Housing market stable on Kaua‘i

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Realtor Joanna Wheeler shows off a listed house up in Kapahi.

HA‘ENA — Bette Midler, born and raised on O‘ahu and Grammy and Emmy actress and singer, has sold a parcel of her land on the Kauai north shore for $1.85 million — a parcel which she bought for $150,000 in 1986.

According to public records, Midler sold the 1.3-acre conservation-zoned parcel near Ha‘ena Beach to Discovery Land Company, a luxury developer during this COVID-19 crisis. It is one of multiple properties Midler owns on Kaua‘i.

Midler is one of several millionaires and famous individuals who own land or homes on Kaua‘i.

Despite the existence of a global pandemic, realtors and economists say the housing market across the state is relatively stable — especially on Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island.

Hawai‘i economist Paul Brewbaker projects an extended trajectory of modest, single-digit annual price appreciation and sales volume growth.

“This trajectory will be disrupted by the sudden stop associated with the novel coronavirus, but it can still service as a reasonable longer-term benchmark for housing market returns on investment during the inevitable recovery,” Brewbaker said.

According to Brewbaker, the sudden emergence of Hawaii’s coronavirus infectious threat precipitously decreased new home listings for sale, international and domestic travel, and interest rates, and has also disrupted supply chains and clouded the investment outlook, even for ongoing construction and development.

Kauai realtor Joanna Wheeler echoed Brewbaker, saying Kauai hasn’t yet seen a major drop in prices.

“My speculation is that will happen to the market and will depend on different factors,” said Wheeler. “We have seen properties coming back on the market because of financing issues and one might imagine buyer’s jobs were affected.”

She continued: “Still the prices are basically holding up as they are holding up in California. No doubt that people whose jobs are being affected can influence the market, however we did not have a lot of inventory, and that combined with low interests are keeping prices stable by now.”

Wheeler said as usual if a property is well priced it will sell, but the current vacation rental market is turning out to be quite the restrictive climate for those second home buyers, but theorized prices could go down on vacation rental-type properties if the pandemic continues.

With low interest rates, it’s currently an attractive climate for home buyers, realtors and economists agree. The same doesn’t go for investment buyers, though.

“Investment buyers, those who are looking for rentals might be taking a pause until they see what will happen with rental market as we are seeing that an important amount of renters are not able to pay their rents and those owners unable to pay the mortgage will possible need to sell and that can give the market some very needed inventory,” said Wheeler.

She continues: “If that is the case, buyers might be able to take advantage of more options and the historically low mortgages rates. That would be great opportunity for those renters to become homeowners if they are in the position to do it. But I really feel it depends on how the Governor manages the current situation. “

According to Kaua‘i’s MLS sales statistics, last year 58 residential homes were sold in the month of April in 2019. This April there was a slight decrease of 29.31% in sales, realtors sold 41 residential homes compared to last year.

Last year in April, 24 vacant lands were sold and this past April during the COVID-19 crisis, only 3 vacant lands were sold which is a 87.50% decrease in sales.

There were 39 Condominiums sold last year in April while there was a 20.51% decrease in sales this year and realtors sold 31 condominiums in April compared to last year.

Through COVID-19, the Kaua‘i housing market remains stable and seems to be more attractive to those interested in buying a house or land for personal or commercial use.


Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com. Associated Press contributed to this report.

  1. randy kansas May 7, 2020 3:35 am Reply

    the housing market will take a major hit, there is just a lag time to catch up with declining revenues and values…..plus the negative vibe Kauai will have with arresting visitors and keep away signals being displayed by the local government will sour investment on the island;

    certain outside investors, like the one mentioned in this article, will still have funding, and will swoop in and purchase deals, once prices hit lower thresholds….later this year and next;

    it would be interesting to see the ratio of folks buying for personal use, versus the ones buying for investment….

  2. Glen Kojima May 7, 2020 7:27 am Reply

    Perhaps a better indication of Kauai’s real estate market would be comparing the number of escrows opened in April vs. last year?

  3. kauaiboy May 7, 2020 11:09 am Reply

    Interesting article.

    While prices could go down on vacation rental-type properties if the pandemic continues, as mentioned in the article, I believe that TVRs with no community shared spaces, especially those in rural settings, will eventually become more and more popular because they represent accommodations more applicable for social-distancing.

  4. Eric Kiahuna May 7, 2020 5:02 pm Reply

    The oppressive government over reach displayed by the leaders of Kauai is very alarming! I would never live in a place that takes away your basic human rights guaranteed by the bill of rights and the constitution. House arrests, curfews, closed parks, and police harassment. That’s not the spirit of Aloha

    1. Sammy Dog May 12, 2020 6:46 pm Reply

      So, where do you live? You cite the US bill of rights and the Constitution (that’s capitalized). Are you sheltering in the United States of America that protects you?

    2. Judy July 25, 2020 7:36 am Reply

      Mayor and Governor of Hawaii are doing a great job keeping the people of Hawaii safe from selfish people that doesn’t care about the well being of others.

  5. Lawaibob May 8, 2020 2:47 pm Reply

    Article title should be: Realtors welcome real estate vulchers to Kauai

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