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The cute answer would be ” sure ain’t real estate”

However, when asked by visitors if this is the time to buy I can only say: Maybe !

There is reason to believe that this would be an excellent time to buy if you are seeking your Kauai get-away for friends, family or just you….if you have the economic freedom to have and hold without the need necessarily for supplemental income by renting the property…and if you are in the market for that special,and most likely over-valued, home or condominium. Ditto for vacant land for development now or later of that perfect abode.

I’ve used an Oscar Wilde quote in past print ads: “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Seems that’s more true today than in 1891 when Wilde penned it.

Together we can prove Oscar wrong. Please give a call.

Any buyers of property, in order to make an informed decision, need to consider the following points and factor them into their deliberations:

□ Though “location” probably trumps all other non-financial considerations a buyer should not overlook these over-arching factors:

(a) If view, be it ocean, mountain, waterfall, etc, is paramount be
sure to differentiate between “unobstructed” and “unobstructable”. Give
thought to all things that could diminish a current view.

[b] Be mindful of properties that appear “picture perfect” in multiple
listing downloads. Folks can be very artsy in framing shots (aka don’t
buy sight unseen).

[c] Be sure access to the natural amenities offered by a property is easily achieved and safe, especially for keiki (children).

□ Learn about zoning and usage issues on record, under consideration, or even just scuttlebutt, to avoid or at least minimize buying a property that you may not be able to use as you might expect. Keywords on Kauai would include:

[1] VDA or Vacation Destination Area; [2] CPR rights or Condominium
Property Regime – applicable to vacant lots; [3] ADU rights or Additional
Dwelling Unit; [4] Guest house and/or Ag building rights; [5] “Ag
Dedicated” land; [6] Native Hawaiian land rights; [7] Lot coverage,
building heights, ocean front limitations, flooding and tsunami zones; [8]
Easements; [9] “Conservation” zoned land rights.

□ Understand how property taxes are established and adjusted.

□ Be sure that estimates of income generating potential of purchased property, if that is a consideration, are adequately and fully explained, supported by hard data, and includes best and worst case scenarios as well as a target.

My how the Kauai real estate market has changed since the end of 2005 – mid 2006 period: that was a time of price escalations and bidding battles for properties island-wide. It was also the period when the curtain was coming down and caught speculators and good folks in general with “premium priced” (aka overpriced) investments………as the times since then have borne out.

There’s no need to dwell on the trials and tribulations facing many buyers following that immediate period: there’s plenty of press!

One outcome, by way of example, was the dramatic change in condominiums available in the marketplace in Princeville – the North Shore planned community – from the 2005-early 2006 period. It went from 25-30+ on any given day….with that number now at 125. The important reality though is that “investment quality” condominiums (and homes / vacant land) are now selling, while at the same time leaving the lesser quality properties languishing.

Again using Princeville as the example an agent operating as the exclusive representative of a Buyer would sort through the inventory of 125 (listed with 24 different real estate firms) and narrow it down to – in my experience – less than 10 quality proprties meeting the financial profile, personal usage plans, amenities and long-term goals of the Buyer(s).

In a kukui* nutshell: Though it’s finally good times for Buyers extra care must be taken to buy right. One needs to take special note of the following issues that may-or will-have an impact on purchase decisions for some folks:

Property Zoning /Usages. There is raging debate between and among the county governing body, the local community and absentee owners about the rights and limits one could/should place on personal decisions about property uses. You/we all need to watch the bouncing ball.

Which way VDA (Vacation Destination Area)? Limits on where properties can be used as “vacation rentals” is central to the prior subject. The proposed regulation for limitations is before the Kauai County Council. A separate posting will address this matter in more detail.

* Leis assembled from Kukuhi Nuts were worn by royalty back in the days of the Hawaiian monarchy.

An Earlier Posting Closed With These Big Questions:

How do you identify a Realtor with the sales experience, island knowledge, business sense, the interest and the willingness to put the time and energy into helping you make an informed decision? Can it be the same person regardless of the category that best describes you as you enter the marketplace? Isn’t that what is needed?

Imagine running a “Help Wanted” ad: “Seeking a Kauai Buyer’s Agent possessing all of these skills: Educator-Facilitator-Advisor-Negotiator.” What if 50 Realtors respond?

So: How Do You Select The Buyer’s Agent To Represent You and Your Interests?

First, think about eliminating part-time and freshly minted realtors.

Next, insist on receiving a resume giving history in real estate transactions (on Kauai), and references of persons that have been represented by the Realtor on the Buying side.

Then, ask about getting information on credentials and formal training.

Finally, focus on selecting a Realtor with business experience and connections to bankers, service providers and others needed to be sure all aspects of buying and owning are first rate, as well as one able and ready to enlighten you about tax rates, zoning, property uses and warnings.

Good start! Now think about this:

Kauai is, as you know or can surmise, very rural and consists of many distinct areas: think of them as “villages” and you begin to understand that there are many things unique to each, and about which you as a Buyer might want to be informed, such as schools, churches, parks, specialty shops / services, stores, medical facilities, cultural / historical places, best neighborhoods, best real estate values, and “best kept secrets”.

Do you believe that any one Buyer’s Agent would be versed in all these local matters in every “village” and could truly help you in making an informed decision about one over the other, and regardless if you are a first time Buyer or experienced investor or someone in between?

