Friday, October 29, 2010

Sacred Land Adjoining Hale Alii (Hale Kalai) Project in Hawaii Kai May be Sold published a story on the possibilities of the Trust for Public Land and Livable Hawaii Kai Hui purchasing land that has been part of the proposed Hale Alii condo development, at the corner of Hawaii Kai Drive and Keahole Street.  I only know what I read on the post, so will reprint it here as an update to my readers.  If you go to their news page, there is also a video of the Hawaii Kai neighborhood board meeting.

"A Hawaii Kai neighborhood board meeting turned out to be the venue for an update about the future of development near the corner of Hawaii Kai drive and Keahole Street.

“'There is an opportunity here and the Trust for Public Land and the Livable Hawaii Kai Hui are taking steps to purchase the land,' said neighborhood board chairman Greg Knudsen.

"The groups are asking for the board’s support as it negotiates with the owners of the land over the five acre parcel.

"The Hale Alii project was envisioned as a luxury project with some 133 units. But work crews doing initially site work damaged an area considered sacred by some.

“'Parts of the archeological complex were bulldozed and portions of the wetland which is habitat to the endangered alaula bird were filled in, but this new management is apologetic and is looking forward to working with the community group and public,' said Laura Hokunani Ka’akua of the Trust For Public Land.

"The groups say talks are very preliminary and they hope to get the money to buy the land from the state and county. They are encouraged by the turn of events that could keep the land protected for future generations.

“'I think the developers are finally realizing that to have something sacred next to their development actually improves their site,' said cultural practitioner Kaleo Paik."

If you are interested in learning more about the status of Hale Kalai, call or email me and I'll try to get an update for you.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, October 23, 2010

ReUse Hawaii - a New Way to Recycle

Re-Use Hawaii has the goal of reducing waste in the state, through building material reuse and recycling. The non-profit performs deconstruction projects and offers the materials cheaply to the public.

They stock doors, windows, lighting fixtures, hardware, lumber, and more. Many are leftovers from large construction projects, like Waikiki hotels, which have been donated. For instance, Trump Tower gave them many marble backsplashes which ReUse Hawaii sells for $10 each. Donations are tax-deductible.

Visit or visit the warehouse, 30 Forrest Avenue in Kaka'ako Makai, a neighborhood of downtown. To get there, take Punchbowl towards the ocean, all the way down to Ala Moana Boulevard. When you reach Ala Moana Blvd. turn left onto Ala Moana, and stay in the far right lane. You will be taking your second RIGHT, towards the ocean, onto Forrest Avenue. You'll see signs for the Ports 1&2 as you turn. Take Forrest towards the ocean until you see a giant, grey warehouse with the Re-use Hawai’i logo, in the distance. The port has guard gates, but don't enter through their gates. You'll see two green painted Re-use Hawai'i signs on the chain link fence on either side of the long driveway, leading to the warehouse. Hours are Monday-Friday 8-6, Saturday 9-4.

Re-use Hawai’i has been turning waste into a resource since 2007. They’ve performed over 100 deconstruction projects and kept over 1000 tons of material from entering Oahu’s landfills. Next time you remodel and take away, or want to remodel and find materials, visit the warehouse, call 808-953-5538, or email

They offer a great alternative to filling up the space in our limited landfills.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Roy Yamaguchi Selected for 2010 Hall of Fame, Hawaii Restaurant Assn

Roy Yamaguchi, who started his successful career in his Hawaii Kai restaurant, Roy's, in 1988, now operates more than 30 restaurants worldwide. His reputation for outstanding quality and service has long been established in the Islands. This year, he was selected, among many awards he has won in the last 20 years, for the 4th Annual Hall of Fame of the Hawaii Restaurant Assn.

His web site explains, "In Hawaii, there are two things of equal importance—food and the 'aloha' spirit. The blending of these two dynamic principles is how Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion® Cuisine was born. European techniques and Asian cuisine meet Hawaiian hospitality to create a fine dining experience unlike any other." Anyone who has eaten at one of the 6 Hawaiian Roy's, or 23 on the mainland, or Guam or Japan, will agree.

The presentation of the food, the exceptional service, and Roy's signature exhibition kitchen, in full view, make an evening you will remember and recommend.

Congratulations to Hawaii Kai's own Roy Yamaguchi!

