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We’re Pikers Out Here in California

The other day we brought you a news dispatch concerning the most expensive housing in the country. It was not a story about posh digs that provide a place of repose to the nation’s nabobs, with which the press likes to dazzle the peasantry in Sunday real estate sections, but just housing across the board. Unsurprisingly, California had as many cities on that list as the rest of the country put together. No news there. Now it turns out that’s nothin’.

We now learn that the champion is — ta-da! — Hawaii. The average price of a home out there (we presume “out there” means Oahu) is — are you ready? — $742,551, with the priciest area being, not Diamond Head or Kahala, but rather Kailua on the windward side where the average tops a million. Who knew? We thought of the Kailua area as a homy sort of place where you go to enjoy empty beaches, get some da kine saimin, commune with the kama’ainas in their native habitat, and behold the glory of the Pali on the way. But reality is not to be denied. We learn from today’s news that President Obama is going on vacation in Hawaii, and will be staying in Kailua (his entourage, however, will be staying at Waikiki in the Moana Surfrider Hotel — our favorite.

We are not sure that the article we are referring to really means “average”  or “median.” “Median” — which is generally used in home price reports – means that one half of the homes in question are more expensive than that. Which is well and good if you happen to be one of the aforementioned nabobs, like those Hawaiian folks in the movie “The Descendants” whose big problem (apart from coping with personal tragedy and getting even with a philandering bounder) is how to beat the Rule Against Perpetuities, and who in spite of ownership of pristine Hawaii land measured in square miles, live rather modestly.

So the  question  is: where the hell do ordinary people live in Hawaii? And by that we mean middle class folks like office workers, lower and middle management types, young professionals, teachers, etc.  If you know the answer to that question, please let us know, but be warned that we are acquainted with the law of supply and demand, so it isn’t necessary to go into all that. We are also aware that living in Paradise is both attractive and pricy. But wages are not twice as high over there as in California (where they are not twice as high as in, say, Nebraska where the average house goes for $145,360). And if you’ll forgive a soupcon of boosterism on our part, our climate in California is not to be sneered at either. So how does the Hawaiian peasantry make ends meet while keeping a roof over its heads?

A mystery, that.

PS – And if you haven’t seen that movie, “The Descendants,” do. It’s a good story and you’ll see the best collection of Aloha shirts to be seen  anywhere. Besides, if you are into law, apart from the movie “Body Heat,” how many other movies are there in which the plot revolves around an application of the Rule Against Perpetuities?


The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for people, whether eminent domain professionals or not, for exchange of ideas and a discussion of eminent domain news and issues. It does not provide legal advice. Questions concerning actual cases should be directed to the readers' own legal, appraisal and real estate advisers.

We reserve the right to delete comments that in our judgment are abusive or otherwise inappropriate, or that digress from the topics that are the subject of this blog.