Property Management Honolulu
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Honolulu is a gigantic city when it comes to real estate: around 350,000 people. It is not only the capital of the state of Hawaii but the state’s most populated city. As a county, it represents the entire island of Oahu. Knowing the different areas of the city is very important for real estate and property management in Oahu. That is because they act like mini-cities in themselves. However, grouping them and knowing where one area begins and another end is rather difficult. Since 1983, Kamehameha Realty has been managing numerous Honolulu homes. Such experience allowed us to follow the growth of the Honolulu real estate and rental market closely. If you are looking to buy or rent your Honolulu property, you found the right company to work with. Our Honolulu property managers and real estate agents can guide you in what to expect from each local area.
The great majority of information listed on this page is from direct experience in sales transactions and property management in Honolulu over the years.
Town – The Honolulu Metro Area
The central area of Honolulu is known for being the business district. It is full of Hawaii’s tallest buildings, but also sharing space with many historical landmarks. Downtown is the location of the state capital and the majority of all government offices and buildings are located here. The Financial and Business districts exist in this area with most of Hawaii’s biggest corporations headquartered in one of the tall buildings. Even national banks, which have limited presence in the state may have their one and only location in Downtown. Moreover, Downtown was also the island capital before Hawaii was part of the United States. Because of that, the only castle in America exists here: Iolani Palace. The castle is located close to the State Library and Downtown post office.
As one could imagine, there are no houses in Downtown. However, the high rises are not only office buildings, but condominium buildings too. Many of the buildings are on the older side, but there is a slow modernization in the area, which started with luxury building Capitol Place.
People who choose to live in Downtown, probably do so for convenience to work, which should be walkable. If you choose to live there make sure you look for a place with included parking. Street parking is very difficult with limited and expensive meters. While most shops and restaurants close early in the weekdays and are possibly closed in the weekend, there are still food and entertainment options in Downtown. That is Restaurant Row and Aloha Tower Marketplace. China Town and Kakaako with their shops and eateries are just right across the street of Downtown’s borders too.
China Town is sometimes bunched with Downtown as the borderline between the two areas is not exactly known. There aren’t many offices in China Town, but there are many restaurants in this area that many white collar workers will visit during the day. While not nearly everything is Chinese now days, this area has a lot of history with Hawaii including being the most recent outbreak of the Black Plague!
This area has seen a semi revitalization in the past decade. That is because crime has decreased and the government has put in considerable resources to clean up China Town. When it comes to real estate, there aren’t too many places to live here. There are small apartment units situated right above commercial spaces. The store owners are the most likely tenants/owners of such homes. Kukui Plaza is a high rise condo building, which might be considered part of Chinatown.
Kakaako is the most “hip” area of Honolulu right now. We have watched it grow on a daily basis by living and managing multiple properties in Kakaako. Check out our dedicated page to property management in Kakaako.
Also a “hip” area to own, rent, and live. You can check out Ala Moana here.
Contrarily of what most locals think, Waikiki is not only for tourists. In fact, Waikiki is the first location where most mainlanders and internationals wish to move into when they first arrive in Oahu. Due to being so different, Waikiki real estate is a market on its own. Check out our Waikiki page for detailed info.
Hot areas for Real Estate in Honolulu
Very desirable area to own and rent property. Pretty much the center where everything happens in Honolulu.
West and Central Honolulu
Just East of the Aloha Stadium (the stadium actually belongs in Aiea; more about property management in Aiea). Salt Lake is a large area of West Honolulu, sometimes referred to as Aliamanu, the name of a nearby crater. The heart of Salt Lake is near the Salt Lake Shopping Center and Salt Lake Library. It is a densely populated area of older high rises and condo complexes. Many of these condo complexes are lacking in parking and competition for street parking can be fierce. Around the perimeter of the many condo buildings, the lot sizes get bigger. That is where Salt Lake becomes a residential suburb, especially next to the Honolulu Country Club.
The area itself is practically surrounded by military bases including Pearl Harbor, Hickam Airforce Base, Fort Shafter, Camp Smith, and Tripler Medical Center, which isn’t a base, but a VA hospital. If you have a rental property, this would be considered a military area, often equating to quicker rental turnover and less vacancy.
