One of the most common phrases a Realtor in Hawaii will hear is ”back on the mainland” or “back in Seattle” or back in (fill in your city), followed with, ”my home was so much bigger” or “brand new” or “I had this much land!” These statements always end with the inevitable disbelief of how much a single family home will cost in Hawaii specifically on the island of Oahu. Not only how much they cost, but what you get for your money.

     The island of Oahu has a land mass of approximately 600 square miles. With over 950,000 people occupying the space, and so many people looking to stake a claim in an area this size, it is no wonder that many homes in highly sought after neighborhoods have soared to over to well over $600.00 per square foot.

     According to an article in Pacific Business News published in January of 2017, home values on Oahu rose 5% in 2016 and the median home price rose to $740,000.00.

     In this article I will focus on one very hot area of Oahu for home sales, Hawaii Kai. This area began to be heavily developed in the seventies so many homes for sale in this area will typically be forty to fifty years old. For most people moving here from the mainland they are quite shocked to find a 40 year old 1200 square foot home selling for upwards of $800,000.00 and in many cases the home may still need a renovation or makeover to bring it up to date. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for these homes to only last on the market for a few days, with offers well above asking price. However, with all of that said, Oahu is still one of the best places in the country to invest in real estate!

     Before the market crash in 2008-2009 Nevada was one of –if not THE- fastest growing states in the nation. For comparison, I will show how an investment in real estate in Nevada compares to an investment in real estate on the island of Oahu.

     Post-crash, at the end of 2009, this 5800 square foot house (in Reno, NV) was only two years old, sat on an acre of land and had 4 bedrooms and six bathrooms. Sale price was $1,000,000 or $172.00 a square foot.


     Almost 2 years later, at the end of 2011,with the economy still struggling, this 1242 sq. foot home ( in Hawaii Kai) with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms sitting on a little over 1/3 acre sold for $799,000.00. Or $644.00 a square foot.


     It is obvious, as the pictures show, you get a lot more bang for your buck on the mainland. However what the pictures don’t reveal is the investment potential. The home in Nevada sold at the end of 2015, six years later, for $1,175,000.00. Or $217.00 per foot that equates to roughly 2.91 % a year in appreciation.

     On the other hand, the home on Oahu is currently listed at $1,145,000.00. ($921.00 per foot) This sale price will bring the annual appreciation rate up to 8.6% over the last five years. To further illustrate the value of the Oahu home over the Nevada home you also have to consider the difference in real estate tax rates. The real estate taxes on the Nevada home were roughly $11,000 per year, while the Oahu home is only $2,900.00.

     So what does that mean for a buyer moving to the islands from the mainland?

     Real estate on Oahu continues to be a great investment!

     The best advice I can offer is to work with a Realtor who knows the market well. Have your Realtor begin your home search well before your move so you have a better idea what to expect before you arrive. This will not only save a considerable amount of time and frustration trying to adjust to the real estate market on Oahu. It will also prepare you to take the next step once you have found that dream home.

     Stay tuned for part two of this article “you’ve found the house you want-how do you get it?”

p.s. it is not as easy as you may think!

James Pferschy RS# 79141 (808) 342-9000

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