Palm trees, soothing breezes, turquoise water and tall drinks.These are the magic elements of a tropical vacation.In fact, they are so persuasive that Conde Nast Traveler reports that beach holidays are Amerca’s favorite escape.
A mental image of ourselves ensconced in a hammock roped between swaying coconut palms is indeed so seductive that once we reach those tropical golden shores we shortly find ourselves lingering in front of local real estate offices and reading spec sheets on vacation homes. Its nice, even beguiling, to while away a little time dreaming of a new life, or at least a regular getaway, to our own piece of heaven under southern skies. be that a condo, a timeshare or a house.
While timeshares seem to make the most sense in many ways ( flexible locations, relatively low cost of entry) they do not convey the sense of personal ownership and belonging that comes with a condo or a home. Condo’s, especially if they are used as a vacation rental to offset yearly running costs also seem (to me) a bit impersonal. Most vacation condos are stripped of personal items and personality in favor of function, utility and security. It’s yours but it never really feels like home away from home because your condo unit is smack next door to another and offers little real privacy.
Then there are houses. A house is by far the most cocooning arrangement and offers the advantages of space, privacy and personality. I am traveling in the Islands at the moment and , true to form, have already started to hit real estate offices and open houses in hopes of finding a bargain. In short, despite an approximate 35% loss of value over the past recession years, paradise in Hawaii still comes at a premium.
While prices vary by neighborhood and location, location, location, it was interesting to learn that there are currently only 14 residences for sale in Kona at a price below $400K. Prices per square foot range from a low of $365 to $990. Only cash and conventional loans would be available funding options for these second homes. In addition, most of the better areas attract HOA fees which range from $400 and month to over $1200 a month. This does cover the cost of water, landscaping of common areas, street maintenance and some insurance costs. One would normally employ a home watcher service, pay electricity costs year round ( $600 a month is average w/o AC), employ a gardener to maintain private areas, a pool maintenance company and a cleaning service. You might be interested to learn that casual labor rates start at $25 hour.
The good news is that property taxes are really low. One 2.3 million dollar property I visited on Sunday only costs its owners $5521 a year in tax. Sales tax is only 4%. Balmy breezes are free. Aloha!