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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.

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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

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Kona rents too high? Consider Hilo

May 28, 2015

Wailoa pond Hilo_4291181

According to the Wall Street Journal on May 19, Hawaii is the most difficult state to find an affordable rental.  In West Hawaii, Kona rents have climbed quite high.  I have been watching Kona rentals on Craig’s List for the past few months.  Today, finding a single family home for less than $2,300 per month is very difficult.  There are apartments for less than $2,000 (sometimes) but if pets are part of the family, moving to Hilo may be the only option for pet families who need a yard.  I suppose this is a first class problem as Hilo has lively communities.  No beaches per say, but Hilo is certainly a pleasant place to live.  If you’ve never been to Hilo, here’s a five minute video to give you a feel for this slow Hawaiian town. (Video by Big Island Television).



West Hawaii landscape classes

March 11, 2014

An article in West Hawaii Today details upcoming classes offered by The Hawaii Island Landscape Association, working with the University of Hawaii Extension Service, about landscape installation and maintenance. Deadline to enroll is March 29, 2014.

Author Diana Duff says “the series of 10 classes will cover a range of topics of interest and value for homeowners interested in gardening as well as professional landscapers and landscape workers seeking ways to improve their knowledge and service to their clients.  The classes are open to the public as a series or individually and are offered from 2 to 5 p.m., Wednesdays at the Kaupulehu Interpretive Center, located north of the old Kona Village Resort.”

Topics include basic botany, ground cover and shrub identification, tropical trees and common weeds, the safe and effective use of pesticides, soil health, irrigation basics, pruning basics, and how to follow a landscape architect’s plans.



Flood insurance rate update – House passes amendment

March 7, 2014


On March 4, 2014 the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Biggert-Waters act, which addresses the National Flood Insurance Program and premium rates.  Click here for the National Association of Realtors’ “issue brief” about current flood insurance legislation.  For more information about your specific property call your insurance agent, or the County of Hawaii’s Department of Public Works, (808) 961-8787.



Hawaiian tree fern in decline

February 26, 2014

The Hawaiian tree fern, also known as hapu‘u, for millennia abundant in wet forests, is now in decline along with the rain forests themselves.  Those who have been around West Hawaii for years may remember our tree ferns, cibotium glaucum, growing thickly along the Koloko mauka road high above Mamalahoa highway.  Now, grasses invade these spaces as the tree fern recedes.  According to a University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture public handout  “hapu‘u was very common in the wetter areas of all the major islands, but exploitation and drier conditions caused by climate change have reduced the stands drastically.”

Tree fern_cibotium glaucum

For years Hawaii families have enhanced their landscaping with plants growing luxuriant in the accessible reaches of rain forests.  In the case of Hawaiian tree ferns, transplanting by the inexperienced doesn’t always work as the fern needs a hospitable rain forest type location to thrive.  Now that climate change is working against our fern forests, before heading out to “harvest” local plants for your yard, please take the time to read Norman Bezon’s informative February 16, 2014 West Hawaii Today special article.


Solar Tubes Beat Traditional Skylights for Low-Cost Daylighting

February 21, 2014

solartubeI saw a home today with solar tubes.  It was amazing how much light they produce!  Here’s an article I found about them.

Solar Tubes Beat Traditional Skylights for Low-Cost Daylighting

By Dave Toht,

Get the natural light that skylights provide — but with less cost and less hassle — by installing solar tubes instead.  

How it works

Known variously as a sun tube, sun tunnel, light tube, or tubular skylight, a solar tube is a 10- or 14-inch-diameter sheet-metal tube with a polished interior. The interior acts like a continuous mirror, channeling light along its entire length while preserving the light’s intensity. It captures daylight at the roof and delivers it inside your home.

On your roof, a solar tube is capped by a weather-proof plastic globe. The tube ends in a porthole-like diffuser in the ceiling of a room below. The globe gathers light from outside; the diffuser spreads the light in a pure white glow. The effect is dramatic: New installations often have home owners reaching for the light switch as they leave a room.


A light tube costs about $500 when professionally installed, compared to more than $2,000 for a skylight. If you’re reasonably handy and comfortable working on a roof, install a light tube yourself using a kit that costs $150 to $250. Unlike a skylight, a light tube doesn’t require new drywall, paint, and alterations to framing members.

 How much light?

