said the local housing market — especially in Lihue and Kapaa — has gone up.
June housing numbers also indicate that there is a demand for houses.
Black said there’s one problem: a lack of inventory.
“In the peak of the market in 2006, people were buying a lot of investment property. It was somewhat of an artificial market,” she said. “This current market is a true market because people are buying the homes to live in.”
Because homeowners aren’t reselling homes like in 2006, Black said, there are less houses for sale on the market.
Approximately 225 residential homes were sold through June — down 11 houses from the same time last year, according to statistics from Hawaii Island Realtors and the Kauai Board of Realtors released by Hawaii Information Service.
The median residential home price through June is $625,000 — up $90,000 from last year. For last month, however, the median price increased slightly from $560,750 to $570,000.
“It shows that the prices are turning from a buyer’s market into a seller’s market,” said Sean Ahearn, Elite Pacific Properties Realtor. “In terms of unit sales, it isn’t a necessarily huge number to take from.”
Black said the buyers from the market include an even mix of local and Mainland residents.
“In general, the calls and emails, we have a lot of people from Mainland wanting to relocate here and retire here,” she said. “That puts a pressure on the housing market. The rental market is extremely tight. Rates are going up.”
Black said a large part of the market on Kauai is from older, affluent buyers.
“We don’t see a whole lot graduating college, but we do have a fair market of young professionals also looking,” she said.
Among the locations on the island that have seen a decrease in sales include the Koloa and Poipu area. Median prices for those areas are up to $640,000, an increase of $42,500 from 2014.
“In Koloa, the fact that they sold 43 homes this year in June and 56 homes last year, it speaks with the lack of inventory in the Poipu area in term of residences,” Ahearn said.
The lack of inventory includes the number of vacant parcels on the South Shore. Only 13 vacant parcels were sold this year, a difference of 30.
Two problems Realtors are running into, Black said, are homes without garages and homes for military veterans.
“Buyers a lot of times are looking for a garage — both from the Mainland and here. A lot of times, people have enclosed their garage,” she said. “For VA (veteran affairs) buyers, your house has to be in really good condition; can’t have anything too funky. It’s harder to find inventory for VA buyers.”
Condominium sales, however, are up, Black said.
“The condominium numbers went up because when there’s a lack of residential, people will consider condominiums,” she said.