More Maui homes bought by offshore buyers last year than in recent times

A Pukalani home is listed for sale at $1.349 million on Friday. PC: Kehaulani Cerizo

More Maui County homes were purchased by out-of-state buyers last year than in recent years, according to new state data. 

Mainland and international residents purchased 1,124 homes in Maui County last year, compared with 689 units in 2020 and 760 units in 2019, a recent fourth quarter report from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism showed. 

While housing price is impacted by supply, demand and mortgage rates, Eugene Tian, state DBEDT chief economist, acknowledged that out-of-state buyers drove up demand and increased the housing price. 

“Out-of-state buyers drove the demand up and thus increased the housing price,” he told Maui Now via email. “We don’t know how much of the price increase was due to the out-of-state buyers, it needs sophisticated analysis by separating all the influencing factors.” 

A University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization economic forecast in late December noted the surge in housing costs throughout the state.  

“An influx of Mainland buyers has fueled price increases,” the report said, adding that the number of offshore purchases will still fall short of 2010 levels for the year as a whole. 

Tian said Mainland purchases in Maui County saw an overall decline for many years. But they started to increase in 2021.  

Foreign purchases have continued to decline, with the majority of Maui buys from Canadians, he added. 

State DBEDT data from the fourth quarter shows that Hawai’i resident buyers purchased 1,975 Maui County homes last year, 1,629 in 2020 and 1760 in 2019. 

A total of 3,099 units, including condos and single-family homes, was purchased last year in Maui County, with out-of-state buyers representing about 36 percent of the sales. 

The increase last year in out-of-state purchases have a few contributing factors, according to Tian. 

“Following are the contributing factors: (1) The faster economic recovery on the Mainland. US unemployment rate has been coming down to the normal level in 2021; (2) the increase in income and asset value especially the gain from the stock market in 2021; (3) the relatively affordable prices in Hawaii,” Tian told Maui Now via email. “Over 50% of the home sold to the Mainland buyers were from the Big Island where housing prices are the lowest among all the counties in Hawaii.” 

Maui County for the first time surpassed the $1 million threshold for single-family home median sale price in May. It remained over that mark for six months of last year, and went on to set a new historic high of $1.16 million in January.  

Inventory also plummeted to record lows last year. The few units that went on the market sold quickly for at or above asking price. 

Statewide last year there were 25,970 homes sold, the highest since at least 2008 when the home sale statistics were collected, according to the state DBEDT first quarter 2022 Statistical and Economic Report released last week. 

This represents a 40% increase from 2020 and a 29% increase from 2019.  

Of the homes sold in 2021, 46.4% or 12,048 were single-family homes and 53.6% or 13,922 were condo units. 

Statewide the average sale price for single-family homes last year was $1,053,819, representing a 32.3% increase from 2019 and a 26.3% increase from 2020. The average sale price for condo homes was $672,793, an increase of 18.6% from 2019 and 13.3% from 2020, the state report said. 

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