Around the house

Hawaii buyers’ wish list

October 2, 2015
I am constantly showing Kona-Kohala Coast homes to visitors who hope to move to Hawaii.
Hawaii buyers love outdoor living

I can pretty much predict what is on Hawaii buyers’ wish list (besides an ocean view for less than $500,000).   Writer Lisa Kaplan does a good job of discussing a wish list (below).  I think her “low return” article has a lot of good points and is worth reading, though some Hawaiian-style qualifications are needed.  I put my opinions in blue where appropriate.


Home Upgrades with the Lowest ROI
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Life is a balancing act, and upgrading your home is no different. Some upgrades, like a kitchen remodel or an additional bathroom, typically add value to your home. Others, like putting in a pool, provide little dollar return on your investment.

Of course, homeowning isn’t just about building wealth; it’s also about living well and making memories — even if that means outclassing your neighborhood or turning off future buyers. So if any of these six upgrades is something you can’t be dissuaded from, enjoy! We won’t judge. But go in with your eyes wide open. Here’s why: 

  1. Outdoor Kitchen

The fantasy: You’re the man — grilling steaks, blending margaritas, and washing highball glasses without ever leaving your pimped-out patio kitchen.

The reality: For what it costs — on average $12,000 to $15,000 — are you really gonna use it? Despite our penchant for eating alfresco, families spend most leisure time in front of some screen and almost no leisure time outdoors, no matter how much they spend on amenities, according to UCLA’s “Life At Home” study. And the National Association of Home Builders’ 2013 “What Home Buyers Really Want” report says 35% of mid-range buyers don’t want an outdoor kitchen.

The bottom-line: Instead, buy a tricked out gas grill, which will do just fine when you need to char something. If you’re dying for an outdoor upgrade, install exterior lighting — only 1% of buyers don’t want that.

Outdoor kitchens are important to Hawaii buyers.  Because we live outside so much, some homes don’t have a dining table inside!  But they have some pretty nice outdoor furniture.  A large covered lanai with a functional outdoor kitchen will be well used and should be in the budget.  If you buy a home without this feature, plan to install one (including a wind break as necessary).  Lisa is correct to say a luxury outdoor kitchen is not required.  At minimum I recommend a broad covered lanai, lighting, a few extra electric outlets, a quality outdoor grill, counter space, small fridge, tables, chairs, and roll down sunshades.  I firmly disagree with her “low return” prediction.  In Hawaii buyers love outdoor living!

Continue Reading…

Around the Big Island

Hawaiian Falsetto

September 6, 2015

Hawaiian music, fun and games, help celebrate Queen Lili’s birthday

This weekend the 15th annual Liliʻuokalani Festival in Hilo celebrated the Queen’s birthday.  There were food, crafts, cultural demonstrations, hula, and plenty of music featuring Hawaiian falsetto.  In this 5:13 minute video (courtesy, the band Komakakino entertains the crowd, with excellent examples of Hawaiian falsetto, including the yodel-like haʻi vocal breaks.

They say falsetto originated long ago, during the time women did not sing in public.  Men singing in the soprano range, an octave above their own range, produced flute-like sometimes ringing sounds.  This is falsetto.

How did Hawaiian falsetto originate?

When the vaqueros were brought over to manage the King’s cattle on Hawaiʻi Island, they brought their guitars.  Sitting around campfires, European and Hawaiian cowboys shared their music.  Some say Hawaiian falsetto evolved from ancient Hawaiian chants and the music of other immigrants to Hawaiʻi, who also introduced new harmonies.   Continue Reading…

Around the Big Island

This Summer’s Wild Hawaii Weather

September 4, 2015

Though West Hawaii weather has greened the hills, end to the drought is tenuous.


There’s no doubt about it, recent Hawaii weather has been wild.  Since the hurricanes started marching by and around Hawaii this summer, our relatively cool, trade wind days have been banished.  While conditions have definitely improved over the past few days, the last month especially has been a bit of a trial for West Hawaii.  A major Kawaihae wildfire got into the fray, preceding this Kawaihae flash flood (above) early last month.

While we wait for the next potential hurricane trying to come our way, we wonder if our years long drought may finally be coming to a close.  Unfortunately, the brewing super El Niño may prevent an end to the drought.  According to local forecaster David Miskus who was speaking about the drought, “El Niño events typically bring dryness during the winter and spring.”

