Finding Hawaii’s Affordable Condos
Although their “dream home” may be a house with a garden, many first-time buyers with limited financial resources are taking a realistic look at the market and opting to make their debut as homeowners with the purchase of a condominium apartment or townhome. They’ve decided not to wait for single family home prices to come down…because neither Realtors nor lenders have a crystal ball revealing “if or when”…and, if they are in a position to qualify for a loan now, they know it makes sense to make their move while interest rates are still low. In this series on affordable condos and town-homes, Realtors will comment on the marketplace and finding the best values.
Out of town buyers are usually surprised to learn that condominium apartments in Waikiki are available for $250,000 or even less, particularly if their point of comparison is pricing of similar properties in other urban resort destinations such as Manhattan and San Francisco.
The price range in Waikiki is, of course, broad depending on location, age of building, and amenities, ocean frontage and ocean views being the most sought after features.
However, there are numerous, older lowrise and midrise buildings located in interior areas that buyers are discovering. In addition to bargain prices, these properties often enjoy quiet locations off the main routes with the heaviest vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Many started out as apartment rentals and were later converted to condominium units.
Currently East Oahu Realty is serving as project broker for two low-rise condominium apartment complexes in Waikiki, Hawaiiana Gardens at 1819 and 1821 Lipeepee Street and Marina Gardens at 1621 and 1627 Ala Wai. Both projects, constructed in the early 1950s, consist of two, three story buildings, each with 18 one bedroom apartments. Prices range from $240,000 to $310,000 for those with parking included.
East Oahu Realty sales agent Naomi Toyooka said, “The developer decided to upgrade and renovate the buildings and put the units up for sale. To date, we have sold 15 apartments in each project, and to a really varied collection of buyers…local residents, many of whom are first time buyers, and people from out of state, some planning to live in the units now and some with a plan to retire here in Hawaii. Investors are renting to both students and visitors.
“These are typical ‘old Hawaii’ style, concrete buildings. The developer painted them inside and out, replaced flooring, upgraded, and in some units totally renovated kitchens and baths. New landscaping was added around both buildings. The project has native Hawaiian flowering plants, shrubs, and trees, carrying out the ‘old Hawaii’ theme.
“One of the biggest selling points is the location…walking distance to Ala Moana Beach Park and Ala Moana Center as well as the shops and restaurants in Waikiki. The Hilton Hawaiian Village and Ilikai Hotel are close-by. Also, there are parks and lots of open space at this end of Waikiki…on one side of the complex is a neighborhood park and on the other side the Ala Wai Canal and the promenade running alongside. There are many options for jogging and walking. One of the greatest features of these condos is that they are pet friendly.”
Both Naomi Toyooka and sales agent Robert Shelton staff the East Oahu Realty project office in Hawaiiana Gardens.