Friday, March 25, 2011

Sales of Hawaii Kai Condos in March

I'm holding a beautiful waterfront unit with boat dock in Kalele Kai open house this Sunday, March 27, and thought I'd catch up on other condo sales this month so far in Hawaii Kai.

Out of a total of 10 sales since March 1, three have closed in Kalele Kai.  One for $545,000, a 2/2 of 1,424 SF, and one for $605,000, a 2/2 of 1,424, SF.  The highest sale was $1,075,000, a very large unit of 2,222 SF with a 354 SF lanai, one of only ten townhomes in this prestigious complex.

Lalea reported two sales in March, one a 3/2.5 townhome for $543,000, and the other a 2/2 for $460,000.  Lalea is a pet-friendly complex close to the post office and off the main thoroughfare of Hawaii Kai Blvd.

Two sales also closed in Nanea Kai, one 2/1.5  for $540,000 of 1,179 SF, and the other a 3/2.5 townhome for $615,000 of 1,582 SF.  Nanea Kai is a new complex, built in 2003, with low maintenance fees.

One unit sold in Mawaena Kai, one of my favorite Hawaii Kai condo complexes, waterfront with great views.  This home was 3/2 with 1,296 SF interior area, and sold for $710,000 FS (many units are still LH).

The last 2 sales were one each in Mt Terrace, and Naniwa Gardens, both high rise buildings with panoramic ocean views.  All units in Mt Terrace are 2/2, with central air and no lanais.  This home sold for $675,000.   The Naniwa Gardens sale was  a 2/2 unit of 1,238 SF, with a small lanai, that sold for $469,000.  Both of these buildings offer excellent amenities.

Our market is active, loans are available, and prices are slowly rising.  Call or email me to look at some of these view condominiums for sale in Hawaii Kai.  Read about all of our Hawaii Kai condo complexes with a free report from my web site, on the condo page.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Farmer's Land in Kamilo Nui of Hawaii Kai still under negotiation

An article in the March 17 reported that the lease rent negotiations between farmers and landowner Kamehameha Schools in East Oahu’s Kamilo Nui Valley are still in the talking stage and have not gone into arbitration.  The leases came up for renegotiation July, 2010.

"Kamilo Nui Valley farmers were initially offered a proposal that would increase their lease from $200 an acre per year to about $5,000 an acre per year, according to the tenants and landlord.  Farmer Glenn Nii, representing his family including his father and mother, said a different proposal by Kamehameha Schools is on the table."  He said 10 farmers have joined as a group to negotiate, and half of the families have members in their 80s and 90s.

According to the article, Nii said that "Besides lease rents, farmers face other costs, including insurance and labor.  He doesn’t think the 25-fold increase for farmers is reasonable, even though residential rents are considerably higher.  'If a quart of milk costs $1 about 40 years ago, does it cost $25 today?' he said."

The older farmers have been leasing land from KSBE for 60 years, and just want to live out their lives on their land.  Nii and others feel the estate should consider the sustainability of agriculture and its value to the community.  Many residents in Hawaii Kai support them, hoping to stop future large-scale development in the scenic Kamilo Nui valley.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Using a Mobile Phone to Call 911 from a Condo Building

There was an interesting article in the about someone calling 911 from a mobile phone.  The person needing help was eventually located, but not until the police and ER workers went door to door in the condo building looking for the caller.

Here is what happened, so you will know for your own emergency planning, or of a loved one who lives in a condo building.
  • The call came from a mobile phone, the caller gave the address, but said "I don't know" when asked for the apartment number.
  • If the call is made from a land line, both the apartment number and address will be shown.
  • When the call is made from a mobile phone, it uses "reverse-GPS" so only the addresses transmits.
"Bottom line: The emergency system does have an accurate way to track 911 calls if an exact location is verbally given or if the call is made on a land line.  But if a call is made from a mobile phone and information is sketchy, it's more difficult."

