Oahu Real Estate: Where to Buy Now
The number of homes on the market has been remarkably small through the downturn, but prices are beginning to heat up. Here are three regions where your home-buying dollar might pay off more than others.
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Asking Oahu realtors to point to the hottest neighborhood on the island is like asking a foodie to name her favorite restaurant. It could just be a matter of taste, since quite a few neighborhoods could claim to be 10 to 15 minutes from a beach, have picture-perfect weather, and be densely populated with people and amenities.
Statistics don’t quite help narrow down which neighborhoods are hottest, as sales have been flat all year. The inventory has dried up, especially in lower-priced homes. “There are more homes available at the upper end, so, of course, our statistics will show median sales prices on the rise,” says Stephen Lopaz, Honolulu Board of Realtors (HBR) research analyst. Oahu sales have been so flat that the numbers can be a little misleading when trying to determine a trend. For example, Hawaii Kai showed a 13 percent increase in sales for June 2012 over June 2011, but that simply means that 13 homes sold last year, and 14 homes sold this year.
Some areas, however, are anecdotally emerging as more desirable places to live, each for different reasons. By “desirable,” we don’t simply mean affluent; a combination of factors are driving home buyers to different areas, whether it’s prices or the amenities in the neighborhood. The areas we’re watching don’t necessarily have brisk sales now, but we expect more activity as time goes on.
It’s taken more than a decade, but Kapolei is finally taking shape as Oahu’s second city.
According to statistics from Data Analysts Hawaii Inc., housing has tripled since 1990, going from 11,722 units to 31,730 in 2010—with 16 master-planned communities up or coming.
Government agencies have moved their offices out west, and new attractions have sprung up, including Podium Raceway, the Kroc Center, and various family-friendly retailers and restaurants.
“Kapolei has become popular with people relocating from the Mainland, who tend to want their home to be a brand-new building,” says Dawn Marie, a broker at Kahala Associates.
While most tend to associate such master-planned communities with mid-price, cookie-cutter houses, the developments often offer luxury homes along the golf course with the opulence and comfort of one you might find along Kahala Avenue, at a fraction of the price. A large fraction, but a fraction, nonetheless.
“The growth in population and businesses means more services are needed in Kapolei, like doctors and lawyers,” explains Joan Matsuoka, broker in charge at Ivy K Realty. “These higher-paid professionals still want to live in a comfortable home; they just need to live closer to work.
“They’re also popular with people of affluence who have retired, but want to live away from the congestion of metro Honolulu,” Matsuoka says.
She adds that the entire ‘Ewa Plain should be considered the hot spot, not just the city of Kapolei, as the development is much more vast.