David's Real Estate Blog | Dispatches from Diamond Head
Latest real estate news and articles from David E. Buck, Realtor
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.
Nohona Kahala is a gated community of 55 homes on the mauka (mountain) side of Kahala Mall, most of which were completed in 1991. Although many would consider it a "Kahala" address, you won't find it on your Kahala home search as it happens to fall under the Wilhelmina neighborhood of our MLS. Given the exlusivity of the area, it's not too often one of these comes on the market. We're fortunate enough to see today though that one is available.
This Nohona Kahala home (MLS # 201329874) recently came available for $1,375,000
Although priced above the last few sales within Nohona Kahala, I can see why this seller is asking what they are. We recently sold a newer DR Horton home in Kuhina at Kahala for $1,380,888. It was similar dimensions and newer, however it was not in a true "gated community" for that extra security or peace of mind when traveling. As far as recent sales in Nohona Kahala, here are the two most recent sales:
- 4063 Keanu St. sold for $1,289,000 on August 27, 2012
- 1006 Kiionioni St. sold for $1,040,000 on September 21, 2012
Both of those were 2,146 square feet under roof, whereas the active listing is 2,237. In addition, the one that sold for $1,040,000 had a lot that was vere 20% smaller than the other sale and active listing. Given the market, it appears this home is ripe for a new owner. Remember now, there are only 55 of them. If you're looking for a gated community near Kahala and access to great amentities and the H-1 for communiting, this is the place.
I recently listed a Banyan Tree Plaza unit here in Honolulu. It's a building as old as I am, built in 1974 (oops - I gave away my age). There's a great mix of units in the building with 1,2,3 and 4 bedroom units. The 3 and 4 bedrooms are a little more rare however.
Banyan Tree Plaza seen from Punahou Street
The one we have available is a 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 1420 sq. ft. unit, which is larger than a lot of single family homes in Honolulu. It's also on the 29th floor I might add, which provides for some incredible views.
Welcome home to your 2 story home in Honolulu with awesome views
This building was considering an icon for luxury in its day. Considering most of today's luxury buildings are sellling north of $1,000/sq. ft. I feel Banyan Tree Plaza is a great value play for someone looking to find something in the heart of Honolulu. Listed at $680,000 we are priced at $478/sq. ft. The most recent 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom sale in the building sold for $503/sq. ft.
If you're loooking for a great value in Honolulu, this is the place. Another product in comparison shopping in the area could be a single family home in Manoa, where prices start higher and rapidly climb from there. Although this unit is well kept, it could use some updates. That's where the value comes in. Once you fix this up, the maintenance of a condo this size will be quite different than a single family home. With the master bedroom and bath on the main floor, you can just come home relax on your lanai and enjoy the views...
Lanai View of #2907 (MLS # 201326925) which you can access from either the living room or master bedroom
As I said earlier, these 3 bedroom units are rare and won't be around forever...
This past week, the Outrigger Canoe Club listed one of it's major assets for sale - two contiguous oceanfront parcels totalling over 2.6 acres.
The "Alii Estate" (MLS # 201327172) off Kalanianaole Hwy. is one of East Honolulu's last treasures
What is very special about this property is it is one of the last large tracks of oceanfront residential land in Honolulu. Most of the once larger parcels have been subdivided and sold off over the years. This one could end up going down that same path. Zoned R-10, this has the potential for further development. Currently, there is a modest structure on the property that was previously used as a corporate retreat by a Japanese company prior to the club's aquisition.
Situated on Aina Haina Beach, I've been told this once home to Alii or chiefs. I'm not surprised as much of what is currently around here can be considered regal in nature to this day. One of the neighboring estates was once home to the Sullivan Family (Foodland Supermarkets). Up the hill, you have Hawaii Loa Ridge a gated community of luxury homes. Right now, the only product I can find similar to this is listed for nearly three times the price.
2.7 Acres of Land in Kahala (MLS # 1303602) can be yours for only $45 million
Granted, Kahala has traditionally fetched the highest prices when it comes luxury real estate on Oahu. However, if you're willing to drive another 5-10 minutes east, you can have something pretty spectacular for roughly 1/3 of the price. The Kahala one also has the potential to be subdivided. It will be interesting to see future the outcomes of these two trophy properties. Will they remain intact and house a large estate or will they follow a similar path of so many properties on Oahu that were subdivided for profit? Only time will tell... All I do know is that something will be built on both at some point in time and the opportunity to be a part of it won't be around forever.
In the past week here on Oahu, we've seen two luxury sales surpass the highest sale we had last year.
Kailua is the frontrunner for the highest sale on Oahu this year with last week's $12 million sale
The highest sale on Oahu last year was an oceanfront home on Diamond Head Road for $10,950,000. On Monday, a similar one built by the same developer two doors over recorded even higher! Here's what we've seen this past week:
- May 17, 2013 - 72 S. Kalaheo Ave. in Kailua closed for $12,000,000
- May 20, 2013 - 3125 Diamond Head Road in Diamond Head closed for $11,250,000
Given that 5 out of the 6 highest sales on Oahu in 2012 recorded between October and December, 2013 is off to a great start. With 8 single family homes currently listed above the $12 million mark today, it'll be interesting to see if the prices go even higher. It's been 5 years since Oahu's last sale above $20 million. Here are 3 listings that could potentially fetch above that mark:
210 N Kalaheo Ave. in Kailua (MLS # 1212126) is listed for $24,000,000
503 Portlock Road in Hawaii Kai (MLS # 1212372) is available for $23 million
61785 Papailoa Road on the North Shore (MLS # 1303369) is listed for $22,000,000
With less than half the year under our belt, I'm optimistic about the future of luxury real estate here on Oahu for the rest of this year. Consumer confidence is coming back and the wealthy are looking to sink their money back into real estate. Take note, all the sales and listings were of oceanfront homes here on Oahu. As far as supply and demand goes, there is just so much oceanfront land in Hawaii to go around... I'll bet that the next sale to break the $10 million mark on Oahu will also be on the water. Want to bet?