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May 21, 2024

Tour of Niihau Apartments 305 | Legal Vacation Rental in Waikiki

The Nihau Apartments is a sleeper of a building in Waikiki. Not many people know that it's a condominium that's been around basically since statehood. It's zoned in a resort district, so it allows for short term rentals. Behind me, you've got the Embassy Suites. Then, right here, we have the old Trump Tower Waikiki, which is now Kala'i. On the other side of the Niihau Apartments, you have Regency on Beachwalk. Once a again, this is a sleeper of a building and there aren't a lot of amenities. But, you can rent them short term, which is one of the awesome things.

Lahaina Shaved Ice

Although There's No Amenities On Site, Niiahu Apts has Lahaina Shaved Ice Downstairs

It's a 10 story building with 1 and 2 bedroom units, with the 2 bedroom units on the wings. I've currently got one here under contract and I've participated in the last several sales that took place in the building.

Tour of Unit 305

Let me give you a quick tour of Niihau Apartments #305. This is a listing that we actually sold prior to coming to market. I wanted to give you a feel of this floor-plan. This is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath. The 2 bedrooms are a little more rare. They cap on the end units. This is (an '05) end unit and you have the '01s on the other side along Beachwalk.

Here we are at Niihau Apartments #305, which is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath. It's relatively original condition. The tenant just moved out. He was a great tenant and he was here for 16 years. What's nice about the end units is you have windows on the side here, unlike the interior 1 bedroom units. You have a 1 bedroom with a closet. Then, you have another 1 bedroom across the hall. You have jalousie windows for good cross ventilation. There's lots of storage. 

This unit is on the 3rd floor, so it's not going to have the best views. You then have the kitchen and then the living area. This should give you a good feel of the '05 stack here at Niihau Apartments. These don't come on the market that often. We do have it under contract as I mentioned. There's been a lot of interest in the building. This is going to be my 3rd sale that we've sold off market, because there is so much interest here. To learn more about the Niiahu Apartments in Waikiki, feel free to give me a shout at 808-371-3509. Mahalo!

Posted in Waikiki
May 19, 2024

Trump Tower Waikiki | 3 Months After Kalai Rebrand

It's been roughly 3 months since Trump Hotel Waikiki was rebranded as Kala'i. I'm here right across the street on Saratoga Road. Today, we're going to do a little report on what's been happening since the name rebrand has taken place at Trump Tower Waikiki, which is now Kala'i.

High Inventory = Buyer's Market

First off, if you’re looking for condos for sale in the building, everything in MLS is still called Trump Tower Waikiki. There’s a lot to choose from if you’re a buyer. There’s well over 70 Active listings in the building. So, from an inventory standpoint, not a whole lot has changed. Ever since the building was completed in 2009, it’s been notorious for having one of the highest (if not the highest) percentage of available inventory for any condo project on Oahu.

High Days on Market

Since the formal rebrand in February, there have been 15 sales that have taken place, most of which were studios. A dozen, or 12 of those sales were under $1 million dollars. The highest sale was a 3 bedroom unit for $2,980,000, which originally started at $3,880,00 or $900,000 higher. The average days on market for those that sold was 131 days. Meanwhile, the cumulative days on market were 257 days. For those of you that don’t know what cumulative days on market is, it is when a property gets taken off the market and put back on again. The Honolulu Board of Realtors started keeping those stats a few years back to help Realtors with a truer picture of what is going on.

Sales Increase 2.5 Times

As I mentioned earlier, there were 15 sales since the name rebrand. During the same period prior, there were only 6 sales. So, it appears the rebrand could be playing a factor? There is however still over 70 active listings, so the inventory hasn’t necessarily been gobbled up.

Rentals Hard to Pencil Out

Even with the rebrand, I don’t believe the financials have changed. If you’e to open buying the new name of Kala’i, you have to be prepared to NOT make a lot of money on the rentals. The hotel pool or “house” still takes the bulk of the profits. With that said, if you’re in the market to buy or sell a condo at Kala’i or any other part of Waikiki for that matter, feel free to contact me for more information. Mahalo

May 17, 2024

Waialae Kahala Home Sales Up 700%

Can you believe home sales were up 700% in Waialae-Kahala? This is David Buck with Harcourts Island Real Estate, here to report on the local market update for April of 2024.

Local Market Update for Homes

Waialae Kahala Homes

Waialae Kahala Homes

First off, we're going to start off with the single family homes and there in Waialae-Kahala we saw a 700% in home sales year over year. In April of 2023, there was only 1 sale that took place and this past month, we saw 8. So, that's a 700% increase year over year. Then, across the board for single family homes, we saw 14 of the 21 major neighborhoods (that the Honolulu Board of Realtors reports on) up. So, that's 2 out of 3 neighborhoods saw an increase in home sales. 

Rainbow Seen from Makakilo Home

Rainbow Seen from Makakilo Home

Makakilo saw the largest increase year over year in median sales price for a single family home. That median sales price went from $810,000 a year ago to $1,379,000. That's a 70% increase. Now, obviously not all the homes went up that much. So, some of those sales may have took place in the higher neighborhoods. But, across the board on Oahu, Makakilo saw the largest increase in median sales price.