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Clean Up of Maunalua Bay Successful

A clean up of Maunalua Bay organized by the Nature Conservancy and Malama Maunalua, paid for by Federal stimulus funds of $3.4 million, cleared reef-suffocating algae from 23 acres.  Volunteers and organizers have hauled away 2.9 million pounds of algae since 2009.  The invasive algae has spread since 1981 to more than 54 acres of healthy coral reef.  All of the algae collected has been turned into compost for local farmers.

According to the, "Work is expected to continue for about two more months. The project was completed under budget and created 75 jobs. Another 3,000 community members and hundreds of students from 12 schools donated their time."

The Maunalua Bay reef restoration project partners also include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and natural resources management company Pono Pacific Land.

(Photo courtesy of
Barbara Abe, Realtor

Cash Buyers & Hawaii Real Estate

In 2010, approximately 12% of Hawaii buyers paid cash for single-family homes, about 33% for condo sales; and 70% for vacant land.   This compares to 28% for cash home sales nationwide.  The housing markets hit hardest by the economic downturn had the highest percentages of cash transactions.

What does this mean for our Hawaii real estate market?  The cash sales could indicate several trends.  1) that investors are more active in the market; 2) that loans are harder to get, without large downpayments and excellent credit; 3) loans for land and condotels (a large portion of Waikiki sales, for instance) are historically hard to find.

If you have cash, should you use it for a real estate purchase?  With the dismal rate of interest banks and CDs & money market instruments are paying now, the bet on real estate appreciation seems a good one.  We all know that it is a buyer's market; sellers are motivated; rates are predicted to rise.  And in the Oahu real estate market, many areas seem to have turned the corner to increased prices and decreased inventory and days on market - Hawaii Kai for one.

Paying cash gives you a good negotiating position, especially for a bank-owned or short sale property.  The attraction of a quick close and no buyer qualification can be very strong for the lender.  If you are considering a higher-priced property, negotiating for a 10% cash premium can be a big savings in the purchase price.

Seven of the 10 most-expensive single-family home sales in 2010 were bought for cash, including the highest, a $22-million Kahala home.   So if you have the means, consider getting in our Oahu and Hawaii Kai real estate market now, to take advantage of the edge you will have as a cash buyer.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Real Estate Market Activity for Hawaii Kai & Oahu, February, 2011

The real estate market posted positive trends for both Hawaii Kai and island-wide in February.  A graph provided by the Honolulu Board of Realtors shows a steady increase in sales on Oahu for the past 3 years, both in February and year-to-date, and for both single family homes and condos.

Let me know if you would like a complete copy of the comprehensive statistical analysis of our Oahu real estate market. I can email you a .pdf file with charts and graphs, or you can request one on my web site.  Read a synopsis on my Active Rain blog.

Hawaii Kai real estate statistics showed a leveling off in February, but not a decline.  Both Single Family and Condo sales in Hawaii Kai were slow in February, with 7 home sales and 14 condos closed. This compares to 2010 with 7 home sales and 6 condo closings.

Single Family
The 7 sales ranged from $684,000 for a 3/1.5 in Koko Head Terrace to $1,600,000 for a 4/3.5 on a 10,613 SF lot in Kamehame Ridge.  There were 2 sales in Koko Head Terrace, and three of more than $1,000,000. These million-dollar sales were in NaPali Haweo, Spinnaker, and Kamehame Ridge.

The low sale was a FA unit in Mawaena Kai for $448,000, 3/2 with boat slip, main level. The high sale was $785,000 for a waterfront home in Koko Isle.  Of the 14 sales, 3 complexes had the highest number. Colony at the Peninsula, Kuapa Isle, and Lalea each had 2 sales.

As the peak real estate season approaches in Hawaii, I'd like to announce that I have upgraded the search features on both my web sites, (Search the MLS) and (Home Search).  Please try them out and see if they suit your needs.  I'd like your feedback so I can be sure and tailor the search functions the way you, my web visitor, would like.  Aloha,

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hale Ka Lae in Hawaii Kai Ready for Buyers

The new luxury condominium project, Hale Ka Lae, has held its public open house and broker's open, and is now accepting statements of interest from buyers.  Please let me know if you want more information.  The developer is letting buyers bring their own agents, if they are represented by the Realtor from their initial visit.

