Hopeful homeowners camp out to buy condos

By Kenny Choi
Published On: May 14 2014 09:23:00 PM HST

People are lining up for a chance to become first-time homeowners.

HONOLULU -

Hopeful buyers are camping out this week for a chance to buy condominiums in town for rock bottom prices.

Click here to watch Kenny Choi's report.

A studio in town is going for $124,000.

Kamehameha Schools and developer Peter Savio are converting the old Pagoda Hotel on Rycroft Street into affordable condos.

University of Hawaii  pre-med student Mark Lee, who's studying for finals was the first one to show up with his application Wednesday at 10 a.m.

"I was the only one with a mat.  I was alone and people thought I was homeless.  They thought I was soliciting!" said Lee. 

Lee lives with his mother who makes minimum wage, but now they have a chance to become home owners for the first time.

"It's really exciting because it's not often as my brother says that opportunities arise.  It's so affordable for town," said Lee.

According to Savio, more than 800 people have picked up applications in the last three weeks.

People earning the least will get first preference, but must earn at least 30 percent of the state median income.

People making a maximum of 140 percent of the median income will still get a chance.

"That's what I do as developer.   I try to sell at the lowest possible price to see locals get into home ownership," said Savio.  

Savio is in the process of purchasing the land and old hotel from Kamehameha Schools in the $20 million range and is renovating the 162 units for $4 to $5 million over the next couple months.

But unlike many other developers, he's not seeking the usual 20-to-30 percent profit.

Instead, he's hoping to either break even or pocket around 5 percent.

"The more exciting part is ten to fifteen years later, you get a letter saying, 'You made a difference in my life.  We were able to send our kid to college.'  You don't get a lot of them, but every once in a while someone remembers and thanks you," said Savio. 

Rycroft Terrace will accept applications Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

The following week, qualified applicants will select their units.

One and two bedrooms are also available, with the most expensive unit going for $274,000. 

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