Local Market Update for Condos

Kalihi Palama Looking West from Downtown Honoluluu

Kalihi Palama to the West of Downtown Honolulu

Now, as we jump into the condo sales, Kalihi-Palama saw the largest increase yearr over year for condo sales on Oahu. In April of 2023, there were only 5 sales that took place. This past month, there were 11 sales. So, that's 120% increase in sales in Kalihi-Palama year over year. That was the #1 neighborhood for increase in condo sales. Meanwhile, for condo sales across the board, sales were up in 11 out of the 21 major neighborhoods on Oahu. So, that's a step in the right direction because we've been seeing this downward trend in sales for condos. The previous month, we reported on a huge drop year over year. So, April was a lot more optimistic.

Pats at Punaluu on the Windward Coast

Pats at Punaluu on the Windward Coast

For our final category, we're going to talk about condo appreciation. The Windward Coast of Oahu saw the largest increase on Oahu year over year. That was up 252%. On the Windward Coast, the median condo price ini April of 2023 was only at $150,000 and this past month it was at $528,000. That's a whopping 252% gain. We've talked about this a few times in the past when the Windward Coast takes the cake for the highest appreciation in that there's a few condo complexes on the Windward Coast where you can see lower condo prices, of which would be Hanohano Hale, where you can still get a condo under $200,000. There's also Pats at Punaluu, which is directly next door. If you're looking for a good condo value/buy to be direct oceanfront on Oahu, I would check out Hanohano Hale or Pats at Punaluu and I covered both in a recent YouTube video I put together of the Pros and Cons of Living in Windward Oahu.

That's a recap for the local market update for April of 2024. If you have any questions about any buildings on Oahu or any neighborhoods on Oahu, each one is different in its own right. Feel free to reach out and give us a shout. Mahalo!

May 12, 2024

Pros and Cons of Living in Windward Oahu

Here we are on the Windward side of Oahu. There's a reason why they call it the Windward side. As you can see, the tradewinds are really honking today. We're just off Makapuu, which is kind of the southern most of the Windward side and we're going to be making our way up the coast today to talk about the pros and cons of living in Windward Oahu.

Tradewind Surf off Makapuu

Tradewind Surf off Makapuu


Here we are now in Waimanalo and one of the things people do love about the Windward side are the beautiful white sandy beaches and deep blue ocean. As we continue up the Windward Coast, you'll see there's typically an outer barrier reef. So, the waves normally don't get too big closer to the shore. They normally make for calmer swimming conditions. 

Waimanalo Beach

White Sand and Deep Blue Ocean in Waimanalo

However, you've always got to consult and make sure you're a good swimmer before jumping in the ocean here. You also will get a lot more Portuguese man o war and jellyfish that do blow inside. Another great thing about the Windward side we'll point out along the way is the nice backdrop of the Koollau Mountains.


We've just left Waimanalo and we're now into Kailua. Kailua is a great area to live in. We've got Kailua Bluffs, Keolu Hills and Enchanted Lake behind me. There's also about another dozen neighborhoods in Kailua.

Enchanted Lake, Kailua Bluffs and Keolu Hills

Enchanted Lake with Keolu Hills and Kailua Bluffs in the Background

One of the catches on the Windward side is the clouds roll in. We did just come from Waimanalo. I was there an hour ago. I had to stop in Waimanalo to check on a listing of mine. What happens throughout the day is the clouds tend to roll in. So, the Windward side of the island is going to be a lot more cloudier than say the Leeward side of the island and it's also going to get a lot more rain. 

Mount Olomana Seen from Maunawili Home

Mount Olomana seen from Maunawili Home

Hence, you're going to have these beautiful green mountains like the Koolaus and Mount Olomana.


Here we are further up the coast. It's still kind of a windy tradewind day. We're at Heeia State Park and this gives you a great perspective of Kaneohe.

Heeia State Park

Heeia State Park

Heeia Fish Pond in Kaneohe

Heeia Fish Pond in Kaneohe

In the background, you've got an old fish pond and across the bay behind me you've got Lilipuna Point and you have some condos there.

Poha Kea Point Condos in Lilipuna

Poha Kea Point Condos in Lilipuna

All throughout Kaneohe, you've got a number of great neighborhoods. I know we kind of breezed over Kailua earlier, however I always say "the best places were taken first". So, the Windward side of Oahu does have some older construction (like Honolulu) in that people wanted to live along this beautiful coastline. 

Kaneohe Bay Views from Lilipuna

Views Along Kaneohe Coast

Kaneohe Marine Base

Kaneohe Marine Base

Kaneohe Marine Base

Windward Retail Shopping

What I will point out is you've got Kaneohe Marine Base. Then, just right up the road here you've got Windward Mall. We had breezed over the retail in which they have in Kailua Town. Kailua has a lot of great retail on property that was formerly owned by Kaneohe Ranch (now Alexander and Baldwin). Here in Kaneohe, you've got several malls, the largest of which is Windward Mall, which is a gigantic indoor mall. Kind of think of the bigger malls on the mainland. It's very convenient for those that aer living on this side of the island and/or are stations at Kaneohe Marine Base. I hope that helps and we'll continue up the coast.


