Summer 2017 Market Update



Summer Season Means Sales

Favorable Factors for Summer Sales

New Kakaako Condominium Effect Continues to Diminish

Sales Sped Up for the Last Quarter of 2016 and First Quarter of 2017

43 Condos Subject to as much as Triple Real Property Taxes – Need to File Forms


The Summer Season Means Sales

East Honolulu sales were decent in the First Quarter of 2017, followed by a slow Second Quarter.  Our Summer Season starts about now and lasts through mid-September.  Traditionally, Summer is our busiest period, along with the Winter season.  The times in between are so-so.  If you are planning to sell your home this year, you should get on the market now.  If you are a Buyer, there should be more inventory coming on the market as people realize that this is a good time to sell.


Favorable Factors for Summer Sales

Interest rates are still rather low, so financing is still attractive.  In addition, there is increasing interest in single family homes and sales look like they will be greater than 2016.  Showings have picked up, and sales generally follow an increase in showings.  Part of the increased interest is that the Kakaako New Luxury Condominium Effect has abated.


The New Kakaako Condominium Effect Continues to Diminish

On October 19, 2016, we predicted that Luxury Home Sales would be improving due to the diminishing inventory of new Kakaako luxury condominiums.  Then on December 7, 2016, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Business Section confirmed “Oahu home, condo sales jump in November.”  The new condominium projects took many of the $3+ Million buyers out of the real estate market for East Oahu.  For example, at the end of 2016, 58 buyers between $3,072,000 and $12,800,000 completed their 2-year long purchase of the Waiea Condominium.  These were 58 buyers who might have bought homes in East Honolulu.

Beginning in April 2017, continuing in August and again in December, closings at the Park Lane Condominium project in the Ala Moana Shopping Center have and will involve another 100+ luxury buyers who purchased in the $3+ Million price range.


Sales Have Sped up for the Last Quarter of 2016 and the First Quarter of 2017

Given the lower inventory of true luxury condominiums in Kakaako, sales did accelerate in the last quarter of 2016.  Of the 30 sales over $3 Million in East Honolulu last year, 13 occurred in the last quarter.  This year, we have been involved in 4 of the 15 sales over $3 Million of Single Family Homes in East Honolulu.  Choi International brought the Buyer for the highest sale among the Top 10 Brokers.  In our view, sales over $3 million will increase by about 30% over 2016, and many of those sales will occur in the summer months and during the winter of 2017/2018.


43 Condominiums are Subject to High Rates of Tax, unless the owner files the appropriate RESIDENTIAL USE DEDICATION FORM (and notifies the City of any changes)

On June 16th, the City & County of Honolulu mailed out notices to owners in 43 condominium projects that are condo/hotels or mixed use with commercial and others.  The full list is included at the end of this report.

The designated condominiums will be subject to a higher real property tax rate than the residential tax of $3.50 per thousand or the $6 estimated tax for non-homeowner exemption residential property of $1 Million+.  The tax for certain buildings can be subject to the commercial rate tax of $12.40 per thousand or hotel/resort tax of $12.90 per thousand, unless the owner files a form designating the property tax class as their primary residence or a long-term rental (rented for over 30 days at a time).  Penalties are heavy for any misrepresentations or failure to amend the filings in a timely manner.  When the property is sold, the law requires the new owner to file a new form.  To find all of the condominiums that are affected and the required filing, click on this link:

Following is the full list of condominiums:

2338 YOUNG STREET, 2338 Young St

441 LEWERS, 441 Lewers St

465 KAPAHULU (CPR 9‐18 only), 465 Kapahulu Ave

ALOHA SURF HOTEL, 444 Kanekapolei St

BAMBOO, 2425 Kuhio Ave


CABANA AT WAIKIKI, 2551 Cartwright Rd

CENTURY CENTER, 1750 Kalakaua Ave


FOSTER TOWERS, 2500 Kalakaua Ave


HAWAIIAN COLONY, 1946 Ala Moana Blvd


ILIKAI APT BLDG, 1777 Ala Moana Blvd

ILIKAI MARINA, 1765 Ala Moana Blvd


ISLAND COLONY, 445 Seaside Ave

KAIMUKIAN, 1120 Koko Head Ave

KALAKAUA SANDS, 1670 Kalakaua Ave

KALAKAUAN, 1911 Kalakaua Ave

KAPIOLANI MANOR, 1655 Makaloa St

KUHIO VILLAGE II, 2450 Prince Edward St

KUHIO VILLAGE I, 2463 Kuhio Ave

LUANA WAIKIKI, 2045 Kalakaua Ave


MEHANA‐AWAKEA, Manawai St/Kakala St

MEHANA‐NANALA, Kunehi St/Manawai St/Kakala St





RITZ CARLTON TOWER 1, 383 Kalaimoku St

ROYAL ALOHA, 1909 Ala Wai Blvd

Royal Garden at Waikiki, 440 Olohana St

ROYAL QUEEN EMMA, 222 Vineyard St

SEASHORE, 2450 Koa Ave



URAKU TOWER, 1341 Kapiolani Blvd

WAIKIKI BEACH TOWER, 2470 Kalakaua Ave




Choi International’s VP-Greater China Region attends Economist Paul Brewbaker’s Mid-Year Real Estate Review

