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Relocating to the Kaimuki District of Honolulu

So you’re thinking about carving out your portion in paradise in the Kaimuki district of Honolulu? Smart idea—the worst day in Kaimuki is better than the best day anywhere else! Read on to learn more about Kaimuki and considerations for living there.

What and where is Kaimuki?

Kaimuki is a quaint early twentieth-century neighborhood on the Koko Head side of downtown Honolulu. It’s situated on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head Crater with Kapahulu to the west and Kahala to the east.

As a naturally dry, dusty area, Kaimuki wasn’t heavily populated until adequate water and transportation were introduced to the area. In 1898, Kaimuki was developed as Honolulu’s first subdivision.

Kaimukī means ‘tī oven.’ For those unfamiliar with Hawai’ian folklore, that’s a reference to the legends of the Menehune (small creatures). The Menehune magically built ovens overnight to cook tī roots. Ti, also known by its scientific name, Cordyline fruiticosa, is a popular good-luck plant whose leaves are used for leis and hula skirts.

Why move to Kaimuki?

When you live in Kaimuki, you’ll enjoy belonging to a peaceful, welcoming community. But just because Kaimuki has a historic, aloha vibe doesn’t mean it’s a sleepy suburb. There’s plenty to see and do.

As you walk along Wai’alae Avenue, Kaimuki’s main drag, you can pop into one of many bustling businesses housed in historic buildings. If farmers’ markets are your thing, there’s an outdoor produce stand at 12th and Mahina Avenues that’s open almost every day.

The range of shopping experiences and services you’ll encounter in Kaimuki is surprising. Within a five-block area, you can buy Hawaiian fabric, get your shoes fixed, or get your yoga fix. You can also create art or catch a foreign film at the Movie Museum.

And then there’s the food!

Whatever your food fancy, you’re likely to find it in one of Kaimiku’s eateries, which range from bakeries to noodle shops to fine dining. Lunch at the Kaimuki Superette can include an octopus roll, which is reportedly delicious.

You can also visit one of the many children- and dog-friendly parks in the area. There are lots of family-friendly activities to enjoy. The neighborhood boasts top-rated schools, both public and private.

Location, location, location!

As a resident of Kaimiku, you’ll enjoy unparalleled convenience. Here are transit times for some popular destinations:

10 minutes ride to Waikiki
15 minutes to Ala Moana shopping center
10 minutes to south shore beaches
15 minutes to the University of Hawai’i Manoa
15 minutes ride to Hawaii Kai and the east side
15 minutes to the Hawaii Yacht Club
Multiple onramps to hop on the H1 freeway
16 minutes to the airport

Real estate in Kaimuki

Charming older homes fill the gently rolling hills of Kaimuki. These homes are sometimes owned for generations without ever having been sold. However, as Kaimuki gains popularity, older homes are being torn down to make way for new construction.

Houses in Kaimuki are usually situated on modest-sized lots between 3,000 to 6,000 sq ft. Prices range from $700,000 to $1.3 million. Large homes with panoramic ocean views command the highest prices.

However, Kaimuki has many micro-neighborhoods that don’t necessarily carry such high price tags. And if you’re in the market for a condo, you’ll typically have a far lower investment.

The median home value in Kaimuki was $1.4 million in November 2020, which is more expensive than Honolulu as a whole. With a medium listing price per square foot of $627, the red-hot Kaimuki real estate market was up 21.6% year-over-year.

At the end of 2018, Kaimuki was home to 18,700 residents comprising a bit more than 3,000 households. As you can see, there’s a limited supply of houses in Kaimuki. The scarcity of Kaimuki houses, low interest rates, and the increasing popularity of the area are driving prices upwards.

Although the upward price trend is good news for sellers, who wants to sell in Kaimuki? Not too many people. So, if you want to buy a home in this desirable area, get your finances in order and be prepared to act quickly to purchase a suitable property.

Make sure you know what you’re buying
Hawaii has two types of property ownership — fee simple and leaseholds. Leaseholds are more complicated, so let’s begin there.

When you buy a leasehold property, you don’t own the land. In essence, you rent the ground for an agreed-upon amount of time. At the end of that time, barring a new agreement between the fee-simple landowner (lessor) and the leasehold property owner (lessor), the land and its improvements revert back to the lessor. And the lessee pays ground rent to the lessor.

Most leasehold properties on O’ahu are condos or townhomes. There are still some leasehold single-family homes on the island, though.

Fee-simple properties give you ownership of the land and any improvements. When you own a fee-simple property, you can use and enjoy the property as you see fit. Of course, you’ll have to abide by zoning laws, covenants, deed, or subdivision restrictions.

Owners of fee-simple properties are responsible for property taxes, mortgage expenses, and maintenance fees. You can also sell, trade, rent, or renovate the property according to your wishes.

Since leasehold properties are typically offered at a lower price point, they may be the only way you can afford to purchase in Kamuiki. However, our real estate team, Weaver Hawaii, will ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities under either leasehold or fee simple property ownership.

Conclusion

It’s not necessarily easy to buy a home in Kaimuki since the housing supply is limited and prices are soaring. Weaver Hawaii, however, will help you snag one of the coveted Kaimuki homes.

If you’re ready to begin your search for a Kaimuki home for you and your family, reach out to Weaver Hawaii. With our intimate understanding of real estate here on O’ahu, we can help you locate and purchase the ideal property for yourself and your family.

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