David's Real Estate Blog | Dispatches from Diamond Head

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

July 13, 2018

Marco Polo Fire - Condo Sales 1 Year Later

It's hard to believe tomorrow marks a year since the tragic fire at the Marco Polo Apartments on Kapiolani Blvd. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was coaching my daughter's canoe team on the Diamond Head side of the Ala Wai canal when we saw all the smoke and heard the fire engines.

Marco Polo post fire burn mark

Post fire damage of the Marco Polo

When I heard it was the Marco Polo, the first thing that ran through my head and shared with the coaches at paddling is it won't be good... Having been a Honolulu Firefighter for roughly 8 years, I knew the building had an enclosed hallway and was hard to ventilate. I also knew it was an older building that most likely didn't have sprinklers and the chances of the fire spreading throughout the hall from unit to unit would increase.

Tragic Day and Lessons Learned

It's really sad that 4 people lost their lives that day. A year later we've seen politicians and the community try to pass legislation for older buildings to retrofit for sprinklers. We also have seen in recent days in the news that (to no surprise) a handful of lawsuits are out there.

My predictions after the event was that sales in the building would come to a grinding halt as the building, knowing it would be hard to get a financing on with litigation, fear and uncertainty. I recall looking up the building in MLS the following Saturday morning and saw there were a few units in escrow.  Unfortunately, all those deals fell apart.

Marco Polo Sales 1 Year After Fire

Here's the data that came to fruition since:

Marco Polo Condo Sales Before and After Fire

Marco Polo Sales 1 Year After Fire and Years Prior to Fire

Since the fire that took place on July 14, 2017 there have only been 2 sales that have closed in MLS (both of which closed last month):

  • Unit #3506 closed on June 20, 2018 for $570,000
  • Unit #3409 closed on June 25, 2018 for $490,000

The last sale prior to that was July 12, 2017 (2 days prior to the fire). In the 365 days prior to the fire there were 21 sales, 24 the year prior and 35 the year prior to that. Both of the deals that closed last month were (as predicted) cash deals. Of the 5 units currently for sale in the building they have an average of 99 Days on market which is nearly 5 times the average days on market for condo sales on Oahu.

Going Forward

We pray that time will heal those that have lost loved ones. I also predict that time will heal sales in the building. In the past 10 years we saw other buildings in town such as the Ilikai and Moana Pacific that went through some tough times when they were in litigation. Over time, banks WILL start lending again at Marco Polo.  It's not a matter of if, it's when. I can't predict when that will happen, however I do know sales volume will start to pick back up and my prediction is those that have cash and can wait out the storm may be happy campers - just like those that bought at the Ilikai and Moana Pacific during those hard times.

May 31, 2018

Want a Fee Simple Unit in Wailana at Waikiki? Now May be the Time

Over the years it's been hard to find a fee simple unit in the Wailana at Waikiki. There's been times where months and months go by with none available for sale. Of the 10 units currently on the market, we now have 3 that are fee simple:

1. Unit 805

View from Wailana at Waikiki #805

View from Wailana #805 (MLS # 201814156) listed for $578,000

2. Unit #1305

View from Wailana at Waikiki #1505

View from Wailana at Waikiki #1505 (MLS # 201812429) also listed at $578k

3.Unit #1301

View from Wailana #1301

View from Wailana #1301 (MLS #201809153) asking $650,000

On top of there being very little inventory, there hasn't been any fee simple sales in the building over the past 6 months. The most recent fee simple sale was unit #1500 that closed in October of last year for $670,000. If you're looking to make a move on a fee simple unit in Wailana at Waikiki, now may be your opportunity.

Posted in Waikiki
May 28, 2018

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day

I'd like to take the time to thank all those who served our country and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom as we celebrate Memorial Day.

Remembering Our Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day

If it weren't for them, who knows where we'd be today? Occupied by Japan here in Hawaii? Ruled by the Germans on the Mainland? Perhaps there would have already been another 9/11? As we enjoy our Holiday off from work, school and preparing for summer with BBQ's and friendship, let's not forget why we have this Holiday.

Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy "Murph" and Operation Red Wings

Operation Red Wings Memorial Park at Diamond Head

Operation Red Wings Memorial Park (also known as Triagle Park) at Diamond Head

I first learned of Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy a few years ago watching the movie Lone Survivor. The film was very intense and heavy and gave me a real sense of what the ultimate sacrifice meant. During Operation Red Wings, Murphy sacrificed his own life to save his friends. It was only after seeing the movie that I realized and felt honored that our local park at Diamond Head has a memorial to honor those of Operation Red Wings (from the film) including Michael Murphy.

Crossfit and "Murph"

I first heard of Crossfit a little over 10 years ago from a client of mine that worked for the DEA. He said it was a fitness program done by many in the military, DEA, FBI (and civilians). Since then, the phenomenon and culture have exploded all across the country. I've attempted a number of the workouts from their website on and off over the years, however never really got formal instruction until this past fall. My friend Serge has been going for years and convinced me to try Crossfit East Oahu. What's great about Crossfit (outside of the physical fitness and constant variety of exercises) is the tribute they offer to our fallen heroes. They call them "HERO WODS". 

