Neighborhood Profile: Makakilo

When I talk about heading out to Makakilo, it’s akin to plotting a long-distance road trip: Pack some snacks, a few drinks and sunscreen, kids, ’cause we’re heading to Makakilo! OK, I exaggerate, but the hour-long (or so) commute from downtown to the west-side community is a hike, which makes the neighborhood’s rapid growth all the more astonishing in my mind. But I think I’ve finally figured out the keys to Makakilo’s success: affordability, cooler-than-Ewa weather, and space to spread out.

“In Makakilo, Kapolei and Ewa Beach, a lot of the cheaper inventory has been purchased,” says Brandon Lau, a realtor with Prudential Locations. “That happened when the first-time homebuyer tax credit was still out there. And interest rates still remain at all-time lows, so homeowners and investors are picking up cheap inventory. Last year, you had houses in the upper-$300,000s and low-$400,000s, but those, for the most part, have been bought out. You do have those [single-family homes] in the $500,000s still available.” Still, according to Prudential Locations, the median re-sale price for single-family homes in Makakilo between Sept. 2009 and Sept. 2010 was $505,000, about 15 percent less than the median re-sale price for the rest of Oahu.

The more affordable home prices are luring a lot of first-time homebuyers, along with military buyers and investors “who would rather purchase a single-family home at a cheaper price than a condo in town,” says Lau. In addition to lower prices, Makakilo is enticing buyers with new construction. According to Lau, there are several new developments worth noting, including D.R. Horton’s Kahiwelo at Makakilo, which will have more than 400 single-family homes. Whether they’re new construction or were built in the 1960s during Makakilo’s first wave of development, homes in this area sit on larger lots—according to Prudential Locations, single-family homes in Makakilo are averaging just over 6,000-sq.-ft. of land area, compared to about 5,800-sq.-ft. for the rest of the island, giving Makakilo a 2-percent land-space advantage.

Because Makakilo is mostly residential, the majority of services, retail stores and commercial businesses are located in Kapolei, a quick 10-minute drive down the road. “There’s not a whole lot of commercial development in Makakilo, it’s mostly residential,” says Lau. “But I think the neighborhood’s proximity to on-ramps and off-ramps … makes it easier. You could liken Makakilo to Alewa Heights, Kamehameha Heights or Pacific Heights, where you have residential on the hill, but down toward Pearl Harbor you have more commercial.” Not having all that development in your backyard makes for a peaceful, quiet neighborhood, says Lau. Plus, Makakilo’s higher elevation ensures that homes here take advantage of the cooling breezes and cooler climes (in a recent story, Star 101.9’s Hudson, a Makakilo resident, said she’s used her AC maybe 20 times in six years). And the town’s lofty perch along the hillside of the Waianae Mountains also means that many residents enjoy panoramic ocean views. “The appeal of Makakilo, overall, is the affordability,” says Lau. “And, of course, the ambience, the coolness and the quiet.”