State briefs for January 21

Maui home, condominium sales set price records in 2020

HONOLULU — Figures from a realtor organization show Maui’s housing market set price records in 2020 despite an economic downturn and reduced sale volume.

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The Realtors Association of Maui recently published data showing median sale prices rose to $795,575 for single-family homes and $570,000 for condominiums last year.

The price for single-family homes increased 7% from the previous record of $741,178 in 2019.

The record condo price increased 10% from $516,000 in 2019 and surpassed the previous high mark of $550,000 set in 2007, which came at the end of a housing market boom that was followed by the Great Recession from 2007-09.

Yet sale volume was depressed for Maui housing in 2020, the association’s data showed.

There were 1,055 single-family homes sold last year, down 6% from 1,120 the year before. Condo sales fell 17% to 1,336 last year from 1,609 the previous year.

Maui’s full-year results were capped by an unusual flurry of activity in December, despite the last month of the year typically being slow for real estate sales.

The realtors association predicted strong buyer demand and low mortgage interest rates will extend a trend of lower sales and higher prices, seen during the second half of last year, into the early part of 2021.

The inventory of Maui homes listed for sale decreased 17% last year for single-family homes, but condo inventory grew 22%.

Kauai businesses struggle under coronavirus travel policies

HONOLULU — Kauai ended a tourism shutdown earlier this month by allowing interisland travelers to return to the island, but the impact of the coronavirus on the economy is having devastating consequences.

The director of Hawaii’s lodging and tourism association said if Kauai tourism does not improve soon, many businesses are expected to fall off a cliff and take employees, contractors and vendors with them.

Travel to Kauai plummeted after Mayor Derek Kawakami opted out of the state’s Safe Travels program Dec. 2, 2020, requiring all travelers to the island to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine with no option to test out.

The island changed course and permitted participation in Hawaii Safe Travels beginning Jan. 5 and introduced its own trans-Pacific entry program.

Options regarding testing and quarantine at resorts have been difficult to explain and harder to sell to potential visitors, said Mufi Hannemann, president of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association.

A December survey of Kauai businesses by the Kauai Chamber of Commerce and the tourism association’s Kauai chapter painted a bleak outlook for the island’s employment opportunities, health care benefits and business survival rates.

About 49% of respondents said they did not expect their businesses would survive more than 90 days without a significant return of tourism.

American Samoa residents stranded by virus to stop in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Hawaii is assisting about 800 residents of American Samoa traveling through Oahu to their island home, which was cut off by the coronavirus.

American Samoa closed its borders March 13 to protect the islands from COVID-19. The order by Democratic Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, which was extended in July, stranded residents who were in Hawaii and other states.

Those travelers can now return home, but must first stop in Hawaii to undergo COVID-19 screening.

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Repatriation flights will help ensure residents get home safely while preserving the territory’s efforts to keep out COVID-19, the state said.

The state and the City and County of Honolulu plan to assist the travelers, who are expected to quarantine for 10 days at the White Sands Hotel in Waikiki before departure.

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