Looking for a brand-new condo, townhouse, or single family home in Hawaii? Here’s a roundup of all the current new-home construction on the island of Oahu. (In my next post, I’ll cover new-home construction on the neighbor islands.) All properties listed in this article are fee simple. I did not include time shares (also known as “fractional ownership”) or home sites (land only).
With the proliferation of master-planned communities in Hawaii, be aware that most new homes (and not just condos) come with a monthly maintenance fee, in addition to the purchase price. What this fee covers varies from development to development. In some complexes, the fee pays just for the landscaping and building maintenance in common areas, such as a community clubhouse and pool area. In other complexes, it might also pay for all of your utilities, including cable TV and Internet access. In a few cases where the maintenance fee is very high (in the thousands of dollars), it pays for nearly all your living expenses, including meals — much like living in an all-inclusive resort.
The lowest monthly maintenance fee I’ve seen in Hawaii real estate listings was $198, but most seem to be in the $400-$700 range. Before you buy any brand-new home, make sure to ask what your monthly maintenance fee will be and what amenities or services it will cover.
Waikiki isn’t just for tourists. Tucked among the hotels (and sometimes within them) are brand-new condo developments for residents who like having a low-maintenance home, living in an area where special events are happening all the time, and being able to walk to shops, restaurants, and the beach. If you don’t mind traffic, noise, the occasional homeless person, or having tourists for neighbors, Waikiki could be the perfect neighborhood for you.
West of Waikiki, Kakaako (pronounced “KAH-kah-AH-koh”) is an up-and-coming neighborhood in the midst of revitalization. Several sleek, modern high-rises filled with condominium homes have sprouted up in recent years. Most of the residents in these new buildings are retirees and busy working professionals without children who enjoy the low-maintenance, convenient lifestyle that these amenities-filled condo complexes provide.
Like Waikiki, Kakaako is great for traveling on foot. You can easily walk to the beach, restaurants, and shopping, including Ala Moana Shopping Center and Ward Centers. If you’re in the market for a shiny, brand-new condo, a couple newly constructed buildings still have units for sale, and another new condo high-rise is already in the works.
Flanked by Pearl Harbor to the east and Barber’s Point Naval Station to the west, Ewa Beach (pronounced “EH-vah beach”) is a growing residential area that attracts military families and others seeking new home construction at relatively low prices. It is also a golfer’s paradise, with no fewer than 8 golf courses in the immediate vicinity. But woe to the Ewa Beach resident who has to
commute to/from Honolulu every day — the local joke is that the town got its name because commuters sit in traffic “for evah and evah!”
There are 2 master-planned communities in Ewa Beach that are currently selling brand-new homes – Ewa by Gentry (which has 4 current developments) and Ka Makana at Haokalai (which has 6 current developments).
Located on the leeward side of Oahu, Kapolei is the island’s master-planned “Second City” in-the-making. Unlike “First City” Honolulu, Kapolei has a distinctly suburban feel, with its neatly laid-out communities of single family homes and low-rise townhouses. If you’re a fan of big-box stores, you’ll find them here: Costco, Home Depot, Target, Petco, Sports Authority, and other large retailers anchor the newly constructed shopping centers sprouting up around town. In August 2012, Kapolei celebrated another grand opening: The University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus opened its classrooms to its first students.
Ho’opili is a plan to build a community of 11,750 homes in an agricultural region east of Kapolei. Ho’opili developers envision a highly walkable community with shops, restaurants, 5 schools, 20 neighborhood parks, and community gardens all within walking distance from residents’ homes.
Ilima at Leihano is a resort-style community catering to seniors age 55 and older. The first phase of development will include 192 condo units in two mid-rise buildings priced from the high $300,00s, with monthly maintenance fees starting around $2500. Future phases will include more independent-living condos and and skilled nursing care in small household settings. A model home is available to see, and units are already for sale. Prospective residents are encouraged to join the community’s Ekahi Club, which hosts classes and special events so you can get to know your would-be neighbors and a get a taste of the types of activities that will be available for residents at Ilima.
When long-time Hawaiian residents hear “Waianae” (pronounced “WHY-ah-nye”) many of them immediately picture unkempt properties, shuttered businesses, liquor stores, and homeless tent cities on the beach. But the residents who actually live there know that the Waianae Coast also has some of the most beautiful white-sand beaches on the island, great fishing and surfing spots, dolphins and sea turtles offshore, and incredible sunsets.
Of course, living on the Waianae Coast is not for everyone. New kids attending local public schools may face peer testing. A gay couple might find it difficult to live in some communities that cling tightly to tradition. And someone who works in Honolulu will probably find the daily commute too grueling. But for the right individual or family — I think retirees, especially — the Waianae Coast could be the perfect mix of affordability, natural beauty, and beach lifestyle.
Why would anyone want to live in a town in the middle of Oahu, away from all beaches and a substantial commuting distance away from Honolulu? Because Mililani has some of the top public schools in the state, including the No. 1-rated high school. Set in a valley between two beautiful mountain ranges, this family-friendly town is a master-planned suburbia — complete with neighborhood parks, schools, shopping centers, and a public golf course.
Mililani is a pretty well-established community, but there is 1 development that is currently selling brand-new units.
There’s a plan that is in development just east of Mililani and north of Waipio. The controversial project, Koa Ridge, will build 3,500-5,000 low-rise homes around a mixed-use “Village Center,” which would include a 28-acre medical complex and commercial/light industrial areas to create local places of employment. Parks, community centers, and shopping areas would be strategically placed within residential neighborhoods to create a highly walkable community.
Kailua is a relaxed beachside community and one of the largest residential areas on the windward coast. It has a nice, large beach park with grass and trees, and a gorgeous white-sand beach that is excellent for all sorts of water sports: swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddling, windsurfing, kite surfing, body surfing, and plain old regular surfing! Kailua’s town center has lots of locally owned shops and restaurants, as well as a Macy’s department store.
Although many residents are against big-box stores moving into Kailua, a Whole Foods supermarket and Target store are being added to the town center and will open soon. Part of this new downtown development will be a 153-unit condo complex, which is scheduled to open in 2014.
Along with Kailua, Kaneohe is one of windward Oahu’s largest residential communities. Homes are nestled at the base of majestic green mountains and also front the shoreline of scenic Kaneohe Bay. The town has a major shopping mall (Windward Mall), as well as many locally owned shops, restaurants, and golf courses located throughout the town. Kaneohe also has a strong military presence, with a large Marine Corps Air Station located right on Kaneohe Bay (earning it the nickname “K-Bay”). Homes in Kaneohe have some of the prettiest views on the island.