Investors ride the Hawaii appreciation wave

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 9:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2012, 6:21pm

Hawaii has long been a favourite destination for Asian travellers and property investors. The recent addition of direct flights from Shanghai and Beijing has doubled the number of Chinese visitors and the impact is being felt in the luxury property markets. Several new developments, including the Trump International Waikiki, report the bulk of sales to Asian property owners.

There are six main islands in Hawaii – Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. The island of Oahu has a population of more than 1.1 million residents, making up the majority of the state’s 1.4 million total. Oahu, also known as the county of Honolulu, is the main business, trade, political and tourist hub for the state. Some of the best preparatory schools in the United States are found on Oahu, such as Punahou School with alumni including Sun Yat-sen and US President Barrack Obama.

Honolulu has similar topography to Hong Kong, contributing to the high cost of housing, and is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive property markets in the United States alongside New York and San Francisco. The median price of a family home is currently US$609,000, marking a jump of 9.2 per cent in the past year. The median price of a condominium is up 6.7 per cent at US$320,000.

The most popular family neighbourhood for Chinese and Hong Kong buyers continues to be the Kahala and Diamond Head areas. The median price of Kahala homes stands at US$1.68 million, posting an increase of 21 per cent compared to last year. A new four-bedroom home of 4,000 square feet costs about US$3.5 million. Values of larger oceanfront properties range up to US$60 million.

The most popular condominium market continues to be the luxury buildings in the Ala Moana and Waikiki areas such as Hokua and Nauru Tower with median prices up nearly 10 per cent annually. Two-bedroom condominiums of 1,500 square feet at the Hokua building start at US$2 million.  

Like many other prime markets in the US, the supply of property for sale is down 20 per cent compared to last year while the number of sales continues to grow. The supply imbalance is expected to drive prices up another 10 per cent this year for Aloha state.