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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 23, 2003

Study calls $500K home here 'affordable'

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Coldwell Banker sales agents Kevin Hart and Jacqueline Jones chat near the window of this $750,000, 5-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom "fixer-upper" at 2006 McKinley Street in Manoa. Buyers can expect to find an equivalent home in Palo Alto, Calif., for $1.7 million, or $185,000 in Killeen, Texas, according to a Coldwell Banker study.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Typical 4-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath houses in Honolulu recently have been selling for a little more than a half-million dollars — a high-reaching average to some, but actually more or less mid-priced, according to a new survey of 342 North American cities.

At $515,947, the same roughly 2,200-square-foot single-family Honolulu home is relatively affordable, according to Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp., which said a comparable home cost more in 180 other U.S. and Canadian cities.

A similar house would cost about $1 million in San Francisco or Greenwich, Conn., and $906,250 in Kailua, Kona, which was one of three Hawai'i markets in the Coldwell study and the 9th most expensive overall.

However, the latest National Association of Realtors study put Honolulu home prices fifth-highest among about 100 metropolitan areas, behind Orange County, Calif., Boston, San Diego and San Francisco based on median prices, which is a point where half the sales were lower and half higher.

The other Hawai'i market surveyed in the Coldwell study was Kihei, Maui, where the subject home's average price was $493,025, seven places below the Honolulu average, or 155th highest of the 342 markets.

Topping the list was La Jolla, Calif., where the subject home cost $1.4 million on average, or about $1.3 million more than the $121,400 average comparable home in Binghamton, N.Y., the most affordable market in the study.

Harvey Shapiro, research economist at the Honolulu Board of Realtors, said he'd be careful about drawing conclusions from the survey because of its limited scope and fundamental differences in Hawai'i's real estate market.

For instance, Coldwell based its study on the average price of single-family, 4-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath homes sold during the first half of the year, but didn't factor lot size, which tends to account for significantly more of the price of a Hawai'i home compared with most other markets.

So an equivalent home in a Mainland market may come with acres of land compared with one on a 5,000-square-foot lot in Honolulu.

Also, using the average rather than median price can skew prices in markets with one very high or low price among few sales, he said.

Still, Shapiro said Coldwell's limited study was interesting.

Richard Cawley, a long-time Hawai'i resident who owns a home in Kane'ohe generally approximating the Coldwell subject home, said he'd have "absolutely no interest" moving to Minot, N.D., where for the value of his house he could purchase four similar homes.

"It's location," he said, explaining his distaste for cold winters, which dip as low as 2 below zero in Minot.

Cawley likewise said La Jolla is nice, "but it's double the price (for a comparable home) and you have the same weather that's better here most of the time." Coldwell surveyed markets it considered typical neighborhoods where a middle-manager would live. The average price for Coldwell's subject home was $318,172, up 9 percent from $291,097 last year.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.