Jan. 6, 2017

Real Estate Market Stats for Oahu 2016

As I'm looking at the statistics that just came out from the Honolulu Board of Realtors, I'm laughing! Mainly because at the beginning of the year I actually thought that maybe the market may start to slow down in 2016 (see my article from March 2016 below in the blogs)... Boy, was I wrong!

Not only did our market continue to soar in 2016, but December was the 2nd highest month for # of sales. December is usually a bit slower as expected with the Holiday's.

The median home price for Oahu went up from $700K to $735K. And the median condo price went up from $360K to $390K respectively. The Honolulu Board of Realtors calls this "stable". The average days on market for both SFH and condo's went down (that's a good thing) to 18 days on market for both. WOW, that's fast! The key is choosing the right agent who KNOWS the market and has a lot of experience selling homes in your neighborhood, in order to get the best and highest price. There are a few homes on the market that are sitting idle because their agents' have not helped them get their homes in sell-able condition. This doesn't help the agent either, so the whole thing boggles my mind...

The number of homes for sale (inventory) has remained flat, which continues to drive our market. This lack of inventory has helped many get into homes, while simultaneously lowing our standards by consumers buying out of desperation of loosing yet another home.

January and February tend to be slower months (but not by much), but come March things will get crazy again with military folks coming in and people starting to buy new homes that will close at the end of the school year. What does this mean for you? Use this time in Jan and Feb to find your home while the masses stay at bay until March! ;) Buy a home now, and hold onto it!

The public is encouraged to visit www.hicentral.com to see what's happening in the housing market. And, as always please feel free to call one of us at alohatony.com for real estate advice and services. We remain in the Top 100 Realtors of Hawaii and enjoy serving our clients with Aloha.

by:Chelsea Pferschy RS, MRP (808) 754-6000 chelseapferschy@gmail.com

Posted in General
Dec. 28, 2016

Interest Rates Are Up. Should I Buy?

Buyers this past summer got a great deal on their loans, with interest rates at around 3.5%. Since then, rates have shot up from 3.5% to 4.5%. How are interest rates priced anyway? And what do rising interest rates mean for the housing market and the economy overall? Should anyone still consider buying a home right now? 

Pricing interest rates 

Let's start with the first question: how are interest rates priced? Economics writer Paul Solman offers some insight:

Think of a market interest rate as the sum of three separate factors: waiting, repayment risk, and inflation.

1. First, waiting — also known as the time value of money. Imagine an inflation-free environment, such as today’s. Which would you take: a thousand dollars today or a thousand dollars, guaranteed, a year from now? Unless you’re a very unusual person, it’s the thousand right now, so you can do something with the money. If you forgo the money, you generally need to be paid something for doing so, for waiting — in recent history, around 2 percent a year.
2. Second is the risk of not being paid back. This is why folks with low FICO scores have to pay such high rates of interest. This obviously varies enormously. But the U.S. government has generally been thought to pay the “risk-free” rate: 0 percent for risk. 
3. The rest of the interest rate is inflation. If money is losing value and you lend it, you’re going to expect to be reimbursed for the loss.

So what do rising interest rates mean?  

When interest rates are lower, more buyers are able to borrow money. When more money is being borrowed, more money is being spent (After all, people don't take out loans to add to their savings). This increase in purchasing pumps money into the national economy. Then when consumers have been steadily fueling the economy for a while, the Fed will typically respond by raising rates. When rates are higher, purchasing slows. And when purchasing slows, so does inflation.
Therefore, interest rates rise as a result of inflation. Steady inflation is natural. It is indicative of a healthy economy. On the other hand, no inflation or deflation (the lowering of prices) is related to economic recession and depression. And so rising interest rates are a sign that our economy has been doing well. 

What does this mean for home owners? 

Inflation means your home is increasing in value, which is good. Now, with a higher home value, property taxes will be higher, but only because the home owner's net worth has gone up. The beautiful thing about a mortgage payment is that it stays the same for 30 years. Rents may go up, interest rates may go up, but your mortgage payment stays the same.

What does this mean for renters? 

Obviously, rent goes up. Healthy inflation results in higher wages, but it also results in higher everything, rent included.

What do higher rates mean for would-be borrowers? 

The most obvious answer is higher monthly payments (If, of course, you don't already have a mortgage. If you already have a mortgage, higher rates have no impact on your monthly payment). The difference between 3.5% and 4.5% on a $500,000 mortgage is $288 more per month, which comes out to $3,456 more per year. Today's borrower will pay that much more on interest than her friend who borrowed the same amount of money in June. 
Since higher rates result in higher payments, the buyer pool shrinks. Here are some effects:
1. A few would-be buyers will no longer qualify for loans and therefore will not be able to buy. 
2. Some buyers will get approved for less than what they would've got when interest rates were lower and will choose not to buy.
3. Many buyers who get approved for less will borrow what they can and buy at that price point.
4. Stronger buyers (all cash or high earners with high credit scores) will continue to buy what they want.

