George Clooney, Kauai Real Estate, Shark Chomps Surfboard

Real Estate News

Another solid week for closed transactions and properties going into escrow.  Kauai is benefiting for the race to get properties into escrow for the first time homebuyer credit.  To get this you need to have a binding written contract in place by April 30 and close no later than June 30, 2010. 

For an excel spreadsheet on what is in escrow, sold and new listings CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET 

United Airlines and Continental Merger Talks Stall Out

Talks between United Airlines and Continental stalled out over the weekend due to a disagreement on a price for “stock-for-stock” deal.  More specifically the two companies have not been able to reach an agreement on the value of the stocks so merger talk hit a huge snag.

Shark Chomps Off End of Surfboard

Last Monday a 14 foot tiger shark bit off the tail end of a local surfers board in Hanalei Bay.  A fellow surfer, who was near at the time of the attack, said the “water boiled” as the tiger shark swam by towards his surfing companions board where it took a bite out of the tale end.  The surfer started yelling for help on the assumption that the shark pulled his buddy into the water but it turns out the surfer had dove off his board to undo the leash that was fastened around his ankle.  The surfer also said that “The shark was spitting pieces of the board out right under me!”

George Clooney Stops Traffic in Hanalei

Well, kind of.  A spot on Kuhio Highway in the heart of Hanalei was shut down for filming on Tuesday at the time that students were dismissed from school causing a traffic nightmare for the folks in Hanalei.  If you’ve ever been to the small town of Hanalei you’d know it would not take much to have a traffic problem, add in the mix “The Descendants” which is being directed by and starring George Clooney and you’ve got a real mess on your hands.  On Tuesday and Wednesday filming was taking place by the Tahiti Nui restaurant and bar, film trucks and other cars literally filled up Hanalei. 

George Costa, director of the county Office of Economic Development, said via e-mail that the temporary inconveniences of traffic stoppages are outweighed by the economic advantages of film-making.

 “As the island of Kaua‘i and its people continue to struggle through the challenges of this down economy, there are also opportunities and rays of hope that provide economic relief.  During the next three to four months, Kaua‘i will be one of the Hawaiian islands to host at least three major Hollywood productions,” including “The Descendants,” starring Clooney, “currently being filmed in various locations including Hanalei this week,” said Costa.

Adam Sandler will be filming ‘Pretend Wife’ and there currently are casting calls for Pirates of the Caribbean starring Johnny Depp.

“Although short-lived, these productions will provide an infusion of capital into our economy, put people to work and have another movie credit to (the) storied list that would make most islands, states and countries envious” Costa said.

 Transient Accommodations Tax Scare Over

Governor Linda Lingle had made a move to transfer the Transient Accommodations money collected on room stays in all the islands to be diverted to Oahu and out of the local county coffers.  The Mayors for Kauai, Maui and the Big Island banned together and staved off the diversion which for the island of Kauai is about 8% of the county operating budget money.

 Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, D-Lihu‘e-Koloa, said Kaua‘i received somewhere between $11 and 12 million from the TAT last year, representing roughly 14 percent of the TAT. At least half that amount was being threatened to be taken away.  Tokioka also said it’s really important that Kaua‘i keeps the TAT, because the county provides essential services to tourists, from keeping beaches safe with staffed lifeguards to search-and-rescue operations.  A portion of the TAT goes to pay for the Hawai‘i Convention Center in Honolulu, and a marketing fund. Whatever is left is distributed to each county, according to Tokioka.

Missing Tourist From Wailua Falls Tour Found

On Wednesday officials recovered the body of Ryan Soper, the 26 year old visitor from Utah who went missing last week on a Wailua Falls tour.  County officials announced Friday that an autopsy revealed Soper died of a massive head injury.

The body was discovered around noon in a remote area above Secret Falls, county officials said. A helicopter service was utilized to retrieve the body, which was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital around 6 p.m.

