David's Real Estate Blog | Dispatches from Diamond Head
Latest real estate news and articles from David E. Buck, Realtor
The Mount Terrace in Hawaii Kai is a great building. The catch is you can often have many months without any new inventory. Even more so, you can go a much longer time with no listings in the A or B stacks, which are some of the more sought after units that face the ocean.
View from the latest Mount Terrace listing to come online - Unit 8B (MLS # 201402706)
February seemed to Buck (no pun intended) that trend with 3 new listings that came online. 2 of those 3 new listings were in the B stack of the building. Unit 12B was the first to hit the market in early February and the Seller accepted an offer yesterday, just a little over 3 weeks on market.
Mount Terrace 12B (MLS # 201401342) recently went under contract
Mount Terrace 21C (MLS # 201402082) is the 3rd unit that was recently listed for $715,000
There were a total of 9 sales in Mount Terrace last year, with 4 of those 9 selling at $700,000 or above. With all 3 active listings having ocean views, I won't be surprised if the first 3 sales of the year will fetch over $700,000. For some perspective: At the peak of the market in 2005, there were 6 sales the entire year that ranged between $735,000 to $895,000. With that said, it appears Mount Terrace may have some upside in the next year or so. No bad considering one could purchase at prices that were seen almost a decade ago...
Luxury Home Sales in 2013
2013 witnessed the rebound of the luxury real estate market on Oahu. At the bottom of the market in 2009, the record home sale on Oahu was just $8,750,00. In 2012, the record sale was $10,950,000. This past year, 7 homes sold at $10,000,000 or higher. Out of the top 10, it was no surprise that 9 of them were oceanfront. As the high end market picked up, the sales took place in the usual suspects of neighborhoods known to demand the highest prices. Here's a summary of the top 10 luxury home sales on Oahu in 2013:
- 503 Portlock Road Sold on December 2, 2013 for $19,650,000
- 100 Royal Circle Sold on November 12, 2013 for $16,500,000
- 72 S. Kalaheo Ave. Sold on May 17, 2013 for $12,000,000
- 3125 Diamond Head Road Sold on May 20, 2013 for $11,250,000
- 112A S. Kalaheo Ave. Sold on June 13, 2013 for $10,150,000
- 1133 Ikena Circle Sold on September 30, 2013 for $10,001,000
- 1002 Mokulua Dr. Sold on July 30, 2013 for $10,000,000
- 1600 Mokulua Dr. #A1 Sold on March 11, 2013 for $8,000,000
- 3047 Kalakaua Ave. Sold on February 25, 2013 for $6,375,000
- 4162 Black Point Road Sold on April 22, 2013 for $6,200,000
What was really interesting to see was Lanikai making the list. Although the neighborhood has always been synonymous with luxury, there were some record sales that took place that finally put it on the map. There's been years where asking prices have been in the eight figures, however now some are actually selling there. What was even more shocking is Kahala didn't have a single sale in the top 10. I suspect that will change in 2014 as Alexander and Baldwin has started to fix up and list some of the homes they bought from Genshiro Kawamoto.
Luxury Condo Sales in 2013
On the condo market front, Diamond Head once again took the top spot with a record $7.5 million sale at Kuu Makana, which seldom come on the market with only 4 units in the complex. The next highest was a Nauru Tower Penthouse. What was interesting to notice was the number of resales finally taking place at Trump Tower Waikiki (#3701 actually sold twice). This is a positive sign of absorption as lots of inventory was sitting there for years. Here's a summary of the top 10 luxury condo sales on Oahu in 2013:
- Kuu Makana @ Diamond Head Sold on August 19, 2013 for $7,500,000
- Nauru Tower #4302 Sold on April 15, 2013 for $5,020,000
- Diamond Head Apts. #501 Sold on July 22, 2013 for $3,950,000
- Trump Tower Waikiki #3701 Sold on March 12, 2013 for $3,600,000
- Trump Tower Waikiki #3701 Sold on January 17, 2013 for $3,500,000
- Hokua #28A Sold February 5, 2013 for $3,118,000
- Trump Tower #2803 Sold on August 23, 2013 for $3,050,000
- Trump Tower #2319 Sold on June 28, 2013 for $2,988,000
- Waikiki Shore #400 Sold on November 6, 2013 for $2,905,000
- Trump Tower #2703 Sold on April 9, 2013 for $2,790,000
As you can see, Waikiki is slowly starting to get its share of the luxury condo market that's been dominated by Diamond Head and Kakaako the past decade. With the Ritz Carlton coming online, there are already sales under contract there that have shattered previous Oahu records. There's definitely some excitement and upward mobility in this segment for the next few years ahead...
