During the holiday season, buyer demographics for the Hawaii real estate marketplace traditionally shift from low to high end and from local to offshore.
Prudential Locations Realtor and Partner Dolores Bediones said this high end activity generally starts around early December and continues through the first week of January.
“These buyers come here for multiple reasons…to celebrate the holidays, visit with family and friends, and escape cold weather, as well as to investigate the market. They are from the Mainland U.S., Canada, and Asia. I am seeing an increase in buyers from China this year.
“Some stay with friends and relatives, some have condos or single family homes where they can live while enjoying our good weather, playing golf, and, of course, checking out available real estate. This year I am working with several buyers interested in luxury homes in East Oahu. The neighborhoods they favor are Kahala, Waialae Iki, and Hawaii Loa Ridge. They may also check out Portlock and Koko Kai although the current inventory in these areas is in a much higher price range. Kahala Kua and Na Pali Haweo are other upscale East Oahu neighborhoods with beautiful homes and great views, but the names just don’t have the same cachet with the off-shore buyers…eventually I believe they will.”
Bediones noted that most of her current sales activity is in the $1.5 to $3 million price bracket and that the offshore clients she is working with are primarily cash buyers, enabling her to close transactions in as little as 15 days.
“The typical pattern is to give the existing owner/occupant time to move out at closing and then start making improvements as needed. The majority of the homes available are older and in need of updating. If they want to do major alterations, I give them the names of three architects and builders they can get estimates from. After they get started, most return home and come back in the spring or whatever time works with their schedule…in some cases they come back on business trips and check up on their real estate at the same time. I also recommend professional property managers from Prudential Locations who can manage and oversee the property for them when they are elsewhere…or even eventually rent it out when they are not occupying it.
“I just met with prospective buyers from the Bay area, retired people who own several condos in Waikiki and have been coming to Hawaii every year around this time,” Bediones said. “They now want to purchase a house because they plan to spend more time in Hawaii in the future, largely due to the weather…there was an unprecedented two day snowfall in San Francisco just before they left. They love the outdoors, are avid golfers, and have specified Hawaii Loa because they have friends in the neighborhood and want the security of a gated community.
“Then, this past Sunday at my open house in Hawaii Loa, two more offshore buyers came by, Canadians who are staying with friends in Hawaii Loa and looking for a home here in the $ 1.5 million to $ 2 million plus price range.
“I’ve also been showing properties to a couple from San Jose planning to move to Hawaii after taking three vacations a year here. Now they are ready to sell their home in San Jose and make their primary home in Hawaii. However, the properties they were interested in went into escrow before they were ready to make a final decision. Other Mainland buyers combining a holiday vacation with a buying trip include people from Chicago who already own a home here but want something larger, and another family from Newport Beach who own a condo on the North Shore and want to buy a house now. It’s not unusual for these high end buyers to already own one or two other homes here or elsewhere.
“Hawaii’s high end market is still very strong in terms of activity, which the more sophisticated buyers understand. There just aren’t any ‘deals’ that would typically be associated with weak markets. I get several offers on most of the well priced properties I’m listing.”
Bediones said she recently sold a Kahala home priced at $2,488,000 at the first open house with two backup offers and pointed out that of three Kahala homes that sold for more than $2 million in the last quarter, one was her listing. She added that Kahala inventory remains stable with only eight homes priced between $1 and $ 2 million.
In Hawaii Loa, where Bediones has had nine sales over the past year, only one home is currently listed under $2 million. Of the four homes in escrow, two are Bediones listings. She has recently listed two additional Hawaii Loa properties.
Her newest listing in Hawaii Loa is a Puuikena Drive home overlooking the southeast coast of Oahu with dramatic views of Koko Head and Diamond Head. Located on a 22,000 square foot level lot low on the hill but inside the security gate, the home includes four bedrooms plus an office, a 1,000 square foot lanai, and infinity pool with spa. Bediones is offering it at $2,350,000 and showing it by appointment starting this Sunday (December 27). “The owners are doing some sprucing up and wanted to place the home on the market next month, but I convinced them to take advantage of the two to three week window while out of state buyers are in town for the holidays,” she said. “There are already four other Realtors who have called looking for new inventory in Hawaii Loa and are waiting to show the home. Their clients are here for the holidays and have been studying the Hawaii market, so they are familiar with the values.”
Another new Bediones Hawaii Loa listing is a home being built on a previously vacant lot by architect/owner Frank Schielzeth; it will be priced at $2,895,000. “This is a 9,500 square foot view lot and he plans an approximately 4,500 square foot, two story structure in a very modern design. He expects to have it completed in about a year and we are now showing the plans to prospective buyers who will have an opportunity to make minor alterations to accommodate their particular lifestyle and the size of their family. It’s a great concept that is generating interest among both local and foreign buyers,” Bediones said
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