BY LISA LEE
Twenty years ago, sugar cane fields covered most of the land between Makakilo and Barbers Point Naval Air Station. Today, the Navy has moved to Kaneohe and the Ewa landscape has been transformed into a vibrant city.
If you haven’t been to Kapolei lately, you might not recognize the new crop of neighborhoods and businesses that have sprouted up on the Ewa plain.
Today you will find beautiful homes and townhomes, robust shopping centers, city and county buildings and a new FBI building, the department of Hawaiian Homelands, the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus, and even Disney’s new destination resort, Aulani.
“Kapolei began with a master plan to become ‘the Second City’,” says Charmaine Quilit Poki, a long-time resident and REALTOR at Prudential Locations.
“The idea was to make a family-oriented community, where there’s open space, businesses and jobs, multi-family homes, single-family homes and affordable prices. To see it materialize has been really exciting.”
Quilit Poki has experienced Kapolei’s growth firsthand. “I’ve lived in Kapolei since the first subdivision, Kumuiki was built. That was 22 years ago. It was the first house I ever owned,” she says. “Since then, I’ve had several homes in Kapolei because here, you’re able to move up until you are where you want to be.”
Kapolei offers a diversity of properties to fit people’s lifestyles, income and needs. From townhomes to large homes and everything in between, there is certainly something for everyone, including combined commercial-residential properties, such as Nanala, which allow residents to operate a business and live in the same complex. Kapolei also has affordable rentals, housing for seniors and leasehold properties.
Quilit Poki, who has extensive expertise in leasehold transactions, sees the Hawaiian Homelands lease-hold properties as a unique opportunity. “These are really beautiful homes at affordable prices, and they’re in a great location.”
According to the U.S.
Census Bureau, a significantly higher number of residents in Kapolei own their own home (78.8 percent) when compared to Hawaii’s overall homeownership rate (58.7 percent).
The residents of Kapolei also enjoy a higher median household income ($96,127) than Hawaii overall ($67,116).
While many people associate the west side with having a high number of distressed properties, that is no longer the case. The area has rebounded. The percentage of distressed properties in 2012 dropped by almost 30 percent compared to the height of 2009, and was down 23 percent from 2011.
“Most listings coming on the market are selling quickly. There’s a high demand for homes. Usually, we have multiple offers coming in and we’re selling at listing price or just under it,” says Quilit Poki.
This is reflected in the low number of properties for sale, which signal a sellers’ market. Currently, there are just seven single family homes land 12 condominiums listed for sale.
The months of remaining inventory for single family homes is at a very low 1 month (Oahu’s average is 2.9 months). The months of remaining inventory for condos is also low at 3.8 months, but slightly higher than Oahu’s average of 3.1 months.
Prices in Kapolei are trending up as both single family homes and condos showed an increase in median price in the last quarter of 2012. People who have been considering a move up may find incentive to do so now while interest rates are so low and properties are selling fast and at list price.
“I tell people, in reality, most people aren’t in the same house forever,” says Quilit Poki. “You get your foot in the door and you build equity, and then you can move up into something bigger and better.”