Maui Real Estate Blog

Five Tips When Shopping for a Mini Maui Homestead

We regularly field inquiries from buyers who are looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Typically, that translates to finding acreage for the prospective buyers to grow their own food. The market conditions of the last 24 months means the entry point for acreage is higher and the inventory of these properties is substantially lower. If the shift in the market put acreage out of the reach of your budget, it is worth considering the food production and sustainability potential of smaller parcels.

I can speak to this from personal experience. My home sits on less than a quarter of an acre. Despite its size, it generates a pretty substantial amount of food. I can’t claim that it is due to my own efforts. I consider myself fortunate that I bought a property where previous owners planted quite a few fruit and nut trees. The trees growing including Avocado, Lemon, Macadamia Nut, Mango, Jaboticaba, Surinam Cherry, Malabar Chestnut, Noni, Guava, Banana, and Papaya. I also grow vegetables and herbs in a few raise beds and pots. I am about to put up a trellis for growing Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Vines. Future ambitions include more raised beds, growing mushrooms, additional fruit trees, and chickens or quail.

Backyard avocados with my hand for scale.
Avocados from the backyard with my hand for scale.

I can’t say that I am an expert gardener. Far from it. That said, I think there are some insights from my own experiences worth sharing if you are in the market for your own little homestead on Maui. Here are 5 things to consider when purchasing a smaller property with food production in mind.

What’s the Waste Water System for the Property?

That may seem like a head scratcher for my first bit of advice, but it’s important to know the type of waste water system of the properties you consider for purchase. Not all areas on island are on municipal or private sewer systems. Other homes rely on cess pools or septic systems. This is particularly the case in some of the rural areas of the North Shore and Upcountry.The type of waste water system may well impact your growing area and/or lead to future disruptions in your growing area.

The property I bought in Makawao came with two cesspools. One for the house and one for the cottage. If you aren’t familiar with cesspools, they are basically deep pits where waste collects. If they work well, liquids eventually percolate out of the bottom while microbes break down solid waste over time. Well functioning cesspools do not require pumping. The good news is cesspools have relatively small footprints. While you don’t want to plant trees too close to a cesspool, they shouldn’t limit your planting areas too much.

I learned first hand the downside of cesspools. Plain and simple, they can fail. A few years back, I kept seeing septic trucks come and go from my neighborhood after a prolonged period of heavy rain. I decided to check my cesspool and it was full. I pumped it and hoped that it was the end of my issues. Two years later, I had to pump it again. Within a few months, it was almost full again and it was time for a septic system. That entailed digging up my backyard including my in-ground vegetable beds and a large banana patch.

If you plan to move forward with a cesspool property, it’s important to have the cesspool inspected during your due diligence process. Local septic pumping companies offer inspections as a service. The cost varies depending on whether the location is known and the lid is exposed for access. Regardless, it is a worthwhile investment to know if any troubles might be looming. It might also be worth asking about the number of people who experience issues with their cesspools in the immediate area. While the cesspool may look ok during inspection, a high number of cesspools failures in the area may speak to the potential for future problems.

Now that I have a septic system in place, it comes with its own limitations and challenges. The biggest being that the leech field takes up a significant portion of my back yard. You can’t plant trees over a leech field. You may want to put root barriers up for trees planted in close proximity to the leech field. I received mixed messages on how much I gardening I could over my leech field. While some told me I should grow grass over the entirety of the leech field. Others, including the installer for the septic system, said garden beds are fine.

I compromised by putting raised beds at the far end of the leech field. Growing dwarf fruit trees in large pots may be another option in areas where septic tanks constrain tree growth. Another option is to put in a chicken run over the leech field. There are ways to work around the limitations imposed by the septic system.

It is also worth noting that septic tanks take some care and maintenance. That includes periodic pumping. Make sure that when you plant gardens beds or add trees outside the periphery of the septic system, that they do not limit access to the lids of your septic tanks for future pumping.

Municipal or private sewer is the most friendly waste water system for maximizing the area of your yard for growing. That said, It is worth knowing where the sewer line is on the property. You don’t want to plant trees where the roots might damage the sewer line.