I think not, and that is why the Brokerage with which I am affiliated has formed an alliance with a core group of highly qualified “local” Realtors to function as a team for Buyers wanting to focus on a particular investment vehicle, an area, areas to consider, or one area over another. Thus, for example, if a Buyer is not sure about choosing Poipu over Princeville, Koloa Town over Kapa’a, the North Shore over the East, West or South Shore, inland over Oceanside, the team will each be put to the task of working with the Buyer in their area of expertise and handed over to another team member as appropriate for “comparison shopping”.

You may ask, what’s in it for me?

Simply put: With the team approach you will have the assurance of receiving island –wide broad and deep information on which to base a purchase decision…and at no cost to you!.

As a Buyer you need to fully understand the issues that may-most likely will-impact the value, the uses and cost of ownership on Kauai. Heading up the list are:

….Property Assessments and Property Tax Rates. You might want to know why condominiums are taxed the same as hotels, at approximately double that of single family residences, and how that impacts the bottom line cost of ownership (it’s not all bad news!)?

….Property Zoning /Usages. There is raging debate between and among the county governing body, the local community and absentee owners about the rights and limits one could/should place on personal decisions about property uses. We need to watch the bouncing ball.

….Which way VDA (Vacation Destination Area)? Limits on where properties can be used as “vacation rentals” is central to the prior subject. The proposed regulation for limitations is before the Kauai County Council but is expected to be mired down by legal issues unless some overall “ground rules” can be agreed upon by the island stake holders.

….Buyer’s rights for properties with ADU (Additional Dwelling Unit) clearance. This right for adding living space to existing properties has a short shelf life, and careful planning is required to preserve this right.

….How about Agricultural land, “dedicated” and otherwise ? Here again there are issues that Buyers need to understand, from taxation, usage, ability to sub-divide (via the CPR -Condominium Property Regime-process) or to add dwellings (guest house or ADU).

The nuances of these topics will be addressed in detail in future postings but suffice it to say that they are here and now issues for Buyers.

For Starters:

If you opened up a recent issue of HOMES&LAND of KAUAI you would find:

295 properties listed (out of 1,000+ fee-simple only currently active on the market)

and

129 realtors representing the Sellers named (out of 600+ Realtors currently registered with the Kauai Board of Realtors)

or

Using the Hawaii Information Services website you could find all 1000+ Kauai properties currently listed and where they are generally located (in 5 distinct districts) plus the names and contact information for the Realtors representing the Sellers.

This begs the question:

How does a potential Buyer make sense of this, especially if by remote control from the mainland for example? In PART 2 below I will suggest a course of action to consider.

PART 2 -WHY AM I HERE RATHER THAN THERE?

A specific course of action for your consideration is dependent first and foremost upon your knowledge of Kauai and the distinct sub-regions of the island you will or wish to consider as acceptable to you. This decision will have great impact on the cost, type and possibly uses to which you will be able to put the property you ultimately select.

One extreme is the person or couple with no preconceived notion of location preferred and probably unaware of the many advantages or disadvantages of one sub-region over another.

The best Agent for this category of Buyer is first and foremost an Educator.

At the other end of the spectrum is the person or couple with a laser sharp focus on a given area, and probably very tight specifications for the property itself.

The best Agent for this category of Buyer is a skilled Negotiator.

In between are those that have a familiarity with Kauai and feel they only need help in sorting through options that fit their purchase model.

The best Agent for this category of Buyer is a Facilitator and later Advisor before all else.

Which Buyer are you? How do you identify a Realtor with the sales experience, island knowledge, business sense, the interest and the willingness to put the time and energy into helping you make an informed decision? Can it be the same person regardless of the category that best describes you as you enter the marketplace? Isn’t that what is needed?

Imagine running a “Help Wanted” ad: “Seeking a Kauai Buyer’s Agent possessing all of these skills: Educator-Facilitator-Advisor-Negotiator.” What if 50 Realtors respond?

Watch for this post: Selecting Your Champion.

E Komo Mai….Welcome….to the launch of the Kauai Buyer’ Agent Blog.

Let’s Be Clear:

Though It Only Takes 2 To Tango….It Takes 4 to Make For A Perfect Real estate Transaction.

Someone once said “Having one agent represent both a Buyer and a Seller is about as logical as having three people dancing together”.

Of course I was that someone, and believe the analogy, though corny, makes the point very well. A Buyer’s Agent does everything in his / her power to unconditionally serve the buying client in obtaining the right property at the right price AND for the right reasons. There is no bias, no compromise in searching options, no other constraints.

Don’t misconstrue: The Seller’s Agent and the Buyer’s Agent are not in mortal combat, but rather both working with unconditional loyalty to their respective client and with one another to achieve a successful transaction for both parties.

Upcoming topics, in addition to those you will request, include:

> Property Assessments, Property Tax Rates, and Property Zoning /Usages

> What’s in a name? VDA (Vacation Destination Area); ADU (Additional Dwelling Unit)

> What about Agricultural land, dedicated and otherwise ?

> Legal and Code of Ethics issues in representation and Agency.

> First Things First: Finding the Right Agent Trumps Searching for the Right Property

> The voices of the Island Watchdogs

Please join in with your comments or questions. Malaho, Bob Lendahl