Why even buy right now? 

Why would anyone choose to buy when rates are the highest they've been in 2 years? Here are some reasons, below:

1. It could be worse ... in fact it has been in the past. If you've just started looking for a home this year, you may have grown accustomed to seeing interest rates between 3.5%-4.0%. Believe it or not, rates right now (at 4.5%) are still low. The average interest rate over the last 30 years is 7%, as shown in the graph above. In the late 80's, interest rates were at 10%. In 1981 (not shown on graph) the average rate was 17%! If interest rates go up next year, you may wish you'd borrowed at 4.5%.
2. It could get better. If rates go back down after you purchase, you may choose to refinance to a lower rate.
3. You still need somewhere to live. Higher interest rates don't take away the reason you were looking for a home in the first place.

You are not alone

If you buy in 2017, will you be among the many or among the few? Interestingly enough, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts an 11% increase in new home mortgages next year, in spite of projected increases in mortgage interest rates.
TransUnion, a credit analytics company, attributes the increase to lower unemployment rates and higher household incomes. These factors should allow more first-time buyers into the game. "We believe with improved economic conditions we could see nearly 3 million first-time homebuyers in 2017," said Joe Mellman, TransUnion VP.

You would have a home 

Why buy? You would have a home. I bought my first condo in Honolulu in September and was able to have my parents over for Christmas this year. My dad complimented the job I did putting in new flooring. Mom kicked back on my leather couch and watched White Christmas while my sister and I made omelettes and cocoa mochi in the kitchen. Grandma had one long nap, interrupted only by brunch and the obligatory photo op. I told a friend about it later and he said, "That's the dream isn't it? to have your parents over at your place for Christmas."
"Yeah man," I told him, "It was a dream come true." And you can't put a price on that.
Posted in General
Dec. 23, 2016

Color(s) of the Year 2017 and selling Real Estate, What You Should Consider.

     As most of you know, Pantone, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams each year, pick a "Color of the year" that influences trends for interior design and fashion. Following these color trends can be very risky if you plan on selling your home within the year... This year Pantone has picked a color called "Greenery." Its a very vibrant, yet not neon green. I might even call it Spring Green. It's pretty in small doses (pillows, throw blankets, or other decor), a wall of this color may be a bit overpowering though, and only appeal to a small number of buyers


     Benjamin Moore has picked "Shadow 2117-30" as their color of the year for 2017. It's a VERY dark navy blue with some shades of purple in it. It's a beautiful color for a dress, a men's suit, a pair of pants, or even a purse. But as Realtor, I think we could all agree that it would be wise to steer clear of this color on walls if you want to sell your house quickly. 


    At this point, you're probably thinking "Geez! She doesn't like ANY of these colors!!!" WRONG! This next color is actually quite beautiful, on trend for interiors and can be fairly neutral in a well lit room. It's Sherwin Williams color of the year "Poised Taupe sw 6039." Like it's name you can guess that it's a taupe shade, medium in intensity, but also in the 'greige' family. (That's a mix of beige and grey....greige.;) If you like this color, but want to put it in a room that doesn't have a lot of light, you can go up a shade and try "Truly Taupe sw 6038." It's also a Sherwin Williams color that will give that greig-y/taupe feel in a room. 

Poised Taupe (above) and Truly Taupe (below)

      You may want to consult a Realtor if you plan on painting your home and putting it on the market soon. A saavy Realtor will be able to suggest colors and idea's that will help your home be neutral and at the same time give it a (small and subdued) personality so that buyers will be able to see themselves and their things in your home, which will help it SELL. Give me, or one of my teammates a call if you would like some suggestions on paint colors.

by: Chelsea Pferschy (808) 754-6000 MRP, RS #76072

Posted in General
Dec. 21, 2016

Brand New High Rise proposed in Kakaako/Ala Moana area... BE THE 1ST TO KNOW!!!

Artist Rendering for new development on Kapiolani

A Los Angeles based development company (Salem Partners) recently filed a sewer connection application for the "Heald College Plaza Development" block of 1470, 1488, and 1500 Kapiolani Blvd. to build a 500 unit, high rise condo-hotel building which would be just adjacent to Walgreen's and across from Ala Moana Center.

The building, once completed will consist of 301 studio, 122 one bedroom, 71 two bedroom, and 6 three bedroom units.

