As segments of Oahu’s housing market struggle to regain footing after being rattled by the pandemic, others are surprisingly resilient — including a median-sales-price record high.

For example, while new single-family listings were down 20% overall, and the total number of active listings cut by a factor of one-third from this time last year — likely a direct effect of the pandemic — Oahu’s single-family home market is thriving. A single-family home’s median sales price hit an all-time monthly high in August — $839,000 — out-performing the previous record of $835,000 set in July 2019. The number of sales last month was also up from a year ago, and homes sold quicker,  44% quicker than in August 2019, with a median of only 15 days on the market.

“Sales prices are a function of supply and demand. Right now, the supply of homes for sale is extremely low because fewer people are moving during the pandemic,” says Kalama Kim, principal broker at Coldwell Banker Realty. “The demand is holding steady because of the extremely attractive mortgage interest rates.”

Not every neighborhood on Oahu is seeing prices increase — real estate is local. The Honolulu Board of Realtors reports, “During the past three months and within the market of single-family homes, 43% of sellers received their full asking price or higher, compared to 35% of sellers during the same period last year.”

For prospective sellers, this is particularly a good time to sell your home.

“Today’s market is one where the seller holds the negotiating leverage,” Kim says. “With many listings receiving multiple offers, it gives sellers the advantage to negotiate to have buyers pay certain fees, typically paid by the seller.”

Meanwhile, condo activity struggled a bit in August. Prices were up slightly from 2019, but sales volume was down significantly. There was, however, an uptick of new listings.

“Many have hypothesized that there may be a migration from urban centers to neighborhoods further out and more affordable, because commutes and traffic may no longer be an issue as more people are working from home,” says Kim. “We need to wait and see if this actually comes to fruition.”

Sales of Single-Family Homes and Condos | August 2020
Source: Honolulu Board of REALTORS®, compiled from MLS data

The number of closed single-family homes in August increased — from 360 in August 2019 to 370 closed transactions last month.

Tricia Nekota, president, Honolulu Board of Realtors®, explains this unexpected bounce.

“A lack of inventory coupled with high demand from buyers looking to capitalize on historically low interest rates is driving a very competitive market for single-family homes on Oahu,” she says. “This is an opportune time for sellers to list their properties as housing values continue to rise.”

Condo sales volume in August, however, fell. In August 2019, 512 condos closed. Last month, 409 units closed — a 20% drop.

Year-to-date, single-family home sales volume is down 3.4%, and condo volume is down 21%.

Median Sales Price of Single-Family Homes and Condos | August 2020
Source: Honolulu Board of REALTORS®, compiled from MLS data

Despite all the COVID-19-related disruption and shakeup both physically and financially, demand — low interest rates — has kept the Oahu real estate remarkably resilient.

Before the latest stats posted by the Honolulu Board of Realtors®, the all-time highest monthly median sales price was in July 2019 at $835,000. Rounding out the top three record months were December 2019 at $820,000, and July 2020 at $815,000.

Despite record unemployment, social distancing, and economic uncertainty, the severe reduction in inventory and record-low mortgage interest rates motivated buyers to get out there and find a home in numbers large enough to push up prices into record territory for the second consecutive month. The MSP of a single-family home in August was a record $839,000. Year-to-date 2020, the median price of a single-family home is up 1.8%.

Condo prices were also up, though not a record. The median price of a condo on Oahu in August was up to $430,000 — up 2.5% from $419,500 in August 2019. Year-to-date, condo prices are up 1.2% — still pretty remarkable for 2020.


The standout news this month is the single-family price record. The following list of standout neighborhoods recorded the highest jumps (maybe a good place to sell) and the lowest drops (maybe a good place to buy) on the island in July.

Single-family MSP 2020MSP 2019% Increase/Decrease
Windward Coast$875,000$600,00046%
Hawaii Kai$1,190,000$945,00026%
Kailua-Waimanalo  $1,249,000$1,107,50013%
Makakilo       $787,000$715,00010%
Where Prices Dropped
Moanalua-Salt Lake$772,500$1,000,000-23%
Kapahulu-Diamond Head$962,500$1,220,000-21%
North Shore$814,500$1,030,000-21%

SOURCE: Honolulu Board of REALTORS® , compiled from MLS data.