Last week we saw the sexy, unattainable house porn of Oahu. Now let’s be realistic. You don’t need millions to realize a dream of a second home in Hawaii. When looking for a home in Hawaii, it comes down to location, location, and size. Let me explain.
Location: The further a home is away from the ocean, the less expensive it will be until you start looking uphill. The further uphill you get, prices increases will follow. Sure, there are certain areas and neighborhoods that are generally less expensive. These areas target more local buyers who want typical homes without the ocean views second home-buyers generally clamor for.
Location: In this case, location equals view. When looking at a high-rise condo, what can you see? Will that view change (likely), and how detrimental would a view change be? Is an oceanfront building with a unit facing the garage better than a unit several blocks away from the ocean with good ocean views better? Often the price (factoring in size) can be similar. Many are in Waikiki, but I chose units on the fringe so you get the convenience without the tourist throng at your doorstep.
Size: How large of a space do you want? Size and price often will dictate both location variables. If you’re a single person, a few hundred feet of paradise may suit, but if you’re looking to house a family, probably not.
A single-family home on the water will be millions, but there are other alternatives. I’ve not discussed them in this column, because the easiest ownership will be a lock-and-go condo that has rental potential (if you need help with fees and perhaps a mortgage). Here’s smattering of what’s available in the Honolulu area from the $200,000 to $1m. I chose Honolulu to focus on first because I know it best, has the most selection and is the easiest to area rent.
In this price range, don’t expect a lot. There are several buildings in this range I chose not to include because they’re condotel units. A condotel is a hotel that sold its rooms as condos but still retains a management company to rent the condo/rooms when owners are not in town. Before buying one of these units, you’d really need to understand the rental potential. As former hotel rooms, they’re also quite tiny (<300 square feet) and not what I consider a full condo (infinitesimal kitchens for a start).
This is small and not much more than a hotel room at 386 square feet, but it actually offers a decent ocean view from the 19th floor in a good area of Waikiki (somewhat secluded from tourists). The HOA dues are $770 but include all utilities (including internet) and your ANNUAL taxes are $732.
Slightly larger at 454 square feet with 133 square foot lanai, this unit is located between the Ala Wai Canal and Waikiki Beach. It’s been freshly remodeled and looks great. The only drawback is that the building is almost surrounded by empty land that won’t be empty forever and may hem you in. The HOA, even though it includes utilities, is steep at $1,049 a month with annual taxes of $360.
This unit says cha-ching. It’s in a cute 1950 two-story building with views across the street from the Ala Wai Canal in an area jumping with new and existing high-rises. Enjoy this 445 square foot 1-bedroom with a decent (and newer) kitchen and wait for the buyout. HOAs are cheap at $274 a month with annual taxes of $900.
We’re creeping up in size at 506 square feet smack on the Ala Wai Canal with views to the beautiful Ko’olau Mountains and the back end of Diamond Head. I’ve seen the views and if you can’t afford ocean, they’re surprisingly great. HOAs are $485 a month with annual taxes of $1,500.
This listing moves us downtown Honolulu to a nice high floor across the street from the Aloha Tower. At 604 square feet with a 121 square foot lanai, this is the biggest unit yet – and actually 2 (tiny) bedrooms and 2 (equally tiny) bathrooms! But at this price, size means renovation. While serviceable, ultimately new flooring, kitchen and baths will be needed. Downtown Honolulu has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance similar to Deep Ellum, with trendy restaurants and galleries. You’d also be walkable to a Safeway grocery store and the markets of Chinatown. If you want an urban experience (and views) and aren’t hooked on a beach, this may be right. HOAs are $835 a month and include utilities. Annual property taxes are $984.
In exchange for a normal-sized 782 square feet unit under $300K, don’t expect a view … at all. Also don’t expect a remodeled unit. This one needs all the elbow grease you can muster but has in-unit washer and dryer (a huge bonus). It’s also on the opposite side of the Ala Wai Canal from Waikiki and near Ala Moana Shopping Center and the future Ward Village. Once Foodland reopens at the shopping center, you’ll have a grocery store on your doorstep with a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club also a stone’s throw. Very livable area for long-term stays. You’re on the less touristy Ala Moana Beach Park after a 10-minute walk.
Back on the edge of Waikiki on the Ala Wai Canal, this 680-square-foot 1-bedroom offers some good views of the canal, golf course and the mountains with a nice lanai for that all-important glass of wine. New paint and carpet are all that’s needed, although you may want to rejigger the kitchen layout a bit (not a gut, really just turning the fridge and putting a panel on the back – look at the pics, you’ll see). HOA dues are $449 a month and taxes are $828 a year.
At 521 square feet with a 53-square-foot lanai, this is cute 1-bedroom is on a reasonably high floor with nice views and in-unit washer/dryer. The interior needs a refresh to command top dollar as a rental unit but it’s another edge of Waikiki building with impressive amenities that allows <1 year rentals. Rooftop pool, outdoor kitchen, weight room, sauna, assigned parking, HOAs are $672 and include all utilities. Annual property taxes are $1,068.
Traffic noise may be an issue with this unit, but closed windows and AC cures a lot of that. What needs no cure are the views from this 696-square-foot 1-bedroom with an 84-square-foot lanai. Watch the canoe and scullers glide past the windows every morning. This unit is in need of renovation (look at the bathroom flooring) or can stay as-is as a crash pad. HOAs of $529 with annual taxes of $672.
Great corner unit with wrap-around lanai offering views from the Ala Wai Canal to a peek-a-boo of Waikiki Beach. This 1-bedroom, 780-square-foot unit has 242 square feet of outdoor space. The building was built in 1973 and the interior is in well-maintained original condition. The HOAs are $795 a month and include utilities. Taxes are $1,140 a year. It’s been on the market since July so perhaps there’s negotiation room.
Remodeled in 2012, this 570-square-foot 1-bedroom comes with a 106-square-foot lanai. Great 22nd floor views of Ala Wai and mountains. Building is part of the Aqua Hotels group and is available to rent through the hotel. However, the current owner kept the unit as a second home and so it shows little wear which is why I decided to feature it. I’m not saying that condotels are bad, there’s just another layer of research buyers have to do to see if this type of setup meets their needs. Being a hotel, it has a great pool, sauna and barbeque area. HOAs are $599 per month and taxes are $1,128 a year.
Now you know what it costs to have a second home in Honolulu at the lowest price points. Shocking I know (although the small property taxes are a good shock!), but it’s not like Texas, where you can drive until you can afford something. Next time, I’ll cover the space between $400,000 to $600,000 before hitting the $600,000 to (the cool) $1 million mark.
Remember: Do you have a secondshelters.com location you’d like to see featured? I travel quite a bit and enjoy poking around real estate. Realtors, have clients who’d like to document their second home journey? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal)! firstname.lastname@example.org