They will be using locally based engineering and planning firms and also have other building in the works near the convention center.

As soon as I have more information about purchase price and pre-sales, I'll add it to this blog. This area is popular for tourism, singles and convenient for busy families as well which would make a great investment to either live in, or rent out.

Call one of us at Team Aloha Tony for all of your real estate needs.

-Chelsea Pferschy MRP RS-76072  (808) 754-6000 cell

Posted in General
July 6, 2016

Newly Listed in Mililani Mauka: $875K

Our sellers did a killer job on renovations to this already valuable piece of property in Mililani Mauka. Thanks in large part to their hard work, we were able to go into escrow today after just 4 days on the market! 
Some of their upgrades include all new flooring throughout, a wide open kitchen with brand new cabinetry, granite countertops, and all new appliances; fresh paint on the interior and exterior; and a brand new washer and dryer. 
This two-story home on a corner lot has 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, and a flat and grassy back yard. 
Mililani Mauka was developed about 20 years after Mililani Town, on the other side of Interstate H-2. "Mililani" literally means "heavenly caress" in Hawaiian, but is used poetically as "thanksgiving" or "praise". "Mauka" indicates "toward the mountain". Schools in Mililani are among the highest ranked in the state, which makes Mililani one of the most sought-after neighborhoods on Oahu. 
Posted in General
April 6, 2016

March 2016 Housing statistics-Oahu

There are several things that led me to post an entry such as this, and I've
been thinking about it for several days. This is the kind of post that can cost
me a lot of credibility, but here goes.

First, on Sunday I had 50 people
at an open house. It is my Aina Haina listing for $1.1million, a nice house but
nothing out of the ordinary for the area. A nice pool home with 5 bedrooms and
2300sqft. I haven't had 50 people at an open house in about 4 years. Another
agent in my office said he had 25 people, and the $1.2million house he is
listing was in escrow last week, until the buyer found a few problems in the

Also, the March stats for sales came out, and like I predicted, the
number of sales jumped up significantly, while median Oahu home prices rose
again to $600k. The number of listings is down again, to about 1900 homes and
2200 condos, and the number of sales was up about 20% compared to Jan and

Finally, there was this very poignant article
in Forbes
, which said that "The end result is that the stock market and the
economy are being lifted on a sea of liquidity, giving us a V-shaped recovery.
Very soon, the recession will officially end. This is not a dead-cat bounce, and
it's not government spending. It's easy money, plain and simple."

Posted in General
March 1, 2016

Could El Nino be pushing Hawaii home prices higher?

Hawaii’s hottest summer and coldest winter coincide with all-time highs in Oahu median home prices. Maybe it’s time we talk about the weather.

Research suggests that Hawaii's unusual temperatures last year may have been a factor in driving up Oahu home prices.

Last September, two Hawaii cities reported the highest summer temperatures in over 100 years. "It really is significantly warmer than what we typically have," said meteorologist Chris Brenchley. He added that, once humidity was factored in, "We started to see those heat index values in the high 90's, even in the triple digits."

That month, the median home price in Honolulu reached a historical new high of $730K.

Then in January of 2016, the National Weather Service reported the lowest temperature recorded that day in Honolulu in the last 122 years. That month, the median home price – after a slight dip at the end of 2015 – reached a new all-time high of $733K.

Though radical temperature shifts may be common on the U.S. mainland from season to season, most long-time Hawaii residents were caught off-guard.

“Fluctuations in weather patterns have been linked to increases in consumer spending.” –Vadim Krasko, economist

Economically speaking, increased spending in unusual weather is a necessity. Krasko’s research simply connects the dots between unusual weather and higher energy bills, since consumers “need to balance the temperature differences from weather changes.”

Emotionally speaking, increased spending in unusual weather is a way to cope with unexpected discomfort. In an article published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, researchers linked the influence of weather on mood and, in turn, the influence of mood on spending. Negative affect (feeling bad) was shown to increase a person’s willingness to spend more money.

So research suggests that the unusually uncomfortable temperatures in Hawaii may have motivated home buyers to spend more on homes.

On the other hand, these historic highs may simply be characteristic of the seasonal ebb and flow of median home prices on the island of Oahu. 

In my previous posts, I’ve tracked median price peaks on Oahu over the last five years. From 2011-2014, I observed a pretty consistent pattern:

  1. High in May/June
  2. Dip in July/August 
  3. High in November/December

The pattern seemed to be broken in 2015 when the median went up in autumn instead of down, as was characteristic in previous years. I interpreted this as an elongation of the ebb/flow wavelength, predicting that the highs and lows would still occur in sequence, just on delay.

