Wednesday morning our local newspaper’s front page reported that for the month of November 2009 real estate sales on the West side of the Big Island were stronger in most areas and categories than in the same month a year ago. I know the Hawaii Life Big Island team contributed to those statistics!
Some of the real estate market trends we have blogged about recently are the predominance of foreclosures and short sales, the renewed activity in luxury properties at Hualalai and Kukio, and the effects of the first time home buyer tax credit. Reading the news article on the real estate market reminded me that a year ago, in November 2008, was the first time I noticed a different trend: buyers who are trading up!
Halii Kai direct oceanfront condo
At the time I had a listing on a direct oceanfront condominium at Hali’i Kai…and the buyers already owned the same floor plan farther back without the view. They loved the community and had the money, hence they made an all cash, quick close offer…which convinced the seller to take a substantial loss, even though, compared with recent foreclosure and short sales at the same property, with 20-20 hindsight this seller did quite well. A buyer who has inside knowledge of a location or property sometimes sees value that someone who is strictly thinking “deal,” rather than lifestyle and long-term appreciation, might miss.
The first buyer client I assisted this year after joining Hawaii Life was a local physician and his family, who already owned a beautiful ocean view lot in a location makai of the highway where the possibility of someone ever developing or building between his lot and the ocean is very very slim. However, he’d been watching the real estate market and realized that if there were ever a time to trade up–and the only thing “up” from the property he already had was in fact “down” to direct oceanfront–now was the time.
So Katie and I walked pretty much every large oceanfront acreage on the north side of the island with them until they were satisfied that the first property they inquired about via the Hawaii Life website was, indeed, the perfect choice. By the way, the Hamakua coast 5-acre parcel they traded up from is a wonderful buy for someone whose price point is under $500,000 rather than almost $2 million!
I had a phone call recently from a customer who for several years has owned a condo in Waikoloa Village as a second home. She was calling about a single family home I have listed near Kapaau in North Kohala…an area she’d always loved but at the height of the market felt she couldn’t afford. She was excited to see a quality residence in a quiet neighborhood for under $500,000. She’s another example of someone who is looking at the market as an opportunity to trade up.
I’m working with another prospective buyer who owns a luxury condo within one of the Kohala Coast resorts, but ultimately wants to spend more time in Hawai’i, and therefore was intrigued by some of the price reductions on resort lots where one day he could build a home. I just sent him news of a reduction on a lot of almost an acre in size at Kauna’oa at Mauna Kea. Other buyers would rather not have the high association dues that come with a resort property even if nothing is built on it, and they are driving the land sales in my home market near Hawi.
I predict that some of the smaller, less well known gated communities are ripe for discovery this winter, and I’ve just taken listings in two of them, Puuepa Ranch and the Ranch at Puakea. If you like the paniolo ranching heritage of Waimea (Kamuela), but also would like to be near enough the ocean to put in a swimming pool and watch whales in season, these might be the right options for you (and your family and equine friends!)
If you are considering trading up and want to know what your present Big Island property is worth, remember, we are always happy to give you a comparable market analysis with no strings or sales pitch attached.
Mele kalikimaka and a hui hou!
Beth Thoma Robinson, R(S)