Thursday, December 06, 2007

Foreign buyers keep Hawaii market bouyant

"Hawaii is the Monaco of the West Coast for the affluent," Eovino said. "Hawaii's international real estate market, this year, has the potential to be bigger than any year before."

The Canadians discovered Hawaiian real estate in the 1960s, the Saudis arrived in the 1970s and the Japanese came in the middle to late 1980s. Then left after heavy speculation created a housing bubble that caused the market to turn. Now, the Japanese and Canadian buyers are back, real estate experts here say, adding that there was greater demand for Hawaii from Oceania, Europe, China, South Korea and other parts of Asia.

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The weakening of the U.S. dollar is drawing even more foreign interest. "There's been a noticeable increase in international buyers within the last 60 to 90 days," said Chason Ishii, president of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties in Honolulu.

Similarly, more Canadian buyers are choosing to purchase Hawaiian real estate and capitalize on the best U.S. exchange rates they have seen in 30 years, Loughery said. "Five years ago, a $1 million property in the U.S. would have cost a Canadian buyer $1.6 million to purchase. Now it will cost them just under $1 million," she said. "We've seen a big change in the exchange rates in the last six to eight weeks, and everyone wants to go shopping."

When the dollar exchange rate fell to ¥114 from ¥122 several months ago, Hawaii saw a wave of Japanese buyers, said Sachi Braden, owner of Sachi Hawaii, a company here that specializes in selling to the high-end Asian market. "Right off the top, they are looking at about a 5 percent savings," she said.



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