Market update: Who's buying in Kakaako?

Market Update & Investment Focus

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This morning we'll be taking a deep dive into Kakaako. The Kakaako neighborhood is from the end of Ala Moana Center to Restaurant Row and Kawaiahao Church, and from Kakaako Waterfront Park inland to King St. There continues to be a lot of activity in the area—both commercial and residential. This past spring saw the opening of not one but TWO specialty groceries in the area—Whole Foods and Down To Earth—another indicator of bustling economic activity in the area. On the residential side, three new towers are in progress or slated for construction this year in Ward Village—Ae'o, Ke Kilohana and A'ali'i.

Locations has been handling sales of three recent major condo projects in Kakaako—Keahou Place, a Stanford Carr development that opened last fall, and Ke Kilohana and A'ali'i, both Howard Hughes developments in Ward Village. Ke Kilohana is slated for completion early next year, and there are currently only 8 units still available. A'ali'i will break ground sometime this fall, and the reserved housing sales just ended last week.

There's a perception that it's mostly off-shore investors, but data shows otherwise. Data for the past year—which includes both new sales and resales-- shows that the VAST majority of Kakaako owners—more than 60 percent—are actually from Oahu. In a very distant second is Japan—at 17 percent—followed by the Mainland at 14 percent. China, which we often hear has many investors in Hawaii—only accounts for about 3 percent of Kakaako owners.

What's especially interesting is that not only are 62 percent of Kakaako buyers coming from OAHU---but of that group, 15 percent are coming from within KAKAAKO itself. So, what we're seeing on the ground is that people who already own in Kakaako see the benefits of the area, and more important, understand and are confident in the vision of Kakaako in 10, 20, 30 years…

Metro Honolulu—which includes older neighborhoods like Nuuanu and Manoa, as well as Waikiki and Ala Moana, accounts for almost half of Kakaako owners, from the Oahu group. Interestingly, there haven't been as many Kakaako purchases from West Oahu or the Windward side.

The current median sold price for a condo in Kakaako is $818,000 – almost double the median price of overall Oahu condos. However, there's a wide range of home prices and types in Kakaako. Recent sales have ranged from older condos going for less than $300,000 to $14.5 million for a luxury penthouse at Waiea. Many buyers in Kakaako have to decide to buy before ground is even broken on the buildings.

Developers continue to look at future sites in Kakaako. There are also several projects slated to pop up around the Kapiolani/Keeaumoku/Sheridan St. area.

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