Mary Anne Fitch is one of Maui’s most respected realtors. In 2013 she was named Maui’s top realtor, and in 2014 earned the prestigious rank of number seven for the entire state of Hawai‘i. Who better to give us the skinny on Maui’s luxury real-estate market?
MNKO How would you describe the overall health of the real-estate market on Maui?
MAF In a word: stable. Comparing the first half of this year with the first half of last year, the numbers have changed very little. Residential sales have increased only 2 percent over 2014. The average sales price for a home has gone down 6 percent, but the median sales price went up 5 percent.
This is actually great news for both sellers and investors. Because there are no erratic swings, a stable market is healthy — sellers feel they are getting a good price, and buyers feel they’re paying the right price.
Equally as important, lending sources are opening opportunities for new homebuyers who may have had difficulty entering the market.
MNKO Is that consistent throughout Maui? Or are some areas doing better than others?
MAF Great question. Interestingly, there are dramatic changes in residential sales in the South and West Maui resort areas. South Maui sales for 2015 are off almost 50 percent compared to the number of homes sold in 2014, whereas the number of residential sales in Kapalua has increased 60 percent, and Ka‘anapali sales increased 15 percent. That’s a huge shift.
MNKO Why would that be? Are people less interested in Wailea?
MAF Not at all. It’s driven by inventory and perceived value. Because there is currently little available inventory in Wailea, buyers who may have sought Wailea/Makena are turning to West Maui for more alternatives. I’ve worked with a major Wailea broker who couldn’t find anything for his client. Together we found a home in Kapalua in the $5 to $6 million range. It’s the first time we’ve seen potential Wailea buyers shift focus to a wider market.
MNKO What do you mean by perceived value?
MAF Most of the residential business moving from Wailea to West Maui is about price point. These are folks looking for luxury homes for $5 million or below. Generally speaking, West Maui prices are 25 to 35 percent lower than Wailea/Mākena offerings, and of course, there is more inventory to choose from.
Another trend on West Maui is increased sales in luxury condominiums, such as Honua Kai in Ka‘anapali and the new Montage in Kapalua. These properties speak to buyers who desire a return on investment; they can be rented as vacation accommodations. I see more investors appreciate having the opportunity to offset expenses through rental income. And these properties are not only luxurious, they have what everyone wants: oceanfront.
MNKO What is the market like for someone looking to buy an oceanfront home?
MAF Oceanfront single-family homes comprise an entirely different category, one that is becoming less and less available. There is almost nothing below $10 million for an oceanfront home, and for what I would call a true oceanfront estate, prices are $20 million or more.
MNKO Is the same true for oceanfront raw land?
MAF Again, the inventory is dwindling. Oceanfront properties are being bought up, and very few make it back to the market — which of course drives the price up. The last two beachfront lots in Ka‘anapali sold at the end of 2014.
In fact, the only oceanfront opportunities I know of right now are in Olowalu and Kahana, priced from $5 million up. There are some residential beachfront properties in Kapalua, but those are priced at $20 million plus.
MNKO What is your advice for the buyer looking for luxury residential property on Maui?
MAF Do your homework. Compare like-priced homes and properties without limiting your parameters to West Maui or South Maui — and remember that inventory is shrinking. When you find something you love, don’t wait.
A certified international property specialist, Mary Anne Fitch is the owner and principal broker of Maui Estates International, an exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.