Kalihi is a gigantic neighborhood. It begins at the start of the Nimitz Highway to China Town. Then, it goes north from the ocean into the mountains using the Likelike Highway. The Likelike Highway connects Honolulu with Kaneohe as it passes through the Wilson Tunnel. Due to its size, Kalihi can easily be broken down into its own sub areas.
Kalihi Kai is the initial part right at the end of the H1 Freeway. “Kai” means ocean in Hawaiian, and this part of Kalihi does reach the ocean and is the location of Ke’ehi Lagoon. There is a boat harbor here and one of the areas you can go to paddle outriggers canoes. This was the training ground for me when learning how to scuba dive. Such area is mostly industrial and you probably won’t be searching for a rental or residential purchase here.
Kalihi Palama is a densely populated area that goes to the edge of China Town. This part of Kalihi is a lower income area and known for having higher crime rates. Honolulu Community College and the busiest Costco in the nation are located here. There are also a disproportionately high amount of homeless in this area.
Kalihi Main is just north of the H1 Freeway, next to the Likelike Highway. The Bishop Museum, Hawaii’s main museum and an excellent place to learn about Hawaiian history, is easily seen from the freeway. Kam Shopping Center, located across the street is a major hub and congestion causing landmark. There are many large houses in this area and we manage several of them. Duplexs are not uncommon here.
Kalihi Valley as the name suggests is located in the valley of the mountain as it winds up towards the other side. The houses here are going to be very similar to that in the Kapalama area depending on if you have a view or are on the ground. Being a valley, it does rain a lot here and the Likelike Highway goes through a rainforest.
Liliha area is right next to and very similar to Nuuanu. The exact borderline is not very distinct and very easy for locals to mix up, including myself. Kapalama is an extension of Liliha as it goes into the mountain tops. The most famous landmark of Kapalama is Kamehameha Schools, part of the Bishop Estates. Until recently, a student had to have Hawaiian blood to go to this school and may still be assumed as much.
Liliha has many walk up apartment buildings and duplex houses. It is a very dense neighborhood. Just like many of the other mountain areas, the higher you get, the more expensive the houses become. It is much more rare to see apartment buildings in Kapalama, but you will be able to find duplex houses, especially illegal duplex houses. At the very top of the mountain, the view is amazing as you can see from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor very easily.
A highly regarded suburb in nestled deep in the valley between Punchbowl and Tantalus and St Louis Heights. This is the home ground of the main campus of the University of Hawaii (the Manoa campus) and also private school, the Mid Pacific Institute, commonly known as Mid Pac. It rains a lot in Manoa being in a rainforest, and yards are lush and green. A popular tourist attraction is Manoa Falls trail where you can see a waterfall.
Houses in Manoa can be on the older side. It is one of the few areas in Hawaii I have been to where I have seen houses older than 100 years old. The land here is very valuable and despite the age of the house, homes here to buy or rent will be higher than the surrounding areas. There are no condo buildings that I know of in this area.
Makiki, Punahou, and University:
These three areas, starting the most West to the most East are densely populated areas that make up the entrance to the Manoa region. The Punahou area is known mainly because of world famous Punahou School and is technically in the Makiki area. The University area is known for being in the area under the University of Hawaii, but not part of Manoa.
All 3 of these areas are filled with many apartment and condo buildings. A lot of them are walk up building with few amenities and parking may be limited in this area. These are very affordable areas for the location and might be good options for a person’s first purchase. Rental prices will also tend to be higher compared to purchase price due to constant rental demand from the university. If you are interested in buying a house here, they do exist. Houses here will generally be older, possibly worn, and over $1 million.
These two areas are located in the very dense areas in between University, Waikiki, Ala Moana, and Kaimuki. McCully is probably the more known of the two as there is a McCully Shopping Center and Library. Iolani Schools, a famous private school, is also located in Moiliili.
On the Moiliili border with Waikiki, there are many high rises. If you are interested in purchasing here, make sure you know the difference between Fee Simple and Lease Hold. Lease Hold can be fairly common in this area. An example of a high rise in this area is the Marco Polo building. You may remember it from headline news due to a pretty devastating fire in 2017. This fire has started changes in older Hawaii condo buildings to get interior water sprinklers installed into them.