Conspicuous in its absence is the combination of composting toilets and grey water systems. That is arguably the most sustainable solution. At this point in time, the county does not permit compositing toilets.

Make Sure Your Potential Growing Areas Get Plenty of Sun

I feel incredibly fortunate to have so many fruit trees on my property. The two avocado trees in particular provide abundant harvests for both family and friends. That said, they are both huge trees that shade my backyard until about 9:00 in the morning. My neighbors to the South also have large avocado trees that tend to shade my yard a little earlier in the afternoon. This means my veggie garden doesn’t get quite as much sun as I would like.

If you want to focus on growing vegetables, it’s imperative that your garden areas get more sun. Not enough sun means growing shade tolerant veggies and herbs and/or lesser yields. While it’s great to find a place with existing fruit trees, there is something to be said for starting with a clean slate. It puts you in a position to plant things strategically so they don’t shade garden beds. That also allows you the option to plant and grow varieties of fruit trees that you want and will use the most.

Sun exposure is also a consideration if you want to add a photovoltaic system to the roof of your home. Too many large trees shading your roof may limit the effectiveness of a PV system.

How is the Soil?

If you are growing on a smaller lot, that often means growing closer to your home itself. Homes built prior to 1978 may have used lead based paint. It might be worth testing your soil for lead if you plan to use in ground beds close to older homes. A general soil test may also tell you if there are any deficiencies in your soil and if you need more amendments.

While less likely to be an issue on smaller residential lots, lots located in areas where pineapple and sugar cane grew may pose their own set of challenges. Sugar Cane and Pineapple were intensive agricultural practices that depended heavily on fertilizer and pesticides. A lot of the old fields are devoid of the nutrients and microbial life that make plants happy. Regenerative practices such as extensive composting or korean natural farming practices are imperative to restore life to the soil.

Will CCRs Impact Your Plans?

If you are buying in a subdivision, make sure that there aren’t any CCRs that might block your plans. For example, if you want to keep hens, make sure that there are no restrictions on keeping poultry in your yards. If you want to tear up your entire front yard and plant a garden, make sure there are no landscaping requirements.

Consider Your Microclimate

For a relatively small island, Maui offers many different microclimates. Make sure you chose the right things to grow for your particular part of the island. For example, Mangoes tend to thrive in the warmer and drier parts of the island while only select varieties will grow in windward areas or Upcountry. Bananas and Papaya may not grow as well in the higher elevations of Kula. That said, higher elevations may support fruit trees like apples, peaches and persimmons that don’t grow as well at lower elevations. Areas with higher humidity may mean more vulnerability to powdery mildew with your veggies.

Backyard
Backyard raised bed

Sustainability on An Even Smaller Scale

As mentioned above, the Covid real estate boom pushed up prices on island substantially. Even smaller homes may be prohibitively expensive for prospective buyers. There are condos on island that offer small back yard areas. Places like Keonekai Villages, Kihei Villages, Southpointe at Waikoa and Iao Parkside all feature yards for ground floor locations. While visiting these properties, I’ve observed a number of back yards with impressive gardens and dwarf fruit trees. Combine backyard produce with what’s available through local farmer’s markets and CSAs and you can significantly reduce your reliance on imported food.

Additional Resources

I am constantly trying to learn more and improve my knowledge about growing food in smaller spaces. Here are some resources that helped me and may be of value to you.

Hawaii Home Gardens – This is a great book for learning more about gardening in the subtropics.

Epic Homestead – I frequently watch Kevin’s Youtube videos for inspiration and tips as he transforms his property in San Diego. He also runs the epic gardening channel with all kinds of advice on vegetable gardening.

Charles Dowding – Ok, the UK is a far different climate zone from Maui, but Charles is still a great resource on gardening at all scales.

Social media is a great resource. There are too many good Instagram and Youtube accounts to list off the top of my head. Search gardening or homesteading and you will find a treasure trove of information.

Finally, reach out to the community. Talk to nurseries. Speak to growers at the local farmer’s market. Those that sell vegetable starts can be particularly helpful.

