REAL ESTATE IN HAWAI‘I
Whether it’s a condo on Waikiki Beach or a regal home on Hawai‘i Island’s Kohala coast, Hawai‘i has a vast array of real estate for sale. If you’re looking for a vacation home or have plans to relocate, step one is to understand all that Hawai‘i has to offer.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Let’s face it, without good weather, Hawai‘i wouldn’t be paradise. Still, there are plenty of climates to contend with in the islands, and each of the four largest islands contains a variety of unique terrain. The east-facing coast of each island (known as the windward side) is typically characterized by cooler weather and more rainfall. The west-facing coast (leeward side) is usually drier and hotter, with Hawai‘i Island’s leeward coast the warmest and driest area in the state. Kaua‘i is a bit of an exception: The wettest place on that island is in the center, in the mountains. Elevation also plays a big role in the microclimate of a particular location. Maui and Hawai‘i Island have the most diversity in habitable elevation. On O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, millennia of rain and weather have eroded tall, gradually sloping volcanoes into shorter, steeper mountains and canyons, resulting in the majority of housing options at lower elevations.
Real estate in Hawai‘i can range from $5,000 for an undeveloped lot in Puna on Hawai‘i Island to upwards of $30 million dollars for an estate on O‘ahu’s Gold Coast. While there are many options in between, generally, real estate in Hawai‘i is expensive when compared to others areas of the United States. According to a recent study by the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization, the median price of a single-family home on O‘ahu was $647,000 in 2013 and is expected to rise to nearly $775,000 by 2015. O‘ahu condos are predicted to follow a similar trend, with prices increasing from a median of about $335,000 in 2013 to $376,000 in 2015. The best real-estate values available are on Hawai‘i Island, where the median price of properties currently listed for sale is $330,000.
While uncommon elsewhere in the United States, Hawai‘i has a substantial number of properties that are held as leasehold rather than fee-simple. Typically, this means that while the current owner holds title to the improvements on the property, the land underneath is rented under a long-term lease. When searching for real estate in Hawai‘i, it is important to understand this difference and how it affects price and value. Fee-simple properties will undoubtedly increase in value over time, while leasehold properties typically lose value as the lease’s end date draws nearer. If you do find a leasehold property that is of interest, ask your agent to look into whether the fee is available for sale—purchasing the fee along with the improvements will result in your-fee simple ownership of the entire property.