This COVID Pandemic has been running our lives for the past six months and we are all learning to adjust the way we live to be as comfortable, sane, and productive as possible. When people have big changes in their lives like a new job with a commute, getting married, having a baby, or becoming an empty nester, the change usually affects your priorities and ultimately altering where you live and how you live. If you can’t make your new priorities work in the home you are currently in, finding a new home that does quickly becomes a goal. Today we see these changes in priorities due to COVID across the board from many different buyers. Thus making the demand for purchasing these homes increase while people with these homes decide to keep their hot commodity, not sell and keep supply low. This of course has created pent-up demand, increased prices, and with the low-interest rates we have a seller's market once again. The crazy activity, multiple offers, and over-asking sales are here and so are the investors and second-home buyers. Check out the recent release of the Honolulu Board of Realtors August 2020 Real Estate Sales, Click here.
Let’s dive into what local buyers are looking for with COVID on their minds because not all homes are selling, mostly the ones meeting these new priorities that the pandemic has created.
1. Remote Work. Working remotely and how we do our jobs has changed for many. With stay-at-home orders, working from home, and distance learning for the kiddos, we are all spending more time in our homes needing our own quiet spaces for almost every member of the family, at the same time. Whether you are doing zoom calls from your home computer to also teaching your 3rd-grade child Common Core Mathematics we never learned as a child we all realize we need more interior space, perhaps an extra room or office that we did away with on your last home purchase.
2. Outdoor Space. Another shift has been outdoor space as well. If you need to spend more time at home and the law prohibits you from enjoying the beaches, parks, and mountain trails, what do you have left but your own home and backyard? If you opted for a small yard or condo on your current home because you used Hawaii’s beautiful outdoors as your own, you might think twice now because you are going insane in your small home without these outdoor options. Many condos may have these amenities and luxuries but most are closed and restricted leaving you wondering why you are paying these high maintenance fees for things you can no longer use! Let alone your lack of privacy and the high contact with more people than a single-family home offers.
3. New Hobbies. More time at home without the common outings you and your family would take also means more home hobbies that occupy your time. Perhaps it’s cooking and needing a bigger kitchen, gardening or a playground and needing a bigger yard or maybe exercise because your gym is closed and therefore wanting a home gym you never thought you would use but now so desire. All these new wants and needs require more space than most homes don’t have. Again, the home search begins for this group as well.
4. Extended Family. Families are uniting, perhaps reuniting and living together. This has always been a common way of life for families in Hawaii for several reasons. For some it’s the cost of living, others it’s the culture and now being close to family and those who mean the most to you matters. It’s nice to see families coming together in a time like this but it has its downside when there isn’t enough room for everyone. Making room for grandma, adult children coming home and extended families under one roof allows everyone to save on money, resources, childcare, and meals. Yet again, finding a home that suites more requires a larger footprint.
Now about the foreign and US Mainland buyers seeking to find a safe haven here in Hawaii. Are these buyers still considering Hawaii with our “shutdown-quarantine” laws in place? The answer is yes, they are and the sales and activity show heavy increases across the state.
1. Moving to Hawaii. Hawaii has always been a place people want to vacation to or have as a second home to frequent but now their mindset has moved from vacation to reality, work...live...play, here in Hawaii. If they can now work remotely, then where they live matters less for work and matters more for where they want to play. This opens the doors to suburbs in big cities becoming a reality without the commute but for those wanting big changes, it could mean making their vacation spot or where they wanted to retire to a permanent residence now! I have recently seen numerous buyers and families picking up and leaving the big cities and flocking to Hawaii. Those with children often seek Oahu and are getting them situated in college or private schools here and set up on their distance learning programs. Others are finding properties on the North Shore or neighbor islands that may suit the empty nester lifestyle better.
2. Nature. Hawaii is a paradise and holds beauty and nature that rejuvenates, relaxes, and encourages a healthy way of living. With all that is going on in big cities in the United States such as the riots and now natural disasters like these crazy fires in California, people want to find a place removed from the chaos and appreciate nature and what this world truly has to offer. People are looking for a place to escape and raise a healthy family, is that too much to ask?
3. Turnkey. Due to the new normal and immediate changes people are making, buyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready. They are not wanting to fix up a home, remodel or renovate. They are packing their bags, getting out of Dodge, and headed to Hawaii! New and renovated properties are hard to come by these days but The Big Island (Hawaii Island) has the inventory to sell. They have been doing extremely well over the past few months.
4. Sight Unseen. Homes are selling without the buyer setting foot into the home or on the property. With virtual showings, virtual home tours, property videos, stellar photography, and 3D Matterport floor plans, being physically in the home prior to close isn’t a necessity for every buyer. This isn’t the case for all properties and buyers but is much more common on spec homes or developer-built homes with common floor plans. Also, some have seen the home in the past, been hovering over a property for some time, and have decided to pull the trigger and snag it before other potential buyers make an offer. Not quite sight unseen but quick decisions, fast closings and cash tend to stand out these days.
5. House Vs Condo. The second home purchaser or buyers off-island have moved toward condos vs single-family homes over the last decade or so. Less maintenance, smaller size, and lower cost have made them more attractive and easy to collect in a few locations, not just Hawaii. Boy have things changed with COVID! Now people want their space and privacy back and do not want to share amenities with others. Cost is not an issue to those valuing health, safety, a clean environment, space, and privacy.