Answers to questions about Hawaii’s real estate market amid Covid-19
- Market FAQs
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Q: How has the pandemic impacted home listings and sales in Hawaii? (by island, by market segment, by property type)
In general, we’ve seen a fairly drastic drop in activity, but the market isn’t dead. Due to travel restrictions, there are naturally fewer buyers in the market at the moment: no tourists, no foreign travelers, no open houses. Fewer travelers = fewer homebuyers and shoppers.
There is enormous uncertainty, and generally, buyers don’t want to purchase a home at the ‘top of the market.’ Since showing homes isn’t considered essential business, there is definitely a slowdown. Buyers and sellers seem to want to hold off.
Q: What is the Hawaii real estate market like since travel restrictions and social distancing were put in place?
We are seeing some activity with local buyers who were actively looking before the travel restrictions – now they are just doing it virtually. Some prices are dropping, and some sellers are willing to negotiate on price. These trends started to appear about a month ago.
We have definitely seen a slow down in the market. We have seen homes taken temporarily off the market — these are mainly owner-occupied homes. There is still a market for lower-priced properties. Vacant land is selling, especially on the Big Island, where more is available.
Buyers have more time to look online and request virtual tours of properties in anticipation of getting to the island since many travelers had their trips canceled unexpectedly.
Q: Has the Hawaii Life website’s listing traffic increased in March?
Website traffic has increased by 14.5% in the last seven days. Most site visitors are coming to our website through organic search, with the vast majority (60%) using their mobile or tablet device.
We can surmise that stay-at-home measures are driving more people to search online than usual.
Q: Which islands’ listings are being viewed most often/for the longest?
Searches for listings on the Big Island have been the most popular ones this past week, followed by visitors looking at listings on Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. Our website’s new landing page — where we highlight property categories, lifestyle, people and culture — is seeing increased traffic.
Our website visitors are lingering longer than usual. Almost 65% of site visitors have spent their time looking at listings pages this past week, with a little over 18% of page visits concentrated on our site’s blogs and Hawaii lifestyle content.
Q: Who is searching online for Hawaii properties right now?
In the past week, the vast majority of our website’s visitors are from the United States, especially from the West Coast (Hawaii 28%, California 20%, Washington State 5%, Texas 4.5%).
Next up, Canadians are drawn to Hawaii properties on our website. Other notable countries in our web audience include Japan, Australia, and several countries in Western Europe, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
With travel restrictions in place around the world, we are seeing fewer online viewers searching for travel and tourism, and more site visitors interested in investment, banking, and financial services.
Q: Where can I find market updates and market information?
Find an agent by island. Connect with one of 350+ tech-savvy agents statewide to answer your questions.
Q: Are there investment opportunities for cash buyers in locations where Hawaii’s real estate inventory is typically quite low?
Yes, especially since listing volume and transaction volume is at an all-time low. It’s an immediate buyers’ market. Resort areas present the most significant opportunities, as well as the traditionally higher tiers of the market.
Q: Can foreign buyers purchase property in Hawaii right now?
Yes, although Hawaii’s State Senate has put forth a bill that could radically restrict foreign purchases. The legislature is not in session, so that bill has not yet been voted on by the full house or ratified into law. If a foreign buyer is intent on purchasing in Hawaii, there really couldn’t be a more critical and urgent time than now.
Q: What are some Hawaii real estate investment strategies right now?
While this is a broad question, our view is that you have to want the real estate more than the money. Real estate may seem to some to be inherently more valuable, especially after the considerations surrounding the recent Shelter-in-Place orders and very real considerations of “value.” All assets run the risk of rapidly being devalued, but real estate carries with it very internal and tangible values that cash, stocks and equities simply can’t provide.
Investment strategies depend on your current goals, portfolio and situation. Of course, we recommend consulting your CPA and/or financial advisors when considering anything as a true “investment.” But let’s face it – there are almost always personal reasons involved in the purchase of real estate in Hawaii. What’s it worth to you?
Q: Is this a good time to buy a (second or vacation) home in Hawaii? If so, why? If not, why not?
The next several months could present extraordinary opportunities as prices go down and high-quality inventory trades for less than it has historically. That said, the best inventory will likely get picked up quickly since there will be a ‘dry powder’ element to the market that can move quickly when the right opportunities present themselves.
There will be continued pressure on vacation rentals in the next 12-18 months, both related to Covid-19 and the ongoing housing shortages in Hawaii, so it’s unwise to plan on vacation rental income as a means of affording a second home. For true second home end users, however, there will be strong buying opportunities.
Q: How does Hawaii Life expect the real estate market to change and evolve for the balance of 2020?
The remainder of 2020 will be considerably slower than the first quarter. Listings will eventually return to the market, but trading volume will be radically slow. Only the best-priced and high-quality listings will trade.
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