"Ka Lae" in Hawaiian means "the point" which could refer to the location, on the point of Hawaii Kai Drive, or a more symbolic meaning for the development itself.

Community features will include
  • Lap pool
  • Lagoon-style pool
  • Extra storage, big enough for surf boards
  • Private theater with stadium seating
  • Indoor golf simulator
  • Acoustically-insulated entertainment center
  • State-of-the-art fitness center
  • His and hers saunas
  • Rooftop lanai with BBQ dining pavilions
  • Outdoor lounge area with jacuzzi
  • Private dining room
  • Library
  • 3 visitor guest suites
  • Adjacent to 5-acre park
  • Concierge services
  • Gated and secure
There will be 4 individual enclaves with their own elevators, outdoor lanais, central air, energy-rated windows, top-of-the-line interior materials, gourmet kitchens, and luxurious baths. 

Hale Ka Lae will also be pet-friendly!.

I'll keep you informed of updates, and please call or email me if you have an interest.  I'd be pleased to email you copies of the floor plans and more details on the residence features.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hawaii Kai Elementary Schools May Survive the Budget Ax

The Department of Education has proposed redrawing the attendance boundaries of Koko Head Elementary and Hahaione Elementary, in order to keep the schools open, and take those numbers from Aina Haina Elementary, which is now over enrollment.  While the proposal presented at a public meeting a couple of weeks ago was enthusiastically supported by parents who wanted to keep both schools open, the most recent discussion was criticized by some Kuliouou parents.

DOE earlier had said any students now enrolled would be grandfathered, and exceptions could be made for siblings.

Calvin Nomiyama, Kaiser complex-area superintendent, told parents he understood the concerns and agreed change wasn't going to be easy. But, he added, the shift would benefit students across the complex.  "Do we want to shut down high-performing schools?" he asked parents. "I wouldn't be here if times weren't so hard. From where I sit, I have this tough call to make."

The consolidations discussion is part of a statewide review of small schools to cut costs.  So far, the state has closed two schools but spared six others on the possible closure list, including the two high-performing schools in Hawaii Kai, Koko Head and Hahaione.

It certainly is never easy to try and please everybody!  Stay tuned for the DOE decision.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Working with a Professional Realtor more Important Now than Ever Before

A recent study conducted by a multiple listing service in New Jersey reported 95% of consumers felt working with a real estate professional is just as important, if not more so, than it was even a few years ago.  The survey, Keepin' It Real, can be found on the MRIS web site.

Most consumers understand that now is not the time to complete a real estate transaction on their own.  The market is too unsettled and prices too variable neighborhood to neighborood.  In order, they ranked the following qualities as critical in choosing an agent:
  • Trustworthiness
  • Experience
  • Willingness to look out for a client’s interest
  • Expertise in negotiating contracts
  • Responsiveness
  • Familiarity with contracts
  • Knowledge of the local community
Additionally, 68% of buyers and sellers rated their agents 6 or 7 on a 7-point scale. 48% found their agents by a referral. 80% said they would in turn recommend their agents.

Consumers today want more than simple guidance.  They can search homes for sale and community information extensively online, but want an expert they trust to take them through the entire process of buying or selling real estate.  Yet, despite all of the tools and resources available, when it comes time to actually buy or sell a home, there is nothing more valuable than the industry knowledge, expertise, and guidance a real estate professional offers.

I've been living and working in Hawaii Kai for more than 20 years, and can give you the insider view of all our communities.  Call or email to ask me your questions about Hawaii Kai real estate.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Homeownership Still a Large Part of the American Dream

A recent survey conducted by, on American attitudes towards homeownership, showed conclusively that we still feel homeownership is part of the American Dream.  “Contrary to popular belief, the American Dream of homeownership has not turned into an American nightmare," said Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia.

Conducted by Harris Interactive, the survey of 2,079 adults 18 and over, found 70% view homeownership as part of their own American Dream, and 78% feel their homes are the best investment they ever made.

