Are Condos the New Mansions in Honolulu?

More condos on O‘ahu are changing the ultraluxury market.
Luxury condo


In a town where average homes regularly sell for $1 million or more, it’s hard to know where “normal” ends and “luxury” begins. Looking at the very, very pointy end of the market, we’re seeing a shift in buying behavior.


In 2016, 36 homes sold on O‘ahu for more than $5 million. Of those, 16 were condos. Back in 2015, of the 19 homes that were sold for more than $5 million, only two were condos. The highest sale for each of those years was an estate property: oceanfront, with large lawns, pools and glass living-room walls that are actually doors. In 2017 to date there have been 61 sales for more than $5 million. Of those, 50 were condos. While it’s not unusual to see urban Chicagoans choose lakefront luxury high-rises over sprawling suburban estates, in Hawai‘i, land has always mattered. On O‘ahu, our highest-priced homes have gone from 11 percent condo in 2015 to 82 percent this year.


Why? Well, the recent building boom created a new community in Kaka‘ako and Ala Moana, and a new market for high-end condominiums in the process. Looking at the sales, we can only say that it was a success. One Ala Moana, Waiea and Park Lane all brought new high prices for condos in Hawai‘i. Many of us scoffed at the idea of paying estate prices for homes with shared walls and parking garages. Yet the highest single-family home price this year is this gorgeous Lanikai estate, which sold for $13.8 million, while the highest sale on the island was the Park Lane Grand Penthouse, which sold last month for $22 million. Second and third were condos as well—$18.8 million at Park Lane and $14,279,000 at Waiea. Condos are now king.


We’re also seeing a trend toward people choosing to simplify life. Less stuff, more time. Clean, not cluttered. Condominiums, with their lock-and-go convenience, are simpler than estate properties that require yard service, pool cleaners, regular maintenance and much more. Many would rather pay a monthly fee in lieu of managing a home. Condos make travel easy—no need to secure a house sitter. And with Park Lane’s resortlike feel, unparalleled amenities and houselike floorplans, new residents are getting the best of both worlds—simplicity, amenities and a luxurious brand new home.