Daily Archives: November 3, 2007

Saturday…Getting down to business (eventually)–Are Honolulu home prices stable or not?

I just used the “back issues” link on the Honolulu Advertiser’s web site to get yesterday’s edition of the newspaper, which has some unintended messages for the reader.

First thing you notice is that you have to to scroll through a very, very long list of “breaking news” items in order to find the actual news that appeared in the newspaper, much of the so-called “breaking news” filled with silly or vapid content taken directly from miscellaneous press releases . The “breaking news” is broken into sections, “breaking local news”, “breaking sports”, “breaking island life”, etc., which I suppose makes it easier for an annointed bean counter to easily see which sections are meeting their breaking quota for the day.

Eventually you get to the “real” news, although it’s hard to spot because by this time you’re probably scrolling through the junk real fast. I was looking for the story on Honolulu home prices that, in the print edition, appeared in the business section. So when did the Advertiser get down to business? I scrolled past local news, past “my communities”, past “military affairs”, “environment”, “other news”, past “Hawaii briefs”, “Lee Cataluna”, “Sports”, past “UH women’s soccer”, still scrolling past “high school sports”, “surfing”, “recreation”, past “island life”, “music”, “movies”, “parenting”, “television”, past theater, home and garden, other lifestyle, still going past island life shorts, moms, island sounds, and finally, my fingers exhausted from the scrolling, there was “Business”.

And there was the story I was seeking. The headline: “Honolulu home resale prices remain stable

And the lede:

The median price for existing O’ahu single-family homes last month continued to hover around the $650,000 mark as Hawai’i’s largest housing market exhibited more price stability amid declining sales.

And there are charts and graphs to back this up, so get with the program.

But wait. A glance at the numbers in the accompanying table actually suggest a different story, so I fiddled with them a bit by calculatling the year to year percentage price change for each neighborhood rather than for the island as a whole. In my version of the table, the real estate price climate appears anything but stable.

Prices actually fell in 11 of the 17 neighborhoods, and in six neighborhoods prices had dropped at least 17% and as much as 50%.

It appears that the island-wide approach masks significant weakness in areas across the island. Kaaawa would be included in the “Windward coast” numbers, which show selling prices down 27%. In my book, that’s a long way from stable. Perhaps I’m reading the numbers wrong, or could this reflect the real estate industry collectively showing a stiff upper lip and trying to display a difficult situation in the best possible light?

Well, after all that, spend a few minutes with this great cat video (“The Mean kitty song“) from YouTube.