David's Real Estate Blog | Dispatches from Diamond Head

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

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
Share This Post
May 20, 2014

Marina Front Town Homes on the Rise in Hawaii Kai

Back in 2005, I recall it being difficult to find a decent 3 bed, 2 bath town home on the marina in Hawaii Kai. Shortly after the financial crisis of late 2008, prices dipped to the $700k range and some as low as the mid $600k range at some of the classic projects such as Koko Isle and Kuapa Isle. Fast forward to today and marina front town homes in Hawaii Kai prices are on the rise. Here's what's happening:

KoKo Isle

Koko Isle Town Home Over $1 Million

This Koko Isle Town Home (MLS # 201405950) priced at $1,025,000 is under contract

Koko Isle marina front town homes have seen the following uptick in values. Here's the average sales price by year as well as transactions thta took place:

2014 - $899,450 | 2 Sales (YTD) 

2013 - $858,333 | 6 Sales

2012 - $726,500 | 8 Sales

2011 - $674,000 | 5 Sales

2010 - N/A - None

2009 - $692,000 - 1 Sale

Meanwhile, active inventory outside the one above are asking prices ranging from $975,000 (MLS # 201407165) to $1,100,000 (MLS # 201332609). We've come along way since the under $700k mark. It'll be interesting to see if the new "norm" will be set around $1 million + going forward?

Kuapa Isle

Kuapa Isle Town Home under $1 Million

Kuapa Isle town home (MLS # 201407016) under contract with asking price just under $1 million

Kuapa Isle has noticed a similar price increases since 2009 and has had very little inventory. In addition to the unit above showing as Active Continue to Show, there is another unit pending with an asking price of $989,000. What's even more amazing is there's a non-marina front listing with an asking price of $774,880 in escrow. Not that long ago you could get something on the water for that price! Amazing how the market has changed. Here's what's been happening with the average sales prices of marina front units at Kuapa Isle:

2014 - $858,333 | 3 Sales (YTD)

2013 - $820,667 | 3 Sales

2012 - $849,619 | 4 Sales

2011 - $743,600 | 5 Sales

2010 - $671,786 | 7 Sales

2009 - $691,500 | 5 Sales

Although YTD sales don't reflect much of a change over the past 2 years, the two units under contract in the high $900k range show a significant jump. It'll be interesting to see if prices trend upwards. This is a coveted community and as you can see not that many marina front units trade each year.

If you're interested in purchasing a marina front town home in Hawaii Kai, feel free to contact us for more information. We also are looking for Sellers as we are working with a number of marina front Buyers. To get an idea of what your place is worth, feel free to try our free valuation tool.

Share This Post
April 11, 2014

Half a Dozen Homes for Sale on Diamond Head Circle

Diamond Head Circle is an exclusive enclave of homes off Monsarrat Avenue on the backside of Diamond Head. Typically, there may be a listing (or two) on the market at best. This week however, that count is up to six!

Diamond Head

Locations of the sic homes for sale on Diamond Head Circle

Prices range from $4.3 to $16.2 million and days on market range from 451 Days to market to the latest one listed just 2 days ago. Below you'll find a brief description with a links to more detailed listing information. I've listed them in chronological order of when they came on market.

3703 Diamond Head Circle

1. 3703 Diamond Head Circle (MLS # 1300580) was listed January 15, 2013

Set on over 3/4 of an acre this property originally was listed for $7,250,000 and is now available for $5,900,000

3735 Diamond Head Circle

2. 3735 Diamond Head Circle (MLS # 201333344) was listed on October 10, 2013

This one is my favorite listing on the circle with when factoring in the nicest house, prime location and view. Nestled on 1.27 acres it originally came online for $13,500,000 and is now $12,500,000


3. 3824 Diamond Head Circle (MLS # 201400627) was listed on January 10, 2014

One of several listings on the circle priced around the $5 million range, this one sits on a half acre. Although the original structure was built in 1949, there was a complete remodel done just a couple of years ago.

MLS # 201402274

4. 3692 Diamond Head Circle (MLS # 201402274) was listed on March 1, 2014

This one is by far the largest and priciest listing on the circle. Set on just under 2 acres, this listing is comprised of 4 parcels. It last sold for $9,700,000 cash on July 14, 2008. It has the largest residential swimming pool on Oahu and is a storied trophy property.