To catch up, here’s West Hawaii Today’s summary of the last several weeks.  What can we expect next week for West Hawaii weather?  It’s hard to tell, but there’s no longer a need to pack for Panama if you are coming to Hawaii.  Whatever happens, there’s always the pool!  Hawaii weather

Around the Big Island

Hurricanes Stream Past Hawaii

August 29, 2015
Hurricanes, Hawaii late August

From left, hurricanes Kilo, (the Hawaiian archipelago is gray), Ignacio, and Jimena

Hurricanes passing by the Big Island have made for an unusually humid summer.

Compared to the mainland, summer in Hawaii starts early and ends late. Of course we go to the beach year ’round in the islands, but a few weeks ago I started hearing locals complain that the water is too warm. Super warm water at the beach usually happens at the end of September and the beginning of October.  In early autumn the ocean can feel like a bathtub.  When the air temperature has cooled off the high summer peak, it can feel nice to splash about in too-warm ocean water.  But during the tropical Pacific’s dog days of August, refreshing is what we want.

West Hawaii temperatures have been higher than normal and humidity has been off the charts.  A Honolulu meteorologist talked about our numerous hurricanes.  He said at least one day last week the humidity in Hawaii was as high as it could go.  Yes, I thought as I listened, sweat dripping, Continue Reading…


Sellers: Evaluate the offer

August 19, 2015

You’ve got an offer on your Hawaii home.  Now what?

You’ve spent weeks or months keeping your Hawaii property clean and staged for showings, and before that, lots of time, energy and money preparing the home for market.  Your broker just called to say an offer has been received, and you’ll have it shortly.  The buyer is asking for an answer in 24 hours.  You need a plan to evaluate the offer.

Continue Reading…

Beach, Tennis

Mauna Kea Resort Fun July 2015

July 20, 2015

Image mkr 50thMauna Kea Resort celebrates its 50th anniversary this week.  Bloomberg published a nice article about the anniversary by reviewing the resort’s storied past in this March 2015 article.

The special events and throwback price specials begin Tuesday July 21, 2015.  The very first event is a tennis match using wood rackets.  Wayne, one of the Seaside Tennis Club’s dedicated tennis pros and all around nice guy, told me he found a case of well preserved antique white tennis balls.  And players will use them!  Everyone who plays tennis this week at the Seaside Tennis Club is asked to wear all white.

Here’s the complete Mauna Kea Resort 50th Anniversary event schedule.  If you can’t join any of the tennis or golf fun, at least make it to beautiful Kauna’oa beach for the 50,000 orchid blossom drop by helicopter.  Let the fun begin!

Mauna Kea Resort beach aka Kauna'oa beach


Around the Big Island

Volcano Pottery Sale this weekend

June 11, 2015

June 12-13 pottery sale

Though the Big Island’s Halema’uma’u crater lava lake has drained out of view, there’s still a reason to visit Volcanoes National Park this weekend: the 7th annual pottery sale at Volcano Village.  It’s never too early to start holiday shopping. Support the Big Island potters guild.  Buy local pottery!  Friday and Saturday June 12 & 13, 2015.


Local wire fraud – be aware

June 8, 2015

On Saturday I received an email from my state professional association.  It discussed the problem of fraudsters targeting folks in the process of buying a home here in Hawaii.  Via email, the bad guys impersonate an escrow official or the estate broker to persuade buyers that the original wire instructions were incorrect.  Here are the correct wire instructions they say, and do send the money now.  It’s a scam.  Here is the complete text from the Hawaii Association of Realtors newsletter, including tips on how to protect yourself from this and similar email scams:

BE AWARE OF EMAIL SCAMS AND WIRE FRAUDSTERS – In recent months, real estate professionals have reported an upswing in a particularly insidious wire scam. A hacker will break into

Continue Reading…


Big Island honey at Costco now

June 7, 2015

Big Island Bees honeyI’m on Big Island Bees’ mailing list.  Last Wednesday they announced a small shipment of their raw organic Macadamia Nut Blossom honey to Kona’s Costco.

Last December I learned the small jars make excellent gifts.  I received heaps of thank you notes! My husband is a bread and butter guy.  He prefers the opaque Ohia Lehua Blossom variety.  I like it all!  Want to know why it’s time to give up the honey bear bottle? Learn that and how easy it is to become honey obsessed at

South Kona Big Island Bees honey is better tasting and more nutritious than the overly processed kind in the bear bottles. Get to Kona Costco before it’s all pau!