For many potential buyers of Hawaii real estate, the term ‘Residential Condo’ is new and unfamiliar, as many parts of North America do not have a similar form of ownership. Residential condos are regulated by Hawaii State Law 514B, which dictates how condominiums are created, managed, governed, and operated in the state of Hawaii.
The critical components shared by condos and residential condos are common elements (pool, recreation area), limited elements (actual unit, assigned parking space), have an individual tax-map key number, can be sold independent of each other and have a conforming use of the land as per applicable zoning codes. However, residential condos are assigned a limited common element such to appear and function as a single-family residence, enjoying exclusive right/use of fixtures within said element. These can include a pool, garage, and other features; further defined by fencing the appurtenant area if so desired. Some residential condos share many common elements such as driveways, pool, water meters, while others are fairly autonomous of other ‘apartments’ within the same development. Furthermore, some residential condos will have CCR’s in place, HOA’s collected, Board meetings, etc. while others have minimal (if any) collective participation. Compare properties in Launiupoko, which is on land zoned as agricultural and have strict criteria to the size of the structure but are fairly independent of each other apartments, to those in Makena Place, which are luxury estates on apartment-zoned land and are tightly governed/maintained by the HOA.
Why would anyone condominiumize their land in Hawaii? In short, it is considerably less expensive and less time-consuming to put residential condos on a parcel of land than it is to subdivide it into individual lots. For example, in order to subdivide a parcel of land into multiple lots on Maui, it would have to be approved by various levels of bureaucracy – Maui Planning Commission, Maui County Council, Special Management – all at a cost of time (upwards of 8-10 years) and money (easily over $100K). Whereas condominiumizing the same parcel would take about one tenth of the time and less than a quarter of the monetary expenses associated with obtaining the necessary approvals. Furthermore, Hawaii is known as having relatively high cost/value of real estate and condominiumizing land produces smaller, more affordable properties, the value of which, when totaled, can equal or exceed the value of the original parcel.
Clearly residential condos are a form of real estate ownership that, although foreign to some, can present the ideal opportunity to purchase in Hawaii. Comments are always welcomed.