Silicon Valley’s remote workers are adding fuel to Hawaii’s hot real estate market

Hawaii real estate prices skyrocket as buyers from the mainland scoop up housing

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sales of luxury homes are spiking and interest in furnished rentals is also through the roof.

“I would say that it has skyrocketed up,” said Natalie Pietre, owner and principal broker of Island Properties.

Experts say there’s a mix of factors driving the surge.

Before the pandemic, buyers were snapping up condos. Now there’s high demand for single-family homes. Interest rates are low, inventory is low and tech workers from the mainland want to come to Hawaii to work remotely.

Pietre says buyers work at firms like Apple, Facebook and Cisco, and she’s dealing with bidding wars with offers $100,000 over the asking price.

“Everyone is coming over from the mainland, from Silicon Valley. They’ve got so much money and they’re buying anything they can get their hands on,” she said.

Coldwell Banker Realty says 50 luxury homes sold last year during the first quarter. This year, that number jumped to 103, a 106% increase.

Patti Nakagawa, global luxury director of Coldwelll Banker Realty, says the majority of buyers are local, but a good chunk are from California.

“They have come here to hide out during the pandemic and work from here. Eventually, we started to see a lot of sales taking place in the $3 million range and higher,” she said.

Developer Peter Savio is building affording housing on Maui and says for local buyers, it’s hard to compete.

“The reality is we have to break our housing market away from the international market. You have to create a local market that’s tied to income,” said Savio.

“We have to find a local market for local buyers.”

Fannie Cline of Realty Group Hawaii oversees rentals that come fully furnished. While she’s grateful for the boom in business, she’s worried about the downside.

“My concerns are with the local community and those that aren’t earning those higher incomes,” said Cline. “The remote workers are earning more than the people who are living here and can afford these higher rents.”

Savio predicts this will be a longer term trend even after the pandemic because Silicon Valley types will move here, like it and want to stay.

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