Although many of today’s young adults came of age during the recent housing crash, 26% say their views on owning a home have become more positive over the past six months. 88% of 18-34 year old renters aspire to be homeowners, making this new generation of buyers crucial role in the stabilization of today’s real estate market.  While these buyers are in no hurry to purchase. 70% of renters in the Western region plan to buy a home eventually.

“During the housing bubble, the American Dream of homeownership was beyond reach for many young adults. Stuck with student loans and entry-level jobs, many had resigned themselves to being lifelong renters. But the tide is changing—Millennials are now today’s most serious home buyers,” said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Consumer Educator for Trulia. “Unjaded and largely untouched by the effects of the housing crash, this new generation of buyers will no doubt lead America from its current housing slump towards true recovery.”

In our Hawaii Kai real estate market, there are million dollar estates and affordable condos.  Call or email me and let's talk about options for making your American Dream of Homeownership come true.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Monday, February 14, 2011

Update on Hale Ka Lae, New Condo Development, Hawaii Kai

Last week I stopped by the Broker's Open given for Hale Ka Lae, the upscale new condo development that has been so many years in the making, at 7000 Hawaii Kai Drive.  Here is the latest news.

In Phase 1, there will be 242 "beautifully crafted condos designed for the modern lifestyle and energetic spirit."  Floor plans are "generous" - 992 - 1233 SF for a 1 bedroom/1.5 bath home ranging to 2,886 SF for a 3 bedroom/3.5 bath penthouse unit.

If what they promise does come true, Hale Ka Lae will be quite lovely.  Kitchens feature top-of-the-line Miele German appliances, and the entire home will be "upgraded" so there will be no additional upgrades to purchase.  The kitchens and baths are gorgeous (samples in the showroom).

Prices start at $685,265 for a one bedroom and go up to $3,393,568 for the 3/3.5 penthouse.

Feb. 19 is the launch date for their web site and going public.  Please let me know if you have an interest, so I can sign you up on their list.  Remember, to have a personal agent in new construction, that agent (hopefully me) needs to be involved from the very first interest you show.  Watch here for follow up posts on the construction and progress of Hale Ka Lae.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Friday, February 11, 2011

Demographic and Economic Forces in the Hawaii Real Estate Market

Even in the paradise we call Hawaii, a recession, which is creating consumer behavioral changes, is colliding with shifts in the demographic distributions of the population.  These forces will affect the real estate market both at home and in the rest of the country, and indeed, worldwide, in unforeseen and extraordinary ways.  Americans who have dealt with the spectre or reality of job loss, home loss, and declining real estate values are justifiably skeptical about the benefits of homeownership.  The financial impacts of the housing crisis will take years to disappear from the country's real estate markets.  In addition, Americans have to consider options unrealized in the last generation.

As reported by, in an article by, "The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports that real median household incomes across all age groups under 55 have not increased since 2000. It’s been posited that this will be the first decade in 40 years where real median household incomes will end lower than where they started. This has the biggest implications for the baby bust generation (born 1966-1985) as they approach what should be their prime earning years, and for younger baby boomers who will be facing a vacuum of demand from younger generations when they want to retire, sell the family home and downsize. Over-building and spiking foreclosures have already produced an over-supply of large suburban homes for which there is little demand or ability to purchase. Gen X and Y will not do much to help solve this problem.

"Aging boomers will be reluctant to sell their homes for two reasons. One, they may be underwater on their mortgages and waiting for the market to rebound and two, they are healthier than their parents’ generation and will likely delay the move to retirement community living. Only time will tell if a market will exist for their homes when they are ready to sell. However, the income constraints and lifestyle demands of a shifting population may dictate a very different future.

"The Gen Y population, or echo boomers (born 1986-2005), the largest pool of renters, is now in their prime rental years, but many have found themselves jobless with no way to pay the rent. Forced to move in with mom, dad or friends, this twenty-something crowd has been hard hit by the recession. Nonetheless, they are poised to redefine the American dream for generations to come. When employment growth returns, they will be a key driver of rental demand.

"All in all, there are some big changes afoot in the housing market that shifting demographics will continue to amplify. The changing needs of an aging baby boomer population as well as the demands of the burgeoning Echo Boomer generation will require that the real estate market respond in new and different ways."