Today was my first time to do the "Murph" WOD which I've heard is a tradition at East Oahu's Box (Gym). This workout is a 1 mile run, followed by 100 Pull-ups, 200 Push-ups and 300 Air Squats, followed by another 1 mile run. Those that are really serious take it a step further and wear a 20 lb. weighted vest. I wasn't quite ready for that yet... It was tough enough as it was!

Helping Our Veterans to Buy and Sell Homes

One of the highest honors I've done in my real estate career is helping our Veterans with their home purchases and sales. As we head in to PCS Season, I look forward to helping more of our Military families with their housing transitions this summer.

Posted in Diamond Head, Military
May 27, 2018

April Real Estate Sales on Oahu Increase in 2018

This past month we saw residential resales on Oahu finish up 3.2% at 289 transactions for single family homes and 12.6% at 547 transactions for condos.

April, 2018 Sales Stats on Oahu

Single Family Home Stats

Hoakalei Home for $790,000

This Hoakalei home (MLS # 201812925) is listed for April's median price of $790,000

The median sales price finished at one of the highest we've seen on record at $790,000, which was slightly off the record of $795,000 in June of last year. However, it was a healthy 10.9% increase from April of last year. As I said earlier, the number for transactions was also up and homes were again moving briskly with a median number of Days on Market at just 17 Days.

Condo Stats

Chateau Waikiki condo for $415k

Chateau Waikiki condo (MLS # 201812311) priced just under April's median of $416,000

The median sales price was $416,000. Although this was off March's record high of $435,000, we saw a huge uptick in the numbers of sales by 12.6% as I mentioned earlier. The median days on market also showed strength of a Seller's Market.

Local Market Updates

As always, real estate is local and here's what neighborhoods were hot for buyers and sellers in the month of April:

Neighborhoods “Hot” for Sellers

  • Home sales in Moanalua-Salt Lake were up 200%
  • Home prices in Aina Haina-Kuliouou were up 98%
  • Condo sales in Hawaii Kai were up 69%
  • Condo prices in Kapahulu-Diamond Head were up 148%

Neighborhoods “Hot” for Buyers

  • Home sales in Makiki-Moiliili and the Windward Coast were down 29%
  • Home prices on the North Shore were down 34%
  • Condo sales on the North Shore were down 60%
  • Condo prices in Mililani were down 57%

What’s Happening in Your Neighborhood?

Please consider these are broad overviews for regions on Oahu. To find out what is happening in your specific neighborhood (or street for that matter), feel free to contact me for more information.

May 24, 2018

Rising Interest Rates and Purchasing Power in Hawaii

In Hawaii, we are known to have some of the highest real estate prices in the country. So far this year, we've seen a steady increase in interest rates. To keep things simple, here's an illustration that shows how an increase in rates over time could lead to less purchasing power for a Buyer.

Interest Rates and Purchasing Power in Hawaii

Although it's tough to find a home or condo here these days for $350,000 or less, the point this illustrates is an increase in interest rates from 4% to 5% reduces a Buyer's purchase power by over 11%! 

If this trend continues, it'll make housing less affordable for those that are financing. If you're on the fence and will be financing, I'd recommend speaking with a lender to see where you stand as it may make a difference between affording to buy now vs. missing the market. 

The illustration above was provided by courtesy of William Doom with Loan Depot. To find out today's current rates, feel free to check with him for more information.

Posted in Loans
May 3, 2018

Own Two Homes on Hawaii Loa Ridge for the Price of One

In addition to me having the lowest priced listing on Hawaii Loa Ridge for sale, the home next door is also a great bargain.

88 and 96 Moaniala Place

88 Moaniala Place (highlighted) and 96 Moaniala Place (red roof) are both available for sale

Rare Opportunity

It's not that often you have two homes listed right next door to each other, let alone as such great prices for a given neighborhood.  In the past year, the median sales price on Hawaii Loa Ridge was $2,500,000 with a few homes trading over $4 million! If someone wanted to buy both 88 Moaniala Place (MLS # 201804433) for $1,680,000 and 96 Moaniala Place (MLS # 201801582) for $2,300,000 the combined price would be $3,980,000 for two homes!

This is a great opportunity when you consider 828 Moaniala St (MLS #201630748) around the corner with the blue tiled roof in the photo is listed for $12,200,000.

If you know anyone looking for a compound with 2 separate homes and parcels adjacent to each other on Oahu's premier gated community, feel free to contact me for more information.

April 23, 2018

Lost TV Star Lists Marina Front Home in Hawaii Kai

Lost TV Star Josh Holloway just listed his marina front home in Hawaii Kai's West Marina neighborhood.

338 Awini Way in Hawaii Kai

338 Awini Way (MLS # 201809956) is listed for $1,150,000

Island Life

338 Awini Place on the Marina

338 Awini Yard338 Awini Outdoor Space

Marina perspective, front yard and back door space to the marina

Situated on a peninsula in the back corner of the marina, the home sits on a cul de sac and has the feeling of the outdoors with ample yard space and a nice back deck great for entertaining. Having the ability to access the marina from your back yard is priceless. Imagine taking your boat, canoe, kayak or SUP in the marina or out to the ocean....