Contact The Maui Real Estate Team

Contact The Maui Real Estate Team if you are in search of your own little homestead on Maui. We would welcome the opportunity to help you find a property that will fit your gardening and growing needs.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Things to do on Maui – By Region

Maui by region
We’ve put together some favorite things to do on Maui by region, because each town and area has it’s own unique personality, activities and attractions!
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Chris Norberg

Maui Real Estate Blog

Maui Luxury Home Market Update

Back when I posted the June Statistics, I promised a series of mid year updates on the real estate markets around the island. Mea Culpa. Sometimes, the rest of my work obligations get in the way of blogging. I have only been able to produce updates on Paia and Spreckelsville. Today, I wanted to turn my sights on the island’s luxury home market. Since it is the end of August, we are going to include all of the sales for the year date. We wanted to look at the volume of high end home sales around the island, notable sales and market conditions specific to some of the different neighborhoods and communities around the island.

Just from a methodology standpoint, I am classifying luxury homes as homes priced for $2,000,000 or more. We have used this $2,000,000 threshold for luxury homes regularly throughout our discussions of stats on this blog. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some very nice homes that have sold this year for less than $2,000,000.

Luxury Home Sales Volumes and Median Prices
There were 43 homes sold for $2,000,000 or more between January 1, 2015 and August 22, 2015. The median price of those sales was $3,196,000. Between January 1, 2014 and August 22, 2014, there were 45 homes sold. The median luxury home price for this period of 2014 was $3,800,000. When comparing this year to last year, there was roughly a 4% drop in sales volume and a 16% drop in median price. Just to be clear, the drop in median does not reflect any sort of change in values in the market. It is a reflection of the inventory sold.

Notable Maui Luxury Home Sales for the Year to Date
Here are some notable numbers that I thought were worth passing along from this year’s luxury home sales.

  • The highest priced sale thus far this year was for a home in the Keahou at Makena Subdivision. The 4 bed/ 4.5 bath home with 6,737 square feet of living space is located on 4.23 acres. It sold for a whopping $41,775,000. That isn’t just the high sales price for the year, it is the highest ever sale price for a home on Maui by a significant margin.
  • Including the Keahou at Makena sale, there were 8 sales over $5,000,000.
  • Wailea/Makena and Ka’anapali were the two busiest luxury home markets through the better part of the last eight months. Realtors reported nine sales in both of those markets.
  • Of the 43 luxury home sales for the year to date, 14 sales were either oceanfront or beachfront.
  • The 43 sales were spread among 12 different towns or resorts in Maui County. Hana and Molokai are two communities that haven’t seen all that many $2,000,000 sales over the previous few years, but they each had one $2,000,000 plus transaction this year.
  • The 43 sales included one bank owned property and two short sales.

A Look at Selected Luxury Home Markets Around the Island
The Maui Luxury home market is fairly diverse. Buyers typically focus their search on one or perhaps two areas of the island. With that in mind, we want to look at how some of the different areas around the island performed during the first eight months of 2015.

This chart compares the sales volume of homes over $2,000,000 around Maui County during the first eight months of 2014 and the first eight months of 2015.

Makena and Wailea
The Wailea and Makena area typically sees the most sales activity of any luxury community on island. That rang true during the first half of 2015 as it tied Ka’anapali for the busiest area for closes on the island. Digging a little deeper within the numbers, there were 8 sales in Wailea and just one sale in Makena. Within Wailea, there was a good cross section of neighborhoods that saw activity. There was a sale in Maluhia, a sale in Wailea Highlands, 2 sales in Wailea Golf Vistas, 2 sales in Wailea Golf Estates and 2 in Wailea Kialoa. The sales activity in Wailea was actually up a little from last year. There were 7 homes sold in Wailea proper in the first eight months of 2014.

