If you’ve vacationed in Oahu, you’ve likely hiked along the Diamond Head State Monument trails, toured the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and relaxed at the infamous Waikiki Beach. You’ve probably thought that living in Oahu could be a dream come true, and you’d be right.
Also known as “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is home to over one million people and is the third-largest Hawaiian Island. While it’s known for its amazing tourist attractions, there’s much more to do when you’re a local, like finding hidden gem beaches, trails, and restaurants. So whether you’re looking to retire in Kailua or need housing near your job at the Airbase, there is real estate for you in Oahu.
So if you’ve decided to move to Oahu, the next decision will be to figure out what type of housing you want. If you search for houses online, you’ll see several different varieties. Typically these housing types will be single-family homes, condos, multi-family, and land. Condos and single-family homes are the two most popular kinds in Oahu. However, there are pros and cons to both, which we’ll discuss in this article.
What’s the difference between a condo and a house?
There are two main types of properties when buying real estate: condos and single-family homes. Both are great options, but there are some essential differences between them.
Condos are built in clusters and found in more urban areas. Condos are generally individual units in a larger building and share walls with their neighbors. If you don’t mind having multiple neighbors, this may be ideal because they are more affordable than single-family homes and have amenities like pools and gyms.
Single-family homes are typically located in more suburban areas and owned by families. These homes can vary from split-level, ranches, colonials, and cottages. There is no shortage of different styles, shapes, and sizes. These homes are often large enough to accommodate multiple generations of the same family. These homes usually are purchased with the land they sit on.
Who should live in a condo?
Condos are great for young couples looking to buy their first home, empty nesters looking to downsize, and busy professionals who often travel for work.
What are the pros of condos?
More choices: Currently, on Zillow, there are almost 900 condos on the market in Oahu. There are 450 more condos than single-family homes on the market. Most are in high-cost cities like Honolulu, where purchasing a single-family home would be more challenging.
Less expensive: Condos are significantly less expensive than single-family homes, especially in Oahu. Condos are on average $600K less than single-family homes on the island.
Less driving: Most condos in Oahu are in or near Honolulu. Having a condo in an urban area opens up the opportunity to walk, bike, or use public transportation. With gas prices rising, this could save costs and put more money in your pocket.
More amenities: Unlike most single-family homes, condo communities have amenities like ample parking, pools, gyms, and security.
Less maintenance: Condos typically handle most exterior maintenance like lawn mowing and cleaning the gutters. By paying your Homeowner Associations (HOA) fees, you would have access to other types of maintenance like plumbing, electrical, and roofing.
What are the cons of a condo?
Less privacy: You’ll have many neighbors living in a condo community, and you’ll be sharing walls with them. Condos are less quiet than single-family homes.
Rules: Want to decorate? You may not be able to do as much as you’d like. HOA’s make the rules, and you’ll have to abide by them.
HOA fees: To handle maintenance, upkeep, and other expenses, HOAs charge a monthly payment that you must pay to live in the condo community. These fees are not something you would need to pay while living in single-family homes.
How much do Oahu Condos cost?
The market for condos in Oahu is hot right now. In March 2022, the number of condo sales was up 7.3% (672 vs. 626), and the median sales price was up 14.3%($515,000 vs. 451,000) compared to the previous year.
Single Family Homes
Who should live in a single-family home?
Single-family homes are great for families because they offer privacy and space for everyone. They’re also ideal for parents who want to raise children in a safe environment outside urban areas. Finally, they’re perfect for those who don’t mind driving to work, school, shopping, restaurants, parks, and other amenities.
What are the pros of single-family homes?
Make it your own: Unlike condos, you can decorate or renovate just about anything in your own home. Your home could and should fit your personality.
More room and privacy: Single-family homes are larger and more spacious than a condo. They are also more spread out from your neighbors. So you won’t have to worry about a neighbor’s loud music or TV keeping you up at night.
Easier to sell: Single-family homes are in-demand and very desirable in the current market. Unlike condos, you won’t need to deal with the HOA before selling your home.
More areas to choose from: There are more condos for sale in general, but there are fewer locations. Condos are typically in more urban areas like Honolulu. Single-family homes are available in more scenic Oahu regions compared to condos. Single-family homes have that advantage if you’re looking for homes with better scenery.
What are the cons of single-family homes?
More expensive: In Oahu and throughout the US, single-family homes are typically more costly than condos.
More maintenance: Unlike condos, the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of the house. This maintenance will add costs like buying a lawnmower or a power washer. Not to mention hiring a roofing contractor to install a new roof. However, it has become easier for homeowners and skilled contractors to find each other using apps to complete these projects in recent years.
Less built-in amenities: Your house in Oahu may not come with a pool, gym, or security. If you want these things, you’ll have to pay for them.
More driving: Since more single-family homes are outside of urban areas, there will be fewer options for walking, biking, and public transportation.
How much do Oahu single-family homes cost?
Single-family home sales were down compared to the previous year, but prices increased. In March 2022, the number of single-family homes sold went down 11.1% (321 vs. 361), but the median sales price increased 21.1%($1.15M vs. 950,000) compared to the previous year. If you’re looking to purchase a single-family home in Oahu, you can get a 20% rebate to help offset some of these increased costs using an OahuRE real estate agent.
Oahu is a fantastic place to live, with beautiful beaches, mountains, and bustling Honolulu. However, if you want to live here, you’ll have to decide on the best housing type. The two major housing options are single-family homes and condos. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
If you don’t mind less privacy, a condo may be right. There are various options in Honolulu that are less expensive than a house and come with amenities like a gym and pool. However, one downside is that you will have HOA fees.
If you don’t mind spending more, buying a single-family home may be perfect. Unlike condos, you have more scenic options that are outside of Honolulu. In addition, this option will have more privacy and space for the whole family. However, you will be responsible for all the property maintenance, unlike in a condo.
With this being such a complex decision, you should discuss your options with an experienced real estate agent. The team at OahuRE can help you navigate the current real estate market in Oahu, simplify the process, and help you find a home in “The Gathering Place.”
Jamie is a professional content writer passionate about real estate, home remodeling, and design. Jamie has been remodeling his first family home for fun. But, life isn’t all about writing, design, and real estate for Jamie. Taking trips to the dog parks with his two Boston Terriers occupies most of his time.
The first quarter of 2022 closed with new record median sales prices for both single-family homes and condos at $1,150,000 and $515,500, respectively.
In March, single-family home sales fell 11.1% year-over-year, while the condo market sales volume remained strong with a 7.3% rise compared to March last year.
“More luxury sales coupled with declining affordable inventory and sales are pulling the median price upwards in the single-family home market,” said Chad Takesue, president of the Honolulu Board of REALTORS®. “It’s no surprise that rising prices are pushing more prospective buyers to consider condos, driving the steady and strong demand we’ve been seeing for these properties.”