Barbara Abe, Realtor

(photo from archives of Roy's Restaurant)

Buy Local Eggs at our Local Hawaii Kai Farmers's Market

In the 1980s, there were 21 commercial egg farms in the Islands, which supplied 85% of the eggs consumed. Now, there are 4 egg farms. One is Maili Moa in Wai'anae.

They collect approximately 5,000 eggs a day, which they bathe and scrub, sort by hand, place into delivery trays, load in cases, and refrigerate. This process takes about 6 hours.

Until this year, the state had been providing a feed subsidy up to 50% to help support local farmers, but it was cut in 2010. The subsidies had helped not only pay for the feed but also the shipping costs (Hawaii doesn't have a feed mill).

As an alternative, owners of Maili Moa formed a partnership with the public through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). For $22.25/month, consumers can pick up 60 eggs, in various increments, at 4 locations on the island of Oahu, and directly at the farm. One of these is the Hawaii Kai Farmer's Market held at Kaiser High School.

To order, contact Juanita Kawamoto, CSA coordinator, 808-330-6224 or email

For more information on this Farmer's Market (there are several held in Hawaii Kai), visit Makeke O Maunalua Market is open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Kaiser High School, 511 Lunalilo Home Road, Hawaii Kai. Admission is free.

Let's support our local farmers and shop at these Farmers' Markets. Here's a good blog about other markets in Hawaii Kai.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

(resource: Honolulu Magazine)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hawaii #2 Top Spot to Live

Where would you like to live?

The Harris Poll has asked this question every year since 1997. While California tops the list of most popular states to live in among Echo Boomers (now ages 18 to 33) and Gen Xers (ages 34 to 45), Hawaii is the top pick for Baby Boomers (ages 46 to 64) and Matures (ages 65 and over). Among Echo Boomers, Hawaii drops out of the top five (they just haven't discovered the Isles yet.)

Here are the top-10 states across age groups:

1. California
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Colorado
5. Arizona
6. North Carolina
7. Oregon
8. Texas
9. New York
10. Washington

Source: Harris Interactive (10/19/2010)

Contact me for a free Relocation Package and to discuss ways you can live the island lifestyle, not just think about it.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Tips on Getting Rid of Mold in your Hawaii Kai Home

Charles Furlough, of Pillar to Post Home Inspections, wrote a very thorough article for RISMedia titled "Breathe Easier: 10 Tips to Banish Mold from the Home." You may think you only have a spot between the shower curtain and tub, and instead could have a more problematic "infestation" hiding behind walls and in floorboards.

Here are some highlights of his post, but read the entire article for a good look at a common scourge of living in the tropics, mold.

"What causes mold? Surprisingly, advanced building materials are one of the main culprits. In the last few decades, buildings have increasingly been made to prevent the infiltration and exfiltration of air, leading to higher humidity levels. The insulation materials used in this type of construction contain cellulose and other materials that lock in moisture. Adding to the problem, many wall cavities are wrapped in plastic, allowing for even more moisture. An aging home is at even greater risk, as normal occurrences like window and roof leaks bring in even more moisture—and moisture is a direct cause of mold. Limited ventilation or sunlight only makes the problem worse, and things can get bad fast—one square foot of moldy drywall can harbor more than 300 million mold spores.

"How do you find the mold in your home? Sometimes it’s easy—it may be right in front of you, or you’ll find it by its distinctly musty smell. Though it’s harder to find hidden mold, you can do so by looking behind and beneath fixed materials and appliances: refrigerators, dishwashers, sink cabinets, washer/dryers, carpets, vinyl flooring—anywhere near where water flows or where air doesn’t penetrate readily. Also, look for signs of discoloration on walls and ceilings; this can denote a moisture buildup behind which mold may lurk.

"Once you find the mold, remove it with a store-bought anti-fungal solution, or get rid of it with a weak bleach solution—1 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. (If mold exists in an area over 2 square feet, call a professional to have it removed). But even more important than removing it is eliminating as many of its causes and sources as possible.

"Follow these 10 tips to drastically reduce the mold in your home:

1. Call in a home inspection professional to assess water-damaged areas.

2. Keep humidity low. Humidity levels should be under 40% in order for mold to stop its forward march.

3. Replace any carpets and furniture that have ever been significantly damaged (i.e., saturated in water), even if they look OK on the outside.

