The Waimea real estate market, a primarily rural section of the Big Island housing market, benefited from a rise in property sales and a drop in the median sales price across Hawaii Island. According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, the number of condominium sales on the Big Island rose from twenty-six in January 2010 to twenty-eight in November 2010. Over the first eleven months of 2010, there were 458 condo sales, compared to 291 a year ago – an impressive fifty-seven percent increase. Accompanying this boost in sales volume was a drop in the average sales price for condominiums, falling from $299,000 to $275,000. Similarly, over the first eleven months of the year, the number of home sales on Hawaii Island rallied from 1,119 from January 2009-November 2009 to 1,362 from January 2010-November 2010. The median price of a Big Island home for sale, including Waimea homes, dropped four percent from $465,000 to $445,000. All of the major neighbor island markets are poised to surpass year-ago levels, despite a generally choppy market and uncertain economy. The Waimea real estate market has been more stable than other parts of the Aloha State, most because of the low population and country character of the community. It is generally less susceptible to foreclosures as well, since many foreclosures on the Big Island are the product of second residences in distress.
There are currently less than two dozen properties for sale in Waimea, only one of which is a bank-ordered foreclosure. Although more properties may have received notices of foreclosure over the last few months, the majority of distressed properties either reach a negotiated settlement or are sold before foreclosure in a short sale. Across the entire Aloha state, real estate information service RealtyTrac reports a total of 877 foreclosure filings in November 2010. The Big Island, including Waimea, saw a total of 212 foreclosure filings, primarily driven by sixty-seven filings in Kailua-Kona. The Waimea housing market should also benefit from the overall strength of the Hawaii economy. Although still on shaky ground, the improving tourism sector should encourage increased investment in the general economy and potentially in the real estate market in particular.