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Demand Soars for Luxury Property in Kauaʻi, Hawaii

Super-prime property sales in Kauaʻi racked up a total of almost $631m last year.

By Katharine Swindells |  February 22 2022


Kauaʻi, the fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, is known for its lush natural beauty that earned it the name ‘The Garden Isle.’ But while Kauaʻi has historically had less of a luxury offering than the larger, more well-known islands, the last year shows that people are taking notice.

Last year saw record-breaking growth in luxury property sales in Kauaʻi, as buyers look to establish themselves in the stunning beauty of the Garden Isle.

Data provided to Elite Traveler by Title Guaranty Hawaii found that in 2020 there were 300 residences and condo units sold in Kauaʻi for $3m or more, almost double the number in 2019. In 2021 the number more than tripled, with almost 100 properties sold for upwards of $3m.

One of the developments driving this luxury demand is Timbers Kauaʻi, a luxury resort of oceanfront residences in Hokuala. In Fall 2021, Timbers shattered the island’s real estate records with the sale of a three-bedroom residence on the ocean’s edge with views of the Ha’upu mountain range, for $6.8m. The residence cost $2,340 per sq ft, the highest ever seen for a condo sale on Kauaʻi. Timbers recently launched new Laola Nani townhouses to meet the rising demand.

“Buyers recognize what a rare opportunity it is to not only live on the waterfront with sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean, but also live a signature luxury Kauaʻi lifestyle alongside loved ones,” says Chris Burden, chief development officer at Timbers Resorts. “Our residences offer the privacy and space of a private home with the services and amenities of a five-star resort.”

Across Kauaʻi, super-prime property sales racked up a total of almost $631m, more than double the total in the peak of 2018, and 10 times the value sold in 2019.

“Luxury inventory on Kaua’i is unique and supply is somewhat fixed, driving prices higher, and our team has seen an extraordinary level of demand in 2021 that is continuing into 2022,” says Donna Apisa, president & CEO at Oceanfront Sotheby’s International Realty. “Kaua’i offers everything buyers are looking for from beaches to mountains to the most beautiful views on the planet, making the island’s one-of-a-kind residences some of the most sought-after homes.”

Kaua’i is more remote than other large Hawaiian islands and historically has had far less property development. In 2021, across all price bands of property, Kaua’i saw only around 1,400 property sales. In comparison, O‘ahu saw more than eight times as many sales, almost 12,000. Kaua’i is known as the Garden Isle for a reason, and it’s this unmarred beauty that makes it so coveted by luxury buyers.

[See also: This Hawaiian Villa Brings Paradise to Your Fingertips]

In particular, Kaua’i brokers say they are seeing strong demand for luxury property from mainland buyers, taking advantage of flexible work-from-home policies to spend more time on the Garden Isle, particularly from states like California and Oregon where the time difference is small.

Across all of Kauaʻi, 35% of sales between January and September 2021 were from buyers from the Mainland US, compared to the entirety of the Hawaiian Islands, where Mainland US buyers make up just 23% of sales.

Owners at Timbers Kaua'i enjoy unbroken views of the ocean and mountains / ©Timbers Kaua'i

“Buyers recognize the value of owning a hands-free vacation home at our resort community where families can spread out, work remotely or cook a private dinner on their lanai vs booking a hotel-centric holiday where crowds of tourists occupy high-rise towers,” says Burden.

After Hawaii itself, California is the most popular origin state of Kauaʻi buyers, buying 20 properties with a combined value of $401m in 2021. This is a 41% increase in the number of sales compared to 2019, but almost triple the total value spent in 2019, showing Californian buyers are opting for higher value luxury properties. A similar trend is seen in buyers from Utah and Oregon, with value spent on Kauaʻi property, double or triple what it was in 2019.

“More than ever before, high net worth buyers have been re-evaluating how they’d like to spend time with their loved ones and the type of lifestyle they’d like to enjoy, which has led them to seek features such as space, lush landscapes and access to nature,” says Apisa.

[Learn More: This Residence on Kauai’s South Shore is a Lesson in Sophistication]

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