There's a reason (once again) why they call this the Windward side of the island. I'm not sugar coating it today because the tradewinds are blowing pretty good. There are beautiful sunny days out here. We do have some blue in the skies, but if you look back towards Kaneohe Bay, you see a bunch of rain clouds there, but that's also what keeps the island so green and tropical on the Windward side.

Kualoa Beach Park

Kualoa Beach Park

Here we are at Kualoa Beach Park and Kualoa Ranch is directly behind me here. There's a lot of really cool movies that have been filmed there.

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch

It's obviously been put on the map for Jurassic Park and right around the corner here at the fishpond, they filmed 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. You then have Chinaman's Hat out the back here in Kualoa.

Sailing in Kaneohe

We kind of breezed over Kaneohe Bay. As you can see the wind is blowing today and one of the cool things about living on the Windward side of Oahu is it's a great place to go sailing.

Kaneohe Yacht Club Yacht Club seen from Kaneohe Bay

Kaneohe Yacht Club

A little closer to Kailua, you have Kaneohe Yacht Club. There are also some facilities to take boats out of the Marine Base if you have that eligibility. Last, but not least there are little boat slips and places along the coast here in Kaneohe, if you have a boat and wand to launch it out the back. We're going to start to talk a little more real estate here shortly.

Oceanfront Homes Along the Windward Coast

In Waimanalo, there's one on the market right now on the ocean for $5 million. Entry level on the ocean right now in Kailua has been $8 million. However, if you're willing to drive a little further up the coast, which we're going to continue to do. As you get further up the coast, you'll continue to see prices drop. You get more "bang for your buck" (no pun intended). You can start to get something on the water from the mid $1 million to $2 million range. It's a lot more affordable because it's a lot more rural and further to drive. Stand by and we'll continue on to our next stop, which is Kaaawa.


Now, we're on the beach in Kaaawa and Kaaawa is just right up the coast form the city of Kaneohe. Technically, Kaaawa is it's own city. It has it's own zip code and post office.

Kaaawa Post Office

Kaaawa Post Office

When you get mail here, it says Kaaawa, HI. Try to say Kaaawa fast 3 times! In any event, this is the next stop along the Windward Coast. It's got it's own residential community (in MLS) and a beautiful backdrop. Most of the real estate here is going to be set just off the highway. As we start to get more up the coast here, we're doing to talk more about what the cons are of living on the Windward side.

It's beautiful in that you're living on or near the water. But the one of the cons are that there's salt air that's traveling thousands of miles across the Pacific. So, the salt air is going to have a lot more wear and tear on the improvements of your property, your vehicles, etc. That salt air will corrode things quicker as opposed to living on the Leeward side of Oahu or in Honolulu.

Old Hauula Fire Station 15

Old Hauula Fire Station #15

I used to be a firefighter and worked up the road here. A station that I worked at in the late 90's was already falling apart and it was built in the 1980's. Fast forward to today, they have a brand new fire station because the old fire station didn't last that long and it was built in the 1980's.

One of the cons once again of living on the Windward Coast is you're going to get a lot more wear and tear on your property. It's going to be a little more to maintain. But, the sandy beaches are hard to beat...

Traffic on Kamehameha Hwy

I decided to stop further up the street. Another con we're going to talk about right now about living on the Windward side is it is a 1 lane highway. So, if there's any type of construction or accident, the road is going to back up. So, that's something you want to be prepared for, living on the Windward Coast. 

Swanzy Beach Park

They've got some construction going on right here in Kaaawa. Up the road is the Kaaawa Fire Station. Directly behind me is Swanzy Beach Park. It's a beautiful beach park. They do have basketball hoops here as well as a little playground for the kids. 

Swanzy Beach Park in Kaaawa

Swanzy Beach Park in Kaaawa

Having been a firefighter out here, the ocean does get a little bit rough. Even though the waves are breaking way out there, there's a current through here that rips hard. There's been a lot of water rescues along this coast. I've been involved in some and then there's a tragedy that happened out here. There were some kids that got in over their heads in a kayak. Even though the water looks calm on the inside, there's an undercurrent that rips through here. So, you really want to be careful on this part of the island in particular off Kaaawa. We'll be right around the corner here in a second (after the traffic frees up) and we'll check out Kahana Bay.

Kahana Bay

Kahana Bay

Kahana Bay Looking Back at Kaaawa

Here we are now at Kahana Bay, which is right around the corner from Kaaawa. It's a beautiful state beach park. There's not a lot of real estate here. It definitely does not come for sale. There are some leased homes (from the state) back in the valley. Once we get around the corner here, we'll be at Punaluu, where we have a combination of fee simple and leasehold properties along the water. 


Now that we're in Punaluu looking back towards Kahana Bay, there are some homes on the water in Punaluu. Those are actually leasehold properties, where the land beneath them is owned by Kamehameha Schools. They are long term land leases. However across the road, this is something you want to be aware of when you're looking at property on the Windward Coast.

