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Tips for Selling During the Holidays

Tips for Selling During the Holiday Season

The holidays aren’t exactly prime time for buying and selling real estate, but if your home is on the market, you don’t want to simply sit back and wait until after New Year’s Day. During this busy time of year, potential buyers, as well as real estate agents, often have holiday activities that can make scheduling showings difficult, and you may experience the same issues. However, keep in mind that buyers who are looking during the holidays are usually quite motivated. They may have a strict deadline by which they must move, or perhaps want to purchase a new home by year’s end for tax purposes. Since there are fewer houses for sale during the holidays, there’s also less competition for those buyers who are out there.

Discreet Decorations

You are living in your home and celebrating the holidays, but if you normally make a big deal out of decorating for the season, dial it back a bit if your house is being shown. That doesn’t mean you have to eschew all decorations, but a simple wreath on the door and a relatively small tree is a good plan. Make sure any decorations you do put up are in good condition and in good taste. Buyers want to see how the house flows, which is difficult if there are decorations all over the place. Avoid covering up features that attract buyers, such as large windows with a view.

Clean, Shiny and Bright

Of course, a house for sale should always look clean and fresh, but they should also have brightness. The holidays coincide with the darkest time of the year, so showings conducted in the late afternoon or evening require better lighting so visitors can see your house clearly. Replace some of your lower wattage bulbs with high wattage lighting to brighten your house.

An Emotional Pull

The holidays are an emotional time, and you can take advantage of that fact to appeal to buyers. After all, there’s a huge emotional component when it comes to purchasing a home. Since it is the holiday season, you many want to bake a pie or cookies in the oven to give your house a warm scent and cozy vibe. Of course, you should offer a plate of those fresh cookies, brownies or other baked goods to the buyers coming to look at the house. Some mulled cider and goodies gives the buyer a welcome feeling and may influence their decision, even subconsciously.

Price the Property Properly

You can attract more potential buyers during the holidays if your house is priced right. Your real estate agent will provide you with the right pricing for your home in the current market. Perhaps you could ask a little more money for it in the spring, but you’re paying your mortgage and property taxes in the meanwhile.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor. We make sure buyers, sellers and renters understand the process every step of the way. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or


November 19, 2018

Buying and Selling During The Holidays

The Pros and Cons of Buying and Selling a House During the Holidays

The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is generally considered a bad time of year to sell or buy a house, but is that really true? Many of the conditions contributing to lower home sales during this season are weather-related, such as colder temperatures and ice and snow. That’s simply not an issue in Hawaii. Of course, the many activities associated with the holidays does mean that sellers, buyer and real estate agents don’t have as much time for showings as they may during other times of the year. However, buyers especially may have more time off than usual to look for a new home, and those purchasing a home at this time of year tend toward the more motivated.

Fewer Houses on the Market

Many homeowners intending to sell don’t put their houses on the market until after the holidays or wait until the early spring. If you do decide to sell your house during this period, you have an advantage, as fewer available houses mean less competition. For the buyer, however, that’s a disadvantage, as there are not as many houses from which to choose. Some buyers are more likely to make lowball offers during the holidays, sensing a seller is desperate if they list their home in late fall or early winter. A seller probably won’t experience a bidding war, but because there is less competition, they may receive a higher sale price, as long as they ignore the low ballers.

December 31 Deadlines

Why are the buyers house shopping during the holidays more motivated? Often, it’s because they have a December 31 deadline looming. They may need to relocate for job purposes, or want to the tax advantages of closing before the end of the year. While the motivation is a plus, this is a tougher time of year for a buyer to obtain financing if they aren’t pre-approved. As with everyone else, lenders, appraisers and other real estate professionals may take time off during the holidays. That makes meeting a December 31 deadline especially difficult if the offer isn’t made on the property until the middle of the month.

If a buyer is interested in buying a foreclosure, this may prove the best time of year to purchase such a home. Banks really want to get these properties off their books by year’s end, and may accept an offer they wouldn’t consider earlier.