If you're active duty military and have considering buying a home or condo on Oahu, now may be the time. This year, the BAH rates in Honolulu County have increased by 14.7% over the previous year!
Calling all Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine and Air Force renters...
Now that the housing allowance is up, Buyers may now qualify for a property they would have liked to purchase, however could not have afforded previously. The skeptics could argue that our market has increased since last year (hence the rise in rates). This is even better news for new military personal that are PCSing to Oahu as they would not have yet signed a long term rental lease. I'd recommend taking a look at your current BAH rates and see what it is you can qualify for.
Next step is to get in touch with a lender (let me know if you need some names). If you're PCSing in the near future, feel free to visit my military page to see some of the housing options and neighborhoods near our installations here on Oahu. We're to help when you're ready.
On thing you have to do if you're ever on Oahu for the Holidays is attend the Hawaii Kai Boat Parade. Every year, it seems to get better and better. It's like a mini version of one I've been to in Newport Beach, CA. There's a number of different locations you can view the boats from throughout the marina. Hawaii Kai Towne Center is the main hub. I was lucky enough to get invited to watch from a friend/past client's place in Kuapa Isle.
007: Bond, James Bond
Every year the event draws better and better participation and creativity. Above you'll see the boat that wins just about every year. This year they outdid themselves again with a James Bond theme. It was over the top! They had a live drummer playing in the front, dancers dancing in silhouettes (like the typical opening scene of a 007 movie) and 007 wearing a jet pack on top. They also had a trailing dingy (not in the photo) that was lit up shooting at the main boat. For additional kicks, they had an "Austin Powers" character on the back to add an addedl touch of humor.
We're off to see the Wizard...
Unfortunately, the photos I took from my iPhone don't do the boats justice. The boat above was also something else. They had just about the entire cast dressed up from the Wizard of Oz! I can't imagine the amount of time the boat owners, their family and friends put into the preparation. The competition was definitely taken up a notch this year and can't wait to see what's in store next year.
If you can't wait until next year to enjoy the marina life in Hawaii Kai, there are some nice listings available in Kuapa Isle and Koko Isle - two of my favorite town home projects. In addition, here's the nicest single family home currently listed that also has a great vantage point:
The marina life in Hawaii Kai is like nowhere else in Hawaii. Prices took a dip through 2008-2011, however they're now back to 2005-2007 levels. Today, there is very little inventory. If you're looking to find something on the water in Hawaii Kai, contact us to get you set up on the radar to catch them prior to being SOLD.
Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, I am thankful and blessed to be living in one of the best places in the world. Honolulu is truly a melting pot for culture, climate and caring people that share the Aloha Spirit. We get the best worlds of "living in paradise", yet having access to one of the best metropolitan lifestyles anywhere.
Although higher than the national average, Honolulu is still a bargain
One of the challenges for both living and selling real estate here can be our cost of living. We've always been on the higher end of real estate and living costs when compared to the national average. However, unlike back in 1990 when we had the highest real estate prices in the country, today you can find many other parts of the country where we may even seem inexpensive. When compared to other big cities such as New York, San Francisco and LA our prices are less. When compared to other resort/ski areas such as Aspen, Jackson Hole and others, our prices are less.
San Francisco city skyline seen from a sailboat on the bay from a recent trip
I visited San Francisco last month for a family wedding. We had a great time and it's also such a special city. Since I do like to compare our Honolulu prices to other destinations I travel (such as our trip to Beaver Creek last year) here's my feedback:
San Francisco is a beautiful city with lots of history and culture. It's where my Dad's side of the family migrated to Honolulu from after World War II. Th catch with San Francisco is it's a little bit COLD! I left out the photos of us on the sailboat because we were freezing. From a positive standpoint, there's also a ton of money flowing in and out of the city for too many reasons to name. It's vibrant, thriving and doing well from an economic standpoint. We stayed in a house in the marina district that was conveniently located. Curious what real estate prices were, I jumped on some of the national real estate search sites to see what homes in the area were going for. Knowing that San Francisco prices were high, I was guessing the place where we stayed was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $2-3 million? It turns out he home next door (similar size) just closed for $5.6 million this summer! For comparison, $5.6 million in Honolulu can take you a long ways.... Here are some current listings priced $5-6 million for comparison.
