The high life

KOLOA — Three recent luxury club sales on Kauai’s South Shore have sparked the rate of closings for homes $5 million and higher.

Coldwell Banker Makai Properties agents’ Tom Bartlett, Drew Vento and Brenda Crawford recently closed the three transactions at $7.2 million, $6.9 million and $6.1 million. Two of the homes are in the Kukuiula community’s “Mauka Collection,” the first subdivision of the master plan overlooking the ocean to the southwest. The third was a beach home near the Nukumoi tombolo adjacent to the Waiohai Beach Club.

“Kukuiula Development Company has set the standard for luxury development in Poipu today, and they have been very successful this year after adopting a ‘build it, and they will come’ posture,” said CBMP Broker in Charge and co-owner Roberta Charles.

According to the Hawaii Information Service, there were 18 sales of South Shore homes with price tags over $1 million since January, a 50 percent increase over the same time period last year. Islandwide, sales were $223 million through the end of July, a 23 percent increase over 2013.

When the lower end of the market started to move, it signaled the end of the down economy and luxury market sales activity increased shortly thereafter, Charles said.

“With so many failed developments around the country since 2009, it’s very difficult to market to today’s buyer in the pre-construction phase,” she said. “No one on Kauai gets excited about ‘vapor real estate,’ they need to see the product first.”

Between Christmas and Easter, Kukuiula closed $38 million in sales and placed another $38 million in escrow. This followed the decision last year to partner with several builders and offer finished products as opposed to vacant land and conceptual building plans.

The club’s Makai cottages average over $1 million, as do many other high-end properties in Poipu that sell again and again, Vento said. The Mauka Collection draws a different kind of luxury buyer with an interest in premiere property living and club amenities on Kauai.

“What you are really buying here is a lifestyle of a world class club and spa with amenities where they do everything for you,” Vento said.

Some other agents said it’s hard to say if an uptick in the high-end market will affect the whole island.

Debra Blachowiak, principal broker at Sleeping Giant Sotheby’s International Realty in Lihue, said her company recently closed a sale on an oceanfront home in Poipu for $6.7 million. She said when homes like that and others around the island sell at those prices, it is a sign buyers want to invest in Kauai.

“The luxury market on Kauai often is hard to gage as the sampling or amount of listings that sell in the $3 million and up range is small relative to the other sectors of the market,” Blachowiak said.

“My feeling is that there is an increase in activity in the luxury market, but not to the extent to call it a trend.”

The North Shore market seems to be ticking up, too.

Michael Schmidt, principal broker for Bali Hai Realty, the Coldwell Banker sister office on the North Shore, said there have been six sales of $5 million and up over the last 12 months islandwide. The office also had an $11 million sale in May of a 30-acre oceanfront estate property in Kilauea.

There are also 22 homes available priced at over $5 million, making it still a buyer’s market, he added.

The North Shore numbers have climbed with more vacant land sales over the past year, he said.

That has brought more confidence to the market, Schmidt added.

“We are experiencing an increase in sales volume but slowly,” he said.


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