June 2021 Maui Real Estate Market Update


When the pandemic started, we provided weekly updates on market conditions on Maui. There were a lot of unknowns at that point and plenty free time to put together statistics. As market conditions improved from the doldrums of the spring and summer of 2020, carving out time became harder. By the middle of fall, weekly updates slipped to once every few weeks. I last posted a market update in mid-January. The frequency of the posts inversely correlates with market conditions. A quieter market meant more frequent posts, while the dearth of posts over the last 6 months is a testament to the busiest period of real estate transactions seen on Maui to date.

I had a little bit of time to catch my breath this week so I wanted to catch you up on market conditions through the first five months of 2021. While I am loathe to enter the world of prognostication after the surprising turn in market conditions last year, I will also provide a few thoughts on the outlook for the next few months.

Booming Demand

The Covid-19 Pandemic created a real estate boom in a number of markets throughout the mainland United States as early as late Spring of 2020. Due to the travel restrictions to Hawaii, the Maui market remained comparatively quiet. We saw a modest uptick in activity in June after stay at home orders were lifted. As the year progressed, momentum increased. The resumption of tourism in October caused another uptick in demand. The Maui market hit a whole new gear in 2021.

This chart compares the number of homes sold in Maui County during the first five months of 2021 and the first five months of 2020.
Monthly Homes Sold in Maui County, Hawaii in the first five months of 2020 and 2021

Maui Realtors reported 598 homes sold during the first five months of the 2021. That calculates to roughly a 57% increase over the 389 homes sold during the same period of 2020. The difference in sales between 2021 and 2020 increased in part due to growing demand, but also due to the fact that Covid-19 impacted April and May 2020 sales volumes . The monthly difference in sales volume started at 18.8%in January and peaked at 290% in May. To be clear, the sales volumes for 2021 don’t look strong just due to weaker 2020 numbers. By comparison, home sales for the first five months of 2021 were 33.4% stronger than the same period of 2019.

A comparison of monthly Maui condo sales volumes between the first five months of 2020 and 2021
A comparison of monthly condo sales volumes in Maui County Hawaii during the first five months of 2020 and 2021.

Maui Realtors reported an impressive 1,019 condos sold over the first five months of 2021. That represents an 81% increase in sales volume over the 564 condos sold during the same period of 2020. As with the single family home market, the difference in sales between the two years is due in part to depressed sales in April and May of 2020, and a big surge in activity in 2021. This is evident in the monthly numbers. The January 2021 sales volume actually fell below January 2020 by 10%. Sales volume picked up dramatically in February of 2021 as evidenced by the 24.6% increase over February 2020. By May, the difference in monthly sales volume between 2021 and 2020 rocketed up to 448%. It is notable that the months of March through May were the first ever months where condo sales volumes exceeded 200 closed transactions on Maui.

Shrinking Inventory

While the number of properties going under contract soared, the number of new listings coming to market remained limited. The result was rapidly shrinking inventory for the first five months of the year.

This chart shows the monthly inventory of homes and condos for sale in Maui County. The chart starts right before the start of the pandemic through May.
The monthly inventory of active homes and condos for sale in Maui County at the end of the month. This chart starts in February 2020 right before the start of Covid and runs until May of 2021.

According to the Realtors Association of Maui (RAM), there were only 203 active home listings at the very end of May. That is 37% below the 318 active home listings at the end of December. It is 54% lower than at the end of February 2020 right before covid impacted the market. The home inventory declined steadily throughout the pandemic.

As of the end of May, RAM reported 224 active condo listings. This is 68% below the number of active condo listings at the end of December. It is 58% below the number of condos for sale listed right before the start of Covid at the end of February of 2020. The decline in condo inventory hasn’t been quite as linear as the decrease in home inventory. Active condo inventory grew every month between March of 2020 and December of 2020. That makes the decrease in inventory in 2021 all that much more dramatic. It is also worth noting that the home and condo inventory weren’t exactly robust going into the start of Covid. Pre-Covid, there was less than 6 months of homes and condo inventory.

