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Good Home Values Make Maui An Ideal Retirement Spot

By Lisa Scontras

When it comes to real estate prices on Oahu, we’ve been programmed to think that the closer you get to downtown, the higher the price will be. There is a perceived value in shorter commute times and convenience. But for a large sector of second-home buyers, the conventional wisdom does not hold true especially on Maui.

For some, it’s more about getting as far away from carpool lanes and high-rise parking structures as possible. The appeal is more about a relaxed lifestyle, quiet neighborhoods, quaint shops and restaurants, sandy beaches and amazing ocean views. And for that, Maui tops the list.

“Maui has the reputation of being the ultimate retirement island,” says Michael Healey, Realtor and partner at Prudential Locations. “It’s the lifestyle that is so appealing. We actually do business with sand on our feet. We never judge anyone by how they’re dressed here. We have lots of sandy-feet millionaires.”

Healey characterizes the Maui market as much different than the Honolulu market for more reasons than being more remote and less congested.

“It’s like two different planets,” he says. “Most of the buyers here are second-home buyers mostly buyers from Canada and the Mainland, very few from Hawaii. Demographically, the typical Maui buyer is baby boomers who are not yet retired planning to retire on Maui.”

Barron’s included Maui on a list of top 15 second-home communities in March, ahead of the Hamptons in New York; Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Lake Tahoe and Pebble Beach, California; Aspen, Colorado; and Palm Beach, Florida. Criteria for making the list, according to Barron’s, included value and the likelihood that the community had hit the bottom of the cycle and was poised to rise again.

Prices are down on on Maui today, largely because the market is driven by second-home resort purchases, and this segment of the market had a higher-thannormal percentage of homes that went into foreclosure. But the dramatic drop in prices on Maui challenges conventional wisdom and the great branding Maui has worldwide.

“It is most definitely a good time to buy on Maui now,” says Healey. “The thing about waiting for the absolute bottom of the market is that it

just happens and we don’t know it until things have already turned around.”

According to Paul Brewbaker, economist at TZ Economics, the bottom is very near. And depending on your goals, it could be a smart way to invest. “In Maui’s case there has been a smooth implosion in home prices, and I reckon Maui is on track to find the bottom for valuations this year or next before staging a recovery in the 20teens,” he says.

Healey says the Maui market sees a boost when the stock market is down. “Maui real estate goes up because people take their money out of stocks and buy a second home,” he says.

Healey just represented a Canadian cash buyer on a short sale in Kihei.

“They ended up paying $265,000 for the property that the sellers owed $480,000 on,” says Healey. “We insisted on getting an appraisal even though it was a cash deal, and it appraised at $265,000. There really are good values on Maui. It’s a great time to buy here.”

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