Big Island

Kohala By the Sea or Kohala Ranch: Lots For Sale

As the real estate market cycle continues to unfold on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, we observe substantial building activity on vacant lots in North Kohala gated communities.

New homes are going up in Kohala Waterfront (visible from Akoni Pule Highway on the ocean side), Kohala by the Sea, and Kohala Ranch, as well as Puakea Bay Ranch closer towards Hawi.

Some of these homes are being built for the owners who intend to occupy them as primary or second residences. Others are “spec homes” which contractors or investors have planned solely for resale to a buyer who doesn’t want to hassle with the process of supervising construction from the Mainland. In the gated communities of lower North Kohala, just north of the Kohala Coast resorts, it can take 12-18 months to work through the homeowner association’s design review process, even if one has a set of plans and an architect and builder in mind. And only then will construction even begin!

Kohala Ranch newer home for sale

This Kohala Ranch home built in 2010 has coastline views, offered for $1,777,000 (MLS# 294080)

Residential sales show a buyer preference for new homes, built within the past 10 years. Only five of 21 active listings in the Kawaihae area communities meet that criterion!

I usually tell my clients if they can find a residence that works, buy it even if they need to remodel. It’s not easy to supervise construction from afar. Buying land is still a good option if you can’t find the right house in the right location, or have very particular criteria that can’t be met with an existing home or renovation, and have the time to invest.

Market Statistics For Lower North Kohala Lot Sales

Kohala Ranch Meadows lot

Kohala Ranch Meadows lots offer coastline and sometimes Maui views (MLS# 293293) for $257,000

Looking at the 27 vacant land properties sold in these North Kohala gated communities last year, we see a distinct preference for lower priced lots, most of which are in the Meadows or Summit at Kohala Ranch:


Summary – 2015 vacant land sales in lower North Kohala
# Lowest Highest Average Median Mode
Listings 27 $159,000 $695,000 $281,411 $245,000 $239,000
MLS Sale $ 27 $155,000 $615,000 $262,896 $234,000 $225,000
DOM to sale 27 0 811 208 142 N/A
SP to LP % 27 77.9% 101.8% 93.6% 93.0% 100.0%




So far in 2016 we’ve had five closed sales, all lots in the upper sections of Kohala Ranch, and all under $260,000. There are two more Kohala Ranch lots in this price range in escrow, and one lot pending at Kohala Waterfront, asking price $499,000.

Buying Vacant Land in North Kohala Gated Communities

The factors you’ll want to consider in looking for your perfect home site include:

  • Nearness to the ocean
  • Elevation (do you prefer cooler elevations for horses or want to enjoy your pool in winter)
  • Privacy and lot size
  • CC&Rs and design guidelines

Note that generally speaking land value is most related to location (nearness to the ocean) rather than acreage. For example, Kohala Waterfront lot sizes are mostly under an acre, but sell for higher prices than the 10+-acre lots at Kohala Ranch Summit.

Kohala by the Sea or Kohala Ranch?

Lowest priced lot Kohala by the Sea

Ocean view and rim location for privacy are features of this Kohala by the Sea lot asking $199,000

I currently have listed the lowest priced lot at Kohala by the Sea (MLS# 280960), which at $199,000 is almost $100,000 less than the next option in that community. The only other ocean view acreage lots available in this area at around the mid-$200,000s price point favored by buyers would be in the Meadows or section of Kohala Ranch.

Here’s a compare/contrast checklist:

Nearness to the ocean: Both gated communities are mauka (away from the ocean) from the highway.

Elevation: Kohala by the Sea is 200-500′ above sea level, similar to the Heathers at Kohala Ranch. The Meadows/Summit areas of the Ranch are approximately 1800-3000′ in elevation.

Privacy and lot size: The lots at Kohala by the Sea are around 1 acre in size. Each has a building envelope specified to help protect view planes. The lots in Kohala Ranch Meadows are 3-5 acres, and the lots at the Summit are 10-15 acres. While the density is much higher at Kohala by the Sea, the community itself is much smaller.

CC&Rs and Design Guidelines: Both Kohala by the Sea and Kohala Ranch have CC&Rs and a design review process. Design standards include minimum home size (2,000 sq.ft. for KBTS; 2,000 for Kohala Ranch lots of less than 10 acres and 2,500 for lots more than 10 acres), as well as restrictions on exterior materials and colors and landscaping design. One difference I’m often asked about: short term vacation rentals are allowed at Kohala Ranch but prohibited at Kohala by the Sea.

Makai of the Highway

If you prefer to be closer to the ocean, or even oceanfront, the value of the vacant land will be at least double the typical mid-$200,000s price of the past year. And there is plenty of choice makai (ocean side) of the highway.

There are currently seven lots listed at Kohala Waterfront, priced from $525,000 (MLS# 279218) for a corner lot near the entrance, to $1,439,000 (MLS# 292096) for a direct oceanfront parcel.

Oceanfront lot at Kohala Waterfront

Oceanfront lot at Kohala Waterfront asking $1,439,000 (MLS# 292096)

Prices at Kohala Kai begin at $2,900,000 (MLS# 274271) and top out at $13,500,000 for 28 acres with 1,660′ of ocean frontage (MLS# 286630). No lots have sold yet in this new residential development that has only seven parcels, all oceanfront. Building envelopes have been defined to protect identified cultural features, and the design guidelines encourage sustainable construction. Kohala Kai has granted a conservation easement to the Ala Kahakai Trail Association to protect public shoreline access, an important consideration in siting of your home here.

A hui hou,

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)
Direct: 808.443.4588


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