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Real Estate in a Pandemic

Casey Harlow / HPR

No sector is untouched by the shutdown economy that’s rolled through the islands and the world. That includes residential real estate. But what’s the year ahead looking like?

The year started so well: Double-digit increases in home sales year-date by the end of March for Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii Island and 8% growth on Maui. Then came the stay-at-home orders. Since then sales have dropped dramatically, though, with the time it takes for a real estate transaction to record, the numbers won’t finalize until May and June.

PBN recently held a roundtable with top local real estate firms and learned that some of them, like Elite Pacific and Locations, began cutting expenses as early as February, anticipating some disruption as officials developed their response to the spread of the coronavirus. As they await being able to resume normal activities, the firms are investing in training and education, getting agents up to speed on selling in a recession.

But as they tell us, that future is a moving target and they are preparing for a number of scenarios. Volume is down, but for now, demand still outstrips supply, which has been protecting home values. That could change, says Matt Beall, president and CEO of Hawaii Life, if a prolonged painful economic recovery has people putting their homes on the market.

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