The Staging Dilemma

Many homeowners love to decorate their dwellings for the holidays, but that may cause a problem when trying to sell the home. Too many decorations may obscure some of the home’s best features, so that potential buyers can’t see the house to its best advantage. On the other hand, tasteful decorations can add to a home’s charm. If you’re a seller, your real estate agent can help advise you on the best way to decorate and stage your home for the holidays for marketing purposes.


Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor. We make sure buyers, sellers and renters understand the process every step of the way. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or




Single-Family vs. Condo

Single-Family Home vs. Condo for Young Home Buyers

Millennials are entering the housing market en masse, and their needs will shape the majority of the housing market for decades to come. Young people seeking a home must decide whether a condo or single family house is best suited for their purposes. One choice is not necessarily better than the other, and there are pros and cons to both types of housing.


Condos are generally less expensive than single-family homes, but that’s not the only reason for their appeal. If you’re working hard to build your career and also enjoy a lot of socializing and traveling, spending your free time working on your yard or maintaining your home probably isn’t a top priority. With a condo, you can leave any exterior work to the homeowner’s association contractors. For many young people, easy access to restaurants, entertainment, shopping and nightlife is often essential, and condos are usually closer to these amenities than single family homes. Commutes are generally much shorter, and if you live downtown, there’s no commuting at all.

There’s also the “family” aspect. If you don’t plan to have children, or at least not for quite some time, purchasing a condo may make more sense. Since most condos are marketed to adults, you don’t have to concern yourself with the quality of the local school system or all the other considerations those intending to raise a family must contend with in a home purchase.

When it comes time to sell, however, it may take longer to do so with a condo than a single family home. That’s because there’s a uniformity to the units, so those selling two floors above you and two floors below you are likely pretty much the same as your space. It’s harder to make your unit stand out for a buyer than a more individual single family home.

Single Family Homes

When you live in a single family home, you have more responsibilities, but you also have more options. You can generally make changes to the exterior and interior, as long as the changes meet local zoning codes. You can personalize your home in ways that aren’t possible with a condo.

If you have your heart set on a single-family home but don’t have unlimited funds, there are ways to achieve your goal if you’re willing to make some sacrifices. That primarily means putting up with a longer commute. Houses close to major commuting areas are virtually always more expensive than dwellings close by, and you’ll get more “bang for the buck” in terms of home size and amenities. If you or your spouse works in Honolulu, for example, consider how far out you are willing to move to buy a house you really want. If one or both of you are able to work remotely at least part of the time, that may make up for long commutes on other days.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor familiar with all aspects of the Hawaiian real estate market. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or

October 11, 2018

First-Time Home Buyers

Strategies for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a first home is often stressful, especially when coming up with a hefty down payment is a problem. Don’t despair. There are ways to come up with a down payment enabling you to enter the ranks of homebuyer.

Saving for a Down Payment

Perhaps the best way to save for a down payment is by putting a fixed amount away each month. You can set an automatic deposit from your checking into your savings accounts. Other ways to save include going over your budget with a fine-tooth comb and lowering your expenses as much as possible. The amount you save goes into your down payment account. If possible, consider getting a second job with the proceeds towards your down payment.

IRA Withdrawals

In most circumstances, you can’t withdraw funds from your IRA without a 10 percent penalty until reaching the age of 59 ½. However, if you are a first-time homebuyer, the IRS permits a withdrawal of up to $10,000 for a down payment with no penalties. If you and your spouse both have IRAs, that means you can withdraw up to $20,000. If either of you have parents or grandparents with IRAs, they can withdraw up to $10,000 without penalty to help you purchase a first home.

FHA Loan

If coming up with a substantial down payment for your first home is a problem, or your credit score isn’t terrific, consider an FHA loan. If your score is at least 580, the FHA allows a down payment minimum of 3.5 percent. Even better, the FHA permits a down payment that is gifted to you, so if you generous relatives, you can in effect achieve 100 percent financing. You will have to pay an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) at closing and maintain mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. However, properties located on Hawaiian homelands do not require an UFMIP.