While on the tour Soper had climbed a tree to get a photo and fell 15 feet and landed on top of his mother-in-law who broke her ankle when he landed on her.  Soper seemed okay and had some minor cuts and the family and tour group turned their attention to the mother.  It’s now believed that his erratic behavior before running off into the woods was due to a concussion in the fall.

Unemployment Up in Kauai

Kauai unemployment went up from the February figure of 9.1 to 9.3.  Job losses have slowed to a lower rate than 2009.  Comparing Kauai to our neighbor islands our unemployment is a little below average;

In February, Maui’s unemployment rate was 8.5 percent and rose to 8.9 percent last month. The Big Island came in at 10.1 last month, up from 9.8 percent in February. O‘ahu, however, went from 5.7 percent in February down to 5.6 in March.  Oahu has a more diverse economy and is less dependent on tourism than the outer islands.

 

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Monster Week For Properties Going Into Escrow

This last week the closed transactions were good but the number of properties that went into escrow were absolutely huge.  Quick snapshot of our numbers for residential homes;  I checked Aprils numbers and I found that the Median Sale Price on the South Shore for residential homes  is up by 4.69% , the Princeville Median Sales Price is down by <21.08%> but that is lower than the <42.00%> they had the month before. 

On a personal note I just sold a condominium at the Halelani, which is in Puhi, and when I was first researching the condos in Puhi and Lihue for under $200 there were a bunch.  But on a recent search I found the list is a fraction of what it was just a couple of months ago.  Some more good news was First Hawaiian Bank reported higher earnings for their first quarter, they are up 3% over this time last year.  They stated that consumer confidence is definitely improving they still expect slower growth.

For a list of what went into escrow, what sold and new listings island wide CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET 

Visitor Still Missing From Wailua Group Tour

Last Thursday on a group tour to Secret Falls, which is located off the Wailua River, a 26 year old Utah visitor went missing.  The rescue specialist from the Lihue fire station, a helicopter and the Department of Land and Natural Resources canine team are still looking for the man.

During the tour the man began behaving erratically and ran into the forest not to be seen from again.  As of this morning they have downgraded the search.

Sierra Club Wins Lawsuit Changing Development Laws 

A recent Hawaii Supreme Court ruling concerning the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu could impact the entire state.  The Turtle Bay Hilton had submitted plans for expansion on its 858 acre resort and was required to do an Environmental Impact Study which was done…..in 1985.  The resort has since changed hands and plans for expansion was delayed and the new owners, Oaktree Capital Management, announced they wanted to pull the trigger on the decades old plan which drew opposition from community groups and they got slapped with a lawsuit from the Sierra Club.  The Sierra Club stated that the Environmental Impact Study that was done in 1985 is not current enough to move forth on and in a landmark decision the Hawaii Supreme Court agreed.  

This decision could affect any project on any of the islands that has been delayed, forcing the developers to have a supplemental study done. 

Hawaii Lags In Census Reporting 

The state of Hawaii has been reported as having the lowest in voter turnout and now we can also say we are one of the lowest in filling out our Census Reports.  We are number 44 out of the 50 states so we’re not the worst but we have room for improvement.  Sadly the Census is used for distributing Federal Funds and it’s estimated that for every person that is not counted costs the state $1,200 in Federal money that is lost.  On May 1 the Census Bureau will be going to homes that did not fill out the forms and it’s estimated to cost $60 to $70 for every home that is visited.  One of the big reasons our response rate could be so low is they do not have PO Boxes in their data base so those people never got the form. 

The form is 10 questions long and takes 1 minute to fill out, postage is free.   

United Airlines and Continental Merger?

It’s being reported in various news publications that Continental Airlines is holding merger discussions with United Airlines potentially derailing United’s discussions on a US Airways Group merger.  United-Continental merger would form the world’s largest airline.  The conversations are preliminary as Houston based Continental began studying options last week after the United-US Airways negotiations were disclosed.

UAL is the third-largest US airline by market value at $3.89 billion, and Continental is number four.  United Airlines is one of the pioneer airlines in air travel here in Hawaii and they have many dedicated routes from here to the mainland.