photo collage

Photos courtesy of Luxury Homes International

Maggie Huang (RB-22050), Choi International’s Vice President of the Greater China Region, attended the 2017 Mid-Year Real Estate Review featuring guest speaker, Economist Paul Brewbaker.   The event was held on June 15th at the Waialae Country Club and was sponsored by Luxury Homes International, Honolulu Home Loans, Howard Hughes, Honolulu Property Management, Hawaii International Real Estate Council, Title Guaranty Escrow and Diamond Head Home Inspections.

Brewbaker is the Director of the Hawaii Economic Association and the President of Hawaii based economic consulting firm, TZ Economics.  He previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Bank of Hawaii.

3 Choi Agents Rank among Top 100 Realtors in the State

2017 Top 100 Realtors reception_Hawaii Business Mag

Congratulations to our three outstanding agents for being recognized as one of the Top 100 Realtors in the State of Hawaii for 2017 by Hawaii Business Magazine!

20120602_pat_choi_0190r3L_2_cropped  PATRICIA CHOI (RB-11824), President & Principal Broker – $34,878,488

cindy_nash_0100r3_NOCROP_PRINT_Choi-website  CYNTHIA NASH (RB-17455) – $24,740,000

Julie new website  JULIANNA GARRIS (RB-17280), Broker-in-Charge – $22,252,760

The annual Top 100 Realtors list recognizes the top producers in Hawaii’s residential real estate industry.  The 2017 rankings are based on transactions that closed in 2016, and also ranks agents with the most transactions and vacant-land sales, as well as the top real estate companies.  Patricia, Cynthia and Julianna have all been included in this prestigious annual ranking for multiple years.  This year, Choi International was also ranked as one of the Top 25 Real Estate Companies by Total Sales. The Top 100 were honored at an awards reception held at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on June 1st.

View the complete Top 100 rankings:

Comparing Average Tax Rates for U.S. Homeowners (Owner-Occupants)

It is interesting to see what the comparable owner-occupied tax rates are across the country. If you factor in all of the tax breaks allowed to a homeowner who actually lives in the property, then surprising things happen.

For example, on the sample list below, California is known to have an average tax of about 1.25% of the purchase price (1% based on sales price, bond indebtedness and special district assessments). Factoring in the average tax paid by actual homeowners, that figure drops to 0.77%.

That amount is still more than double Hawaii’s “effective tax rate” of 0.32%, which is the lowest in the nation. In contrast, homeowners in the 5 highest taxed states pay over 2% for their average homeowners property tax.

50 – Hawaii – 0.32% Effective Tax Rate
49 – Alabama – 0.48%
48 – Colorado – 0.52%
47 – Tennessee – 0.54%
46 – Delaware – 0.56%

35 – California – 0.77%

5 – Vermont – 2.02%

4 – New Hampshire – 2.03%
3 – Texas – 2.06%
2 – Illinois – 2.13%
1 – New Jersey – 2.31%

Source – For the Full List, go to:

What does “Effective Tax Rate” on real property mean?
“States tax real property in a variety of ways: some impose a rate or a millage – the amount of tax per thousand dollars of value – on the fair market value of the property, while others impose it on some percentage (the assessment ratio) of the market value, yielding an assessed value.

Some states have equalization requirements, ensuring uniformity across the state. Sometimes caps limit the degree to which one’s property taxes can rise in a given year, and sometimes rate adjustments are mandated after assessments to ensure uniformity or maintenance of revenues. Abatements are often available to certain taxpayers, like veterans or senior citizens. And of course, property tax rates are set by political subdivisions at a variety of levels: not only by cities and counties, but often also by school boards, fire departments, and utility commissions.

Today’s map cuts through this clutter, presenting effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing. This is the average amount of residential property tax actually paid, expressed as a percentage of home value. Some states with high property taxes, like New Hampshire and Texas, rely heavily on property taxes in lieu of other major tax categories; others, like New Jersey and Illinois, impose high property taxes alongside high rates in the other major tax categories.