Sometimes you'll see something online as "oceanfront", however it's literally got a highway between it. Over the years, I've seen it in MLS where they call these homes "oceanfront", but there's literally a highway you have to cross to get to the beach. Some of them do have beautiful ocean and beach views, so that's definitely one of the pros. 

Odd Numbers = Oceanfront

One thing to keep in mind as you're driving along Kamehameha Hwy is all the odd numbers are going to be along the ocean and all the even numbers are going to be on the mountain or mauka side of the road. Keep that in mind, because if you see something that they're calling "oceanfront", it's not necessarily always oceanfront. One of the homes here has some scaffolding up and that's another reminder that homes are going to have a little more wear and tear on the Windward Coast.

Pats at Punaluu

Pats at Punaluu

Pats at Punaluu

There's a few things I'd like to discuss while we're here. I've got Pats at Punaluu directly behind me. Outside of the wind, you can hear the jackhammering going on. They're doing a lot of spalling work there, because that's what we talked about earlier. Living on the Windward Coast, you're going to get a lot more wear and tear. So, living on the ocean, they're having to redo all the rebar on the building and repainting it. Once they're done, it's going to be an incredible product and it's hard to beat this lifestyle.

Hanohano Hale Condos

Hanohano Hale

Between Pats at Punaluu and Hanohano Hale, they are definitely 2 of the least expensive oceanfront condo options. If you want to buy on the ocean on Oahu, outside of Makaha, these are going to be the 2 best deals going.

There's a couple more things I want to talk about while we're in Punaluu. Punaluu is an MLS neighborhood that falls within the city of Hauula. Hauula has its own city and zip code, just like Kaaawa. It's an isolated town off Kamehameha Highway. i'd love to tell you a funny story next.

There was one day I was working at the Hauula Fire Station, which is right up the road here. It's station number 15 for HFD. It was Christmas morning and we got called into a rescue call. There was a man in distress swimming out here. It was called in from his wife that was frantic on the beach here at Pats at Punaluu. 

Pats at Punaluu Outer Reef

Outer Reef in the Distance Fronting Pats at Punaluu

As we talked about earlier, there is this barrier reef on the outside. So on the inside here, it's pretty well protected. Up the coast I said be very careful at Kaaawa. So, we came out of the fire station. This was Christmas morning over 20 years ago. We're blazing down the highway. I jump out of the truck in front of this building and put on my fins. The wife is in hysterics on the beach because her husband is face up straight outside. So, we start yelling and screaming. I put my mask, snorkel and fins on and start treading out towards him. He's about half way out to the surf. Then, we stop to say "hey, are you ok"? Because, when they train you, they don't want to person you're rescuing to drown you. He's like face up facing the sky the whole time and all of the sudden he stands up and looks at us and looks at us confused like why are coming out there?

I then start laughing because I had no clue. I didn't grow up on this coast. I didn't realize how shallow it was out there. Obviously, if you're not a good swimmer, be very careful. He literally stood up to his waist in the ocean. I think he had a few cocktails that day. It's a funny story I love to tell. I tell clients that story when I'm showing property out here. I found that's a good takeaway. Even though you have all this ocean between here and the reef. In theory, you could drown, but it is pretty shallow most of the way out there. Just be sure to use your good judgement at be safe.

Windward Sunrise and Sunset

Before I wrap up things at Pats at Punaluu, I just want to point out 1 more thing. The sky is already getting dark at 2:15 PM. Another pro and con of living on the Windward Coast of Oahu is you're going to get the beautiful sunrise off the coast in the morning.

Sunrise off Punaluu

Sunrise off Pats at Punaluu

Sunset on the Koolaus

Sunset Behind the Koolaus

However, it's going to get a little bit darker as the day goes on. The sun is going to set behind the Koolau Mountain range. So, it gets darker a lot quicker here on the Windward Coast. Once again the perk is waking up to the sunrise off the ocean in the morning.


Hauula Sign

Now, we're further up the coast in Hauula. What I'm going to share with you is some local knowledge vs. local Realtor knowledge. So, we started this off by talking about the pros and cons of living on the Windward Coast of Oahu. For all the locals that live here on the island, we basically refer to the Windward side as starting in Waimanalo and it's going to run all the way up to the point in Laie and Kahuku, to what's considered the northern point of Oahu into Kuilima at Turtle Bay.

Laie Point

Laie Point off Naupaka St.

Once you round the point at Naupaka St. in Laie, that's kind of the tip point of the island. It can also arguably be said that once you get up to Turtle Bay or Kahuku, that would be the tipping point because the wind turns at that point and you're now in the lee.

Turtle Bay Resort

Turtle Bay Resort on the Northern Point of Oahu

From a real estate perspective, it's a little bit different. Along that entire coastline, there's 3 major regions on the MLS on Oahu. The first off is going to be Kailua, where we started and encompasses Waimanalo. Then you have Kaneohe, which is the bulk of this coastline. When HBR (The Honolulu Board of Realtors) reports on the stats or I report on the stats every month that talks about the Windward Coast, that's basically the Kaneohe Region of MLS. Keep in mind, the Kaneohe Region has nearly 60 neighborhoods in MLS. The third is the North Shore at the tip of the island.

