David's Real Estate Blog | Dispatches from Diamond Head

Latest real estate news and articles from David E. Buck, Realtor

May 6, 2015

Only 15 Developer Units Left at the Ilikai

This evening I attended a special Cinco De Mayo Brokers Open at the Ilikai in Waikiki. This great building has come full circle out of the recession and come back even stronger than before.

Welcome to the Ilikai

The Ilikai is an Iconic Building in Waikiki that recently celebrated it's 50th Anniversary

It's been over 5 years since I wrote an article about Ilikai condos selling for bargain prices. After the foreclosure, iStar took the block of units back went through a complete renovation. This past fall, the started selling the block of units they had on the 22nd-25th floors. I've been fortunate enough to bring in several buyers during this period. After a flurry of activity, heaps of Buyers have been snapping them up. Unlike the bottom of the market when banks weren't lending on the project, today a handful are and roughly 30% of the recent sales have had financing. Here's what is remaining as of earlier today:

Remaining Ilikai Developer Units

Remaining developer units as of May 5, 2015

By this evening, roughly only 15 were left. Just prior to getting there this afternoon, one of the featured marina facing units (2510) asking $1.7 million went under contract! Now is the time to pick up one of these units before they are gone. These units can be placed in the hotel pool with Aqua Hotels and Resorts and they have a few programs available to owners. Some even offer guaranteed income! I know my clients have been happy thus far. Here's a general floor plan to give you a better idea of where the units are located:

Ilikai Floor Plan

Iliaki floor plan on floors 22-25

To learn more about what's for sale at the Ilikai (both in this block of units and the others below), feel free to contact us for more information.

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Jan. 16, 2015

Thank You for Your Business in 2014

Thank you for our success in Real Estate.  We could not have done it without you!

Kalihi January SaleWaiahole February SaleDiamond Head Feb SaleMarch Ewa Gentry Sale 

March Mililani SaleMarch Waipahu SaleMarch Kailua Beachside SaleApril Diamond Head Sale 

May Palolo SaleMay Royal Kunia SaleSeptember Makiki SaleSeptember Kapahulu Sale

October Mililani SaleOctober Ilikai SaleOctober Waikiki Landmark SaleNovember Kaneohe Sale 

November Hawaii Kai SaleDavid Buck      Hawaii Life

We are very appreciative for our great clients and network of friends and colleagues who have done business with us and referred our services to others.  As a result, our business continues to grow! The properties above represent the wonderful people we were able to work with and successfully close with in 2014. THANK YOU for contributing to our success in Real Estate!


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Nov. 25, 2014

Hawaii Life Representing Buyers in Beachside, Kailua

So far in 2014, our company Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers has brought in more Buyers for homes over $1.5 million in Beachside, Kailua than other other real estate firm on Oahu.

Hawaii Life representing Buyers in Kailua

The following breakdown are the sales and firms that brought in the Buyers:

Hawaii Life

  1. March 27, 2014 - 140-B N. Kalaheo Ave.
  2. March 31, 2014 - 420-B N. Kalaheo Ave.
  3. November 20, 2014 - 104 S. Kalaheo Ave.

Prudential Locations

  1. April 24, 2014 - 127 Kailuana Pl.
  2. May 28, 2014 - 112 S. Kalaheo Ave.

Coldwell Banker

  1. February 28, 2014 - 148 Kaimoani Way
  2. October 8, 2014 - 522 N. Kalaheo Ave.

Choi International

  1. October 14, 2014 - 139 Kailuana Pl.
  2. October 24, 2014 - 572-A N. Kalaheo Ave.

There were a handful of other firms that brought in 1 Buyer. To find out more about how we're bringing in Buyers in Beachside and other neighborhoods on Oahu, feel free to contact us for more information.

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Oct. 27, 2014

Pumpkins, Rail and West Oahu Housing Hana Hou

Last year I wrote an article on Aloun Farms' Pumpkin patch, Honolulu's rail and DR Horton's Hoopili development in West Oahu. I had the opportunity to accompany my children on their excursion again this year. It was a blessing to be with them again and also sad for two reasons. First, they are growing up and won't be able to do this forever. Second, this annual trip for most Oahu schools won't be around forever if development plans continue.