Makena saw a drop in activity with the one solitary sale compared to 5 sales during the same period the year before. It is hard to say why there was a dip in sales in Makena. Some of that could just be a case of market variability and inventory. The one other factor that could be coming into play is the Makena Golf and Beach Club. This new development spearheaded by Discovery Land Company is located at and around the current Makena Golf and Beach Resort. This new community is set to be Maui’s most exclusive and high end luxury development to date. There are no single family homes for sale in the community yet, but there are some very high end home sites on the market in Maluaka Estates. There has been one lot sold and an additional three lots are under contract. All four lots have prices of $10,000,000 or more. It is possible that some of those buyers may have been potential buyers for other Makena properties. That said, Discovery Land Company is known to have a loyal following that might draw buyers who might not have otherwise looked at Maui.

I thought it was worth briefly revisiting the high sale in Makena. The sale at Keahou smashed the old Maui sales record by $14,700,000. I will be honest, the sales price is something of a head scratcher. The neighboring property is on a smaller piece of land and the house is 1,200 feet smaller, but it is currently listed for sale for $13,400,000. It seems like quite a stretch for there to be a $28,375,000 difference in value between the two homes. As much as it makes the new listing seem like a value, I think it points to the big sale as something of an outlier.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the rest of the year in Wailea and Makena. There is still a fair amount of inventory for buyers to choose from. There are twenty active home listings on the market currently with 7 properties in Makena and 13 in Wailea. Check out the full inventory of Makena and Wailea Homes for Sale on MauiRealEstate.com.

Ka’anapali
Ka’anapali had a pretty strong first eight months of the year with 9 total sales. That is up a little over the seven sales last year. The sales came from six different neighborhoods within Ka’anapali. There were 3 sales in the Pinnacle Neighborhood, 2 in the older section of Ka’anapli Golf Estates, 2 in the Summit at Ka’anpali, and a single sale in both Ka’anapali Hillside and Ka’anapali Coffee Farms. The high sale for the year to date was $3,500,000 for a four bedroom, three and a half bath home with 3,715 square feet of living space on a .65 acre lot in the Pinnacle.

There are 13 homes actively listed for over $2,000,000 in Ka’anapali. That should give buyers who prefer Ka’anapali some pretty good options. You can see the full inventory of Ka’anapali Homes for Sale on MauiRealEstate.com.

Kapalua
Kapalua has been the third busiest luxury home market this year with 7 closes over $2,000,000 for the year to date. All of the subdivisions of Kapalua with the exception of One Kapalua Place have seen sales activity thus far this year. There were 2 sales in Pineapple Hill Estates, 2 sales in Pineapple Hill, 2 sales in Plantation Estates and a single sale in Honolua Ridge. The high sale was $5,700,000 for the Honolua Ridge property. For a price tag of $5,700,000, that buyer now owns a four bedroom, five and a half bath home with 6,509 square feet of living space on a 2.82 acre lot. It has stunning views overlooking the renowned Honolua Bay.

The Kapalua market currently has 29 homes actively listed for sale. This is the biggest inventory of luxury homes of any of the communities around the island. This makes for an excellent selection for potential buyers. That may also allow for some opportunities. Typically, high end sellers have more staying power and will hold out for a premium. That said, you could make an argument that we have already seen a premium property go at a substantial discount with this year’s high sale in Kapalua. The home in Honolua Ridge sold for $4,000,000 below its original asking price and $1,995,000 below the list price at the time that it sold. You can see the full inventory of Kapalua Homes for Sale on MauiRealEstate.com.

Lahaina
There are two parts of Lahaina where high end home sale activity tends to be concentrated. The first is along the oceanfront. Homes along Front Street and Baby Beach typically start over $2,000,000. The other area is just south of the town in the neighborhood of Launiupoko. Launiupoko has been one of the stronger markets for high end sales over the last couple of years. There have been five sales in Lahaina thus far this year. Three of the sales have been in Launiupoko and two have been oceanfront homes. The highest priced sale was $3,500,000 for a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom residential condominium with 3,675 square feet of living space on 8.513 acres.

There are 16 active luxury home listings for sale in Lahaina at this time. Eleven of the homes are in Launiupoko with the rest located along the ocean. Lahaina is another market where buyers have some pretty good options. Check out all of the current Lahaina Luxury Home listings on MauiRealEstate.com.

