Parcels on Loihi for sale in spoof
$40 and lots of patience will buy an "oceanview" lot on the underwater volcano
Want to own piece of a Pacific Ocean paradise for just $39.95?
Too good to be true?
Not if you're willing to wait 10,000 years for the Loihi underwater volcano to rise above sea level.
A Hawaii company is selling oceanview lots that are literally just ocean for now.
Norm Nichols, co-developer of the online venture, says: "If you really think there's something here that you can't live with, nobody's forcing you to buy it. It's meant to be fun."
Real estate is understood to be a long-term investment. But 10,000 years?
Lo'ihi Development Co. will soon start offering oceanview lots speculators won't even be able to stand on for many millenniums. That's because they're currently submerged more than 3,000 feet below sea level -- on an underwater volcano named Loihi, located about 20 miles southeast of the Big Island.
"What's the scam?" said Norm Nichols, co-developer of the online venture. "If you really think there's something here that you can't live with, nobody's forcing you to buy it. It's meant to be fun."
His Web site, which has been up as a spoof for about a decade, will be renovated in the next couple of weeks to begin selling parcels for an introductory price of $39.95.
Buyers will receive a brochure and deed.
The Web site advertises "Lo'ihi Seaview Estates: Real Estate for the Future. Grand Water View Front Lots."
A photo of the sales office shows a raft in the middle of the ocean.
Nichols and his business partner, Linda Kramer, both Honolulu entrepreneurs, envision online chatrooms and newsletters to discuss everything from street names to what kind of government to install. They want to hold a "homeowners association" meeting every April 1 (April Fool's Day), where they take a boat ride over the volcano.
"Come out to Hawaii and meet other crazy people and have a good time. There's not enough people having fun," Kramer said.
Scientists don't really know when, or if, Loihi will break the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Many guess about 10,000 years, but it could be much longer than that.
With a colossal mustache as impressive as his imagination, the 60-year-old Nicols said he has claimed ownership of Loihi just others have claimed property by planting a flag.
"The fact we're out in the public with our claim, as far as I'm concerned, gives us credence that we can do this," Nichols said. "Nobody has contested this."
Stephen Levins, head of the state consumer affairs office, said the offer could be a problem if it were serious. "However, if the Web site is clear it's a parody and you're not going to be receiving an actual interest in real estate, that's something else," he said.
The company even puts a positive spin on the volcanic activity: "Each lot will have access to abundant sources of hot water for hot tubs and saunas."
Loihi is the latest online sales gimmick, joining several companies naming or selling extraterrestrial real estate.
"You can buy a star. You can buy a place on the moon and Mars and everywhere else. Why can't you buy a lot on a virtual island?" Nichols asked.