The following analysis of the Big Island real estate market is provided by Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate. We hope this information can help you make more informed real estate decisions. For more information about the housing market in your area, please contact your Windermere real estate agent.

Regional economic overview

Job recovery in the Big Island remains stalled, with employment down 100 jobs from the end of the second quarter, but still up 4,823 from a year ago. This is likely a function of the governor’s announcement discouraging tourists from visiting as COVID-19 cases in the state started to rise again. By the end of the third quarter, Hawaii County had restored 6,574 of the more than 17,000 jobs lost to COVID-19. With employment levels still down more than 10,600 from their pre-pandemic peak, there is still a lot of work to be done. New COVID-19 cases are starting to slow, which could allow for more robust job growth in the last quarter of this year, but we won’t likely see a full job recovery until 2022 at the earliest. Unemployment in the Big Island remained high in September, with 6.3% of the workforce still out of work, but still significantly better than 22% in April last year. State unemployment stood at 6.6% in September, compared to 7.7% at the end of the second quarter.

big island hawaii Homes for sale

❱ In the third quarter, 1,037 homes were sold on the Big Island. This was an increase of 15.7% from the same quarter a year ago, but 12.8% lower than in the second quarter of this year.

❱ Year-over-year sales increased in all areas except North Kohala, but this is a very small area that can see significant fluctuations. Notably, six of the remaining eight markets saw double-digit sales growth from a year ago. When comparing the second and third quarters, sales increased in all areas other than North and South Kohala, North Kona and Kau.

❱ It is noteworthy that sales declined even as the number of homes increased. The average number of homes for sale in the third quarter was 3.2% higher than in the second quarter, indicating that some of the heat may have come from the market.

❱ Pending home sales are down 13.9% compared to the second quarter of the year, which could lead to a slight decline in total sales in the last quarter of the year.

big island hawaii house prices

A map showing the percentage changes in the real estate market in several provinces on the Big Island of Hawaii during the third quarter of 2021.

❱ Average home prices on the island rose 29.1% year over year to $810,810, but prices fell 8.4% compared to the second quarter of 2021.

❱ Compared to the second quarter, sales prices increased in Puna, South Hilo, Hamakua and South Kohala, but were lower in all other areas.

❱ Prices rose by double digits in six of the market areas covered in this report, but declined in South Kona and Kau.

❱ I mentioned in the second quarter Gardner report that I saw a price increase showing some signs of tension, which seems to have been a fair explanation.

A bar chart showing the annual change in home sales prices for several provinces on the Big Island of Hawaii in the third quarter of 2021.

Days at the market

❱ The average time to sell a home on the Big Island is down 52 days from the third quarter of 2020.

❱ The time to sell a home has decreased across the board compared to a year ago.

❱ It took an average of 54 days to sell a home, with the fastest selling in South Kona and the slowest in North Hilo.

❱ In the third quarter of 2021, it took 24 days less to sell a house than in the second, with market time falling in all markets.

A bar chart showing the average days on the market for homes in different counties on the Big Island of Hawaii during the third quarter of 2021.


A speedometer chart indicating a seller's market in the Big Island of Hawaii in the third quarter of 2021.

This speedometer displays the state of the real estate market in the region using housing stock, price increases, home sales, interest rates and larger economic factors.

The number of homes for sale ticked higher, while both sales and prices ticked lower, all of which benefit home buyers. That said, market time fell and interest rates remained very low, benefiting home sellers. If inventory levels continue to rise, it could further affect prices and make the market more competitive for sellers. As such, I’ve moved the needle a little more towards buyers, but overall it remains a seller’s market.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As chief economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market at both the local and national levels. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience in both the US and UK

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and serves on the Advisory Board at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington, where he also teaches real estate economics.