The Majesty of Manoa
BY LISA SCONTRAS
There’s something about Manoa that is more charming than the historic homes that dot the tree-lined streets, and more magical than the rainbows that frequent the area skies after a passing shower. Manoa’s lush greenery, captivating architectural history and surrounding mountains and natural beauty are simply enchanting.
Which may explain why turnover in Manoa is so low, as residents don’t want to leave.
Donna Yamagishi, Realtor Associate with Prudential Locations, has been selling homes in Manoa since the early 1990s.
“Over the years during my open houses, I always take a survey and ask, ‘How long have you lived in Manoa?'” says Yamagishi. “On average, the open house guests have lived in Manoa for about 30 years. ‘Where else would I live?’ is what so many say to me. Turnover is low because Manoa is like nowhere else on the island.”
Many Manoa homes are multi-generational, with grandparents, parents and young families living together and caring for one another. And, Manoa residents are not just close to their family members – they are close to town, to the University of Hawaii, and to nearby private and public schools.
“Manoa is a place where you always see people enjoying their neighborhood, running, walking, walking their dogs, playing baseball in Manoa Park, or at the wonderful, newly renovated Manoa public pool and gymnasium,” says Yamagishi.
The vibe in the university neighborhood is youthful and energizing as well as nostalgic. Historic homes and century-old monkeypod trees grace streetscapes and hint at the area’s grand past.
“Manoa is a community steeped with history and folklore,” says Yamagishi. “The residents are very respectful of the valley and are very proud of the valley.”
The demographics reflect that history, with a large academic population from the university, a large multi-generational family population, and many young families with children who attend the area’s schools.
“Inventory is always low because people just want to live in Manoa,” she says. “Some want to be in lower Manoa with easy ingress and egress, and others want the lush privacy of Manoa Woodlawn and Upper Manoa. Many buyers want to renovate and restore charming older homes, and others look for ‘move-in’ condition. The one thing they all have in common is they all want Manoa.”
Manoa is known for homes built in the 1920s and 1930s, in the Craftsman and Tudor style – many of which are on the Historic Register. Additionally, there are numerous homes built in the 1960s and 1970s, with just a sprinkling of newer abodes.
The valley’s rich history also includes being home to the first coffee farms in the state.
“Today, Manoa real estate is on fire,” says Yamagishi. “Currently we have 19 available homes for purchase. Another 20 (approximately) are in escrow. Eighteen homes have sold so far this year with sales prices from $739,000 to $2.4 million. Our median sales price this year is $912,500. Our highest annual median sales price was $950,000 in 2007.”
The record sale in 2011 was a home that embodies quintessential Manoa living. The Majesty of Manoa – Yamagishi names all her properties – is a classic Charles Dickey-designed estate on more than 53,000 square feet of land, rests on a berm, with beautiful trade winds and incredible views of Manoa valley and the Koolau Mountains. The private grounds are awe-inspiring and include two greenhouses that are simply breathtaking.
“You can sit on the porch and watch the rain marching along the Koolaus and then wait for the incredible rainbows,” she adds. “This home sold for $3,350,000 – the highest recorded MLS sale ever in Manoa.”
If you are shopping for a new home (or not), check out Manoa. Malama o Manoa, the Manoa Historic Preservation Committee, offers historic walking tours.
“I would be more than happy to show you around as well,” Yamagishi says. “While its proximity to town is appealing, Manoa’s natural setting feels worlds away. It’s truly lovely.
“Prices are rising and interest rates are so low, that if someone bought before 2004, they can sell, use their equity, and with the same mortgage payment, own a larger home.”