Deal or no deal?

At first glance, this unit in the beachfront condo at 4999 Kahala Ave. seems like a steal at just $98,000. But look closer, and you’ll see it’s leasehold, meaning that you wouldn’t own the land the building sits on. When you add in the maintenance, taxes, electricity, and other upkeep fees, it ends up costing about $3500 a month.

“The tax assessed value on this unit is $1.2 million,” explains realtor Sachi Braden. “So your monthly payment is based on this assessment, not necessarily the sale price.”

Braden says there was once an effort to get the government to condemn the land so the lessees (the condo owners) could buy it. However, they needed to meet various owner/occupancy requirements and other stipulations to do so, and the effort died during Mufi Hanneman’s term as mayor.

“Once that effort died, the owners gave up and started jumping ship,” she says. “The values dropped—and have continued to drop—at a rapid pace. For example, in 1990, unit 443 sold for $1 million. In 1992, the owner sold for $795,000. In 2011, it sold for $80,000. Another two bedroom, two bath unit in the same building sold for $50,000. Everyone is selling really cheap; you just need to be willing to pay the upkeep costs.

“This doesn’t mean people aren’t buying,” she adds. “There’s definitely a niche market for these properties, and some are hoping that one day, Kamehameha Schools will sell the land.”

There are also people who like the prestige of living at a beachfront Kahala address, or Hawaii Five-0 fanatics who want to live where Jack Lord once resided.

Unit 111 has an ocean view and is fairly spacious at 1,555 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. For more information on the unit and how leasehold properties work, contact Braden’s associates at her company, Sachi Hawaii.

Money talk: $98,000 leasehold
Contact: Sachi Braden, Sachi Hawaii, 808-596-8801,