5. 3636 Diamond Head Circle (MLS # 201403557) was listed on March 14, 2014

Although this is another one around a half acre in the $5 million range, what sets this one apart is the quality of construction. This is the newest home for sale built on the circle that was done in 2005.

MLS # 201405994

6. 3653 Diamond Head Circle (MLS # 201405994) was listed on April 9, 2014

This one was the final straw which nudged me to write the article. There's a saying in the business that "things come in threes." This capped out the 2nd batch of 3 listings. This particular one has been on and off the market since 2005 and listed 11 different times with prices ranging from as low as $2,475,000 in 2006 to $7,500,000 in 2011.

Now that the stage is set, it will be interesting to see which one of these homes sells first... there are a number of great offerings here. It just depends on wants, needs and budget. If you need some assistance buying or selling on Diamond Head Circle or other parts of Diamond Head, I'm here to help.

Share This Post
March 2, 2014

3 New Listings at Mount Terrace in Hawaii Kai

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 Mount Terrace 8B

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

Mount Terrace 12B (MLS # 201401342) recently went under contract 

Mount Terrace 21C

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...

Posted in Hawaii Kai, Honolulu
Share This Post
Jan. 24, 2014

2013 Oahu Luxury Housing Market Recap

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:

  1. 503 Portlock Road Sold on December 2, 2013 for $19,650,000
  2. 100 Royal Circle Sold on November 12, 2013 for $16,500,000
  3. 72 S. Kalaheo Ave. Sold on May 17, 2013 for $12,000,000
  4. 3125 Diamond Head Road Sold on May 20, 2013 for $11,250,000
  5. 112A S. Kalaheo Ave. Sold on June 13, 2013 for $10,150,000
  6. 1133 Ikena Circle Sold on September 30, 2013 for $10,001,000
  7. 1002 Mokulua Dr. Sold on July 30, 2013 for $10,000,000
  8. 1600 Mokulua Dr. #A1 Sold on March 11, 2013 for $8,000,000
  9. 3047 Kalakaua Ave. Sold on February 25, 2013 for $6,375,000
  10. 4162 Black Point Road Sold on April 22, 2013 for $6,200,000

 2013 Luxury Home Sales on Oahu

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:

  1. Kuu Makana @ Diamond Head Sold on August 19, 2013 for $7,500,000
  2. Nauru Tower #4302 Sold on April 15, 2013 for $5,020,000
  3. Diamond Head Apts. #501 Sold on July 22, 2013 for $3,950,000
  4. Trump Tower Waikiki #3701 Sold on March 12, 2013 for $3,600,000
  5. Trump Tower Waikiki #3701 Sold on January 17, 2013 for $3,500,000
  6. Hokua #28A Sold February 5, 2013 for $3,118,000
  7. Trump Tower #2803 Sold on August 23, 2013 for $3,050,000
  8. Trump Tower #2319 Sold on June 28, 2013 for $2,988,000
  9. Waikiki Shore #400 Sold on November 6, 2013 for $2,905,000
  10. Trump Tower #2703 Sold on April 9, 2013 for $2,790,000

2013 Luxury Condo Sales by Neighborhood

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...

Share This Post
Jan. 17, 2014

2014 BAH Rates in Honolulu, HI up 14.7%

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!

Military Housing in Hawaii

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.

Share This Post
Dec. 24, 2013

Bucket List: Hawaii Kai Boat Parade

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.

James Bond 007 Boat

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.

Wizard of Oz Boat Parade

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:

Marina Front Home in Hawaii Kai 

Wide marina frontage view from Luna Kai home (MLS # 201335498)

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.

Posted in Hawaii Kai, Honolulu
Share This Post
Nov. 29, 2013

Why Honolulu Real Estate is a Bargain

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.

Kakaako Condos in Honolulu seen from Magic Island

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 from the Bay

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:

1. Monaco

2. Hong Kong

3. London

4. Geneva

5. Paris



8.New York City

9. Sydney

10. Shanghai

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.

Posted in Honolulu, Luxury, Waikiki
Share This Post
Nov. 6, 2013

Two Listings Available at the Colony Beach on Diamond Head's Gold Coast

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

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).

Colony Beach #2

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...

Share This Post
Oct. 30, 2013

Pumkins, Rail and West Oahu Housing

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.

Aloun Farms Pumkin Patch

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.

Finding the right Pumkin on Oahu

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.

Honolulu Rail Pilings Seen on Ag Land

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?

Rail Construction underway in West Oahu

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...

Share This Post