And so it went. The Oahu median home rise/fall pattern was delayed:

  1. High in September
  2. Dip in December
  3. High in January

 The chart below shows the pattern from 2011-2014 and how it shifted in 2015.


Summer Peak

Post-Summer Dip

Winter Peak

2015 – 2016

$730K (Sept)*

$700K (Dec)

$733K (Jan ’16)*


$700K (Jun)

$650K (Aug)

$719K (Nov)*


$677K (Jun)

$647K (Jul)

$685K (Dec)*


$664K (May)*

$609K (Aug)

$640K (Dec)


$595K (May)

$558K (Aug)

$605K (Dec)*

* Year’s Highest Median 

Were Hawaii’s hottest summer and coldest winter the primary cause for Oahu median home values reaching record highs? Probably not. Due to the strong demand for housing in Hawaii, prices were bound to go up anyway. Also, interest rates did not suddenly rise despite widespread anticipation. This must have been a huge encouragement to borrowers. 

Still, it’s hard to ignore the coinciding of two seemingly unrelated statistics: peak home prices and the weather. Taking into consideration the general impact weather has on consumers both economically and emotionally, it’s not a stretch to say that our record-setting weather influenced record-setting home prices.

Posted in General
Feb. 17, 2016

Out-of-state investors sweep up >25% of Hawaii homes

Would Hawaii real estate be so expensive if not for foreign investors?

Probably not. Consider these facts:

The average sale price of homes sold to foreign buyers from 2008 to 2015 was $785,604 and the average sales price for mainlanders was $630,390. By comparison, the average sale price of homes sold to local buyers over the same period was $478,189.

So foreign buyers on average have spent 65% more than local buyers, while U.S. Mainland buyers have spent 32% more than local buyers. Also worthy of note is the quantity of homes being acquired: more than a quarter of homes sold in Hawaii are purchased by non-Hawaii residents. On neighbor islands, nearly half the homes are swept up by out-of-state investors

These and other findings were recently reported in the first study of its kind by DBEDT.

Is this good news or bad news?

Well, it depends on who you are. If you are an out-of-state investor with lots of money, you probably won’t have much trouble purchasing your own piece of paradise.

But for local non-homeowners (45% of household earners in Hawaii), this news can be very upsetting. High demand makes it harder for renters to attain the benefits of home ownership.

High demand for real estate is good for homeowners.

For homeowners (55% of household earners in Hawaii), high demand for housing is great news. Since the lowest point of the recent recession, Oahu real estate values have gone up 35%. To put it in practical terms, if you bought a house in January of 2009 for $500K, it would be worth $675K today, having gained $175K in value. Add the $65K or so you would have paid down on your mortgage and you’re looking at $240,000 in equity over 7 years. 

High demand for real estate is good for would-be homeowners 

If you live in Hawaii or are moving here, you may be able to leverage the strength of our market to your advantage. But many who are able to purchase Hawaii real estate choose not to. If you're on the fence, consider this: Twenty years ago, a $1000/mo mortgage payment was a lot. But anyone who bought 20 years ago is the envy of today’s buyers, since their mortgage payments are still $1000/mo after 20 years! Rents go up but mortgage payments stay the same. Yes, real estate is expensive in Hawaii, but it is more expensive because it’s more valuable. 

“People love Hawaii, and they love to invest in Hawaii,” said Eugene Tian, state economist. “Out-of-state investments make our housing demand very strong.”

Posted in General
Jan. 14, 2016

Effect of TRID Oahu Real Estate

New loan regulations may have had a negative impact on the U.S. real estate market, but national figures differ noticeably from the very resilient Oahu real estate market.

Reuters reported last month that “U.S. home resales posted their sharpest drop in five years in November,” a 10.5% drop from October 2015. While some may see this is a potential warning sign for the health of the U.S. economy (especially after last week’s stock market plunge), NAR economist Lawrence Yun suggests that new regulations on paperwork for home purchases may have driven the decline.

What new regulations?

If you’ve been looking into real estate recently, you may have seen the acronym T.R.I.D. TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule Implementation (TRID) went into effect on October 3. In a nutshell, these changes are meant to benefit you (buyers and sellers) by simplifying forms and increasing accountability for lenders. Imagine a new set of procedures being handed out to an entire industry sector. That’s what lenders experienced in October. Such a broad, sweeping change was bound to have an effect on speed and overall efficiency.

Has TRID had any impact on Oahu real estate?

