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Marco Schlesser - Above and Beyond on Honolulu, O’ahu

Coming into 2022, the residential real estate market in Hawai’i continues to be red hot. Record-low inventory and continuing demand put upward pressure on prices. As the single-family home inventory continues to decline and prices go up (1,030 active listings in January 2019 vs. 310 in December 2021), more buyers are looking at condos and townhomes as an alternative. While more plentiful, we now start seeing a decrease of listings in condos as well (1,780 active listings in January 2019 vs. 950 in December 2021). As travel opens up, we expect more of the same as international travelers are able to come again, primarily Japanese and Canadian buyers, who will compete with the existing buyer pool.

Marco Schlesser has called Honolulu his home since 1997. With a solid background spent years in finance, accounting, law, sales and real estate, he brings a well-rounded skill set to his clients. He compares real estate to a game of chess, where you have to think several moves ahead to be ready with a plan “B” and “C”, should a transaction move sideways. In this fast-paced market right now, it is even more important to structure a transaction right off the bat for the best possible outcome. Working with an international brokerage that supports their real estate advisors with premium quality business services; marketing programs and tools; as well as access to its global network of real estate professionals, property listings and market data allows Marco to offer his clients the reach, coverage and resources they need when buying or selling a home, whether it is across the street, across the country or across the world.

With over 1,000 shops on 5 continents, Engel & Völkers is one of the world’s leading service companies specialized in the brokerage of premium residential property, castles and mansions, commercial real estate, yachting and aircraft brokerage. Marco shares the same vision as the thousands of advisors who represent Engel & Völkers worldwide. Competence, Exclusivity and Passion are the core values that Marco cultivates and properties listed with Engel & Völkers share the same recognition of representing a higher standard at all price points.

Marco’s clients not only benefit from his help when buying or selling homes, but get his expert guidance and insight in the local market in ways not every agent can. As a local expert, he breathes the communities in which he lives and can talk about where a home fits within the bigger picture. He delivers peace of mind. Marco holds a close relationship with his clients and gives back to the communities he shares. He is actively involved with Rotary International and Special Olympics.

Hawai’i is located in the Pacific between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator. It has one of the best climates in the world, with balmy trade winds that cool and reduce humidity. With only 5 hours from San Francisco and 8 hours from Tokyo, it can easily be reached from any of the Pacific Rim countries.

Honolulu’s location mostly takes it out of the hurricane path which makes for a safe destination. Unlike Los Angeles, New York or Miami which are about glitz and glamour, Honolulu and Hawai’i are for those seeking a relax and private lifestyle. Many celebrities call Hawai’i home: Jeff Bezos and Oprah Winfrey on Maui; Charles Schwab and Michael Dell on the Big Island; Mark Zuckerberg and Pierce Brosnan on Kauai; Pierre Omidyar on O’ahu/Honolulu and Larry Ellison owns the majority of Lanai Island, just to name a few. Mark Twain famously called Hawai’i “The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.”

Pre-pandemic, O’ahu counted over 10 million visitors a year and there are calls to create a more sustainable tourism industry, one that respects the natural resources that many take for granted. Wellness and taking a holistic approach to the complete lifestyle are key elements that are incorporated in new developments such as Howard Hughes’ Ward Village, that go beyond building new homes.

The largest buyer markets on O’ahu are from the United States (95% local), Japan and Canada. With many companies embracing a permanent shift to remote work (Marco calls it “Work from Hawai’i”), buyers have discovered O’ahu as an ideal location to own a home or a vacation place. Like in many other places around the world, “virtual” took the real estate market by storm last year and many homes were purchased sight unseen.

With only 5% of all land in Hawai’i allocated for urban and residential use, one can easily understand both availability and affordability challenges. In January of 2022, the median single-family price on O’ahu was $1,050,000 and condo price $510,000, both new records. New zoning restrictions in the 70’s cut the construction of 13,000 new units in 1974 to 2,200 new units on average from 2010-today. In addition to high construction costs, developers face a lengthy permitting process. It took Castle & Cook’s Koa Ridge project, a 2 billion master planned community with 3,500 homes 15 years to get approved.

Unlike other markets in the country that got swept away in the 2008 housing bubble, Hawai’i remained relatively stable – as local lenders are very risk adverse – and home values in Honolulu steadily appreciate on average 3% annually. For Marco that is more like a long-term simmer rather than a boil where you create a lot of steam and then run out of water.

O’ahu has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and buyers are eager to own coastal real estate here. It is important to work with an advisor who understands shoreline setbacks and zoning requirements; Marco and his team will guide you every step of the way.

For more information on how to buy property in Honolulu and on O’ahu, contact Marco Schlesser, Realtor-Associate.

Office: 1 808-232-6420


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