McCully has more of the commercial stores and shops than Moiliili such as Waiola Shave Ice, but still does have residential units. These units will more likely be in walk up apartment complexes. There is dense set of houses near Washington Middle School, and lots sizes here are extremely small. There are several gorgeous modern new house developments that fully maximize the lot space by neglecting or getting rid of yard space. Which type of space would you prefer if it were your house?
Punchbowl and Nuuanu share the Pali border. Punchbowl is given its name for the Punchbowl Cemetery, also known as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, which takes up almost the entire crater of the mountain. It’s a massive cemetery for military heros from long past and recent.
Surrounding the crater, there are many walk up apartment buildings and multiplexes. Being an older desirable neighborhood, several of the houses are already pushing over 100 years old. My grandfather, who built his home near the top of Punchbowl used to tell me of the times where you could see the entire ocean coast from the top of the mountains. Now most of the view is blocked by high rises, but it’s still visible.
For those looking to rent or buy in this location, the land is very valuable being in close proximity to Down Town, Kakaako, and the freeway. Rents can be surprisingly reasonable for the location due to lack of unit updates. Even purchasing can be relatively reasonable for the same reason, especially if you are looking for an apartment or condo building. Definitely inquire if the unit comes with parking!
The Nuuanu area is an older mixed residential and commercial area just north of Down Town. Kuakini Hospital is located here and it is debatable if famous Liliha Bakery is really in Nuuanu or Liliha (I guess we’ll go by its name). There are many walk up apartment buildings, few high rises, and many house lots. The further you get into the mountains, the more houses you’ll see. It is not uncommon for these houses to be legal and illegal duplexes or have backside Ohana or extra units.
The Pali is actually a highway that connects Down Town with the Windward areas of Kaneohe and Kailua. It is officially located in the Nuuanu area and means “cliff” in Hawaiian. Pali Lookout is possibly the best known landmark of the area, which is the cliff of reference from a great battle fought when King Kamehameha was unifying the islands. The area immediately surrounding the highway is considered “The Pali” area before it goes through the Pali tunnel. There is also the Pali Highway which cuts directly through the rain forest, passing by the Pali Lookout. The environment is very lush and green here and rains almost every day. There are mostly houses in the Pali and while they are on the older side, it is a more affluent area.
St Louis Heights and Wilhelmina Rise:
St Louis Heights and Wilhelmina Rise are two different adjoining ridges. The bottom of St Louis Heights has St Louis private school and Chaminade University, one of the few private colleges in the state. If you are looking for an amazing view, you can traverse the windy road all the way up the mountain top.
There are many rentals in St Louis Heights, usually for illegal multi unit dwellings. The view from the balconies of these houses are truly amazing as they are often clear and unblocked panoramic views of the city top line to the coast. There are many college students that live in this mountain which is surprising for the relatively high price tag for real estate here. It is most likely because most students share many of the costs and it is very close to school. Parking is incredibly difficult here and many residents get around with mopeds.
Wilhelmina rise is similar in the sense that it has a great view and the type of houses are also similar. There are are striking difference between these ridges though. While St Louis Drive is windy enough to make you car sick, Wilhelmina Rise is a straight line up to the top. If you want to see what it looks like, it’s the main image for our home page!
Possibly because access up and down this part of the mountain is easier, there are more newly built houses on Wilhelmina Rise.
In the valley between St Louis Heights and Wilhelmina rise is Palolo Valley. Locals may describe this area as a sleepy quiet area, and that’s probably how they wish to keep it. As it is a valley, it rains here often and most of the homes are surrounded in lush green yards. Many of the homes are also on a slope with the houses on the Palolo perimeter having large slope lots. The base of Palolo feeds into the area of Kaimuki where there is some commercial stores. Other than that Palolo is full of residential houses.
