Friday, March 26, 2010

Beware of Buying a Foreclosure, even in Hawaii Kai

We've been lucky in Hawaii Kai the past couple of years, because our foreclosure rate has been lower than in other parts of Oahu. But we have our share, and this is a tale of what buyers experienced after making an offer which was accepted on a Hawaii Kai condo.

The condo had been foreclosed on, so the buyers were dealing with a bank-owned property. The electrical and plumbing systems needed a lot of repair, but they didn't worry about those, or the fact that none of the appliances worked.

When you make an offer on a bank-owned home, you have the normal time to hire an inspector and do thorough due diligence. If you make an offer at a foreclosure auction, you will need to make sure the inspection is done before auction and any questions you might have answered before you bid.

Fortunately, my buyers hired a home inspector. First, when he examined the deck, his foot went through! Well, they thought they could fix that.

In this complex, where the living room joins the covered deck, the design goes down a step, about 5 inches. Many owners have left this step when they remodeled - it does create the feeling of entering a separate room. But in this unit, the previous owners had filled the height difference up with concrete, so it was the same level as the living room. Unfortunately, this made the ceiling too low and not up to code. Now my buyers were looking at major remodeling.

In addition, the sliding door to the outside from the deck was at the original floor level, so there was a gap between the end of the built-up floor and the door.

You can guess the ending. The buyers cancelled, and the bank lost a sale. The moral - beware of foreclosures and be sure and do a thorough inspection. Hire a professional who knows the building codes. And don't get emotionally involved with the property - at least until after it passes your inspection!

I've been selling real estate in Hawaii Kai for more than 20 years. Call or email if you have any questions about property here, the condo complexes or neighborhoods. I can recommend home inspectors and professional remodelers who will give you honest estimates of work involved.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Honolulu Leads Nation in Green Appliance Use

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu leads the nation in green-appliance households, as found in a recent study by Scarborough Research.

The consumer research firm said Honolulu tied with Green Bay, Wis., with 40% of households having energy-saving appliances. That compares with the national average of 32%.

Scarborough said the top green cities shared several traits, including love of the outdoors. Several areas tied for the least green appliance city, Las Vegas and four cities in Texas that included Brownsville and McAllen.

The economy may be tight, but homeowners - and renters too - in Hawaii Kai love the outdoors and invest in that lifestyle. Our community is built around the water and enjoyment of the water, so we naturally gravitate to outdoor activities. Read my Active Rain blog on the current trend in Outdoor Investments.

Come join us in our Green Outdoor lifestyle.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Multigenerational Housing in Hawaii Kai

Those of us who live in Hawaii have long valued multigenerational housing, because our culture respects and nurtures our elders. A recent AARP analysis of census data shows that Hawai'i had the highest share of multigenerational households, followed by California and Mississippi, due partly to a scarcity of affordable housing.

The trend is becoming nationwide, as job losses and the recession force or encourage the generations to rely more on sharing housing. Kids are returning home after college, and aging parents cannot afford to live alone. While these trends create financial pressures on the middle generation, many opportunities for sharing of expenses and of ideas are created.

About 6.6 million U.S. households in 2009 had at least three generations of family members, an increase of 30 percent since 2000, according to census figures. When "multigenerational" is more broadly defined to include at least two adult generations, a record 49 million, or one in six people, live in such households, according to a study being released today by the Pew Research Center. The share of older adults in multigenerational homes is increasing, and currently is about 20 percent.

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, "The rise in multigenerational households is heavily influenced by economics, with many young adults known as "boomerang kids" moving back home with mom and dad because of limited job prospects and a housing crunch.

But extended life spans and increased options in home health and outpatient care over nursing homes have also played a role. So, too, has a recent wave of immigration of Hispanics and Asians, who are more likely to live with extended family."

Other findings of the AARP study include:
*The most common multigenerational family is an older parent who owns the house, living with an adult child and grandchild.
*Older women are more likely than older men to live in a multigenerational household.
•*While multigenerational families are increasing, the number of adults 65 and older who live alone is edging lower, from a peak of 28.8 percent in 1990 to 27.4 percent in 2008.

"The government will continue to provide a social safety net for older adults, but given today's demographic and economic realities, it's not clear that this public safety net will be as robust in the future as it is now," said Paul Taylor, a co-author of the Pew report. "That could increase the trend toward family members providing care for elderly parents — a role that families have taken on throughout human history."

If you are interested in finding a home suitable for more than one generation, or more than one family group, you have many options in Hawaii Kai homes. Contact me for some ideas.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

(Read more at the Honolulu Advertiser.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Volunteers Needed for Maunalua Bay

Maunalua Bay - our front door - is in trouble. As reported by Honolulu Advertiser, "Decades of polluted run-off have damaged this treasure. To save it, we have to take immediate steps, starting with an understanding of what's in it.

"Malama Maunalua, in partnership with the University of Hawai'i Sea Grant College Program, coordinates Mauka Watch, a program that trains volunteers to monitor the watersheds that empty into Maunalua Bay.

"Volunteers learn how to test water quality for damaging pollutants, and contribute valuable data to bay restoration. The Mauka Watch program augments the Makai Watch program, which educates about and monitors marine resources.

"A workshop is being offered March 25 (5:30-8:30 p.m.) and 27 (2-5 p.m.) to train new volunteers. This is an opportunity to learn about the watersheds and work with the community to restore Maunalua Bay. Volunteers are needed to attend two training sessions and conduct monthly monitoring starting in April.

"To register, contact Jolie Wanger at, or call 808-744-0052."

Malama Maunalua is a community organization formed to preserve the Bay and restore the health of the waters. Read more about their restoration efforts on my web site blog, Maunalua Bay to Benefit from Stimulus Money.

We all need to appreciate and protect the natural resources which nurture and make Hawaii Kai what it is. Malama Maunalua needs our support.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jumbo Loans for Hawaii Kai Homes for Sale

The jumbo loan market is starting to loosen, making it easier for Hawaii Kai move-up buyers to borrow and use the tax credit (which expires April 30).

Rates on jumbo loans of more than $729,750 in highest-priced markets rose during the financial crisis and lending standards tightened to the point where borrowers couldn’t refinance or get a new loan.

But, in the last couple of weeks, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate jumbo has fallen to 5.79 percent, a five-year low, according to rate tracker Informa Research Services. Rates are even lower on hybrid adjustables.

The availability of these loans suggests that banks are feeling more confident since Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration do not insure them.

Contact me for referrals to qualified Hawaii Kai lenders if you are in this price range and want to discuss financing.

Barbara Abe, Realtor