Oahu Regions of MLS

Oahu Regions of MLS

We just did a broad stroke on the Windward Coast. We kind of stuck along the coast today. I feel like Kailua kind of got cheated, however maybe we'll cover that on another day. 

Every part of the island has their pros and cons. If you have any questions about real estate here on Oahu, feel free to reach out and give us a shout. Mahalo!

May 9, 2024

3 Reasons Why Waikiki Shore is a Great Buy

Here I am at the Waikiki Shore in Waikiki and today we're going to talk about 3 reasons why now at the Waikiki Shore.

1. Waikiki Shore is the Only Oceanfront Condominium in Waikiki

Waikiki Shore Oceanfront Building

The first reason is Waikiki Shore is the only true oceanfront condominium in Waikiki. They have a shaved iced stand, beach services, At Waikiki Shore from the beach, you have a great view of Diamond Head and the Gold Coast. You're on a white sandy beach in Waikiki and you're right next door to Fort DeRussy, which is a 70 acre park managed by the U.S. Government and military. Right next door, you have arguably a billion dollar resort at the Outrigger Reef. There, you've got some great restaurants like Monkeypod and there's a Starbucks. The location itself sells everything...

Castle Resorts at Waikiki Shore

Castle Resorts at Waikiki Shore

In addition to Waikiki Shore being a condo, you can rent them short term legally. It's resort zoned resort, so you can put them in a hotel pool, which is currently Castle Resorts. You can also self manage them and rent them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Or, you can actually live in them. One of the perks is it has really low maintenance fees because the HOA owns the commercial property within Waikiki Shore. That's reason #1.

2. Recent Lobby Renovation

Reason #2 is they just went through an extensive remodel in the lobby here. 

Waikiki Shore Lobby Renovation

Recent Lobby Renovation

Waikiki Shore History

Waikiki Shore History

As you walk outside the lobby towards the beach, one of the cool things about Waikiki Shore is the retail space owned by the HOA. There's a lot of cool shops for locals and tourists. There's surfboard rentals and you've got a 70 acre park next door at Fort DeRussy. Once again, this is the only ocean or beachfront condo in Waikiki. All the prime real estate is taken up by the hotels. 

3. Legal Short Term Rental and Less International Buyer Competition from Japan

The 3rd reason why Waikiki Shore is a great buy is everyone wants to get in on the vacation rental craze with AirBnB and VRBO. Aa I mentioned earlier, you can rent these out short term. This product is not going away. They're not building anything new like this in Waikiki. So, it's a supply and demand issue.

What happened over the last 6 or 7 years is a lot of the buyers, demographically buying up Waikiki Shore were from Japan. The reason why is in Japan you could actually get a tax break for depreciation if you were to buy in a building that's older than a certain age (which Waikiki Shore is) and you can rent it out short term. So, these wealthy investors from Japan were buying up Waikiki Shore because they could depreciate it over 7 years. 

We had 1 outlier sale in a "00" stack, which would be the direct ocean front. There was a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom around 1,100 square feet that went for $5.7 Million. That's over $5,000/square foot! That's where things peaked out during COVID.

Waikiki Shore #418

Waikiki Shore #418 Priced at $2.3 Million

Now, there's a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom on the 4th floor. This is a great buy! They're priced at $2,300,000 now. I sold this same unit about 5-6 years ago for $2,200,000.

Waikiki Shore 418 Dining

Waikiki Shore Master Bed Waikiki Shore 418 Bathroom

Waikiki Shore #418 Dining Area and Primary Suite

If you look at anything else on the island, it's gone up significantly in the last 5 years. So, I feel this unit #418, that's still available for over 3 months on market is a great buy. If you're in the market for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom legal vacation rental in Waikiki, with low maintenance fees, Waikiki Shore may be the place for you.

Contact a Waikiki Expert

If you have questions about Waikiki Shore or have questions about any other condo product in Waikiki, feel free to reach out and give us a shout. Mahalo!

May 7, 2024

Median Home Price up 10% in April

Aloha! This is David Buck with Harcourts Island Real Estate. Today, we're going to talk about the market stats for April of 2024. 

Single Family Home Stats

First off, we're going to start of with the single family homes and there we saw the same median sales price that we saw last month in March, which was $1.1 Million. That's a nice step up from April of '23, where it's actually a 10% increase. It was just under $1 million bucks at $999,995.

Meanwhile, sales were up 26% from a year ago. In April of '23, we had 208 single family home sales here on Oahu. This past month we saw 282. That's nice for Realtors and home sellers because there's a lot more velocity and volume in the market and more buyer traffic. Median days on market are actually down as well. They dropped 20.2%. A year ago, median days on market were at 24 days. This past month, they were at 17 days. 

One sign of relief for homebuyers is there's a little more inventory. Inventory is up 15.5% from a year ago. A year ago, there were only 535 homes for sale and this pas month, there were 618 active listings.

Condo Stats

It was only a month ago that we were reporting on condo sales being down 22.5% (in March, compared to March of '23). Now that we're in April, it's a bit of a different story. It's actually quite positive for condo owners. Sales were actually up 2.6% from April of '23. This past month, we saw 431 sales and the previous April we were at 420 sales. That's a sign in the right direction for velocity in the condo market.