I would surmise that some of the recent decreases in sales volume may be due in part to the lack of inventory. Buyers are looking, but there just isn’t much out there to buy. Well priced properties are still seeing a frenzy of activity.

Rising Prices

Strong demand and shrinking inventory resulted in a lot of upward price pressure over the first five months of 2021. This is evident as Maui’s median sales priced crossed the $1,000,000 barrier for the month of May.

If you are long time readers of this blog, you may know that I am somewhat wary of using median sales price as a means of tracking changes in property values. The change in median price is based in part on change in value and also in part due to the composition of sales. A higher number of high end sales in anyone month can help push median sales price upwards. There is no doubt that this is a factor in the current market. We are seeing a much higher number of high end properties closing in this market. That said, it is also clear that prices are increasing.

Determining an exact number for the change in values is difficult. The Maui market is pretty heterogeneous in terms of structure size, lot size, location, view and finishing. There is also some variability in how much values are increasing in different geographies and price points. Contact us to discuss changes in value specific to areas of the market of interest to you.

What to Expect Going Forward?

I gave up prognosticating on this market earlier in the pandemic. If you told me market conditions would be what they are now back in April of 2020, let’s just say I would be skeptical. With that in mind, there are some things that I will be watching for over the months ahead.

Inventory The number of active listings tumbled throughout the spring on Maui. The limited inventory means a continued seller’s market. That said, we are starting to see increasing inventory on mainland markets. According to Altos Research, the inventory of single family homes nationally is up 7% since April 30th. Will our market start to see the increase in inventory? We seemed to lag behind the mainland market in terms of market trends throughout Covid-19 due to our inaccessibility. Will that continue?

Overly Ambitious Sellers As mentioned above, we are currently seeing strong appreciation in the market. Over the last month, I have started to see some pretty ambitious list prices with prices well above recent comparable sales. Will buyers be willing to absorb these higher prices due to lack of inventory? If not, will sellers be willing to adjust their pricing downward. Thus far, I am seeing a little bit of both. Some sellers are adjusting quickly to negative market feedback. Others have the means to wait and see if the market will come to them.

Interest Rates Global supply change disruptions due to Covid are causing inflationary pressure. There is a lot of argument amongst people a lot smarter than me as to how long this will continue. Inflation can bring rising interest rates. Thus far, the Federal Reserve is not inclined to raise rates. They view the inflation as temporary. If inflation were to be more prolonged, pressure to react may increase.

Other Impacts on Buyer Demand Rising interest rates are just one factor that could impact buyer demand. It’s pretty clear that a significant portion of buyers over the last year came from off island. Maui became a Zoom Town so to speak. With rising levels of the population fully vaccinated, some businesses are calling their employees back to the office. What does that mean for demand going forward? Could that also impact supply if some of those called back to the office decide to sell their homes?

Covid also brought a surge of second home buying. There are some signs that this may be cooling in other markets around the country. Redfin released a report this week that showed mortgage applications for second homes are decreasing. They attributed this in part due to tightened rules for second home lending. They also attribute decreased demand due to rising home prices. Some second home buyers are feeling priced out after recent price increases.

These affordability issues already knocked a lot of local home buyers out of the market. Some are priced out. Others are struggling to compete with the cash or higher down payments from affluent buyers relocating from the Continental United States.

Contact The Maui Real Estate Team

While I am again tentative to offer any sort of forecast, I would surmise that we won’t see any seismic shifts in market conditions anytime soon. Any relief in supply is likely to be gradual while the recovering economy should sustain some demand. Buyers looking in this market are likely to find that well priced properties generate a lot of interest. Bidding wars are common at all price points. The competitions can be particularly fierce at and below the $1,000,000 mark. Sellers will find favorable market conditions. With such limited inventory, it is hard to be overlooked by the market. This means that sellers will get market feedback on their pricing pretty quickly. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team if you are considering buying or selling property on Maui. We would welcome the opportunity to provide a free consultation.

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