I believe so, but since comprehensive data is still forthcoming, it may be difficult to see right now. What iseasy to see is what has increased, or at least remained steady. The health of the market in our state is shown in 4 categories. As displayed in the infographic below, numbers are up from last year in: 

  1.     Median Sales Price
  2.     Number of New Listings
  3.     Number of Active Listings
  4.     Number of Homes Sold

The December median price for single family homes (SFH) on Oahu was $700K. This is nearly 3x the national average (which is one huge difference between the Oahu market and U.S.); however, this is a decrease from the year’s high of $730K in September. Why did the median drop? Does this have long-term implications? Is the market starting to adjust?

Mysterious absence of the “winter peak”

In my previous posts, I charted market trends over the last 5 years. From 2011-2014, median prices in Hawaii have had a 1) summer peak, 2) an autumn dip and 3) a winter peak. In 3 of those 4 years, the winter peak surpassed the summer peak – that is, median home values were higher in the winter than in the summer. 

That was not the case this year. Contrary to the predictable rise/fall/rise of median prices in previous years, there was no winter peak. In fact, when the median should have dropped in autumn, it rose … to an all time high of $730K. Then, uncharacteristic of previous years, it declined incrementally as the year came to a close: $720K (Oct), $715K (Nov), $700K (Dec).

Does this mean that home values will continue to decrease? I believe the median will rise again in the next couple months and here’s why:

Initially, when I saw an autumn high (instead of a dip) and a winter dip (instead of a peak, I thought the patterns had somehow inverted. Yet, other stats saw almost no change. On average:

  1.     Sellers were still getting 98% of list price,
  2.     Homes were still selling in 20 days
  3.     And, just as in previous years, the overall number of homes available dropped in the winter.

Mysterious increase of pending sales

But one stat was different: the number of pending sales jumped up 10% in December. That increase may not seem like much … until you compare it to the next highest increase in the last five years of about 1%.

What does this mean? Homes are still being sold on Oahu in greater quantities and higher numbers than before. They are just taking a little longer to close.

If NAR economist Lawrence Yun is correct, what seemed to be an inversion of rise/fall pattern may prove instead to be an elongation of the wavelength, caused by a delay in closings.


Does this mean we need to plan for longer escrows from now on? Not necessarily. Since lenders and escrow companies are getting accustomed to a new set of procedures, timelines should be back to normal once organizations find their flow again.

In closing, the Oahu real estate is not merely a microcosm of the US market, nor is it like that of any other state. Properties here are more valuable, less available and very diverse. There are still great opportunities for selling, buying, owning and/or investing in real estate here on Oahu. Team up with a Oahu real estate agent who understands this unique and thriving market. Call Team Aloha Tony today! 

Posted in General
Jan. 7, 2016

A short history (and cultural?) lesson on Hawaii Kai

Hawaii Kai is known for its great location on the south-east corner of Oahu, easy access to the ocean, and the quality of life. You can spend between $500K, up to just under $14 million on a home here. Here is a brief overview of Hawaii Kai.

In 1961, Henry J. Kaiser entered into a long term land lease with Bishop Estate, that would allow him to develop a large part of east Oahu (Hawaii Kai) into residential housing tracts and commercial properties. He had begun dredging, widening and deepening the Kuapa pond, which would later become canals, so that homes could be built along the waterways and boats could travel through them as well. Hawaii Kai was Oahu's very first planned community. Ironically, Kaiser had moved to Hawaii just 5 years prior, to retire. He had his own empire on the mainland, holding 29 different companies. He obviously had a vision that wouldn't die until he brought it to fruition.

Cynic's of Kaiser's project called Hawaii Kai "Kaiser's Folly" as they began selling homes for only $18,750 and lost a lot of money on each one. In the beginning, local folks were very skeptical buying a home from Kaiser. So he brought in local and mainland subcontractors that buyers were more familiar with. After that, the homes started selling like crazy!

In the end, Kaiser didn't make much money on the Hawaii Kai development. "The only people who made money are the homeowners themselves. Property values have gone through the roof. But I think Mr. Kaiser would be perfectly happy with that fact." Tim Yee (former corporate vice president of real estate at Kaiser Aluminum) told Hawaii Business Magazine in June 2005

There is a great and glorious neighborhood culture in Hawaii Kai. The more you live here, the more you feel, see, and sense it. It's wonderful! I love that I cannot go anywhere in Hawaii Kai without seeing someone I know who wants to come over and 'talk story' with me. It's Aloha at it's finest folks! Some people think that because Hawaii Kai is only 50'ish years old, that it doesn't' have as much history as some other area's on the island....not true! Hawaii Kai is a melting pot of cultures and diverse combinations of families living together.

-Chelsea Pferschy RS# 76072 (808) 754-6000

Posted in General