Median single-family home price continues record climb, could force Oahu residents to move

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Single-family home prices continue to skyrocket on Oahu despite the current economic conditions of the pandemic.

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The median single-family home has set a new record of $880,000, up 13% from a year ago. Homes that do make it to the market are also being sold at a record pace, with an average of just 9 days after listing.

There are a few reasons that prices have climbed.

University of Hawaii Affordable Housing Economics Professor and UHERO analyst Philip Garboden says that record low-interest rates on mortgages, a shortage of supply, and more high end homes being sold have all contributed.

“The pandemic and the economic downturn we’re seeing so severely here in Hawaii is really operating differently for different groups of people,” Professor Garboden said. “Some folks’ incomes haven’t been disrupted at all, and they were able to take advantage of record low-interest rates. Other folks are obviously out of work, barely getting by looking to just sort of retaining the housing they do have.”

It’s people like that that will likely start moving away from the islands in the coming year. High demand from buyers outside of the state could keep the market strong, and may drive more locals to leave.

“I think we will see, rather than a lot of housing just sort of sitting vacant for extended period is a transition, local folks leaving and other folks, wealthier folks, higher income folks, buying into the market,” Professor Garboden said.

That is a worst-case scenario for maintaining affordability, and something that Professor Garboden says can shrink the affordable rental market as more landlords renovate properties to keep up.

He’s hoping the federal government will continue to provide and expand rent relief. Both the federal CDC moratorium on evictions and CARES Act funding expire January 1 unless they’re extended.

“If we’re in a position where that doesn’t come, we’re gonna really need to think hard as a state of how we spread our very limited resources to ensure that the catastrophes associated with our rental market and don’t occur in 2021.”

Professor Garboden will speak with state lawmakers Tuesday during their hearing about impacts to renters and landlords during the eviction moratorium.

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