Then, as far as condos go, the median sales price was up as well. It was up 5.6%, going from half a million dollars in April of '23 to $528,000 this past month. It's a good sign for condo sellers on Oahu. It's not as good for buyers. However, median days on market have increased so it's taking condos longer to sell. It's gone from 20 days to 29 days. So, it's just a little under a month. Once again, it's a little bit skewed because we only report on what sells. When something sits on the market for 6 months or a year, those stats don't get reported.

Regarding condo inventory, it's also up. That's another positive sign for buyers. Inventory is up 37% from a year ago. A year ago, there was 1,144 condos for sale and this past month we saw 1,576. 

That's the recap for April stats here on Oahu. We're well into the 1st week of May, so if you have any questions about real estate here, we'd love to help. Mahalo!

May 5, 2024

Can You Buy Hawaii Real Estate with Bitcoin?

It's amazing how times have evolved over the last few years. I can't tell you how many inquiries I was getting a few years back about "Can you buy property in Hawaii with Bitcoin or Crypto Currency?" Well, here we are in 2024 and a bit has changed. No pun intended with "Bit" Coin. What's been happening with crypto currency is it's obviously a volatile asset. I've never invested in it. That's my first disclaimer here. I can't give you advise on it, because I have not invested in it. Sometimes I regret that. However, I'm a Realtor and we're going to talk about how it plays into property here in Hawaii. 

Trading Crypto for Real Estate

What was happening a number of years back is we were getting a number of people that were getting quite wealthy overnight with crypto currency and they wanted to cash in that asset for real estate here. What they didn't want to do is cash it out. What they wanted to do was do a trade with the seller. Ie - 'I'll give you my Bitcoin for your property". Well, as you may be aware crypto currency has come under a lot of government scrutiny over the last several years. You've probably watched the news and seen what's happened to Sam Bankman-Fried and a lot of the corruption that has gone on with the crypto. Here's another disclaimer - I feel like I'm going to get hammered here by all the crypto enthusiasts bashing on it. I'm not necessarily bashing on it. It's just outside of my realm (of expertise).

In any event, we had these buyers approaching us Realtors here on Oahu that want to buy property. I never really got into it. I started exploring it and i've been meaning to put this blog out for awhile. I'm now just getting caught up with all my business. 2024 has picked up a bit and I've been busy selling real estate. With that said, I still wanted to crank this out because who knows what the future is going to hold with elections this year and everything. 

Regarding the process of buying property here with Bitcoin or crypto currency here in Hawaii, it's not as easy as you think. The irony was there were Realtors going around town peddling this, to sign up for webinars and seminars to buy real estate with crypto currency here and I have yet to see it done. 

Will Title and Escrow Company Accept Crypto?

This past year, I sat down with some colleagues at a local title office and not only is it under scrutiny from the U.S. Government, but if I were a buyer of property, I would want to have title insurance. In order to do that, you are going to run it through a title and escrow company. They won't take crypto currency. They will only take U.S. Dollars because they do report their transactions to the feds.

First Hand Experience with Crypto Volatility

Here's a first hand experience I went through a few years back with a buyer that wanted to buy a property here with crypto currency. I'm not sure if you've heard about it, but Coinbase is a place where they can store their crypto. We received an offer on a listing of mine. It was a high end luxury property. The offer we received was based upon them selling or exchanging their crypto currency. Now, my seller didn't even want to go down that road of doing a swap for crypto currency. We were going to have that buyer cash it in for U.S. Dollars in order to buy the property. However, when they made the offer, their Realtor put a contingency in there that they would not cash out their crypto currency until they got past their home inspection period. 

Just knowing the volatility of crypto currency, the offer was in U.S. Dollars. However, when you receive a statement of proof of funds from a bank, whether it's cash or stocks (even stocks aren't that volatile), you can take it pretty seriously. But, when we received their proof of funds, it was all in Coinbase and I was skeptical. Thanks heavens and I did protect my seller because during the time that we countered their offer on terms and price, what had happened is the crypto crashed.

Bitcoin Chart

Bitcoin Crash in 2021

What happened is this buyer could no longer afford the property that I had listed. I was not representing them, but I think their Realtor was a little disheartened because they couldn't move forward in buying our property. Their purchasing power dropped significantly. We took a little bit longer to sell after that. However, curiosity was striking me and I started to track crypto and what it was doing at the time. Then, when I saw it starting to rebound, Bitcoin was around $60,000 and dropped to around $30,000 (during the crash). Then it started to come back and sure enough I called the Realtor and I said I saw crypto was starting to rebound and did your buyer want to resubmit their offer. Maybe they'll cash out now that the price of crypto is back up? Believe it or not, they got so fearful that they ended up cashing out (earlier) and buying a $2 million condo. 

$5 Million Home vs. $2 Million Condo

Just imagine.. With that volatility, you could have a $5 million house or a $2 million condo. That's how volatile crypto is. Right now, unless something miraculously changes with our laws, you can't really buy property in Hawaii with crypto currency. You're going to need to cash that out and exchange it for U.S. Dollars. So, I hope you found value in this article. If you have any questions about Hawaii real estate, feel free to reach out and give us a shout. Mahalo!