Upcountry
The Upcountry area of Maui tends to see fewer high end sales than the resort communities of the island. That said, there are some pretty spectacular estates located along the flanks of Haleakala. Kula and Olinda are places where you will see some bigger acreage estates. There are also some homes along Baldwin Avenue below Makawao that fit the luxury home mold. The first eight months of the year have seen only two sales above the $2,000,000 mark in the Upcountry Area. There was one sale in Kula and one sale in Olinda. Last year, there was just one sale over $2,000,000 in the Upcountry area in the first eight months of the year.

The highest priced sale Upcountry for the year to date was $3,500,000. That was for a 24 acre estate in Olinda. It included a 3,300 square foot, three bed, three bath home and a separate two bedroom cottage. The 24 acres property included three separate parcels of land all with their own water meter.

While there haven’t been a lot of high end home sales Upcountry this year, there has been an uptick in buyer activity over the last two months. There are four homes in Kula listed for $2,000,000 that are currently under contract. That is more than anywhere else on island. There are an additional 16 homes listed for more than $2,000,0000 currently on the market Upcountry. That means a pretty good selection for high end buyers looking for more privacy or a different feel than the resorts or the beach. You can see all of the Upcountry Luxury Home listings on MauiRealEstate.com.

North Shore
The North Shore of Maui has become an increasingly popular location for luxury home buyers over the last five years. Prior to this year, Paia and Spreckelsville was the focal point of high end sales while the Haiku market lagged behind. We saw something of a shift this year. The Spreckelsville market has had limited inventory, Paia has been quiet and Haiku has seen the strongest sales activity since the downturn began. There were three total sales over $2,000,000 through the first eight months of the year. Last year, there were six sales on the North Shore in the first eight month’s of the year. For this year’s sales, two were in Haiku and one in Spreckelsville. The Haiku sales were particularly notable as they were the first and second highest priced transactions for homes in that community. The highest sale was for the 38 acre Baldwin Estate. This historic property includes a 10 bedroom, 10.5 bathroom home with 8,716 square feet of living space as well as a number of outbuildings.

Buyers looking for North Shore luxury homes will find that market conditions are going to vary based on the specific community. Spreckeslville is arguably one of the only true seller’s markets for luxury homes on the island. There are no active home listings for more than $2,000,000. Over the last few years, roughly half of the homes that have sold in this neighborhood have sold before coming to market. Paia has been quiet and it currently boasts the largest inventory of oceanfront homes of any area on the island. I think there may be some values and/ or motivated sellers to be found among those listings. Haiku has seven active listings currently on the market giving buyers some good options. You can check out the current inventory of North Shore Luxury homes on MauiRealEstate.com.

Overall Maui Luxury Home Market Outlook and Thoughts
The Maui Luxury Home market continues to offer a broad cross section of homes for potential buyers. From the privacy of Upcountry Estates to Beachfront Luxury compounds, there is considerable depth of inventory. While a deep inventory typically gives buyers more leverage, that isn’t always the case with the luxury home market. Luxury home owners typically have the means to hold on to properties for longer periods of time and many are less likely to adjust their pricing. That said, there are still bound to be a few sellers out among the current inventory who may have higher motivations. The challenge is finding those sellers.

I would anticipate that the rest of the year will continue to see sales figures at or close to the levels we saw during the fall and early winter of 2014. While projected increases in interest rates have the potential to slow sales activity at lower price points in the market, the majority of the luxury sales involve cash transactions or private banking. The biggest threat to the high end market is the overall economy. If the recent stock market uncertainty continues, you may see some buyers postpone their purchases. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team if you are interested in buying or selling a luxury home on Maui. We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you for a free consultation to discuss your needs.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Haiku Makai Opportunity

Location, location, location. Yes, I am hitting you with that old real estate cliche right out of the gates on this blog post. This is one of the more desirable neighborhoods in all of Haiku. The climate is warmer and sunnier, and the beaches and other amenities are that much closer when you own a home in Haiku Makai. This is a great location for those who want convenience to North Shore water sports while still looking for a quiet setting and more land. You are a 5 minute jaunt down Hana Highway to the world renowned water sports haven of Ho’okipa Beach Park. Paia Town is just five minutes further down the road. Haiku Town Center is less than five minutes up the hill from the neighborhood. It offers a growing list of amenities including good restaurants, a fitness center, yoga and a new grocery store set to open soon. Families will appreciate the proximity to good schools.

