For Harold Clarke, comfort and privacy are non-negotiables
BY LUCY COHEN BLATTER
Peru-born Harold Clarke has made Hawaii his home and is now president of Luxury Big Island by Harold Clarke, a premier luxury real estate brokerages on the Big Island.
In 2015, Mr. Clarke sold an eight-bedroom, 10,651-square-foot house sitting on 1.8 acres along the Kona-Kohala Coast for $25 million—representing both the buyer and the seller—which happened to be the biggest sale on Hawaii’s Big Island in the last seven years.
Mr. Clarke works with sellers and buyers up and down the famed (and resort-filled) Kona-Kohala coast.
We spoke to Mr. Clarke about titans buying in Hawaii, the importance of a view and much more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Harold Clarke: Something that’s walking distance from a really good, white sand beach—a protected cove is great. In Hawaii, we have very little pollution, so the views from the beach are amazing. You can do whatever you want to finishes but you can’t change location, views or weather.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
HC: It can be hard to define, but when you see it, you know it. In real estate, it’s about knowing you’re getting the best service possible.
No matter how much money you have, you want to know that you’re looking at the best place for your lifestyle.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
HC: Many international buyers—especially from China—tell me that Hawaii is just out of this world. Waikiki and Oahu aren’t the Hawaii they dream of (they can feel like Miami Beach), but here you can find places that are closer to your vision and your dreams. Maui is beautiful, but it’s a small part of Hawaii. In the small stretch of Kona-Kohala, for example, you have amazing resorts, titans of industry, and you’re not on a lot that’s right next to someone else.
The rawness of it is the essence of Hawaii.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
HC: There’s a lot of money, but money doesn’t buy you everything you want. There are more people who want oceanfront property than there are properties. Pocket listings are even more important than ever. A lot of the best properties are not on the market.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
HC: To me, it’s about the essence of the place—that can be anywhere. The desirable places are the ones that are authentic. In Hawaii, it’s away from the tourists. Anywhere where you can experience the essence of the place. That’s why we’re seeing titans are going to New Zealand— it’s rural and it’s real.
There’s a culture in certain parts of the world that you can’t duplicate.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
HC: The outside. The lanai [Hawaiian word for patio]. Living in Hawaii means relaxation. It’s about being healthy, too.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
HC: Nature. It’s all about the outdoor-indoor experience.
MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
HC: Comfort and privacy are both most important to me. To me, comfort is achieved by having privacy and views. There’s a raw space between myself and my neighbors. If I’m getting in my pool, nobody’s watching. That’s the beauty of coming to Hawaii—to get away.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
HC: The most important thing is the view. You can change a house, but you can’t change a view. A house without a view is worth half the price.
In Hawaii, that means ocean and sunset views. You don’t want rooftops in front of you. You can have a gorgeous, exclusive home, but people also want to be able to walk to the beach club. Also, safety is super important.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
HC: Find the needle in a haystack, the person who cares about the relationship and not the sale. Find that person and work with them.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
HC: Interest rates don’t matter as much to certain segments of the population, but there’s some real uncertainty. People don’t know what way the U.S. president will go. However, people who have money don’t wait for the market to get better, either. They want to enjoy life now. Silicon Valley types, the ones who have their money, they want to buy. Many want to retire in Hawaii. And they’re not going to wait. The news affects higher end only to a certain extent.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
HC: That’s easy: oceanfront. There’s only so much coastline. People can buy all the homes they want a block away from the water, but oceanfront is special because it’s limited.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
HC: A new development, but only if it can be oceanfront. Other than oceanfront, a new development sounds cookie-cutter to me.
Originally appeared here in Mansion Global.