Hawaii’s Most Expensive Zip Codes

Forbes recently released its annual listing of America’s Most Expensive Zip Codes, and Hawaii’s top-ranking zip codes raised more than a few eyebrows. That’s because, according to the Forbes list, Hawaii’s most expensive zip code is 96703, Anahola, which came in at number 60 with a median home price of $1,921,875. The second-most expensive zip code in the islands? That would be 96714, Hanalei, which came in at No. 72 with a median home price of $1,732,833. So how did these two Kauai zip codes out-rank Oahu’s consistently pricey 96821 (Aina Haina), which came in third?

The answer to that question lies largely in Forbes’ methodology. Forbes hired Altos Research, which collects real estate data on more than 20,000 zip codes, to list the 500 most expensive zip codes in the nation. Altos did this by ranking each zip code by the median asking price for single-family homes and condominiums, evaluating prices based on the mix of homes in the market. So, a zip code with a relatively small resale inventory (for example, according to the list, there were 19 listings in Anahola at the time the data was collected) and a few multi-million-dollar sales would land at the top of the heap. And, in Anahola’s case, that’s exactly what happened: According to Donna Rice, a broker in charge with Century 21 All Islands’ Princeville office, recent land development, particularly in Aliomanu Estates, where homes routinely sell in the $2 to $5 million range, likely played a large role in the zip code’s No. 1 ranking. She also points to a huge transaction toward the end of 2009—the $28-million sale of movie producer Peter Gruber’s 174-acre Tara Plantation—as another likely factor in Anahola’s unlikely rise to the top.

Hanalei, 96714, which includes the towns of Hanalei, Haena and Wainiha Bay, is a similar story. According to Rice, Hanalei’s big-ticket beachfront properties are the driving forces behind its second-place Hawaii ranking, with a number of recent large transactions, including a $10-million home acquired by Eat, Pray, Love star Julia Roberts. “We have a lot of celebrities buying here and beachfront properties that have pretty good price tags on them,” says Rice, who notes that Kilauea, which is ranked No. 123 on the Forbes list and is the fourth most-expensive zip code in Hawaii, is much the same, with a number of pricey properties in the Secret Beach area having closed in the last year, including a property reportedly purchased by actor Will Smith. “You’ve got some big bucks out there,” says Rice. “But Kauai has always been like that—you have the grass shacks and then you have the mansions.”

To view the entire list, visit: www.forbes.com.