Forecast demographic shifts will bring dramatic changes to the housing market.  Both retiring baby boomers and maturing echo boomers are expected to move away from suburbs into more urban, mixed use, mixed age areas with a sense of community, easy access to services and transportation.

However, achieving this dream for the younger segments may be financially out of reach.  The over-built suburbs have been the hardest hit by home devaluation, and so represent the greatest values for would-be homeowners.  Urban living may be financially out of reach.  For Generation Y'ers who prefer an urban lifestyle, it is not clear yet how this economic conundrum will be resolved.

The RISMedia article concludes, "What is clear is that the growth of an economically challenged echo boomer generation will make affordable housing even more important.."

Our housing market in Hawaii is unique in the country, because of the supply/demand equation of increasing housing with the limited resource of buildable land.  Our climate and lifestyle encourage immigration, but our isolation brings greater living and building costs.

I certainly don't pretend to see into the future.  The next decade or two will bring together forces of change which will affect much more than the real estate market.  I do feel, however, that being aware and up-to-date on Hawaii housing values and neighborhood changes will make you a wiser investor or seller, when you do decide to enter the real estate market.  Call or email me if you'd like to talk about your own community and sales trends in the Islands.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Where to Recycle your Hawaii Kai "Stuff"

Honolulu Magazine published a useful article about where to give away extra stuff left after the Christmas holidays and during that end-of-year housecleaning.  As our landfills fill up, reuse and recycle becomes ever more important.

Batteries - Home Depot stores accept cell phone, power tool, rechargeable, and alkaline batteries.  Best Buy will also accept batteries (see below).

Bikes - Donate any bike with good, usable parts to Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange (K-VIBE), a non-profit bicycle shop and intervention program for the at-risk youth of Kalihi Valley.  1638 Kamehameha IV Rd.  808-791-9480.

Blankets, Towels, Pet Supplies - Hawaiian Humane Society needs old linens and pet supplies like leashes and toys.  2700 Waialae, 808-946-2187.

Building materials - Re-Use Hawaii accepts lumber over 5' in length, doors, windows, sinks, bathtubs, new tile, cabinets, hardware, and lighting fixtures.  Materials must be pest-free, mold-free, without termite damage, and reusable.  The non-profit offers a pickup for large amounts, or drop off at their warehouse, 30 Forrest Ave, 808-953-9949.

Electronics - Best Buy inkjet cartridges, recycles fans, vacuums, DVD players, home and car stereos, cell phones, MP3 players, cables and TVs. 

Eyeglasses - the Lions Club, WalMart, Costco, LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, and Sears Optical all take used prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses.  Visit Costco will also take used hearing aids.

Paint - Honolulu Habitat for Humanity accepts new, unopened, unrusted cans of latex paint or stain.  They sell the cans at their ReStore in Waipahu to support their efforts in the construction of new homes for low-income families.  ReStore also accepts donations of usable household items to sell or use in its business.  94-559 Uke'e St, 808-538-7070.

Most everything can be donated at the monthly, traveling Aloha Aina Earth Day held at various island locations by participating schools and nonprofits.  Contact Rene Mansho, 808-306-1876,

Thanks to Honolulu Magazine's January issue for this information.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Friday, January 28, 2011

Update on Honolulu Rail Project

The City Council has cleared the final environmental requirement to begin construction of Honolulu's rail system, by approving a Special Management permit.  The perit allows the $5.5 billion project to be built near coastal management zones.  "It allows us to technically break ground, and clears the way for all the other permits we need to get," said Wayne Yoshioka, interim Department of Transportation Services director.  The project will extend 20 miles, and 1.6 of those are in coastal management areas.  The city hopes to break ground in March.

The permit is likely to be the last requiring Council approval. The project still needs several others that will be handled directly through the city Department of Permitting and Planning.  Last week, the Federal Transit Administration issued a record of decision, clearing the project to begin relocating utilities and negotiating property acquisition.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

New Restaurant in Hawaii Kai - Koa Pancake House

After reading the review by, I had to give Koa Pancake House in the Hawaii Kai Towne Center a try.  The restaurant opened in December, and is doing a great business.  This is their 7th location on Oahu, offering an affordable with plenty to eat.