New Jersey has the highest effective rate at 2.38% and is followed closely by Illinois (2.32%), New Hampshire (2.15%), and Connecticut (1.98%). On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii has the lowest effective rate at 0.28%, and is followed closely by Alabama (0.43%), Louisiana (0.51%), and Delaware (0.55%). How does your state compare?”


Patricia Choi to Speak at National Conference for Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate

On May 5th, Patricia Choi (RB-11824) will be speaking on a panel of experts on “How to Market Luxury Property” at the national convention of Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate in Maui.  This conference brings together the top real estate agents from 39 countries and 3,867 offices. Patricia is one of the founding members of the Board of Regents, which is the guiding force of the organization.

Luxury Real Estate


Choi International takes great pride in the quality of real estate services provided to our clients.  Our highly qualified and experienced agents adhere to Choi Internationals’ core principals:

Professional Integrity

A Commitment to Excellence

and Confidentiality.

Kahala Luxury Home Market Will Be Stable in 2017

On October 19, 2016, we e-mailed our clients our prediction that Luxury Home Sales in Kahala would be improving due to the diminishing inventory of new Kakaako luxury condominiums. Then on December 7, 2016, the Honolulu Star Advertiser’s Business Section confirmed that “Oahu home, condo sales jump in November.”

The new condominium projects took many of the $3+million buyers out of the real estate market for Kahala. For example, at the end of 2016, 58 buyers between $3,072,000 and $12,800,000 completed their 2 year-long purchase of the Waiea Condominium. These were 58 buyers who may have bought homes in East Honolulu. Beginning in April, closings will occur for the Park Lane Condominium project in the Ala Moana Shopping Center, where another 100+ luxury buyers purchased in the $3+ million price range. Given the lower inventory of true luxury condominiums in Kakaako, sales did accelerate in the last quarter of 2016. Of the 30 sales over $3 million in East Honolulu during 2016, 13 occurred in the last quarter.

Although there are signs of improvement in the Kahala market, it is a good idea to see what is happening in the San Francisco Bay area and nationwide.

Bay Area Luxury Brokers View the Luxury Market with Mixed Signals
A January 11, 2017 blog written by Alain Pinel, one of the marquee names in the San Francisco Bay real estate market, predicts that 2017 will be much like 2016.

“More often than not, the high-end business sets the tone for the real estate industry. It is a barometer of sort. When it’s hot, it serves as a locomotive for the rest of the business.
. . .
The multi-million dollar property market that blesses many of the coastal regions, had a strange year. Mixed results. Prices, driven by the best of the best (top locations, brand-new or newer homes, fashionable style & design, all smart home features …) went through the roof, while, at the same time, unit sales kept on shrinking. Considering what was going on in the world during this tumultuous year, this was no surprise.

We are, today, in year 2 of what feels like a transition. It would not be smart to expect a substantially different picture than the one we saw last year, although we will benefit from a faster start (2016 had the worst-ever annual start). US sales, mostly flat, will be up 3% at best. Same lukewarm prognostic regarding prices (up to 4% increase?).”

National Statistics Predict a Sideways Market in Honolulu
The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing’s February 13, 2017 Luxury Housing Report uses a composite price index sampling 20,561 luxury homes to evaluate the market. With a sideways movement in the national luxury home prices, coupled with an increase in the number of days on the market, their conclusion is that nationally we are in a “Cool Buyer’s Market”. Specifically, the Institute’s prediction is that the prices are going to go sideways in Honolulu and down in San Francisco and Seattle.

The China Market – China has instituted a very strict new monetary policy that reduces the amount of money that can be brought out of the country. According to Maggie Huang (RB-22050) our Vice President of the Greater China Region, there should be little effect on the Honolulu Luxury Market. Basically, the Chinese who can afford luxury homes have already gotten their money out of China or have income outside of China.

The Japanese Market – There is some effect on Japanese Buyers due to the fluctuation in the yen versus the dollar according to Mami Takeda (RB-22153) our Vice President of Japan Sales. When the yen is in the 120+ range to the dollar, there is less incentive to buy. When it is in the 100-110 yen range, the incentive for Buyers is higher. Despite recent fluctuations in the yen, the expectation is that the Japanese will continue to comprise the vast majority of foreign buyers for various reasons, including the desire to own property that would be purchased in US dollars.

2017 Outlook – This year will probably result in more luxury home sales in Kahala than 2016. Although the national and West Coast markets seem to be slowing and turning into Buyers markets, it is likely that Honolulu and Kahala will remain neutral, due to the continuing strong demand from Foreign and West Coast buyers. In 2016, the leading foreign buyers of Oahu property were as follows:
Japanese 562 ~ Canadians 32 ~ China 29 ~ Hong Kong 21 ~ Singapore 11 ~ Korea 11
California and Washington were the top Mainland buyers for Honolulu.