Market Conditions Report – Hilo Update March 26, 2008Posted by Kelly in : Market Conditions , add a comment
Hilo is the second largest city in all of Hawaii. Most of the services and businesses on the east side of the Big Island are located in Hilo. It is also home to the county seat and includes the county, state, federal, and judicial buildings. While Hilo tends to be a rainy place, the weather patterns are not always predictable. Several weeks or months may go by without any substantial rainfall. Nearly all of the important educational and financial institutions are located in Hilo. The University of Hawaii at Hilo was ranked one of the top twenty small universities in the nation and has a very diverse, international student body. Visitors and residents find Hilo to be a “local” town with warm and friendly people. While tourism is very important to the east Hawaii economy, it does not dominate, as in Kona. Cruise ships regularly dock at the Hilo Harbor and Hilo Bayfront frequently has canoe paddling regattas with statewide participation. The world renown “Merrie Monarch Hula Festival” is held in Hilo every Arpil and draws contestants from all over the world. Hilo is a very diverse community that is low key and very modest.
BUYER’S OR SELLER’S MARKET
(Ratings: 1=Strong Buyer’s Market; 5=Strong Seller’s Market):
Current Rating: 2
RECENT PRICE TREND
If a new listing came along today, would you expect it to sell for more or less than if it had come on the market one or two months ago? (1=Down significantly; 2=Down; 3=Unchanged; 4=Up; 5=Up Significantly)
Current Rating: 2
MARKET REPORT NARRATIVE
Hilo is a relatively conservative community and sees less volatile market swings that other areas of Hawaii. Some first time home buyers and renters are taking advantage of the soft market conditions and relatively low interest rate environment to purchase Hilo homes. This is an excellent time for first time home buyers to negotiate a deal. Builders and contractors are sharpening their costs and overhead and looking to provide lower cost and more value in the new home construction market, which has seen a downturn in volume due to the slowing market. Several new residential condominium projects in Hilo are being readied for construction, with a targeted buyer profile of baby boomer and retirees. Most existing condominiums in Hilo were built over 25 years ago.
Here are the MLS statistics on the greater Hilo area (tax map key 3-2) from Jan. 1 to March 21, 2008:
There are 220 homes listed for sale, with a list price range from $165,000 to $3,490,000
The median list price of homes is $397,500
There are 29 homes in escrow, with a list price range from $218,000 to $2,399,000
There have been 30 homes sold, with a sold price range from $73,200 to $650,000
The median sold price was $349,500
The median days on market to sell was 55 days. Selling price to Listing price percentage was a median of 95.1%
March Newsletter – Hawaii Big Island / Real Estate Update March 26, 2008Posted by Kelly in : Newsletter , add a comment
The March Newsletter is published.
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – One if By Sea March 25, 2008Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Hawaii Travel, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – One if By Sea
Until about 50 years ago, you could go from island to island on either an airplane or a steamship. If you went by sea, there was regularly-scheduled service to all the deepwater ports, and you could take as much stuff with you as you could pay for.
Today, you can only fly inter-island; and if your stuff is too big or too heavy to fit on the plane, you have to send it on a barge hauled by a tugboat, and wait for it to get there. And although cruise ships go from island to island every day, they won’t take you on for just one hop.
Of course, there is an inter-island “Superferry” now , that can carry people, freight, autos, trucks, buses and tanks. It began service from Honolulu to Maui and Kauai last fall, but the first sailings were public-relations disasters. The Superferry’s operators had been assured by state officials that they wouldn’t have to file an environmental impact statement. But protesters who massed on the shores, or dove into the water, were insisting that they should – and in court, a judge agreed. Service was trimmed; but stormy January weather kept the ferry in Honolulu, and in February it was suddenly sent to drydock for repairs, and likely won’t sail again until late April.
