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Hangover: Tequila or the Market?

How’s Your Head?

If you didn’t notice, yesterday was Cince de Mayo. Most Americans mistakenly believe this is some sort of Mexican Independence Day. In truth, it’s a minor celebration south of the border that commemorates an unlikely victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (yes, I Wikipedia’d it – don’t tell me you don’t use it, either!). Back when I lived in Washington, DC, we had huge parties downtown as the Latino population in the nation’s capital is quite large. I had friends from every Latino country you could think of: Guatemala, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru, Honduras, Panama – you name it. I think they even made some countries up just to screw with me (yes, I’m talking about you, Luis from Guatadorexiru).

Well, we have the same thing here in Honolulu, of course. The annual block party last night was full of revelers in the streets, despite the intermittent rains. I bet they even tore it up in the streets of Anchorage and Boise as well. It seems that having a large Mexican population is not a requirement to drown in tequila on a Thursday night (yes, I know we have a Mexican population here, but you gotta admit it’s not the first image that comes to mind when discussing Hawaiian demographics). The biggest questions of the night become:

  • Salt or not salt?
  • Frozen or on the rocks?
  • Would you like me to call you a cab? (which is invariably followed by: “Well I don’t know where you live, either.”)

But while some may have woken to a heightened awareness of cranial sensitivity (re: hangover), there’s another matter on the minds of many Hawaii residents as we approach the midway point of 2011:

What’s going on with the local Hawaii real estate market?

It seems like just a few moments ago everyone was cheering the apparently imminent arrival of a foreclosure moratorium designed to put the brakes on the banks and lenders. But where’s that moratorium now? Last time I checked there were 4 or 5 different versions being floated around the halls of the local legislature. Still hanging your hat on that? Get back to me in September and let me know how that’s working for you.

If you look the stats, they’re in the eyes of the…um… stats-holder. Volume of sales is up while median prices are flat or even down in many places. Do you see signs of recovery? I don’t — not if you take a broad outlook. Anyone who points you to signs of a rebound ahead just based on the previous 30 days’ activity is just jerking you around. Don’t fall for those positive ‘blips’ on the radar. That’s someone with an agenda and you’re smarter than that. Look at three months minimum then see if a trend shows its face. Otherwise there is no trend, no rebound (or dip, for that matter – keepin’ it real just for you).

So as the tender aroma of Jose Cuervo and lime juice dissipates from the streets of Chinatown and the thumping of merengue music stops ringing in our ears, remember that we’re on our own for our market research, our decisions of whether or not to buy or sell our house, whether to seek a loan modification or short sale, whether to buy in Millani or Waipahu, whether to invest in Waikiki condos or to simply sit on the sidelines and wait for better times (although as an investor, I’d say the best time is actually now – if you do it wisely). Do not wait for others — government or otherwise — to lead you down the path.

What’s your take? Are you disappointed in the stalling of the moratorium? Have your 2011 real estate plans changed from earlier in the year? Do you agree with the consensus of another dip in the market or do you see it coming back before year’s end? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS — BE HEARD!

Originally from Philly, Mike came to Hawaii via Washington DC and is the founder of HawaiiHousingNews.com and its sponsor, Big Rock Investments, a Hawaii real estate investment company based in Honolulu. Mike buys houses directly from sellers ‘as is’ for cash and helps stop foreclosure by leveraging capital from private lending investors seeking a safe, high return on their capital with the security of discounted real estate. Learn more at http://bigrockinvestments.com.

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