Friday, June 25, 2010

Help Needed to Protect Hawaii's Sea Turtles

A recent article in the Star-Advertiser about our nesting turtles is important enough to quote in its entirety.

"As Hawaii's sea turtles, or honu, begin their summer nesting season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking residents and visitors to respect turtles making their way to Hawaii's shorelines.

"While 90% of Hawaii's sea turtle population will travel to the French Frigate Shoals in the Northern Hawaiian Islands to reproduce, a number of the protected animals are expected to nest on the coastlines of the main Hawaiian Islands this summer. These turtles might be seen mating in near-shore waters, or basking on local beaches.

"Beachgoers are asked to view the honu from a distance and refrain from chasing them. The turtles are sensitive to bright lights and should not be subjected to flash photography, vehicle lights or exterior building lights.

"The green and hawksbill turtles are the two species of Hawaiian sea turtle known to nest in the islands. Both species have made a tremendous rebound in population since the animals came under protection from the state and federal government in the 1970s.

"Female turtles reach maturity at age 30 and nest every two to three years. During the summer nesting season, each female turtle returns to the beach where she originally hatched to lay approximately three clutches of 100 eggs. Turtles deposit their eggs in shallow nests dug into the sand or under beach vegetation.

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center has set up a turtle stranding hot line at 808-983-5730 to process calls from the public. Hawaii residents and visitors are encouraged to report sightings of turtles digging nests on local beaches as well as turtles with visible signs of injury or distress."

These turtles are some of the treasures of our Islands. Treat them with respect, and call the hot line with any sightings. While we may not see them on the Hawaii Kai beaches, they are part of the Hawaii Kai lifestyle.

Contact me to discuss ideas so you can be a part of our Island paradise.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

(photo courtesy of

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Paradigm for Hawaii Kai Home Buyers

After the 1st Time Buyer Tax Credit, after the bottom of the price freefall, and saddled with a large inventory of short sales and foreclosures, even in Hawaii, how can a buyer in Hawaii Kai decide he or she is in the best position to purchase a home?

Based on some ideas in Ilyce Glink's new book, "Buy, Close, Move In!" (Harper, $14.99), here are some changes in the industry which have produced a paradigm shift in real estate across the country.

1. Buyers need money. The larger the down payment, the better the rate, the lower the fees (this has always been true). But the days of easy money are gone. Except for a few federal programs, like VA loans, the availability of zero down and low down loans is scarce. Many banks now want 25% down, so buyers will have a sizable equity position in the real estate.

2. Credit is tight. One of the new acronyms is NINJA, or "no income, no job, no approval." Buyers also need a credit score in the high 700s to get a "good" loan. You will have to prove your employment, income, assets, child support, and reveal debts and expenses. Now buyers have to prove they can make the mortgage payment, instead of lenders proving they can make you a loan.

3. Home ownership isn't a right. Homeownership is a responsibility - to yourself, your family, the lender. Glink says a major lesson learned by the housing recession is that not everyone can or should own a home.

4. Smaller is better. Square footage of the average new home declined in 2009 for the first time in almost 30 years, as did the average number of bedrooms and baths. Tightening belts has also brought a hard look at energy efficiencies, both in housing and in lifestyle. For now, the trend is to smaller and greener.

5. Transparency. Just as the White House is trying to do with big government, the housing industry is trying to remake itself. Thanks to both regulatory reform generated by the housing crash and the Internet access to information, buyers are receiving loan figures and costs up front. Here are some new guidelines (

*Since Jan. 1, 2010, home loan originators must give you the new, mandated Good Faith Estimate (GFE) within three days of accepting your application. At closing, the lender must provide borrowers with the new Settlement Statement HUD-1, the final line-by-line list of mortgage and closing costs.
*Along with the GFE, you'll also receive the new Shopping For Your Home Loan: HUD's Settlement Cost Booklet which helps explain the two documents which do more today than ever in terms of disclosing costs and helping you shop around and compare loans."
*Buyers and their Realtors can and do use the internet to check home prices, compare values, and research areas.

6. There are no guarantees, expecially that the market will go up. The last couple of years have brought into clear perspective that appreciation does not last forever. Yes, you can and will make money in real estate, but not necessarily quickly and not in every area every time.

Hawaii Kai buyers should decide if and when they can afford a home, use a professional Realtor who knows the area (me), is knowledgeable on neighborhood trends and values, and then purchase because owning is a better investment for them than renting, at that time in their lives.