Hawaiian real estate is expensive, but you already know that. FHA loan limits vary by county in the state. In Honolulu the limit is $721,050, while it is $657,800 in Maui and Kalawao and $713,000 in Kauai. In Hawaii County, the FHA loan limit is just $368,000.

Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation

The HHFDC has affordable units available in various developments. If you are a qualified resident – which means you are at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, currently live in Hawaii, will live in the unit and have sufficient income to receive the loan – you are entered in a public lottery drawing for the available properties. Currently, purchase prices range from $250,000 for studio apartments, up to $500,000 for three-bedroom, 2.5 bath single-family unit. If you qualify, it makes sense to fill out an application – someone wins the right to purchase such units, and you could prove the lucky winner.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor familiar with all aspects of the Hawaiian real estate market. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or


Entertain During a Power Outage

Things to Do During a Power Outage

Storms bring power outages. While there’s no question losing electricity brings big inconveniences, there’s also a plus side. If you and your family members tend to literally leave each other to their own devices, you now have an enforced togetherness – and it can even be fun, as long as the power isn’t out for too long. Along with your storm emergency kit, have some old-fashioned items on hand that can make enduring a power outage worthwhile.

Board and Card Games

As long as you have some natural light, or you have plenty of flashlights or battery-operated lighting on hand, a power outage is a perfect time for board pr card games. Your kids can learn the joys of classic games such as Monopoly, Life, Scrabble, Clue and the like. It’s also a good time to teach an older child the basics of chess. While there are plenty of family card games available, you can play – or learn – adult card games with the older members of the family. If you’re by yourself, play solitaire.

Read Aloud

Sure, you can all read your own books or magazines during a power outage, but you can also take turns reading aloud. Harry Potter books are a good choice, as is anything by Mark Twain, but you can choose your own personal or family favorites.

Drawing and Crafts

As long as the power outage doesn’t affect your water supply for cleanup – as it may if you have a well rather than city water – drawing or crafts is a great way to spend time while waiting for electricity restoration.

Shadow Puppets

If you have candles, light them and create shadow puppets on the walls. Modern kids probably aren’t familiar with shadow puppets, but they’ll quickly learn to love them.

Tell Ghost Stories

Pretend you are camping, and do the things campers do in the great outdoors at night – other than roast marshmallows. Sit around your living room or kitchen table and tell ghost stories.

Peruse Photo Albums

It’s likely you still have family photo albums around even if you’ve digitized most of them. Your kids can make fun of what you looked like at their age, but they also want to see photos of relatives, both alive and dead. You might want to share stories with your kids of when you were growing up, and tell tales of your friends and family members. A power outage can serve as a wonderful opportunity to connect with your family, and connect the past with the present.


Alone in the House

If you’re a couple without kids in the house, you don’t need spelling out what you can do in the dark. However, if you are by yourself, you can still take advantage of the quiet engendered by a power outage. If you’ve been pushing yourself lately, take a nap. If you’ve fallen behind on your cleaning, this is a great time to tidy up, again if water is available.



If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor. We make sure buyers, sellers and renters understand the process every step of the way. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or


September 14, 2018

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane Prep Checklist

Hurricanes and tropical storms are much in the news lately, and a changing climate may mean people all over the globe can expect more incidents of severe weather. While there’s no way to prevent a hurricane, there are plenty of ways to prepare for them, and good preparation can protect your loved ones and your property. In Hawaii, the hurricane season starts May 1, so make sure you have your hurricane toolkit in place each spring.


You want to make sure your family is safe during the storm if they are not with you. Create a communication plan well in advance. For this, you’ll use the old-fashioned medium of paper, since power outages may keep you from using a computer and mobile phones may not prove reliable during a hurricane. Write down every family member’s phone number and email address, and include the contact information of your doctor, employer and others you may need to get in touch with during an emergency. Also include the name of a contact person who is out of the area and thus out of harm’s way. This individual may help errant family members get in touch with each other more easily than someone local, since in emergencies local phones lines are jammed, but long-distance calls may go through.

