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High-Rise Condos: Luxury with an Easy, Urban Lifestyle

By Lisa Lee

For those who love the sand and surf but can’t imagine life without the energy and conveniences of city living, Honolulu’s luxury condos offer the perfect solution. Floating above Waikiki and Ala Moana, they offer serene views of the ocean, the valleys, Diamond Head and the Waianae Mountains. Walk out their doors and you are just steps away from fine dining, sophisticated shopping, vibrant nightlife and sunny beaches.

Not surprisingly, the current demand for luxury properties in Waikiki and Kaka’ako is strong.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest as of late in high-rise condominiums,” says Robin Markle, VP of New Homes Sales at Prudential Locations. She notes how The Allure, a residential high-rise located at Kalakaua and Ala Wai, is close to selling out. “We’re nearing the end of the developer units for sale, with only 15 left. The Allure epitomizes what is desirable about luxury condo living in town: It is ideally located at the gateway to Waikiki.”

“Waikiki carries a lot of interest for international buyers looking for second homes,” Markle continues. “They want to be close to the beach and shopping. They love the healthy lifestyle of Hawaii. Instead of buying a big house, they like a place that is easy to come and go. With a luxury condo, they can simply close the door and leave. They don’t have to worry about the upkeep or security of a home.”

The urban luxury market isn’t just for vacationers, however. Locals look at luxury condos because they are attracted to the vibrance of Waikiki. “They love the lifestyle. It’s an exciting place to be. And a Waikiki address is prestigious,” Markle explains.

The Gold Coast, noted for its beachfront lifestyle and access to Diamond Head and Kapiolani Park, has a shortage of properties for sale, particularly luxury condos. There are 28 properties for sale in the Gold Coast. Only 10 properties above $900,000 are for sale.

By contrast, Kaka’ako has more opportunities for luxury condo buyers. Nicole Choi, a partner and Fine Homes Specialist at Prudential Locations, points out two, top-floor penthouses in 909 Kapiolani as a rare opportunity. “They have 11-foot ceilings, huge lanais, panoramic views,” Choi says. “They’re priced well and have low maintenance fees.”

Choi doesn’t expect these penthouses to stay on the market for long. The market activity for high-end condominiums is strong. Days on market is in a historically low range (55 days) and the Sold-Price to List-Price Ratio is in a historically high range (94.5 percent) — both indicators that market conditions are good.

Marshall Mower says there is a scarcity of available properties that is preventing more sales from happening. Mower is a partner and Fine Homes Specialist at Prudential Locations as well as a resident of Nauru Tower in Kaka’ako. He sees strong buyer interest in luxury condominiums, but believes that buyers are wait ing for units in particular stacks or with particular views within these complexes.

“There are 22 units for sale above $900,000 in Kaka’ako,” he says. “Only six condos in Hokua are currently available and there have been only four sales there in the past six months, which is not a lot. In each of the buildings of the ‘super-block’ — Hokua, Nauru Tower, Hawaiki Tower, Ko’olani and 1350 Ala Moana — we’re seeing approximately one sale a month.”

“Buyers are eagerly awaiting the right opportunities,” Mower adds. “They’re waiting for the ‘right one’ to come along — particular floor plans or penthouses, preferably with Diamond Head views. When a unit comes up that meets their desires, there are a number of buyers who want it.”

This is good news for people who have been waiting for the market to improve to sell their condominiums.

“It’s definitely an opportune time for sellers in the luxury condo market. If you’re contemplating selling, this may be the best time to be on the market: you can take advantage of the pent-up demand of buyers.”

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