A 10-inch tube, the smallest option, is the equivalent of three 100-watt bulbs, enough to illuminate up to 200 sq. ft. of floor area; 14-inch tubes can brighten as much as 300 sq. ft.

Popular locations for a light tube include any areas where constant indirect light is handy:  hallways, stairways, walk-in closets, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms.  The only place you don’t want a light tube is above a TV or computer screen where it might create uncomfortable glare.

 Bringing a light tube through multiple levels

Channeling light down to the first floor of a two-story house is feasible if you have a closet or mechanical chase through which you can run the tube. The job can quickly become more complicated if there’s flooring to cut through, or if you encounter wiring, plumbing, and HVAC ducts.

Is your house right for a light tube?

Because installation requires no framing alteration, there are few limitations to where you can locate a light tube. Check the attic space above to see if there is room for a straight run. If you find an obstruction, elbows or flexible tubing may get around it. It’s relatively easy to install a light tube in a vaulted ceiling because only a foot or so of tubing is required.

solar_tube2Make these evaluations in advance

Roof slope: Most light tube kits include flashing that can be installed on roofs with slopes between 15° (a 3-in-12 pitch) and 60° (a 20-in-12 pitch).

Roofing material: Kits are designed with asphalt shingles in mind, but also work with wood shingles or shakes. Flashing adapters for metal or tile roofs are available.

Roof framing spacing: Standard rafters are spaced 16 inches on-center; gap enough for 10- or 14-inch tubes. If your home has rafters positioned 24 inches on-center, you can special order a 21-inch tube for light coverage up to 600 sq. ft.

Location: A globe mounted on a southwest roof gives the best results. Choose a spot requiring a run of tubing that’s 14 feet or less. A globe positioned directly above your target room can convey as much as 98% of exterior light. A tube that twists and turns minimally reduces the light.

Weather: If you live in a locale with high humidity, condensation on the interior of the tube can be a problem. Wrapping the tube with R-15 or R-19 insulation greatly cuts condensation. Some manufacturers offer sections of tubing with small fans built in to remove moist air. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, opt for an extra-hardy polycarbonate dome.


New Flood Insurance Rate Map for South Kona

February 6, 2014

New flood studies are underway for North and South Kona for Hawaii County.  The flood studies for South Kona are in two phases. Today I received notification from the Department of Public Works that flood rate maps for phase 1 of the South Kona district (south of Kona town to Ocean View) were adopted by FEMA.  If you own property that is now in a flood zone, before calling your insurance agent for a flood insurance quote, you’ll first need to hire a surveyor for an elevation certificate.  But I am jumping ahead.  If your Hawaii Island property is in the areas of Honaunau, Keokea, and a small section of Ki’ilae in South Kona, the new flood insurance rate maps are in effect as of February 7.  To find your flood zone designation, complete this online form, hit the submit button, and Public Works will give you the official designation.  Below is the announcement I received.

[Updated February 7, 2014]


On February 7, 2014, a FEMA Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) for the areas of Honaunau, Keokea, and a small section of Ki’ilae in South Kona, will become effective and create new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

The LOMR, submitted to FEMA in early July of 2013, identifies new flood hazards as the area underwent an increase in residential and agricultural development since the original FIRMs was revised in 1988.

Structures located within a Zone AE Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) may be required to have flood insurance, if the structure is mortgaged by a U.S. government backed loan. Structures located outside the SFHA, are encouraged but not required to have flood insurance.

Property owners may check the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps at the Department of Public Works, Engineering division in Hilo weekdays, from 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM.

Information provided by:

Noelani Whittington
Public Information and Education
Department of Public Works
101 Pauahi Ste Ste 7 | Hilo, Hi 96720
Phone: 808-961-8787 | Fax: 808-961-8630

Hilo tsumani aftermath 1960

Hilo tsumani aftermath 1960


Storage Solutions for Small Spaces

January 7, 2014


In Hawaii our homes are on the small side.  Probably because
we’re always outside!  I recommend that you don’t bring it with
you.  Sell all your stuff except for the aloha shirt, bathing suit,
and “slippahs.”  That’s all you’re going to wear anyway.  However,
most people ship way too much stuff to their new Hawaii home.
Where is it all going to go in our smaller homes and condos?
This article has some good ideas for kids’ rooms.

Visit for more articles like this.