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Big Island Oceanfront Choices: 49 Black Sands Beach or Dramatic Hawi Cliffs

Although Manhattan is long in my past, I still start my day with a cup of strong black coffee and the New York Times. I love the Times’ Great Homes and Destinations real estate section, and especially the features that ask “What do get for…$xxxxxx?”

The game, for me as a real estate agent, is to compare the destinations they chose with what the same amount will buy here on the Big Island. Today’s question: What do you get for…$17 million? The answer is easy: a magnificent, and magnificently sized oceanfront residence. Or maybe the answer isn’t so easy, because several properties come to mind, with very different lifestyles attached. Let me give an example.

Oceanfront residence at 49 Black Sand Beach

This blog post was prompted because the listing agent for a gorgeous 6-suite, almost 9,000 sq. ft. of living area 49 Black Sands Beach residence sent me his glossy 12-page e-brochure twice today (sending once to his short list of Hawaii Life agents, and again to a larger list). Actually, the headline of the email was a little misleading, because the price reduction from $24 million to $17.9 million actually happened three months ago. But we can always use a little reminder as our attention can get rather focused on the deals in hand.

Lifestyle: there are only 49 lots snuggled around Honoka’ope Bay in the Mauna Lani resort, and only 17 of them (plus the Beach Club amenity area) are on the oceanfront. Much as at nearby Puako outside the resort, homes and lots on the ocean/beach side sell for a multiple of what asking prices are on the opposite side of the street.

This home is intended to offer seclusion even within a secluded enclave: set on a lot of over an acre, with its own oceanfront pool and fitness room, six bedroom suites and over 2,000 sq. ft. of lanai to spread out on. The sunny Kohala Coast location allows for outdoor living almost guaranteed 365 days a year. Tennis and beaching available inside the gates, and 49 Black Sands Beach is surrounded by the Mauna Lani South Golf Course.

13,000 sq. ft. oceanfront Hawi home

Last Friday I ran into the owners of a very different $17 million Big Island estate , and I fondly recalled a casual lunch in their gorgeous dining room last winter. If your idea of seclusion is something other than living with 48 close neighbors inside a resort, and if your taste is more crystal chandelier than tiki torch, this elegant home near the town of Hawi in North Kohala might be a fit.

Seclusion? The home is in a 6-lot subdivision and the lot size is a full 20 acres larger than the resort parcel, ready for additional landscaping or an equestrian facility. With six bedroom suites, this residence has over 13,000 sq. ft. of interior living area in addition to ample lanai space for watching the whales that breach only yards away in season. It has a magnificent staircase, but also an elevator, making its multi-story design suitable for aging-in-place.

In a “buyer’s market”, the better question is not “what does…$17 million buy?”, but “what would buy a $17 million listing?” Or as a client once said to me, “I may be wealthy but I know what things are worth!” The problem is that knowing what a literally incomparable property is worth can be a challenge.

For the 49 Black Sands Beach property, there is only one sold “comparable”, but that 2006 sale for just under $14 million was a much smaller house of 4,700 sq ft and only 4 bedrooms. A residence of similar scale on a somewhat smaller not-quite-oceanfront lot at Hualalai Resort just sold for $14.7 million. What’s the premium for Hualalai versus Mauna Lani? Or on the flip side, for oceanfront versus across one hole of the golf course?

For the Hawi, North Kohala estate, we have even less data. The only other truly oceanfront estate that could be “comparable” was last sold in 2000 for $8.7 million. Now that home isn’t currently listed in the MLS, but would most likely be available for a serious, qualified buyer to comparison shop. In the end, savvy comparison shopping, followed by a deal struck between a willing buyer and a willing seller, will tell us what any property is worth.

A hui hou,

Beth Thoma Robinson, R(S)
Direct: 808.443.4588
Email:  beth@hawaiilife.com

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