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Today’s Luxury Condos Are Gems: Rare, Valuable And Gorgeous

homes1117_2BY 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 condominiums offer the perfect solution.

Floating above Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kakaako, 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.

“Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kakaako carry a lot of interest for international buyers looking for second homes,” says Robin Markle, REALTOR and VP of New Homes Sales at Prudential Locations. “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, you can simply close the door and leave. You 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 living in town. “They love the lifestyle, too. It’s an exciting place to be. And a luxury address carries a certain prestige,” Markle adds.

Not surprisingly, the current demand for these luxury properties is large, but the supply of move-in ready condominiums is limited.

“The inventory for beautiful, turn-key condos is tight, so when one comes on the market, it’s getting snapped up,” says Kumiko Burns, a REALTOR, Fine Homes Premier Specialist and partner at Prudential Locations.

homes1117_3Some highly desirable buildings rarely see movement because the people who bought into them stay, she explains, describing Uraku Tower as one of these hidden gems:

“It’s a beautiful, well-maintained building with luxury amenities and five-star hotel services, including weekly housekeeping and limousine service. So it is not surprising that it has 80 percent owner occupancy and units almost never come up for sale. When Uraku Tower was first built, the maintenance fee was considered very high, because of the unusual amenities. But by today’s standards, the maintenance fees are not high at all – and yet owners have these wonderful amenities. The concierge service is bilingual, which is very helpful for many owners.”

A rare penthouse in Uraku Tower has just come on the market. Ken Kashiki, a REALTOR ASSOCIATE at Prudential Locations, is representing the seller. He describes this unusual find:

“Having a penthouse come available here is almost unheard of. It has a great layout and thoughtful design. It’s large, at 2,250 square feet, with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. The floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows offer spectacular, panoramic views of the ocean and Diamond Head. Since there are only two penthouses on each floor, you have great privacy and Uraku is a building where people stay, so you know your neighbors.”

The market indicators for luxury condos show that, at the current pace of sales, 2013 will set a new record for highest number sales. Already, the sales in 2013 are higher than all of 2012.

Not only are sales higher, but their prices are more competitive. This year, 6 percent of sales (or 1 in 13 luxury condos) have been bid up over the asking price. This is a high percentage for this market segment. Not surprisingly, then, the sales-price-to-list-price ratio is at a record high of 97 percent. This means that, on average, sellers are getting 97 percent of their asking price.

homes1117_1Months of remaining inventory, which is the measure of how long it would take to sell out of the current inventory at the current rate of sales, has dropped steadily over the past three years, from almost 20 months in 2010 to nine months in 2013. Low months of remaining inventory mean continued pressure on the market.

With the high demand for high-end condominiums, few units on the market and median prices rising, there is great opportunity today for sellers.

Burns and Kashiki see the holiday season as a prime sales opportunity because of the foreign market.

“Most people expect that during the holidays, things slow down,” says Burns. “For foreign buyers, however, this is a busy season. Repeat visitors are in town during the holidays and they are interested in buying.”

There are 130 luxury condominiums ($900,000 and up) currently listed for sale in Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kakaako, according to MLS data. They range in price from $920,000 to $8.5 million.

If you would like more information on luxury condos or an individual property, contact Burns at 738-3146 or Kashiki at 738-8951.

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