Six months into the Covid pandemic, Cynthia Cook was making dinner for her family in Northern California while her husband, John Cook, planned a getaway to Kauai, the northernmost of Hawaii’s major islands. While searching for short-term rentals online, her husband noticed a listing that also was for sale.
"He came to me and said, ‘We’re going to buy this house,’ " she recalls.
Ms. Cook, 46, a former commercial real estate broker, and her husband, 51, a lawyer, had considered looking for a new home in the suburbs north of San Francisco but were reluctant to test their luck in a seller’s market, where all-cash deals and multiple bidders had become the rule.
"I looked at him," says Ms. Cook, "And I said, ‘OK, great, when are we leaving?’ "
The Cooks made an offer of $1.8 million, sight unseen, on a furnished three-bedroom, a three-bathroom bungalow located on Kauai’s North Shore, which is known for its verdant mountains and beautiful beaches. The 2,200-square-foot house, with a great room that opens to the outdoors, is on a ¼-acre lot that is a five-minute drive from the ocean. The couple and their two boys, now 4 and 5 years old, moved in time for Thanksgiving.
These days, rainy Kauai has a red-hot real-estate market. With a rustic vibe, balmy temperatures, and dramatic scenery, Kauai has settled in as the state’s prime destination for luxury-minded homeowners, attracting the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have a property on the northeast of the island comprising about 1,400 contiguous acres, including nearly 600 acres added in March, according to a family spokesman.
Luxury properties tend to start at $3 million on Kauai, which has 72,000 permanent residents. With only 3% of the island’s 550 square miles open to development, housing stock in all price categories is scarce. The pandemic has only added to the demand for primary and secondary homes, particularly by house hunters from California.
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