Kaimuki is a major hub of Honolulu. It is part dense with many stores and shops, but also part suburban as the city goes into the mountain valley. For whatever reason, Kaimuki is the only area I know of in Hawaii that uses a numerical street or avenue system rather than the typical Hawaiian street naming system. Starting with 1st Avenue, the West to East system goes to 22nd Avenue, ending in the Kahala area.
Kaimuki Shopping Center, the heart of the area is right in the center on 12th Avenue. Kaimuki is known for a lot of great eating, but parking is very difficult here, even costing money to park in parking lots! There are not many dense areas such as this with Waikiki and Down Town being the most notable.
Kaimuki has a high owner occupant ratio compared with the rest of Honolulu because it is a highly desirable place to live. While there are rentals everywhere with Kaimuki being no exception, there just aren’t as much. This will lead to higher rents than normal for what you’re getting. More people will also be focusing on purchasing a house here.
Houses are on the older side, but very expensive in Kaimuki. It is not uncommon to be looking at a single wall house which might be outdated with the times, such as a 3 bedroom house only having 1 ½ bathrooms, or a house with a 1 car garage, but buyers are so excited to get into their neighborhood that it may not matter.
Aina Haina is a pretty wide expanse of land beginning at the very end of the H1 Freeway going to the beginning of Hawaii Kai. There are several valleys in this area including the Aina Haina valley and the Kuliouou Valley. Both of these valleys are very similar in terms of look and feel of the real estate and the surrounding environment. They are also both highly desirable as areas where you can get large Honolulu homes, but not pay nearly as much as in the Kahala area. If you go up high in the mountains, you can live in a home with a pretty nice view.
This is the most east part of the island. Most real estate starts in the central part of the island such as the Kalihi area, and then moves outwards. Hawaii Kai is different. It has a new type of feeling to it. Roads are wider here, lots are bigger, and parking is usually not a problem. Hawaii Kai has a lot to offer for residents compared with other areas to live in the county. If you like hiking, give the Koko Head Crater Stair trail a try. Should you prefer swimming, world famous Hanauma Bay is a short distance away. If you wanted to live on the water, Hawaii Kai has its own marina, where you can park your own boat right in the back of your home!
If you fell in love with the large and newer (this is relative) houses of Kahala and Waialae Iki, but couldn’t afford it, you may really like what you see in Hawaii Kai! There are houses comparable to those at Waialae Iki in terms of size, quality, and view, for a fraction of the cost. Even “regular” houses will be cheaper and newer in Hawaii Kai for the house and lot size. For those interested in condo living, Hawaii Kai doesn’t have as much selection, but there are several high rise buildings, which are also cheaper than in other parts of Honolulu for what you get.
The first area at the end of the H1 freeway, also where Kahala Mall exists. It sits right next to Kaimuki and Diamond Head. The lower part of Waialae Iki and Aina Haina are on the opposite side.
Kahala is well known as being an upper class, safe neighborhood. Most of the residences are houses with at least 5,000 sq feet lots and a lot of space between neighbors. The closer you get to the ocean, the more expensive these houses get.
This part upper class, part beach town area is on the edge of Waikiki, surrounds the entire Diamond Head mountain, and connects with Kahala. There is a great mix of condo buildings and luxurious magazine cover houses. The different ranges of prices is due to the location, with many Waikiki employees and students from Kapiolani Community College (also on Diamond Head) calling it home. For those that like fresh food, Kapiolani Community College is known as having Oahu’s biggest and best weekly farmer’s market.
Situated high above the ground, the Waialae Iki area is a mountain area where home owners can enjoy a panoramic view of the ocean. The higher you go, the higher the home prices. Growing up, I was taught that Oahu’s elite lived in these mountains. While there are many upper class areas on Oahu, Wailae Iki’s reputation has not diminished with time with many people still aspiring to live here. At the very top of the mountain lies a gated community Waialae Iki 5. Jay from Home Staging San Diego has visited some to get inspiration for his awesome home designs.
While Honolulu represents a big part of our rental inventory, we manage a large amount of properties in Kapolei area as well.
Whether you are looking buy, sell, rent out or rent in Honolulu area, allow us at Kamehameha Realty to guide you. We love working out the positive and negative aspects of each area in how it relates to your own goals and desired real estate outcome.