Cozy Indoor Space

338 Awini Living Room

338 Awini Kitchen338 Awini Bedroom

Hardwood flooring, upgraded kitchen and split AC

Although the home is listed in MLS as built in 1962 and remodeled in 1982, it's pretty apparent there have been lots of other upgrades along the way with beautiful hardwood flooring, an upgraded kitchen with stainless steel appliances and split air conditioning units in the living area and bedrooms.

Priced to Sell

Halloway purchased the home back in 2005 for $774,000. It's priced to sell as the lowest priced detached single family home on the marina at $1,150,000. The next lowest price one for sale on the marina another marina front home in West Marina for $1,499,000 at 6312 Ookala Place.

This is also a bargain when considering it's priced near where attached town home units at nearby Kuapa Isle have been selling for. Imagine being able to get a detached single family home on the marina for the same price...

Posted in Hawaii Kai, Kuapa Isle
April 12, 2018

Waialae Iki Home by Ossipoff Partner Back on Market

The former home of Sid Snyder, who was Vladimir Ossipoff's partner in his architectural firm is back on the market. 

Snyder Ossipoff Waialae Iki Home

Home by Ossipoff Snyder (MLS # 201808648) on Waialae Iki

Snyder sold the home in 2015 for $2.8 million and at the time was the highest sale ever on Waialae Iki. Last year, that number was surpassed with a home sale in Waialae Iki 5 for $3,550,000. The current ask price is $2,950,000, which is a modest uptick from 3 years ago. Built in 1969 on roughly 1/3 of an acre, this is truly a treasure someone else will have a crack at to own a piece of history.

Ossipoff Snyder Modern Design

Snyder Ossipoff OfficeOssipoff Snyder Kitchen

Modern Design with High Ceilings

A "More Modern" Mid Century Modern

Like most of the mid century modern homes on Oahu that used the more narrow CMU blocks for construction in the 1950's this home was built later and used the larger more traditional CMU blocks that are seen more prevalent in the latter half of the 20th century.

To learn more about mid century modern homes, feel free to check out my blog or visit my page with the latest listings on Oahu.

April 11, 2018

Median Condo Price on Oahu Reaches a New High

The median sales price for a condo on Oahu just set a new record high of $435,000. 

March 2018 Real Estate Sales Stas in

March, 2018 Sales Stats on Oahu

Condo Sales Stats

Diamond Head Ambassador Condo for $435,000

Diamond Head Ambassador unit (MLS # 201800745) listed for March median of $435k

The previous record on Oahu was $430,000 in January. It's become apparent that the bar is being raised for entry level pricing into the marketplace. On top of that, we've seen an uptick in luxury condo closings in neighborhoods like Ala Moana and Kakaako, The median days on market was just 16 days, which further fueled the Seller's Market.

Single Family Home Stats

Hoakalei Home in Ewa Beach for $760,000

This Hoakalei Home (MLS # 201801786) is listed for the March median price of $760k

The median sales price for a single family home was up just 1.1% from last year and didn't quite hit a new record like the condo prices (record price was $795,000 in June of last year). However, that is not to say it wasn't a Seller's Market for homeowners. Homes were selling fast with just 14 days on market! 

Here to Help with 2018 Real Estate Goals

I know we're in the middle of tax season, however if you're looking to buy or sell on Oahu, let us know how we can help.

March 18, 2018

La Pietra - Best Kept Secret on the Slopes of Diamond Head

Nestled on the slopes of Diamond Head are the La Pietra Town Homes  There are only 38 homes in this lush green development.  Although they are attached townhouses, the feeling is much more of single family residences. 

La Pietra at Diamond Head

La Pietra on the slopes of Diamond Head

Originally built in 1970 on a portion of the Walter Dillingham Estate called La Pietra, after a villa in Italy.  The other portion and actual residence is now La Pietra Girls School, which moved there in 1969.

This gated community is within walking distance of Kapiolani Park, Diamond Head Tennis  Courts, and the beach at Diamond Head with restaurants and 2 oceanfront private clubs.  It is a short drive to Kahala Mall as well as Kapahulu and Kaimuki where there are ample shopping and dining choices.

Currently there are three homes listed for sale: 

3084 La Pietra

1. 3084 La Pietra Circle (MLS # 201717109)

3082 La Pietra

2. 3082 La Pietra Circle (MLS # 201726330)

3019 La Pietra

3. 3019 La Pietra Circle (MLS # 201811817)

All three have been extensively remodeled and updated within the last few years.  Each unit features a private back yard, 2 covered parking stalls, and access to the heated swimming pool.  The relatively low monthly maintenance fee is $1,500/mo.

Owning in La Pietra is a perfect alternative to the higher priced single-family homes in the Diamond Head and Kahala area, or smaller condos on the Gold Coast.