This is an unfortunate development for all concerned. There are environmental impacts to inter-island seaborne transport. Harbors accustomed only to ocean liners and containerized freight must be re-configured, possibly even dredged anew. And car-carrying ferries do increase the risk of accidentally spreading pests, such as coqui frogs, bee mites, or fountain grass.
But surveys have found a majority of Hawaii’s people would like to have the option of taking a ship instead of a plane, especially if it were cheaper. And many would, at least once in a while, like to drive their own car around another island. The State’s economy would benefit from being able to simultaneously move school groups with their buses to historic places; visitors with their tour-vans to hotels; construction crews with their equipment to public works sites; growers with their produce trucks to farmers’ markets; and soldiers with their armored vehicles to training grounds.
One can only hope that, when the Superferry starts running again, operators and protesters can agree to give it the one test it did not get a chance to meet: providing regularly scheduled service.
But we on the Big Island can only sit and watch . . . and wait another year or two, at least, before a second Superferry arrives, that will serve Kawaihae.
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND: Farmers’ Markets Rock March 20, 2008Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Hawaii Travel, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND, Upcoming Events , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
Farmers’ Markets Rock
Hilo foodies have not one but two farmers’ markets for fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Hilo Farmers’ Market, which was started ten years ago, is held in an empty lot downtown on Kam Ave. at Mamo St., across from the bus station and the bandstand. The variety of produce there is enormous, although some offerings, such as sweet Maui onions, come from other islands. A few stalls open every day, from dawn until about mid-afternoon; but on Wednesdays and Saturdays the market is enormous, with dozens of stalls that spread across and up Mamo St. into several other empty lots. Besides food, on those days, vendors offer aloha shirts and muumuus, collectibles, and handicrafts – some of which are locally made, though most are imported from Asia and other Pacific islands.
The market has some ongoing issues. The nearest restrooms are across Kam Ave. in the bus station. Tents and tarps overhead have to be set up and taken down so often that many of them leak in the rain, creating huge puddles. And the rough gravel underfoot, uncomfortable for many people, is an obstacle course for the physically challenged.
In 2007, a competing market opened on Kinoole St. near Puainako St., in the parking lot of a small shopping center. The Kinoole Farmers’ Market is much smaller than the downtown market, but its vendors are required to offer only locally-grown produce. Shoppers there also find more exotic varieties of fruit and vegetables, and a wider selection of garden and orchard plants in containers. Though it’s far from the center of town, it’s easy to park at, and – being on pavement – easy to get around in. It’s open only on Saturdays, from dawn to noon; so dedicated foodies usually go there first.
The downtown market, however, is due for improvement. Keith De La Cruz, the “Market Master,” recently obtained permission from the County to erect a two-story market building on the main Kam Ave.-Mamo St. lot. It will have a smooth concrete slab floor at ground level; restrooms and a restaurant upstairs, along with some offices, including his. Almost no one is opposed to this project, and if it gets built – as De La Cruz hopes, within in the next year or two - it would be a new “anchor” for downtown businesses, and could even spur improvements to the bus station and bandstand park across the way.
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – VOG March 11, 2008Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Hawaii Travel, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND - VOG
Every once in a while, here, you will be reminded – in a way that you would rather not be reminded – that you are living on a living volcano.
It looks like haze, but you sniff it, and . . . you’re reminded. It’s the volcanic smog known as “vog.”
Wherever Kilauea erupts, sulfur bubbles out. Hot lava cooks it with water vapor from the air (you may have done something like this over a Bunsen-burner in high-school chem.) which produces two noxious gasses. One is hydrogen sulfide, a.k.a. “rotten eggs,” which is bad enough. But the other is a choke-hazard called sulfur dioxide. When you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and the rangers have put up warning signs to keep you back from an eruption site, it’s not only because the lava crust may be too brittle to walk on. It’s also because too much hydrogen sulfide is being vented, and you’d be walking right into it.
