I am constantly showing Kona-Kohala Coast homes to visitors who hope to move to Hawaii.
I can pretty much predict what is on Hawaii buyers’ wish list (besides an ocean view for less than $500,000). Writer Lisa Kaplan does a good job of discussing a wish list (below). I think her “low return” article has a lot of good points and is worth reading, though some Hawaiian-style qualifications are needed. I put my opinions in blue where appropriate.
Home Upgrades with the Lowest ROI
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Life is a balancing act, and upgrading your home is no different. Some upgrades, like a kitchen remodel or an additional bathroom, typically add value to your home. Others, like putting in a pool, provide little dollar return on your investment.
Of course, homeowning isn’t just about building wealth; it’s also about living well and making memories — even if that means outclassing your neighborhood or turning off future buyers. So if any of these six upgrades is something you can’t be dissuaded from, enjoy! We won’t judge. But go in with your eyes wide open. Here’s why:
The fantasy: You’re the man — grilling steaks, blending margaritas, and washing highball glasses without ever leaving your pimped-out patio kitchen.
The reality: For what it costs — on average $12,000 to $15,000 — are you really gonna use it? Despite our penchant for eating alfresco, families spend most leisure time in front of some screen and almost no leisure time outdoors, no matter how much they spend on amenities, according to UCLA’s “Life At Home” study. And the National Association of Home Builders’ 2013 “What Home Buyers Really Want” report says 35% of mid-range buyers don’t want an outdoor kitchen.
The bottom-line: Instead, buy a tricked out gas grill, which will do just fine when you need to char something. If you’re dying for an outdoor upgrade, install exterior lighting — only 1% of buyers don’t want that.
Outdoor kitchens are important to Hawaii buyers. Because we live outside so much, some homes don’t have a dining table inside! But they have some pretty nice outdoor furniture. A large covered lanai with a functional outdoor kitchen will be well used and should be in the budget. If you buy a home without this feature, plan to install one (including a wind break as necessary). Lisa is correct to say a luxury outdoor kitchen is not required. At minimum I recommend a broad covered lanai, lighting, a few extra electric outlets, a quality outdoor grill, counter space, small fridge, tables, chairs, and roll down sunshades. I firmly disagree with her “low return” prediction. In Hawaii buyers love outdoor living!