By Lisa Lee
If you’re looking for proof that the housing market has taken off, look no further than Pearlridge-Aiea, an area that has something for everyone, from condos and townhomes to luxury-view homes.
Realtor Associate® Maria Cristina White marvels at the current real estate activity in the area. “We are seeing shorter days on market, and we have so very little for sale,” she says. “A lot of buyers are out there — once they see a home that matches their needs, they jump in right away.”
A bilingual Realtor Associate® at the Prudential Locations Pearlridge office, White draws on her experiences as a resident in Aiea to address her clients’ needs. She credits this activity to historically low interest rates that enable more people to afford mortgages.
“We are seeing a lot of first-time home buyers, because interest rates are terrific. Anybody who is a serious buyer realizes that they can’t wait, they have to jump now.”
Buyers are attracted to the diversity of homes in Pearlridge-Aiea and the neighborhood’s solid values. Here, you can find 1- to 3- bedroom units in high-rise, ocean-view condominiums as well as 3-bedroom town-homes in serene golf course settings. There are affordable 3-bedroom/2-bath single- family homes as well as 3,000-plus square-foot luxury homes on large, manicured lots with views. Here, buyers get more for their money compared to similar neighborhoods in Honolulu.
Well-ranked public schools and beautiful parks coupled with the convenience of nearby services, shopping and restaurants add to the desirability of the neighborhoods. There is a real sense of strong community, seen in the many mom-and-pop stores and thriving neighborhood sports organizations. The close proximity to military bases makes for a strong and steady rental market, as well.
In this competitive buyer’s market, White advises clients to be prepared. “If you’re really interested in a home, put your best foot forward. Get ready with a preapproved loan and really know what your money can buy in this market.”
Buyers who “do the math” to work out an offer that makes the most of current interest rates can make the most effective offers. Says White, “It’s not just the asking price that matters. I tell buyers that their bottom line is, ‘How much is my monthly payment? What can I afford?’
“A few years ago when we had 5 percent interest rates, the monthly payment on a $400,000 home was a lot higher than it is now. At 3.5 percent or 3.7 percent interest, you can now buy that home for a much lower monthly payment. Even if you buy a house at a higher price, you may actually have a lower monthly payment.” People who buy a home today fix their monthly costs at these lower rates for the life of their mortgage.
Median sales prices have held steady in Pearlridge-Aiea, with the 2012 median for a single-family home at $610,000 and for condos at $285,000. Currently, 28 single-family homes are listed for sale and the months of remaining inventory is a low
3.0 months, compared to 4.1 months for Oahu overall. The current median list price for single-family homes is $694,000, an upward trend that reflects the decreasing inventory and increasing buyer demand.
For buyers White says, “Time is of the essence. We don’t know how long these interest rates will last. But we do know that there are fewer and fewer homes for sale and prices are going up.”
“Many people settle in Aiea to raise their families because of the great schools, shopping and value in what you can get in a home,” she explains. But once the children are grown and raising their own families, people can find themselves in much larger houses than their needs – and contemplating a change.
Today’s market is a perfect opportunity for these clients, says White. “It’s the right time to sell if you have a lot of equity and are looking to downsize. And with what you can sell for now, you might be able to move to something smaller with cash. Imagine, no more mortgage payments! Even with a mortgage, you get a lot more for your money these days. With downsizing, this can be your time to embrace security and enjoy.”