Sometimes there’s hardly any vog from Kilauea; other times there’s a lot. The prevailing Northeast trade winds will send vog southwest over Ka’u; and if there’s enough vog, it will eddy around the southern end of Mauna Loa and drift north up the Kona coast. But once in a while the wind shifts, and a warm southerly breeze sends the vog up through Puna to Hilo, Hamakua and Kohala.
One reason people say they like to live here is that there’s no air pollution. It would be more accurate to say there are no smoggy industries here. Vog is, uhh . . . air pollution. But hey, it’s “natural!”
For current visitor access to Kilauea, The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is at: www.nps.gov/havo
To find out what’s happening inside Kilauea, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is at: http://volcano.wr.usgs.gov/kilaueastatus.php
And to know which way the wind blows, the National Weather Service is at: www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/Big Island Hawaii, Hawaii Travel, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND, Upcoming Events , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Hilo for Hula!
There’s one week a year when every hotel room in Hilo is booked solid, and it’s not during Summer vacations or Winter holidays. It’s the week of the Merrie Monarch Festival – March 30-April 5, this year – when Hilo celebrates its status as the world capital of hula.
King David Kalakaua (dubbed the “merrie monarch” for his joie-de-vivre) liked to have the Islands’ ancient dances performed. This upset the missionaries and haole educators who had long tried to suppress the native culture and language. But Kalakaua understood that, for the Hawaiians – with no previously written language – hula was a kind of cultural language, ideal for telling stories and passing on myths, and that it ought to be preserved for future generations. So, the world’s largest hula festival is named in his honor.
But a royal command alone did not – could not – keep hula going. After the overthrow of the monarchy, puritanical attitudes again prevailed, and for most of the twentieth century hula was denigrated as mere entertainment. The careful movements of hands and bodies that had evolved to tell complex tales were crudely simplified to fit tourists’ expectations of something “Hawaiian.” (The cliché of grass skirts and twirling hips, by the way, is actually Tahitian.) And for much the same reasons as girls elsewhere took piano lessons, girls in Hawaii took hula lessons. Boys, however, did not – like ballet, hula was considered an effeminate pursuit.
But then, seemingly overnight, in the 1970s, hula came roaring back. Along with the revival of traditional Hawaiian folk music (see Posts: “Hawaii Musics (Plural)” – Part 1 & Part 2) with which some styles of hula were closely associated, there was a renewed interest in Hawaiian legends, language, and traditional handicrafts, many of which also had links to hula. And the surviving kumu hula (masters/teachers of hula) attracted new acolytes.
But the tipping point came when two of the Islands’ most celebrated musicians – the Cazimero Brothers – started a hula halau (school) for men. Before European contact, the biggest, strongest Hawaiian men danced high-energy, athletic forms of hula. And now, in the Merrie Monarch Festival, it’s the beefcake troupes in the male hula competitions that draw the loudest cheers.
The top competitive events are held on the last three (Thurs., Fri. and Sat.) nights; and if you haven’t already gotten tickets, you probably can’t get them now: they go on sale for only one week, at the beginning of each year, and sell out almost immediately. But those competitions will be televised, live, so you can watch them anywhere in the state.
Every other event, all week long, is free. Informal hula shows are presented each weekday at noon, at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and the Naniloa Volcanoes Hotel, on Banyan Drive. There’s a huge arts-and-crafts fair, with many handicrafts related to hula and Hawaiian music; and a big parade winds through downtown Hilo, starting at 10:30 Saturday morning (Apr. 5).
Admission to the big Wednesday night (Apr. 2) show – though not a competition – is also free. Just be sure to get to the stadium early, because it will fill up with local families long before the 6:30 starting time. It’s worth noting that although that venue was originally built as a tennis stadium, it’s Hilo’s largest performance space, and it’s named in honor of the late Edith Kanaka’ole, the Big Island’s most famous kumu hula.
For more information, call 808-935-9168, or visit the Merrie Monarch Festival’s website, at: http://www.merriemonarchfestival.org/