May 1, 2024

Pros and Cons of St. Louis Heights

Aloha, today we're going to be talking about the pros and cons of living on Saint Louis Heights. That is a ridge in East Honolulu. It's actually the furthest ridge west in the Diamond Head Region of MLS. It's basically between Palolo Valley and Manoa Valley.

Saint Louis School Chaminade University

Saint Louis School and Chaminade University

Directly behind me is Saint Louis High School and Chaminade University. What's cool about St. Louis Heights is it's straddled by 2 Universities on either side. You have Chaminade University, which is a private University on the east side.

University of Hawaii Entrance

University of Hawaii Entrance

Then, you have the University of Hawaii, Manoa on the west side of the ridge. It's a great place for professors and students to live. There's also a condo building named Regency Park. It's the only condo building here in St. Louis. Across from the entrance to Saint Louis High School and Chaminade University is a cool plate lunch place called St. Louis Drive In, which has been around for ages. 

St. Louis Drive Inn

St. Louis Drive Inn

The start to St. Louis Drive is off Waialae Ave. and what's great about this location is you've got City Mill, which is a local hardware store. A lot of these homes up on St. Louis Heights were built back in the 50's. A lot of them are going to need upgrades over time. I just got done with a showing today that was in relatively original condition. What's great is you have City Mill hardware store, which has been around well over 100 years (founded in 1899). It's a great local chain here in Hawaii. 

City Mill in Kaimuki

City Mill with Regency Park Condos in the Background

Although we're going to be talking about the homes in St. Louis Heights, there's one condo project, which is Regency Park, next to Saint Louis High School. 

Regency Park Pool

Regency Park Pool

Lower St. Louis Heights on Dole St.

Dole Street Below Saint Louis Heights

Dole Street Homes Still Considered St. Louis in MLS

A lot of people think of St. Louis Heights as being up on a ridge, but not everyone is aware that Dole St., which runs along the base of St. Louis Heights falls under St. Louis Heights from an MLS perspective. So, sometimes you'll see homes here that don't have really any views and that's the reason why. What we're going to talk about going forward and what makes St. Louis Heights attractive is its proximity to the University of Hawaii. Nearby off Dole St. are several of the towers for the dormitories. There's currently some cranes with construction going on. Once again, one of the perks about living on St. Louis Heights is its proximity to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

St. Louis Drive vs. Kaminaka Drive

Fork Between St Louis and Kaminaka Drives

Fork Between St. Louis and Kaminaka Drives

When you first come up St. Louis Drive, you'll come to an intersection that forks in the road. To the left is St. Louis Drive, which runs you up the hill and takes you to the western flank of the ridge. Then, to the right is Kaminaka Drive, which takes you to the eastern flank of the hill. They are little bit different neighborhoods and there's pros and cons about both. First, we're going to dive into the western side of the hill, then we'll come back and hit the eastern side. 

Up St. Louis Drive

We're now further up the hill on the corner of Bertram and Peter Streets. From here, you can get a typical sense of what living is like up here. You have incredible views of Diamond Head as well as Waikiki from a number of the homes. You do have overhead power lines, which can obstruct some of the views. Typically, you're going to have R-5 or R-7.5 zoning. Some of the lots can be tight and close together up here. Since you're dealing with topography on the hill, it's either going to be an upslope or downslope. 

Wa'ahila Ridge State Recreation Area

Wa'ahila Ridge State Recreation Area

One of the cool things about St. Louis Heights is at the very top of the ridge you have Wa'ahila State Recreation Park. This is a park at the top of the hill with a trail at the very back. There's also public parking. At the start of the park, you have a road for entrance and there's a trail below that's starts at the bottom of the hill near UH. You can take it all the way up. It's a great hike. It's got great views It's been awhile since I've done it. I did it a bunch when I was in college. Once again, one of the perks up here on St. Louis Heights is Wa'ahila Ridge.

As I mentioned earlier, St. Louis Heights is a great place for University of Hawaii professors because you have Manoa Valley directly to the west. It's not too far from the campus. You have the beauty and views of Honolulu. It's a different climate. In Manoa Valley, it's typically more cloudy and you'll get rain there most days of the year. Whereas up on St. Louis Heights its a little more arid.

Manoa and Tantalus View from Saint Louis Heights

Manoa and Tantalus Views from St. Louis Heights

In Manoa Valley, you have both public and private schools. You have Manoa Valley Shopping Center and that view across the way will take you up to Tantalus. Those homes are a lot more secluded and on water catchment, etc.

Waikiki Surf Check from St. Louis Heights

Waikiki Surf Check from St. Louis Heights

Another perk about St. Louis Heights is you can check the surf in Waikiki off Diamond Head, which not everyone is aware about.

Up Kaminaka Drive

St. Louis Heights View

View with Underground Utilities 

Up Kaminaka drive, you can get a perspective of how close St. Louis Heights is to the University of Hawaii as you can see the dome at the Stan Sheriff Center and the dormitory towers. On this eastern flank of St. Louis Heights, you're probably going to notice is there are no overhead utilities. All of the utilities are buried underground, so it really opens up the view planes for those that live on this side of the ridge. You're not looking into all the telephone (and electric) wires. You'll also get more of the morning sun on the eastern side of the ridge vs. the afternoon sun over on the western side. 