The K5HomeTeam wrote, "The griddle is loaded with pancakes for this new edition of the Koa Pancake House in the Hawaii Kai Towne Center. That's the one with Costco and Ross. Their kitchen never stops moving. They serve eggs, omelets, crepes, waffles – just about anything you want from 6:30 in the morning until two in the afternoon...Prices start at $3.50 for a short stack of pancakes or some waffles. But they also serve up burgers, sandwiches and plate lunches. They also have eggs benedict and strawberry pancakes."

So today I went for lunch with a friend from East Oahu Realty at noon.  It was already almost full.  10 minutes later it was completely full, and there were people standing waiting for tables. The menu is huge and we both ordered special of the day #1, which was omelette with portugese sausage, mushroom, spinach and cheese.  There was a choice of pancakes, rice, toast or home fried potatoes and we both had the potatoes.  It was very good, too much for me but I did make it almost through, just a few potatoes left. We left at 1:20 and by then there were a few empty tables.

Koa Pancake House
333 Keahole St
Web site

Judging by my Google search, the new location has been reviewed by about every local restaurant site and then some.  Give it a try - average ticket is well below $10 and you'll be Eating Local.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trends in Housing for the 55+ Generation

A joint study by the 50+ Housing Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the MetLife Mature Market Institute shows the recession has made 55+ buyers more practical when selecting a new home. Design considerations have become less important, and financial concerns have become more prominent.  “By the year 2020, as Baby Boomers move into this age bracket, almost 45% of all U.S. households will include someone at least 55 years old,” said David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist. “The number of those households seeking housing better suited to their changing needs will therefore rise dramatically.”

The study, “Housing Trends Update for the 55+ Market,” explores recently released housing data from the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS) on the 55+ demographic. The report focuses especially on households living in active adult communities.

Previous studies from these two organizations found that most 55+ buyers depended on home sale proceeds to finance a new purchase. The most recent data shows that option diminished during the economic downturn.  In 2009, only 55% of new age-qualified active adult home buyers reported that their down payment came from a previous home sale, significantly down from 100% of respondents in 2005 and 92% in 2007. In 2005 and 2007, no active adult community buyers reported having to tap cash or savings for a down payment. In 2009, 45% of the average buyer’s down payment came from cash or savings.

The desire to be near family and friends is the mature mover’s overwhelming motivation, the report noted. The design, amenities and appearance of the residence and the community remain important, but less so than before the recession. Buyers who fall into the 55+ age range that are moving into rental homes, both multi-family and single-family, cited a desire for less expensive housing as second in importance to living near friends and family.  Proximity to work also increased in importance, as more Boomers work well into traditional retirement years.

Hawaii Kai has both retirement communities and many homes where you can age in place.  Call or email me to discuss your plans and options.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Top 5 Home Improvement Projects for Return on Equity in your Hawaii Kai Home has released a recent survey of returns you can expect from home improvement projects under $5,000, as recommended by Realtors across the country.  They are:

•Cleaning and de-cluttering ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)
•Lightening and brightening ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI)
•Home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)
•Landscaping ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)
•Repairing electrical or plumbing ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)

Cleaning and de-cluttering continues has ranked as the top suggested home improvement since the survey was originally conducted in 2000.  It was recommended by 99% of real estate professionals, costs less than $300, and returns a value of nearly $2,000 to the home's sale price.  This is a 586% return on investment.  Cleaning and tidying up improve a home's first impression, its curb appeal, and get the seller in the mood for all the cleaning required to move.

Others on the 10 low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements list were updating electrical systems and/or plumbing, updating the kitchen and bathrooms, replacing or shampooing carpets, painting interior walls, repairing damaged floors, and painting the outside of the home.

The home improvement projects with the highest price increases to a home's resale value are updating the kitchen, followed by painting the outside of the home, and home staging.

