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History Of Big Island Real Estate
Big Island: Then & Now
The Island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is the largest, highest, and youngest in the Hawaiian Archipelago. With two mountains over 13,000 feet and twice the area of all the other islands combined, the Big Island offers a wealth of diverse and beautiful natural landscapes. Home to some of the most exceptional real estate in the world, near perfect weather and endless recreational and cultural attractions, it is easy to see why people from near and far have been called to this region for centuries, and why today many continue to choose Big Island real estate for their primary, vacation and investment homes.
In fact, today’s Big Island is home to more than 200,000 residents, with an average daily visitor population approaching 22,000 people. While the island’s population is mainly centered in Hilo on the windward side and Kailua-Kona on the leeward side, additional concentrations can be found in both the Waimea and Puna areas. More than half of the visitors each year are to the Mauna Kea area. As one might expect, the Big Island real estate market has drastically changed over the years to accommodate a growing full-time resident population as well as to meet rising tourism demands.
Western Influence in Big Island Real Estate
Discovered by explorers from the Polynesian region of the Marquesas Islands, early settlers came into the island around 1,500-years ago. Western culture was only introduced through explorers and missionaries who came to the Big Island in the 1700s and 1800s, bringing with them sugar and cattle, which would become great influences on the island’s economy and culture. This was the beginning for Parker Ranch, one of the oldest and largest cattle ranches on the Big Island. Additionally, sugar plantations also took hold, later becoming one of the prime industries of Hilo. As observable in the present day Big Island, much of the Western influences have blended with ancient Hawaiian culture and continue to make a more engaging, modern island. At the same time, much of the island’s ancient practices are kept alive by the modern traveler’s interest in them.
As more and more Westerners learned of the tropical ambiance, laid-back lifestyle, and lush mountains and seas, Big Island real estate has expanded from quaint bungalows and working farms to include some of the most exceptional resort areas, equestrian estates and vacation homes in the region. Resorts such as Mauna Lani, Mauna Kea, Waikoloa, Kukio and Hualalai, many of which were founded beginning in the late 1970s, are positioned beautifully along the Kona and Kohala coastline, and take full advantage of the unparalleled natural landscape. Other exceptional opportunities exist inland with options that include stunning ranch properties and exclusive gated estates.
Big Island Real Estate Trends Upward
Similar to other real estate markets, the Big Island real estate market has seen its fair share of high’s and low’s. While the late 1990s and early 2000s were some of the most prosperous in Big Island real estate history, the island did not escape the housing crisis that caused real estate markets to dip across the country in 2008. Overall however, the market in Hawaii has always been a bit ahead of the curve and was poised to recover more rapidly than other markets across the United States.
Today, real estate in Hawaii is continuing to trend upward, and Big Island real estate is no exception – as many people realize now is the perfect time to buy a home based on factors such as availability and opportune interest rates. While slowly diminishing, there is also a nice supply of foreclosure and short sale homes of all types, which are a great option not only for investors but also for families and individuals who are looking to purchase more space for their money. This decline in foreclosures and distressed properties is a welcomed sign for sellers, as the Big Island is starting to move back to a point where the real estate market benefits both buyers and sellers.
As a whole, the Big Island real estate market’s current trends point to strong activity in the residential market with an overall increase in sales and decrease in inventory on the island, indicating continued growth in the market. In fact, median prices are holding steady for single-family homes and increasing slightly for condominiums throughout the area. For those buyers who are poised and ready to take advantage of this market, there are a number of great deals, particularly in the resort areas.
Take the Kohala Coast of the Big Island for example. Here buyers can find new construction condominiums and single-family homes in areas such as The Villages at Mauna Lani Resort and Kaunaoa at Mauna Kea Resort for a fraction of the cost compared to previous years, as well as a number of luxury residences ideal for both primary and vacation homes. As luxury buyers would expect, these resort areas offer the finest in amenities and luxuries including world-class golf, unparalleled spa and recreational facilities, and some of the finest real estate choices on the Big Island. Truly wonderful dining opportunities also exist on the Big Island, and can accommodate everything from a casual lunch at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to an elegant waterfront dinner at Manta.
Continued Growth Among Big Island Real Estate
It is important to note that as more and more new residents and visitors choose to call the Big Island of Hawaii home, more development is anticipated for the area and much effort is being made to ensure that the natural landscape and beauty, as well as the ancient heritage of the island, is preserved.
To learn more about Big Island real estate or to explore the properties currently available to you, our team at Luxury Big Island encourages you to use the various search functions of this website at your leisure. The area’s leading resource for community information, real estate trends and advice, and for searching the Big Island MLS, we welcome you to tour the site and encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you soon and to welcoming you home to the Big Island!