Even lava won’t stop rich people from buying mansions in Hawaii

The high-end housing market on the Big Island is heating up, but the volcanoes may be too

National /
Mar.March 01, 2020 12:00 PM
Fires from lava flows in 2018 (Photo by Don Smith/Getty Images)

Fires from lava flows in 2018 (Photo by Don Smith/Getty Images)

Wealthy homebuyers and vacationers aren’t letting a little existential threat from five active volcanoes ruin their good time on Hawaii’s Kona-Kohala coast.

The Kona Kohala coast stretches 35 miles on the state’s Big Island. Everyone wants a piece of its pristine beauty and they’re paying top dollar for it, even though much of it is at high risk for lava flows, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Most homes on the Big Island are modest and owned by working class residents, but the Kona Kohala coast regularly sees multi-million dollar sales. Last year, 29 properties sold for more than $5 million — compared to 17 the year prior — and seven of those sold for around $10 million or more. Many of the high-dollar figure sales are for properties connected to the numerous resorts and golf clubs on the coast.

The priciest sale was San Diego Padres co-owner Ron Fowler’s $25 million purchase of a six-bedroom, 7,900-square-foot house at the Kukio Golf and Beach Club. The U.S. Geological Survey ranks parts of the island for risk of lava flows on a scale from one to nine, one being the highest risk. Kukio is in a lava-flow hazard zone 4.

In 2018, the Kilauea volcano, located on the eastern side of the island, spewed lava following a series of earthquakes and destroyed dozens of homes.

Rick Oliver, an agent for Clark Realty, says that potential buyers never ask about the threat from the active volcanoes on the island. Two are expected to erupt within our lifetimes.
“A lot of people who own properties here have no clue,” he told the Journal. “They just come to play golf and leave.” [WSJ]Dennis Lynch


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