Not only is Honolulu a bargain compared to some U.S. cities, it's also nowhere on the radar when compared to global real estate prices. I read an article flying home on United Airline's Hemisphere magazine. The only U.S. city to make the top 10 list was New York. Here are the top 10 priciest cities in the world based on average price/square foot according to the article:
2. Hong Kong
8.New York City
Once in a blue moon, we've cracked the $2,000/sq. ft. prices here on Oahu, however we're nowhere close to that being the average price. Take last month for instance: the average sales price of homes in Honolulu sold at $546/square foot and condos sold at $566/square foot. The highest sale was $2,073/square foot for a 1 bedroom condo at Trump Tower Waikiki. Case in point, Honolulu is still a bargain both domestically and internationally for real estate.
In today's Seller's market on Oahu, inventory is typically hard to come by. Let alone, finding something cool, unique and in a boutique building in Diamond Head like Colony Beach. The listings are typically so rare that I decided to write an article on it last year. As expected, that listing sold pretty quick at $2,350,000. Today, that same penthouse is back on the market for $3,400,000.
View from Colony Beach Penthouse #8 (MLS # 201335025) which is back on the market
Although priced over $1 million more than it's previous sale 19 months ago, it still might not be too far out of the question in today's environment. It's a penthouse, boutique building on the ocean at Diamond Head. In other words, a rare gem. We'll see what a buyer is willing to pay. In addition to this Penthouse #8, unit #2 is also available for the same price of $3.4 million. It's listed on paper as being over 200 sq. ft. larger and on a lower floor (less stairs if there's an elevator problem).
2nd Floor Unit #2 at the Colony Beach (MLS # 201328324) also listed for $3.4 million
Regardless of price, Colony Beach is a treasure. It's one of only 3 buildings on the Gold Coast where you have 1 unit per floor, which is quite rare as a whole in Honolulu. If you're interested in something private such as this or anything else here on Oahu, let us know how we can help. It's not every day you see 25% of the inventory in a building (2 out of 8 units) for sale. Chances are once these go off market, it could be years again before one sells. Considering this is oceanfront, when you compare to condos in New York and San Francisco, these prices are still looking quite attractive...
I had the opportunity to attend a field trip with my daughter to Aloun Farms Pumkin Patch this past week. I've heard so many good things about it over the years and finally had the opportunity to break free from work now that I'm no longer running the office.
Children from all over Oahu are bussed in for the an exciting time at Aloun Farm's Pumkin Patch
I had such a great time being able enjoy the experience with their class. We were just one of many schools that happened to have an excursion the same day. This acreage nestled between Ewa Beach and Kapolei is quite special.
2nd Graders in search of the right pumpkin to take home...
Living on Oahu or the Gathering Isle I've learned that things are not always constant and this portion of West Oahu appears will be undergoing a significant change over the next few years. As we were bussed in to the farm that day, you can see the pilings already being laid for the rail system the city has planned. For better or worse, the landscape we see today will me much different when we look back 10 years down the line.
Construction underway for Honolulu's rail system seen driving in to Aloun Farms
Although progress on the rail has been slowed down with lawsuits and funding, you can get a glimpse here of what may lie ahead for West Oahu. Living in the Pacific near the ocean, I'm still not 100% sold on the idea of a steel on steel rail system here. I could already make out the rebar rusting through on the pilings... take Aloha Stadium for example. Although an iconic stadium that's hosted the Pro Bowl for many years, it's rusting apart and some say becoming obsolete. I'm wondering what will happen if/when we spend $5 Billion + on the rail here, how will it be maintained? Will it rust also? If so, where will the $ come to repair and maintain it?
Pilings laying the groundwork for Honolulu's rail project in the middle of Agriculture land
In addition to rail, DR Horton has plans to build 12,000 homes on the current site of Aloun Farms in their Hoopili project. According to an article in Civil Beat last year, the farm is actually in support of the homes. The promising news in this is it sounds that they have a place to move to. Regardless of the change, I'm glad I've taken the opportunity to enjoy the Pumking Patch with my daughter as it may not there forever...