Make sure everyone in your household has a copy of the communication information and always carries it with them. If mobile phones are functioning, text rather than make a call. Even if the text can’t go through when you send it, it is saved and will go through when there is bandwidth capacity.

Emergency Supplies

Keep a hurricane emergency kit on hand. At minimum, your kit should include the following:

  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water – figure on at least a 3 day supply for a hurricane, and plan on one gallon per person daily.
  • Nonperishable foods – enough for three days, at the least.
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Flashlights
  • Battery-powered radio – make sure you have plenty of extra batteries for all purposes.
  • If you have pets or babies, keep food and supplies for them on hand.
  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank in case you must evacuate.
  • Keep important documents, including insurance policies, in a plastic bag and in a high place so they are protected in case of flooding.

Home Protection

If your home doesn’t have hurricane shutters, keep plywood on hand and nail sheets over doors and windows. Bring in or secure outdoor furniture.


Everyone dreads the idea of evacuation, but it can prove life-saving. Find out your community’s evacuation plan long before disaster strikes. Put a plan in place way in advance as to where you will go if you must evacuate and how you will get there. Since you don’t know the nature of the disaster, have several options available. If you are bringing pets, make sure your prospective accommodations will accept them. Keep area maps in your vehicle and learn alternate routes – don’t depend on GPS in an emergency.


Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor. We make sure buyers, sellers and renters understand the process every step of the way. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or


Buying Real Estate in Hawaii – What You Should Know

What to Know When Buying Real Estate in Hawaii
You already know that Hawaiian real estate is expensive. You expect to pay more when you live in paradise. While Hawaiian home prices are the highest in the nation, there are some places that are far more expensive than others. In Hawaii, that difference often depends on which island the property is located.

High End Properties
You’ll find the most expensive properties on Oahu, and many of those neighborhoods are household words elsewhere in the U.S., synonymous with tropical luxury. These include Diamond Head, Waikiki, along with Kahala, Portlock, Lanikai, Beachside and the gated communities of Black Point and Hawaii Loa Ridge. Many of these properties fetch $3 million or more. When it comes to the highest individual properties, many of them are found on the Big Island’s Kona Coast, and the prices are stratospheric, in the $20 million and up range.

Average Properties
The Big Island’s median price for single family homes in 2017 was $350,000. That sounds like an absolute bargain, but the way the median price was attained is deceptive. The median price for Puna and Ka-u was $235,000, but the median price for the seven other districts – South Kona, North Kona, South Kohala, North Kohala, South Hilo, North Hilo and Hamakua – was $711,000, which is a lot less affordable. Still, the rapidly growing Puna and Ka-u districts are still among the best places to snap up a Hawaiian property, and snap is the operative word. Such properties go quickly once they are on the market.
On Oahu, Ewa Beach offers good value at an average home price of $627,300. The median per square foot price is $448, lower by $101 than the Honolulu metro average of $547 per square foot. Nearby cities with lower home prices include Waianae, at $425,400 and Wahiawa, at $612,500. Nearby cities with slightly higher home prices include Kapolei, at $649,900; Waipahu, at $663,800 and Aiea, at $712,600. The median price for Honolulu is $675,000, a bargain considering its proximity to work areas for many residents.

Affordable Properties
In Hawaii, affordability is relative. However, some places with relatively high real estate prices also have average median incomes. These include Kahului on Maui, a city that is home to one-third of the island’s population. The median home price as of 2018 is $485,000, but the median household income is just $62,038. Hilo, on the Big Island, has a median home value of just over $300,000, and a median household income of $52,563. The lava issue has affected parts of the market on the Big Island, but prices are nevertheless trending upward.