Aloun Farms Pumpkin Patch in Kapolei

Aloun Farms' Pumpkin Patch is always a hit around Halloween

Since my trip out here last year, there's definitely been progress on the rail. Last year you could only see the pilings being laid, whereas this year the main rail members are connected. I have to admit, it was kind of eerie driving through an agricultural field with a concrete rail running through it.

Rail Pilings and Tracks now in the Ewa Plain

Rail pilings have now been formed into a track in the Ewa Plain

I guess I'll have to enjoy this snapshot in time when my kids are young and get to enjoy things such as a pumpkin patch in agricultural land. I'll also have to enjoy and take in this open space as well while it lasts as there's no telling what this will look like 10 years from now? Tracts of homes with a high speed rail running through it?

Rail on the mountain side of Aloun Farms Pumpkin Patch

Rail beyond the farm where families and children enjoy the pumpkin patch

We have to make the best of these times before the seasons of change reshape west Oahu...


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Sept. 18, 2014

3 Reasons Why You Should Not Search on Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow for Oahu Real Estate

Whenever searching for real estate online, there's a good chance you've come across Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow.




Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow are the 3 Largest National Real Estate Portals

What those 3 sites have in common is they are in most of the major real estate markets across the United States. We in the industry like to refer to them as "portals". They aggregate listings that are syndicated from all kinds of sources. I'll be honest, I have my profile on all 3 and use all 3 when searching for real estate outside of Hawaii. They are a decent "starting point". Of the 3, I'd have to admit I'm most loyal to Realtor.com as it was founded by Realtors and has been recognized as the official site of the National Association of Realtors. 

Unfortunately all 3 sites have the same business model - to Sell Advertising. They can be a decent place for those getting started in their search. However knowing what I know as a professional, here are 3 Important Reasons Not to Search on Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow when looking for Hawaii Real Estate:

1. Advertising. As I mentioned, all 3 sites are based on advertising - primarily to Realtors. They use our info. and then sell it back to us to put our face and contact info. on there. They also sell ads to all sorts of other businesses that have nothing to do with looking for a home - supermarkets, moving companies, insurance companies, software companies and more! It clutters the space and impedes on the consumers ability to find what they are looking for - real estate.

2. No Differentiation or Filter for Leasehold Properties. If you search on a local real estate website (such as this one), there's a good chance you'll be able to tell the difference between Fee Simple and Leasehold properties.The national portals above have no differentiation between the two. You'll see leasehold properties intermingled with fee simple ones and often times, they are the ones that look "too good to be true." On those sites, the consumer can't filter the leasehold ones out or even be able to tell the difference. 

3. No Way to Check Status of a Listing. On the national portals, listings show up online until they either sell, expire or are withdrawn. Some of them still show properties after they sell! When using a local site (like this one), you have a good chance to see whether a property is available or under contract/in escrow under the "Status" field. It is there you can see whether a property says Active or Active Continue to Show, which are the terms our local MLS uses.

These are just some of the many reasons to use a local real estate website when searching for property in Hawaii. Even more important, Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow do not live on Oahu nor sell real estate here. I on the other hand DO! 

Posted in Property Search
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Sept. 5, 2014

Advice for Home Buyers in 2014

Here's something I recently posted on my Facebook page to save everyone some time. I'm here to help when you're ready to discuss what's happening in the market :)
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Aug. 28, 2014

Oahu Luxury Home Market May Have More Upside

With the median sales price of homes on Oahu hitting $700,000 last summer, there's been a lot of concern about affordability for buyers in the marketplace. While this is understandably so for your average home buyer, our luxury market could have a ways to go.

Kahala Home Listed for $22 Million

Kahala's priciest listing (MLS # 201400491) for $22 million

Back in the "Japanese bubble" of 1987-1991, it was common place for homes to sell north of $20 million in Kahala. With a new era of Buyers coming in to the marketplace and purchasing homes from Alexander and Baldwin's portfolio, Kahala is back on an upswing. A number of those transactions took place privately last year, so not much is reflected on the books in MLS yet for 2014. By this time last year, we had four closings above $10 million for a total of 7 on the year. So far this year, we've only had 1 in Lanikai that sold for $11,845,000 in June.