Pacific Business News Recently Came out with a list ranking the largest private schools in Hawaii. Seeing as we have the most population here on Oahu (by far), I'm not surprised we had 8 of the 10 largest private schools in the state. Below you'll find the 10 largest private schools on Oahu ranked by number of Students. I've also provided links to see what the nearby homes and condos go for in case you're considering one.
- Punahou School | 3,772 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Punahou School
- Kamehameha Schools - Kapalama | 3,192 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Kamehameha Schools
- Iolani School | 1,880 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Iolani School
- Mid Pacific Institute | 1,557 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Mid Pacific
- Maryknoll School | 1,390 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Maryknoll
- Hawaii Baptist Academy | 1,106 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Hawaii Baptist
- Sacred Hearts | 970 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Sacred Hearts
- Le Jardin Academy | 795 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Le Jardin
- Hanalani Schools | 710 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Hanalani
- Damien Memorial School | 596 Enrollment | Real Estate Near Damien
As you can see, there's a large cluster around the Manoa area, which happens to be next to Hawaii's largest public school - The University of Hawaii at Manoa. The links above will give you an idea of the immediate area, however unlike public schools, you are not bound by your mailing address. We can help you find a place to purchase anywhere here on Oahu.
Last month Pacific Business News published a list of the 35 largest condos complexes in Hawaii. The top 10 were all here in Honolulu.
Honolulu is home to the 10 largest condo complexes in Hawaii according to PBN
Of the top 35 largest condos ranked by units, Oahu had 28, Maui 6 and Kauai 1. What I found interesting about the list was they ranked the condominiums by units, which also included commercial, parking stalls, time share and others. Here were the top 10 according to the list:
- Kukui Plaza
- Moana Pacific
- Executive Centre
- Ala Moana Hotel Condominium
- Ilikai Apartment Building Inc.
- Interstate Building (all commercial units and parking stalls)
- Waikiki Banyan
- Island Colony
- Discovery Bay
- The Peninsula at Hawaii Kai
When the miscellaneous types of units are excluded, the top 3 strictly residential condo units by size are Kukui Plaza, Waikiki Banyan, then Moana Pacific. Although these 3 are the largest complexes, they are also highly sought after with little inventory. As of today, Kukui Plaza has 9 listings, Waikiki Banyan 6 and Moana Pacific 11. The reason for Moana Pacific having the most of the top 3 spots are twofold in my opinion. First, the price point is higher than the others (less qualified buyers) and second is the building has been difficult to finance over the past year with the litigation issues of the plumbing. Good news for homeowners there is the issue won't be around forever. Some of those units are still getting snapped up quick. Whether you're looking for a condo in the largest complex or the smallest, feel free to continue searching on this site or contact us to help you find what you're looking for.
After four years of running the Oahu office of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, I've decided to go back in to sales full time.
I've learned a lot over the course of the last four years. From humble beginnings, I saw the future of where Hawaii Life was headed early on. I had the rare opportunity to work with the company on a referral basis while still selling real estate with RE/MAX here on Oahu. A year after the financial crisis of 2008, I joined Hawaii Life in the summer of 2009 when I realized half of my eight escrows at the time were coming from Hawaii Life. I was the first agent hired on the ground on Oahu and got my Broker's license shortly thereafter. The original "office" was my home (literally). We actually didn't open an office here on Oahu until February of 2011 once we had over 10 agents. This week as I stepped down from the helm, we've just about tripled in size with nearly 30 agents. We're also on track to quadrouple our 2010 production.
We have an ongoing saying within the company to "buckle up your seatbelts" for the rocketship type of a ride Hawaii Life has been. Last year Hawaii Life was the #3 fastest growing company in Hawaii according to Pacific Business News. We are also now the #4 Residential Real Estate company in the state. Oh... and we have a show on national TV. Unfortunately, all the growth does not come without "growing pains". I've sacrificed family time, family travel and most recently lost touch with my own personal clients. I was so busy running the office and managing agents that I had less time devoted time to spend with friends, family, clients and really getting out to enjoy my Hawaii Life.
I have no regrets. I've grown a lot personally and as a Realtor. I've managed and will continue to work alongside some awesome people. I've been through the Hawaii Association of Realtor's Leadership Academy and currently serve on HAR's Education Committee. I'm looking forward to what lies ahead as I've ceated the space and energy to spend more time with family and my clients that entrust me to help them with their real estate needs.