Other Considerations
When buying real estate in Hawaii, you must keep other factors in mind, such as the higher costs of fuel, electricity, food and staples than you’ll find on the mainland. On the plus side, Hawaiian property taxes are relatively low, especially compared with the average cost of housing.

Contact Us
If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor familiar with all aspects of the Hawaiian real estate market. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or


August 22, 2018

Hawaii Market Conditions

Current Market Conditions in the State of Hawaii

Is this a good time to buy or sell a Hawaiian home? The answer always depends on current market conditions. Right now, the housing market in Hawaii is on a par with the rest of the country when it comes home price increases. The average home in the U.S. is expected to increase in price by 3.2 percent this year, while the average Hawaiian home is expected to increase in price by 3.1 percent. Keep in mind that the average Hawaiian home price is nearly three times the average price on the mainland. With stable prices and an increasing inventory, this makes it a good time to buy your Hawaiian dream home.

Market Conditions, Summer 2018

As of August 15, 2018, the average listing price for condos on Oahu is $648,188, while for homes the average listing price is $1,021,809. The median sale price from August, 2017, has risen by 6.4 percent, an average of $35,000. For 2018, the prices in some neighborhoods, including Hawaii Kai, Kailua, North Shore and Diamond Head, is down slightly, but in prices in other neighborhoods, including Ewa Beach, Pearl City, Waikiki and Kakaako are up. Whether up or down, neither average price has shifted a full percentage price, with the largest rise 0.49 percent in Waikiki and the biggest drop 0.29 percent, in both Diamond Head and North Shore.
On Maui, home sales increased 20 percent in July, 2018 over the previous year’s numbers. In that period, condo prices increased by almost 17 percent and single family homes by nearly 10 percent. Median prices were up as well, with condos at $513,163 compared to $440,000 in July, 2017, and single family dwellings at $769,000 as compared to 2017’s $701,000. Not only were prices higher, but 136 condos sold in July, 2018, versus 101 units in July, 2017, an increase of approximately 35 percent. This July saw 113 single family homes sold, compared to 92 homes sold in July, 2017. That’s an increase of 23 percent.

Factors Affecting the Market

Local and national factors are affecting the current real estate market. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on December 22, 2017, changes the amount of deductible mortgage interest for new home purchases. Previously, the limit on deductibility was $1 million, but it has been reduced to $750,000. Fortunately, another change in the TCJA may not affect most homeowners, because while real estate in Hawaii is expensive, property taxes are relatively low. The TCJA caps the state and local property deduction at $10,000.
Across the country, unemployment is at historically low rates. In Hawaii, the unemployment is even lower than average, so that means demand for housing should remain high.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor. We know the current state of the market and make sure buyers, sellers and renters understand the process every step of the way. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or


Pet Friendly Places

Pet Friendly Condos Around Honolulu

For many condo shoppers, one issue is an absolute deal breaker. A condo that won’t permit Fido or Fluffy to live there isn’t a place you can even consider. Fortunately, there are lots of pet-loving Hawaiians, and many condos have pet-friendly policies. “Pet-friendly” is key, because it’s not synonymous with “Pets Allowed.” The latter may have many restrictions on the size and types of pets allowed, while the former offers more flexibility. Keep in mind that Hawaiian law allows building owners to charge a pet deposit fee equaling one month’s rent.

Animal Quarantine

If you’re new to Hawaii, you’ll need to quarantine your pet if he’s coming from the mainland. Fortunately, pets with the proper vaccination history may qualify for just a five-day quarantine, but puppies and kittens, who cannot complete their rabies vaccinations until a certain age, may have to stay in quarantine as long as four months.

Kakaako Condos

You’ll often have better luck finding pet friendly condos in new developments. Developers know what potential buyers or renters want, and pet-friendly unit rank high on the list. The Ke Kilohana, Keauhou Place, and Kapiolani Residence on Oahu aren’t just pet friendly – they offer pet amenities, such as dog parks, that make them a prime choice for pet owners.