Interested in Buying or Selling on St. Louis Heights?

If you're thinking about buying or selling on St. Louis Heights, feel free to give us a call @ 808-371-3509. Mahalo!

Posted in Property Search
April 20, 2024

Oahu Condo Sales Drop in 2/3 of Neighborhoods

Aloha, this is David Buck with Harcourts Island Real Estate and today we're going to cover the local market update for single family homes and condos on Oahu for the month of March, 2024.

Local Neighborhood Update for Homes

First off, we're going to start off with the single family homes and there we saw Wahiawa with the largest increase year over year. Sales there were up 150%. In March of '23, there were only 4 transactions that took place and this past month, we saw 10. So, that's 150% increase in sales. Now, across the board in the 21 major neighborhoods that the Honolulu Board of Realtors tracks, sales were up in 10 of those neighborhoods. In 3 neighborhoods they were flat and in 8 neighborhoods. So, overall there were more neighborhoods up than down. 

Our next category is home appreciation on Oahu and there we saw the North Shore with the highest appreciation by far. It was actually up 76% from a year ago. A year ago, the median price for a home on the North Shore was $1,194,000 and this past month it was at $2,100,000. Now, keep in mind, in most of the neighborhoods on Oahu, they were in the single digits for those that were up. It's rare to have a double digit increase, let alone a 76% increase. The North Shore was the outlier with the highest appreciation 

Local Neighborhood Update for Condos

As far as condo sales go on Oahu, Kapahulu - Diamond Head saw the largest increase year over year for the numbers of transactions. That was up 50% from a year ago, which was by far the highest increase. A year ago, there were 4 transactions that took place and this past month we saw 6. As I mentioned earlier in the single family home sales report, things were up in 10 of 21 neighborhoods. Now as far as condo sales go on Oahu, they were only up in 4 of the 21 major neighborhoods on the island. In 3 neighborhoods sales were flat and they were down in 14 neighborhoods. Roughly 2/3 of the neighborhoods saw a decrease in condo sales, which kind of tracks what we were talking about earlier this month in the overall market update in that condo sales on Oahu were down in March 22.5% from a year ago. 

For our last category, which was condo appreciation on Oahu, the Windward Coast saw the largest condo appreciation by far. I'll explain why as there's an outlier here. The median price a year ago was $85,000 (which you'd probably be shocked you could buy a condo on Oahu in that price range). In Hanohano Hale, you could back then. It went from $85,000 to $340,000 on the Windward Coast over the span of a year. Once again, this is the median price, so there are going to be some outliers within this. Remember now, we just talked about there were only 4 neighborhoods that were up. So, the next highest one after that was up 12% and that was down the coast in Kaneohe. That was up 12%, with a median sales price of $612,000 a year ago and now it's at $685,000. 

That's a wrap for the stats on the local market up date for March of '24. As we always talk about, every neighborhood is different and every building is different. If you have something specific to you that you need help or focusing on in your particular area, feel free to reach out and give us a shout. Mahalo!

April 17, 2024

Waialae Golf Course Homes Wanted

Aloha! This is David Buck with Harcourts Island Real Estate. Today is another Wednesday and we're going to cover another episode of We Need Inventory. The neighborhood of discussion today is Waialae Golf Course neighborhood. Every year I do a blog on the Sony Open and the homes along the golf course. Traditionally, every year there's several for sale.

2024 Sony Open

2024 Sony Open

No Homes for Sale and No Sales in Over 1.5 Years

It kind of took me by surprise this past year as there was literally nothing for sale back in January. I was kind of digging through different neighborhoods in east Honolulu this past week and I noticed that there's still nothing for sale in Waialae Golf Course neighborhood. As I started to dive a little bit deeper, not only is there nothing for sale right now (trust me - there are buyers out there) on Waialae Golf Course, there hasn't been a sale in over a year and a half.

1044 Waiholo St. Sold by David Buck in 2022

1044 Waiholo St. Sold by David on September 7, 2022

It turns out, the further I dove into this, the last sale was actually a home I sold in 2022. The last sale that took place in the neighborhood was September 7, 2022. 

Waialae Golf Course Home Sales by Year

Waialae Golf Course Home Sales by Year

In the chart above, I took it back to 2019 and ranged between 4-11 sales per year. In 2019, we had 7 transactions take place in the neighborhood. In 2020 (the year of COVID), there were only 4 deals that took place. In 2021, there were 11 transactions. In 2022, there were 5 transactions. There were none in 2023.

The one we sold was nearly a record high. It was at $1250/square foot. We sold it 5.8% higher (per square foot) higher than the neighbor that sold next door, which we were proud of. I never would have guessed when we sold that house, fast forward a year and a half later there'd be nothing for sale in the neighborhood. So, if you know anyone looking to sell in the Waialae Golf Course neighborhood, now could be a great time because there's literally nothing for sale and We Need Inventory. Mahalo!

David E. Buck Realtor Selling Waialae Golf Course Homes