Call or email for details on any condo complex or community in Hawaii Kai. Let's talk and see if now is a good time for you to consider buying a home in Hawaii Kai.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ka Iwi Coast in Hawaii Kai Gains Needed Protection

The Hawaii Land Use Commission has designated 215 acres of land along East O'ahu's Ka Iwi coast added protection against development. The commission voted to reclassify the property from an urban to conservation designation under the state's land use law. The move puts another layer of protection on land now owned by the state with preservation zoning from the county.

The area reclassified stretches from Sandy Beach to Makapu'u Beach. Much of the land received $5 million in state improvements in 2006 that established a parking lot, put utility lines underground, created a clearly marked trail to Makapu'u lighthouse and barred off-road vehicles from driving in the Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline park preserve. "This action ensures that the entire coastline, from Hanauma Bay to Makapu'u, will remain undeveloped well into the future," said Abbey Mayer, director of the state Office of Planning, whose office filed the petition for the reclassification in January 2009 on behalf of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

There is still 181 acres above the Hawaii Kai golf course and seaward (mauka) above Queen's Beach that is privately owned. The property is in the state's urban district and zoned for preservation by the county, which in some cases allows recreational-type uses on such land. Though an initial application to develop the site was rejected by the county, the potential remains for the land to be developed.

If you want all of Ka Iwi protected, contact your state representatives and Gov. Lingle.

Hawaii Kai Heritage Sites to be Recognized

20 points of interest the state has designated as Heritage Sites throughout the Islands will receive new roadside markers, according to the Hawai'i Tourism Authority. As well as the roadside markers, the campaign includes a guide on its website in four languages with photos, descriptions and backgrounds of the various sites.

The campaign is an upgrade of the decades-old roadside "warrior" marker program run by the Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau, the agency HTA contracts to market Hawai'i in North America.

The new roadside markers combine the old red, brown and yellow warrior image with an additional panel that reads "Heritage Site of Hawai'i."

In Hawaii Kai, Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline and Makapu'u Trail have been chosen.

If you haven't visited these sites lately to appreciate their beauty and historic significance, now there will be more ways to find them. Aren't we lucky to live Hawaii Kai?

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

May Real Estate Market Report, Hawaii Kai and Oahu

May, 2010 showed a positive trend in real estate for both Hawaii Kai and East Oahu.

Single family homes, Hawaii Kai

Closed sales - 15, up from 13 last year
Median sales price - $885,000, up from $750,000 last year
Average sales price - $1,583,233, up from $845,123 last year
% of original list price received at sale - 93.4%, up from 89.2% last year
Median days on market - 27, down from 113 last year
Inventory of homes for sale at month end - 84, down from 133 last year

Condos, Hawaii Kai
Closed sales - 18, up from 13 last year
Median sales price - $467,000, down from $489,000 last year
Average sales price - $497,494, down from $502,423 last year
% of original list price received at sale - 97.6%, up from 93.3% last year
Median days on market - 15, down from 69 last year
Inventory of homes for sale at month end - 41, down from 87 last year

Single family homes, May, Oahu
Closed sales - 284 for 2010, 216 in 2009, 246 in 2008
Median sales price - $606,000 for 2010, $542,000 in 2009, $644,000 in 2008
Average sales price - $730,036 for 2010, $623,360 in 2009, $780,089 in 2008
Days on market - 27 for 2010, 47 in 2009, 52 in 2008
% of original list price realized at sale - 96.3% for 2010, 93.0% in 2009, 93.9% in 2008
Inventory of available homes as of month-end - 1,520 for 2010, 2,061 in 2009, 2,389 in 2008
Months of inventory - 6.1 for 2010, 10.0 in 2009, 8.7 in 2008

Condos, May, Oahu
Closed sales - 355 for 2010, 262 in 2009, 367 in 2008
Median sales price - $312,500 for 2010, $300,000 in 2009, $338,000 in 2008
Average sales price - $373,224 for 2010, $352,827 in 2009, $415,247 in 2008
Days on market - 28 for 2010, 52 in 2009, 42 in 2008
% of original list price realized at sale - 95.5% for 2010, 91.1% in 2009, 94.9% in 2008
Inventory of available homes as of month-end - 1,901 for 2010, 2,711 in 2009, 2,979 in 2008
Months of inventory - 5.6 for 2010, 9.7 in 2009, 7.2 in 2008

While prices haven't recovered, the change in inventory vs sales and vs days on market is dramatic. There are fewer properties on the market, both in Hawaii Kai and Oahu, so inventory is down, and this is reflected in the shorter days on market and increased # of sales.

Our Honolulu Board of Realtors also publishes these figures by price ranges. You can see those real estate statistics for Hawaii Kai on my web site. If you would like a breakdown island-wide for Oahu, just let me know.

Barbara Abe, Realtor