4. Carpet in the bathroom? Don’t even think about it. And if you have it, get rid of it.

5. Use an air-conditioner during the summer. We know it’s not cheap to run the A/C, but if it’s in the budget, even setting it to 80 degrees when it’s 90-plus outside, will help. Use fans to circulate A/C most effectively. (Or, if you don't have A/C which many Hawaii Kai homes don't, use your fans to circulate air away from moist areas, like the bath.)

6. Dust and clean furniture regularly, and vacuum carpets at least once a week (make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter).

7. Provide adequate ventilation in hot areas. The kitchen and bath are two of the highest-risk rooms for mold. Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom.

8. When you’re shopping for house paint for big or small painting projects, ask the sales rep about mold inhibitors you can add before painting.

9. Does your central air system have a fan from the Ford Pinto era? If so, replace it with a high-performance electrostatic air filter. Your local HVAC technician can help withy this.

10. Don’t neglect areas underneath the house—have a professional drain and ventilate all sub-basement areas, especially crawl spaces."

There are 2 kinds of mold. Allergenic mold is found in most homes in some amount, and can cause unpleasant - but not serious - symptoms. Toxic - or black - mold causes many of the same symptoms, but can produce serious symptoms in people with preexisting conditions or compromised immune systems.

So buy some bleach, keep watch for new spores, and follow Furlough's ideas for prevention. If you are trying to sell your Hawaii Kai home, it is even more critical that you remove mold before the buyer's inspection. This will save you money and a possible loss of the sale, when they investigate the extent of mold in your home.

Call or email me with your questions on finding a qualified mold inspector.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Housing Still Perceived as Safe Investment

Fannie Mae’s latest national housing survey finds that most Americans believe the housing market has reached the bottom, but they are more cautious about owning a home. Respondents to the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey believe that home prices will hold steady (47%) or increase (31%) over the next year, and that rental prices will stay the same (46%) or go up (39%). Across the general population, the average expected rise in rental prices is four times that of home prices (3.6% versus 0.9%).

Seventy percent of Americans think it is a good time to buy a house, compared with 64% in a similar survey conducted in January 2010. But 33%—up from 30%—of all respondents said they would be more likely to rent their next home if they were to move.

“Our survey shows that consumers see a mixed outlook for housing and homeownership,” said Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist, Fannie Mae. “These findings indicate a return to a more balanced and realistic approach toward housing. While this will likely weigh on the housing recovery in the near-term, it should, over time, help to build a stronger and healthier market focused on sustainable homeownership.”

A majority of Americans (67%) continue to believe that housing is a safe investment; however, that number is down 16 percentage points from a similar survey conducted in 2003—the largest drop by far among all investment types tracked since then. Delinquent borrowers and renters are notably more discouraged than mortgage borrowers and underwater borrowers about a home’s safety as an investment and the appeal of buying versus renting. More than 70% of all respondents believe it will be harder for the next generation to buy a home, up three points from the beginning of the year.

Our Hawaii Kai real estate market - and that of Hawaii in general - is somewhat an exception to the national real estate trends. We have a finite amount of land on which to build housing, and goods and services will always be more expensive because of the distances involved. These factors add their own pressures to our housing market. But as the numbers suggest for sales so far this year (read the Sept figures on my Active Rain blog), Oahu and Hawaii Kai real estate sales are already improving. Even as prices fluctuate, buyers still see the value in owning a home in Hawaii Kai or somewhere in the islands.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hawaii Kai September Real Estate News

It looks like the downward spiral of the last 2 years for real estate prices is in full reversal, which is good news for sellers. Buyers should start looking and get preapproved for a loan.

Hawaii Kai Real Estate Statistics

Single Family (2009 numbers in brackets)
September - 20 closed sales (24), $930,000 median price ($832,500), 39 median days on market (57), 83 homes on market month-end (89)
Year to Date - 144 closed sales (130), $830,000 median price ($780,000), 26 median days on market (56)

Condos (2009 numbers in brackets)
September - 16 closed sales (19), $550,000 median price ($525,000), 40 median days on market (60), 58 homes on market month-end (56)
Year to Date - 155 closed sales (132), $525,000 media price ($490,000), 19 median days on market (69)

Visit the Hawaii Kai Market News page on my web site for details on specific communities and the high and low sales for the month.