If you have questions on what repairs or projects to undertake in order to get your Hawaii Kai home ready to sell in 2011, just call or email me.  I've been helping buyers and sellers in Hawaii Kai for more than 20 years, so have a good feel of what projects would be most beneficial.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Superintendent of Whale Sanctuary will be Headquartered in Hawaii Kai

Malia Chow has been named the new superintendent of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.  Chow was raised on Oahu and received her bachelor's of science degree from the University of Washington and her doctorate in cellular biology from the University of Pennsylvania. She will be located in the sanctuary's Oahu office in Hawaii Kai.

Encompassing 1,370 square miles of federal and state waters, the sanctuary was created by Congress in 1992 to protect humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaii. It is administered by the NOAA in partnership with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.  With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency for the last decade, Chow was the sanctuary's Management Plan Review coordinator.

We welcome Ms. Chow to our community.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Home Buying in Hawaii Kai in 2011 - New Regulations that will Affect You

Thanks to a combination of rising mortgage rates, tighter underwriting guidelines, and sweeping government regulation, home buying is unlikely to get any easier and may, in fact, get much more difficult in 2011.  Looming over the mortgage market are provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that have yet to be finalized. Among them is a requirement that mortgage lenders maintain some “equity" in the mortgages they originate, by holding at least 5% of the credit risk, rather than bundling the loans and selling them off entirely.

The goal is to discourage a repeat of risky past practices, but the legislation makes an exception to the risk-retention standard for what is labeled a “qualified residential mortgage.” (QRM) It is the still-unspecified definition of this type of loan that has lenders scrambling.  “People have some very different ideas of how to define this,” said Michael Fratantoni, vice president of research and economics at the Mortgage Bankers Association. “Some would say if it doesn’t have a 30% down payment, it’s not a QRM. For a first-time home buyer, that would really be eye-opening. It definitely has the potential to turn the market upside down. This could dramatically tighten underwriting much more than what the lenders have already done. It’s going to make it even tougher to work through the housing overhang.”

“If you have to have 30% down, the American dream would become the American fantasy,” said one lender in Illinois.  Additional regulation on mortgage bankers will mean a thinning of their ranks, weeding out the unscrupulous players. But it also will lessen consumers’ ability to comparison-shop widely for the best home mortgage product.

Another wrinkle to the mortgage market is that beginning in March, Freddie Mac will raise fees for mortgages sold to Freddie that carry higher loan-to-value ratios. The additional fees will vary depending on the borrower’s credit score and the loan-to-value ratio, but in some cases the upfront fees will increase by as much as 0.75% of a loan’s balance. If a lender passes along a 0.25% fee to the borrower, it could add about $10 to the monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage, according to Freddie Mac.  In late December, Fannie Mae announced its own series of considerable loan-level price adjustments, effective April 1, for mortgages with greater than a 60% loan-to-value that will apply even to consumers with credit scores above 700.

Rates also are rising.  The forecast for 2011 for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is slightly under 6%. That could definitely change the affordability ratios of buyers who were approved when the rates were 4.25% this past year.

If you want to buy in Hawaii Kai this coming year - and see the market numbers for why you shouldn't wait - then find a reputable lender and get pre-approved, not just pre-qualified.  Know your buying power and then start looking.  I can recommend experienced Hawaii lenders and email you information on any Hawaii Kai condo or neighborhood.  Let's get started!

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Hawaii Kai December & Year-End Real Estate Sales Numbers Encouraging

Read my Active Rain Blog for the actual numbers, but they tell a very good story.  Prices are rising, numbers of sales are up, days on market and inventory are down.  This means for you - if you are a Buyer - you should start looking, now.  Rates have also started up, so your affordability was or is at its most advantageous for you to purchase a home or condo in Hawaii Kai.
Highest 2010 sale, Koko Kai

Highest December Sale, Portlock
Here are photos of the highs and lows for Hawaii Kai (always at least as interesting as the numbers):

Highest 2010 condo sale, Kalele Kai
Highest December condo sale, Mawaena Kai

Request reports on any condo complex or Hawaii Kai neighborhood on my Hawaii Kai web site.  Then call or email me with questions and let's start looking for a home that fits your needs.

Barbara Abe, Realtor