HANALEI — Beachfront views and whispers of yesteryear cast a spell over a five-bedroom house fronting Hanalei Bay that just sold for $16.2 million.
It’s what drew former owners, Oscar winner Julia Roberts and her family, to the house in 2011 when they bought it for $13.4 million from the Faye family, and it’s one of the things that sealed the deal on the recent sale.
The two-acre, front row, sand-abutting property is right in the middle of Hanalei Bay, with easy access to prime surf breaks and great views, but it’s not just the large open lawn, palm trees and ocean-facing deck that turns heads.
“It has a quaint 1917 house and the people really liked the old style of the plantation cottage building,” said Neal Norman, the property’s listing agent and Realtor with Hawaii Life Real Estate. “They liked that charm and history and that they could imagine the place when there were no cars, and people could only ride horses down there.”
Norman, who sold the property to Roberts and her family in 2011, said they were entranced by the charm of the house and accompanying land.
“They saw the same thing (in the house) that this family saw,” Norman said. “It’s been around a hundred years and many, many interesting people have been there.”
The house was built by Hans Peter Faye and was used by the family for many generations as a summer and vacation spot.
Jill Faye-Papworth, great-great-granddaughter of Hans Peter Faye, said she spent many summers at the house and lived there for a year when she was in sixth grade.
“Every generation had kids and so we’d take turns, or we’d all met up for summers there,” Faye-Papworth said. “You’d be there with your cousins and all the grandkids and everyone was there having fun.”
As with any old property, the house has nooks steeped in secrets. One of those secrets lives in one of the five bedrooms, according to Faye-Papworth: the protective spirit of an old Hawaiian woman who guards the families that occupy the house.
“The spirit is good unless there’s someone bad in there and when I was a little girl, I’d go in there and I’d talk to her,” Faye-Papworth said. “I’d never sleep in there, none of us did. The only ones that ever slept in there were the guests that our family brought over.”
The house has been a vacation rental, as well as a secondary home for the owners, and it is still a licensed vacation rental.
“The Kennedy Family is even rumored to have stayed there,” Norman said.
Norman said he’s not sure if the new owners are going to keep it licensed, but Faye-Papworth is under the impression that they won’t.
In fact, just after they’d heard about the sale, members of the Faye family gathered at the house for a final goodbye.
“I’m happy that someone is going to actually have it as their home and they’ll live there all the time,” Faye-Papworth said, “but it’s sad because it won’t be a vacation rental anymore and we can’t go there.”
Pricing the property
The house, which is known as The Faye House or the Faye Hanalei Estate, was priced at $30 million when it went onto the market in 2015. Throughout the next few months, the price was slashed a few times, falling to $19 million and then finally selling at $16.2 million.
“It’s very hard to put an exact price on something that’s so rare,” Norman said. “So when we went to price it, they said ‘if someone pays us a huge number, we’ll sell it, but we’re not in a hurry.’”
The offer was fair and money was made on the investment, even though the family didn’t find the person who would have been willing to buy at the $30 million mark.
In fact, when the Faye family sold the property, Norman said they priced it at $24 million, a bit higher than the selling price of a little more than $13 million.
“We have exotic and unique listed properties that are special,” Norman said of Hawaii Life Real Estate. “They’re as special as you can get and the price was determined by the market when the two people came together.”
More action in Hanalei
Though the sale took top honors for the highest price ever paid for a property on Hanalei Bay, with the exception of group sales and multiple properties, it may not hold the title for long.
Norman just listed a portion of a Hanalei Bay estate formerly owned by Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, for $45 million.
The compound, which was remodeled by Danny Errico, co-founder of Equinox gym chain, is a nearly 15,000 square-foot estate on 2.5 acres, with a 75-foot regulation sized pool. The estate consists of five parcels and five structures, eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.
Another property on Hanalei Bay listing with Hawaii Life Real Estate officially closed today for the price of $10.4 million. That property boasts two old-style plantation houses on a quarter of an acre located just down the street from the Faye Hanalei Estate.
“I appreciate these kind of buyers that own these second homes,” Norman said. “They employ a lot of people — gardeners and window cleaners and caretakers — and the people, a lot of them are only here for a few weeks a year.”