As reported in an interview with the StarAdvertiser, a recent Hawaii Kai buyer said, "To me the time is now to buy if you can. Interest rates are at a phenomenal low, and prices are starting to creep up from the two-year trough. It's an opportune time."

I agree completely. Call or email me to talk strategy and start previewing homes.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hawaii Real Estate Taxes are a Great Bargain

As reported by, Hawaii's real estate taxes, as compared to other states, rank 2nd compared to values.

Using U.S. Census data, the nonprofit Tax Foundation has uncovered where the highest property taxes in the country are paid relative to the median value of the homes. Some of the locales may surprise you.

New Jersey came in first, and New Hampshire, which has no state income tax, had the next-highest real estate taxes as a percentage of home values.

Louisiana had the lowest median taxes compared to property values. The second-lowest taxes compared to values are in Hawaii.

Here’s the list of the top 10 states with the highest median real estate taxes as a percentage of median home value as well as the ranking of states with the lowest.

States with the highest taxes:
1. New Jersey (1.89 percent of property value)
2. New Hampshire (1.86 percent)
3. Texas (1.81 percent)
4. (tie) Wisconsin (1.76 percent)
4. (tie) Nebraska (1.76 percent)
6. Illinois (1.73 percent)
7. Connecticut (1.63 percent)
8. Michigan (1.62 percent)
9. Vermont (1.59 percent)
10. North Dakota (1.42 percent)

States with the lowest taxes:
1. Louisiana (0.18 percent)
2. Hawaii (0.26 percent)
3. Alabama (0.33 percent)
4. Delaware (0.43 percent)
5. West Virginia (0.49 percent)
6. South Carolina (0.50 percent)
7. (tie) Arkansas (0.52 percent)
7. (tie) Mississippi (0.52 percent)
9. New Mexico (0.55 percent)
10. Wyoming (0.58 percent)

Another reason to live Hawai Kai!

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Source: 2009 U.S. Census Data and Tax Foundation calculations

Finding a Rental with your Pet in Hawaii Kai

I'm often asked about rentals, both by folks relocating from the mainland and locals. Many people think all Realtors handle property management (very few do) and that if you are an experienced and knowledgeable Realtor in a specific community, like Hawaii Kai, you should be able to suggest rental resources (we should). Often people relocate here, rent for a year or two to learn the areas, and then buy a home. So being up-to-date on the rental market is an advantage both for me and for new residents.

Finding a rental you want and a property owner who wants you is complicated by having pets. I offer extensive information on my web site for Hawaii pet owners (For Pet Lovers), and the Hawaii Humane Society offers an online guide to all the pet-friendly condo complexes. In addition, here is a recent blog post in Honolulu Magazine's Real Estate Blog, by Jenny Quill, which offers excellent tips for renters with pets.

From someone who should know - Jenny has a dog - she states, "Honolulu is not a particularly pet-friendly place for would-be renters, which is odd given the fact that, according to the Hawaii Humane Society, more than 60% of Oahu households have pets. For every 15 [rental} listings, there’s only one that allows pets, and it’s either cost prohibitive or comes with a myriad of restrictions (size limit, breed limit, outside-pets only)."

Two web resources she suggest are
1. Hawaii Humane Society has a service to connect landlords with pet owners, its Pets in Housing Program
2. Pets OK is a local matchmaking fee-for service that looks for pet-friendly rentals and emails the homes to would-be renters

After her own frustrating search, she developed some proactive steps you can take to find a pet-friendly home to rent:
  • "Try contacting a property manager or realtor who may be able to point you in the right direction.

  • Demonstrate Fido’s or Fifi’s good temperament by obtaining references from previous landlords, neighbors or homeowners’ associations, as well as your pet’s trainer, day care or kennel.

  • Provide a certificate of health from your veterinarian that shows your pet is up to date on vaccinations and flea and tick prevention.

  • Put everything in writing. A verbal agreement that pets are allowed on the premises is not enough.

  • Offer to sign a pet addendum that states that you will be held responsible for any damage, pest infestation or injury to others. The Pets in Housing page has an easy-to-use template form.

  • Offer to allow the landlord to meet your pet, ideally in your current, sparkling-clean rental."

I hope this helps, and that you will consider buying a home in Hawaii Kai when you and your pet have experienced our lifestyle and decide our community is the place for both of you.

Barbara Abe, Realtor