The Big Dog Condo

Even pet friendly condos may impose certain weight limits on dogs, or not permit dogs to walk on certain types of communal flooring because their nails could damage the finish. In effect, that means only dogs small enough for carrying can live there. If you’ve got a big dog, finding a condo is tough, unless you live at the Vida, a new development allowing dogs weighing up to 80 pounds. The Ahana, One Ala Moana, Park Lane Ala Moana, Harbor Court,   Waiea and the Gateway Towers allows canines weighing up to 60 pounds to live on the premises, with a limit of two per unit. The aforementioned Keauhou Place allows dogs weighing up to 50 pounds to reside there, again with a two pet limit. Keep in mind that condo pet policies are subject to change.

Service Animals

Even if a condo doesn’t allow pets, it must allow service animals in the building, as per the Americans with Disabilities Act. The landlord can’t charge a tenant extra for a service animal. However, it’s important that a pet is a true service animal, and that it serves a need beyond the person’s desire to have a pet. Even though it’s illegal to ban a service animal, bringing one into a building with a no-pet policy isn’t going to make you feel welcome and you’ll likely have neighbors complaining even if there’s nothing the landlord can do. You are far better off finding an apartment in a pet-friendly building.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor. We make sure buyers, sellers and renters understand the process every step of the way, and we can help you find a home that suits the furry members of your family. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or


July 25, 2018

Timeless Remodeling Techniques

Timeless Hawaiian Home Design

Nothing dates a home as quickly as trendy decorating. If you’ve ever walked into a home with avocado or yellow kitchen appliances, you know without asking that the kitchen was last updated in the 1970s. If you’re building your own home or doing some remodeling, you want to ensure that all the effort you’re putting into the project won’t look dated by the mid-2020s. What you want is a timeless Hawaiian home design, simple while sophisticated.

The Right Colors

Choose your home’s colors based on where you live, so the indoors reflects the tropical outdoors. In Hawaii, the indoor-outdoor connection is critical. If your home is near the ocean, think gray, blue and the sandy colors of the beach. If your dwelling sits in a rainforest, you want multiple shades of green along with the red and yellow hues so often found among the vegetation. Remember that color defines your home while reflecting your personality.

Classic Design and Accessories

In Hawaii, you can’t go wrong by accessorizing with tropical plants and fresh cut flowers. They’re not only beautiful, but culturally significant, and that premise reflects all Hawaiian interior design. Look for accessories reflecting Hawaii’s rich heritage, such as Chinese, Balinese and Japanese furniture, art and sculpture.  Black and white motifs are not only classic, but very much part of the Asian tradition. Use the work of local artists, working in the Hawaiian tradition, as accent pieces. While rattan and bamboo are emblems of timeless Hawaiian style, don’t be afraid to mix and match them with other classic furnishings. There’s nothing wrong with an East meets West impression, as long as the two are balanced.

Less is More

When it comes to traditional Hawaiian interior design, less is more. You want your home to feel as open as possible, so avoid cramming too many items into a room. That means keeping throw pillows, candles and the like to a minimum. Take advantage of a room’s natural light as much as possible when considering decorating ideas.  Window shutters in lieu of draperies is one possibility. Let the way your home blends in with its natural surroundings guide your design decisions. Consider removing interior doors when it makes sense so that rooms flow into one another and air can circulate and keep the home cooler.

Wood, Water and Stone

Incorporate natural design elements in your home, whether that’s walls made from native Ohia wood, fountains or other water features and native stone flooring, such as basalt. Indigenous materials are part of timeless Hawaiian interior design, and such décor never goes out of style. Use neutral, light-colored fabrics for upholstery to blend in with these natural aspects.

Avoid the Trendy

If there’s a trend you really love and feel is perfect for your home, that’s one thing. Every classic design scheme was originally a new idea. However, trends change pretty rapidly. If it’s not something you love and can live with, don’t do it. Trust your design instincts.

Contact Us

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or find a rental property, you need a knowledgeable, experienced realtor. We make sure buyers, sellers and renters understand the process every step of the way. Contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or