Sean Ahearn and Jim Karlovsky Talk Kauai, Hawaii Real Estate And Things To Do

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Editor's Note: Kauai, Hawaii real estate experts Sean Ahearn and Jim Karlovsky give their insight about the luxury real estate market and things to do on the Pacific island.

Ahearn Karlovsky, Kauai, Hawaii Mar2020 blogPhoto Credit: Ahearn Karlovsky

How has the luxury real estate market in your market been performing so far in 2020?

After a fairly tepid 2019, 2020 has actually been robust - a bit surprising frankly. From the start of the year up to March 15th, island-wide on Kauai total sales are up 27%, unit sales are only up 3% which means that median prices are up about 28% over the same time frame in 2019. There have been sixty sales at $1M or more. So, we would say that 2020's off to an excellent start where we have a great tailwind. It does however, remain to be seen how 2020 finishes, especially the normally busy summer months coming up.

What are buyers looking for in their homes in your market in 2020?

Due to the remoteness of Kauai (the most isolated, populated landmass on the planet) and the dearth of local suppliers for building materials, fixtures, furnishings, etc., many second-home buyers tend to want a turnkey residence and therefore eschew fixer-uppers or projects. Most are too busy on the mainland to be managing a fixer-project or new build here. There are some world-class homes here on Kauai and we have excellent builders and craftspeople, that being said, there are only so many of them and in high-demand and because so, they tend to be expensive. Many buyers don't want the hassle and are therefore willing to pay a bit of a premium for new construction whether that's via new development projects, mostly condominiums or they'll acquire a newly remodeled home.

In terms of specific property wants, ocean views, outdoor living spaces, pools, some elbow room and recently air conditioning top the list.

Kauai, Hawaii - used Mar2020 - shutterstock_1631207686Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Which has been a highlight sale for you so far in 2020?

We have personally been involved in a couple of the largest trades island-wide year-to-date. These include, on the Seller-side, a $6,300,000 transaction a few weeks ago, the property belonged to an Oscar-winning Director, so the ocean bluff property was incredibly authentic and presented like a movie-set - a pristine tropical setting with great water features and awesome ocean views.

On the Buyer-side, we represented a popular footwear company co-founder this week in a $3.9M trade that was again a bluff-top, oceanview, beach-centric property with a pool and guest cottage on acreage with great construction in the craftsman style.

Are there any new restaurants or other spots in your market you’ve been loving lately?

As Kauai is a small kine place, new restaurants are a fewer and further between phenomenon. Just to give you an idea, in the January 2020 Issue of Food & Wine magazine, they published a list of the Best Classic Restaurants in every state, and on Kauai, Lihue's own Hamura Saimin - a local favorite since 1952. That's right, a 30-counter seat, Formica-topped noodle shop.

However, that being said, there is PV Eats ( which follows the new trend of "grocerants" or "restamarts" - a gourmet market with a bistro bar & restaurant. Perched above the Prince Golf Course at the North Shore Preserve in Princeville - the sunset views area incredible there's picnic takeaway lunch seating outside and casual dining with spectacular views - especially at sunset. They have a great wine & cocktail list along with fabulous foreplay with ahi, oysters and Kauai shrimp, amazing salads and sandwiches along with pasta and traditional dinner fare with a Kauaian twist. Two enthusiastic thumbs up - we love it.

Ahearn blog - Mar2020 - Kauai, Hawaii - shutterstock_1053409016

Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

It’s time for spring break. What is a fun activity in your market?

The total lifestyle is relaxing, but relaxing out-of-doors in particular everyone manifests their relationship with the ocean whether that's surfing, paddling, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, walking the beach, boogie boarding, boating, diving - you name it, we have it with warm water and balmy tradewinds all the while. Kauai has the most temperate climate in the western hemisphere where it never below 60 degrees or above 85, it seems like Spring Break year-round. There's also great hiking to Grand Canyonesque Waimea or any number of waterfall trails island-wide and fun excursions like dolphin and whale watching tours, cruising the Na Pali Coast or tubing the plantation irrigation ditches (more fun than it sounds) and plenty of 4-wheel driving, horseback riding and ziplining for the thrill enthusiasts. And when you're done you can kick back on any ne of a number of spectacular golden sand beaches - Kauai has more beaches than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined - you can always find your very own deserted beach. And if all that fails, an umbrella drink never fails to satisfy.

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