So it's been just over 10 years since I wrote a blog about the difference between Honolulu real estate and Beaver Creek. Back then, I was just learning how to ski. I just started learning how to ski when my kids started skiing and I'm a little bit better now (10 years later).

Beaver Creek Skiing in December of 2012

Our First Time Skiing in Beaver Creek, CO

What I want to do now is talk about the difference between Aspen real estate and Honolulu real estate. We covered the trip to Beaver Creek back then, but since that trip to Beaver Creek we've probably done dozens of trips here to Aspen, CO. We just love this place. The real estate prices here are just wild!

Aspen Condos Seen from Gondola

Aspen Condos Seen from Gondola

Aspen Condos

For instance, in the town behind me, you can have wood framed construction condos built in the 1970's, with no amenities and no covered parking and they're trading for several thousand dollars a square foot. You can't find anything under $2,000-3,000/sq. ft. in this town.

Honolulu Condos

Park Lane in Ala Moana Waiea in Kakaako

Park Lane in Ala Moana, Built in 2017 and Waiea in Kakaako, Built in 2016

For that same equivalent back in Honolulu, you're able to get relatively new construction in a building like Park Lane or Waiea, where you have all these high end amenities and ocean views. So, that's kind of the contrast you get between these two towns.

What Makes Aspen Unique

As you can see behind me, there's just a finite supply of real estate. It's similar to Honolulu in that more people want to be here than are leaving. What's really wild is during COVID, there was an article that came out in the Wall St. Journal and that talked about how real estate in this town was exploding. Between March to September of 2020, there were 46 home sales north of $10 million here in Aspen. Meanwhile, during that same period on Oahu there were only 2 home sales north of $10 million. That really shows the difference.

On top of that, this (Aspen) is a town of only 6,000 full time residents. Whereas in Honolulu, we have roughly a million. So, there's a big contrast between the two markets. Both are beautiful in their own ways.

Can Oahu Condos Compete?

Back to these condos here in Aspen. They're trading for crazy multiples of several thousand $ a square foot (or more). The highest we saw on Oahu during COVID was actually north of $5,000/sq. ft., so we one (outlier) transaction that could compete with Aspen.

Waikiki Shore in Waikiki

Waikiki Shore Penthouse #1200 Sold for $5,710,000 on August 5, 2021

That was a penthouse condo at the Waikiki Shore, which is the only oceanfront condo in Waikiki. It was 1,158 square feet and traded over $5,000,000. The reason for that is that building has been gobbled up by a lot of Japanese investors because they get an accelerated depreciation over 7 years. On top of that, it's one of the few legal vacation rental buildings in Waikiki with that square footage.

Trump Tower Waikiki Ritz Carlton Waikiki

Trump Tower Waikiki and Ritz Carlton Waikiki are Legal Vacation Rental Condos

Others to keep in mind, that don't trade that high and aren't in as good a location (as Waikiki Shore) is Trump Tower Waikiki as well as Ritz Carlton. Both are beautiful buildings and beautiful brands. However, there's not much money left on the table in those 2 towers when you factor in the management fees. You can control your costs a bit more at Waikiki Shore and those owners can net a bit more, but at $5,000/square foot, it's going to take awhile to make your money back.

Red Mountain in a Class Alone

Red Mountain Seen from Aspen Gondola

Red Mountain Seen from Aspen Gondola

What I'd like to talk about straight back behind us is Red Mountain. In Red Mountain, you have some crazy real estate prices, of which trade higher than oceanfront homes in Kahala. In the last couple of years, we've had a few trades (on Oahu) north of $20 million. There was one in Lanikai and Kahala has been notorious over the years (for higher prices). This year, we had one at $15 million. But on Red Mountain, that's what some people are paying just for the dirt on a lot. There was a trade that happened up there a summer or two ago. It was $70 million for a single family home. That's almost double the highest sales price for a house ever sold on Oahu.

Ajax Seen from Red Mountain Hike

Ajax Seen from Hike Near Red Mountain

So, just to get perspective, that's Red Mountain there. But, if you were to flip that (or huli in Hawaiian) the angle around and look back up at Ajax or Aspen Mountain, which we're on in this gondola, that's the view you're waking up to. It's southern facing. It's spring skiing right now. You can see the snow here on the mountain, but everything on Red Mountain is getting the sun throughout the day. So, it stays a bit warmer.

Honolulu Still a Bargain

To recap, similar to that blog I wrote 10 years ago, Honolulu real estate prices are a bargain. Especially when you compare them to here in Aspen. If you're looking to buy something in Honolulu, give me a call or if you're in the market here in Aspen and want to explore this exclusive community, I don't have my license here yet, but I'm in communication with a lot of great agents here on the ground. So, feel free to give us a call and reach out. I hope to see you on the ocean or on the snow.

Ocean or Snow, Give David a Call

David E. Buck, Realtor Contact Info.