Although the "high end" has been a little bit slower this year, there are other luxury markets across the United States that are cranking. I recently received a market update from a colleague of mine in New York City- Louise Phillips Forbes with Halstead Property. Here are some of the highlights from her summer update:

  • New Development Prices are up 44% in all neighborhoods
  • Co-Op Prices are up 23% and 27% for 3 bed and larger apartments
  • The average price for a Manhattan apartment is up 30%
  • There are 298 homes on the market over $10 Mil.
  • There are 119 homes in contract for over $10 Mil. 

Here's a chart to put things into some perspective when comparing New York's market to ours:

New York Luxury Market Compared to Oahu, Hawaii

The red bar shows our true numbers. Currently, there are 24 home/condo listings on Oahu at $10 million or higher. We currently have none (showing in MLS) under contract at that price. So, one could make the argument that New York's population is 10 times more than ours, so I adjusted our inventory 10 times. Although that puts our high end inventory closer to theirs, it in no way compares to the number of properties they have under contract north of $10 million! This is another reason I see Honolulu real estate prices are still a bargain.

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Aug. 26, 2014

Ilikai Marina and Ocean View Unit for Sale

This past week I listed one of the lowest priced marina and ocean view units at the Ilikai in Waikiki.

Ilikai #339

Ilikai #339 (MLS # 201416937) is fully furnished with split air conditioning

This is the perfect unit for those looking for a view, yet not a big fan of heights or long elevator rides and waits. Situated on the 3rd floor, you're perched just high enough to get marina and ocean views over the deck below.

View of Ala Wai Yacht Harbor from Ilikai #339Ocean Views from Ilikai Lanai

View of the marina and ocean from the lanai

In addition to the Ilikai's iconic reputation and location, this unit has been remodeled. Upgraded granite counters in the kitchen, newer cabinets and flat screen tv or just some of the upgrades. The unit is currently in a hotel pool, so this is the perfect opportunity for a 2nd home owner that wants to rent out their place when not on island.

Upgraded Ilikai KitchenIlikai Bedroom with King Sized Bed

Upgraded unit clearly not the Ilikai of the '60's

We are 1 of only 3 active 1 bedroom listings in the building as of today facing the ocean. In the past 6 months, there have been 18 sales ranging from $480,000 to $615,000. With a median sales price of $552,500 and average sales price of $551,389, we're priced to sell at $540,000. Feel free to contact me for more information.

Posted in Waikiki
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July 29, 2014

New Listing at Executive Centre

It's not too often that I recommend a Leasehold condo in Honolulu as a good buy, however Executive Centre is one of those buildings that a nice long term lease that expires in 2053.

Sunset View from Executive Centre 2001

Sunset view from Executive Centre #2001 (MLS # 201415779)

We just recently listed unit #2001. In addition to the having a long term lease, this particular unit comes with a covered parking stall. Since it's above the 12th floor, it's in the secured tower as well as being eligible to be placed in the hotel pool managed by Aston. 

Executive Centre Pool

Relax by the pool at Executive Centre

On site security, restaurant and swimming pool are just a few of the amenities Executive Centre has to offer. As of today, there are 15 listings at Executive Centre. Although this sounds like a lot, it is less than 3% of the total project. With a price under $200,000 this is a great option for get a 1 bedroom condo in Downtown Honolulu at a great entry level price.

Posted in Downtown Honolulu
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June 2, 2014

Starbucks Coming Soon to Aina Haina

If you haven't heard already, Starbucks is coming soon to Aina Haina Shopping Center.

Starbucks Aina Haina

Starbucks is going in the old First Hawaiian Bank location in Aina Haina

Starbucks is the latest of many new upgrades to the shopping center that local firm Blue Rock Partners and the new ownership have undertaken to upgrade the mall. Recent years saw the addition of an upgraded Foodland Farms, a new McDonald's, a new First Hawaiian Bank and now Starbucks that's going in the old bank location. I didn't even mention the facelift that's given the original run down mall added curb appeal.

Starbucks Under Construction

Starbucks under construction seen from the street

I'm not sure when the estimated roll out date is, however I can already see myself stopping through here in the near future between showings in East Honolulu.

Posted in Aina Haina
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