Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | February 6, 2002

Real estate ads fuel dreams of paradise

One of my compulsions when I travel is reading real estate ads of homes for sale in places I visit.

I come by this interest honestly – my father has been in real estate for years. At least twice when I was growing up, we bought a home and moved into the subdivision where he was selling houses. He’s currently selling new retirement homes in the Tampa Bay area, and I occasionally like to shock him with the real estate prices in the Bay Area.

When we visited San Diego a couple of years ago, I found an ad for a house about the same size as ours just three blocks from the beach in one of the city’s northern suburbs for about half of what we’d likely get for our house.

I tried to evaluate prices while in Paris last march, but I don’t possess the mathematical mind required to convert francs to dollars in my head.

During my most recent trip – to the Big Island of Hawaii – the real estate ads once again beckoned me, and I couldn’t resist taking a peek. What I saw sure makes pulling up stakes and relocating to Paradise seem like a good idea.

Sure, groceries, gas and other necessities cost more in Hawaii, but aren’t tropical weather, crystal blue oceans filled with whales, mountains and low real estate prices a fair trade-off for paying $1.91 for a gallon of low-octane unleaded?

I lingered over an ad featuring 21 secluded acres with an ocean view 48 miles south of Kona for $58,500.

How about 19.2 acres in South Kona – it has electricity, telephone and a paved road (this is an asset; some land ads warn that four-wheel drive is required for access) – fore a mere $132,000.

You’d rather live in a traditional subdivision, perhaps a new house, you say? No problem. A subdivision in Kona is building one-story stucco homes with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two-car garages and covered back porches – some with ocean views – starting in the $260,000 range.

Need your real estate to produce income? Say aloha to a 15.1-acre farm with ocean views planted with coffee, macadamia nuts and avocados. This one requires a four-wheel drive vehicle to visit and only has a small, unpermitted but livable dwelling, but with a price tag of $129,000, permits and a Quattro might be affordable.

If that’s too rough for you, consider a four-acre avocado farm with a one-bedroom, one-bath house plus a greenhouse for $128,000.

Need to get in under that $100,000 price point? Try a two-bedroom one-and-one-half bath solar-powered house on a mountain for $69,000.

Yes, the island life is a real enticement, but I don’t think it will happen for me any time soon. This is not the best time to be uprooting my grade-school age kids and yanking them across the Pacific. And, by the time they’re grown, real estate prices in Hawaii will likely have rebounded and reached Bay Area-like stratospheric levels.

Oh well, I can dream about Hawaii – until the next trip to a wonderful locale, when real estate ads lure me to consider pulling up stakes for a different destination.

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