The property is gated and fenced. The three bedroom, three bathroom home has 2,374 square feet of living space. Property amenities include a monier tile roof, hardwood flooring, stainless steel appliances and granite finishes throughout. The home has good West Maui Mountain, ocean and Molokai Views. The pool area is well suited for entertaining and offers a great outdoor living space.

This Haiku Makai home is offered for $1,695,000. Check out the 41 Piialii listing page for more photos and details on the property. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team with questions or to arrange a showing of the property.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Haiku Plantation Style-Well Positioned in the Market

We are excited to announce that the sellers of our listing at 160 Laenani in Haiku have made a nice price reduction right at the start of Maui’s peak home buyer season. This home has four outstanding attributes that make it a compelling offering for North Shore home buyers.

    • Size.This property includes a three bedroom, two and a half bath home with over 3,000 square feet of living space and over 1,100 square feet of additional lanai space. There is also a separate one bedroom/one bath ohana with a carport and a nice covered lanai. The two structures are located on a spacious, fenced and gently sloped two acre lot.
  • Quality. Hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, lots of built in bookshelves, a sunken living room, granite kitchen counters and stainless steel appliances are just some of the quality features associated with this Haiku home.

 

  • Views. This home boasts beautiful views of the ocean, Maliko Gulch, The West Maui Mountains and the East End of Molokai. Summer Sunsets can be spectacular.
  • Location. It’s tough to find a better location in Haiku. You are about five minutes drive from the Haiku Cannery and Haiku Town Center. There you will find find restaurants like Colleen’s, Nuka, Maui Kombucha, Hana Hou and Veg Out; a small grocery store; a fitness center and a Yoga Studio. The home is just over five minutes from Makawao’s restaurants and shops. Paia is fifteen minutes away and the world renowned Ho’okipa Beach Park is even closer. Families will appreciate all of the good education options that are within in a short distance of this location. This home is located in a nice microclimate within Haiku with not too much rain and cool night time temperatures.

This quality Haiku property is now offered for $1,595,000. Check out the 160 Laenani Street, Haiku listing page for additional photos and details on the property. Contact The Maui Real Estate Team to arrange a showing.

Pete Jalbert

Maui Real Estate Blog

Two Signs of Fall on Maui

It is a sticky rainy day on Maui. Hurricane Ana is passing to the south of the islands. The storm is close enough to bring us grey skies and steady rain, but far enough that there is no accompanying wind. That said, there are few on the island complaining about the weather. The forecast earlier in the week had Ana coming a lot closer and likely bringing some damaging winds. Today’s weather is also a far cry from some of the beautiful fall weather that we have been experiencing. Last week, I saw a couple of signs of fall on Maui that I thought were worth sharing. While we don’t get fall colors and there isn’t a drastic difference in temperature, the signs of fall are clear for those that look.

This first picture captures an image of fall that you might expect to see on the mainland. Then again, I think it is safe to say that this Upcountry Pumpkin Patch has better views than the average mainland pumpkin patch.

The two images above are a distinctly Hawaiian sign of fall. I took these photos at Ho’okipa Beach Park last week during the first High Surf Advisory of the season. Usually during late September or Early October, we see our first big swells of the year on the North Shore of Maui. The national weather service issues a high surf advisory when wave heights of 15 feet or greater are likely. The combination of big swells and steady trade winds brought out windsurfers and kitesurfers to sample nature’s offerings.

Ana is supposed to linger near the Hawaiian islands for a couple of days keeping the chance of rain in the forecast and maintaining humid conditions. By early next week, Ana should clear out and we will have a return to our beautiful fall weather.

Pete Jalbert