Our Trip To Oahu

People have asked if I get “Island Fever” and after living here for six years I can tell you I’ve never experienced that.  I have found that Kauai is so diverse that I can travel to Hanalei or Waimea Canyon and have totally new surroundings.  I was born and raised in Orange County California (Huntington Beach) so I’m very used to having anything that you could want very close by.  For sure Kauai is very different from the pace and lifestyle of OC and I was warned that if I moved I would get “Island Fever” and would probably go back to OC.  This is not happening, I love, love, love my life over here. 

That being said its fun to get away to another island for a couple of days.  One thing about travel for me now is everywhere that I go I have fun but nothing

The Royal Hawaiian

The Royal Hawaiian

compares to where I live and I love ending my trip and coming home, it’s a great feeling to have.  My husband and I do take trips to the mainland and have done some international travel as well.  This last week we had taken a mini vacation to Oahu and had a blast.  We stayed in Waikiki and did not need a car as we were able to shuttle everywhere or we could easily walk to where we wanted to go.  We saw buildings that scraped the sky as opposed to our “nothing taller than a palm tree” buildings over here.  We ate at the Cheesecake Factory 2 times (!!!)  and just had a blast sitting at a table that opened up to the Waikiki sidewalk area where you could people watch and eat some of the best cheesecake ever.  At night we strolled the grounds of the lovely Royal Hawaiian and had the whole “Evening In Waikiki” experience.  

We took a shuttle bus to the Outlet Center in Waikele and picked up super deals at some of our favorite stores.  Then we went to Ala MoanaShoppingCenter which is the largest outdoor shopping mall in America and gave out credit cards a workout.  A friend to me that “Ala Moana” means “Flaming Credit Card” in Hawaiian. 

We had a great couple of days with some pretty hassle free travel and felt like we were thousands of miles away.  We got to shop for items that are not available here in Kauai and ate a restaurants that we only see in tv commercials at home.  It was a great trip and I’m glad to be home.

Kauai Real Esate and Local News Update

Kauai Real Estate Has Another Great Week

The month of March brought us more good Real Estate sales news.  Just like February we saw some huge gains in all areas except Commercial and Business sales.  On difference is this month the Median Sales Price gap is smaller than last.  Taken from the sales data that was entered into our Multiple Listing Data Base for the month of March here are some figures of interest to you;

Compare Number of SOLD Condominiums

Poipu Area up from 3 in March 2009 to 10 in March 2010

Lihue was 13 in March 2009 and 19 in March 2010

Princeville was 8 in March 2009 and 19 in March 2010  

 

Compare Number of SOLD Residential Homes

Poipu/Kalaheo/Lawai area 8 sold in March 2009 and 22 sold in March 2010  

Lihue 3 sold in March 2009 and 12 in March 2010 

Princeville/Hanalei area 12 were sold in March 2009 and 19 in March 2010  

 For this last week we had another great week of properties going into escrow and closed transactions.  For a complete list   CLICK HERE

Kauai Doctor Pleads Guilty

Dr. Harold Spear pleads guilty to two class C felonies which are “prohibited acts related to controlled substances” and could be sentenced to five years in prison in mid-June.

For the last three years the Feds have been investigating Dr. Spear and they say that he has illegally prescribed and dispensed pain medication without establishing a doctor-patient relationship.  In March and June of 2006 search warrants at his Hanapepe clinic revealed hundreds of pre-signed blank prescription pads.  Controlled substance drugs such as Oxycontin and Ritalin were prescribed and dispensed from the Hanapepe clinic while Spear was in Florida.

This could land Dr. Spears in jail for 20 to 40 years but under a plea deal a reduced sentence of 5 years is expected to be granted on June 16th which is the plea hearing date.  However the Doctor said he has had medical and mental problems and was not taking his medication at the time when he agreed to the plea deal and instead of the sentencing the judge will probably hear oral arguments.  Dr. Spear is free on bail here in Kauai and he’s planning to appeal to have his medical license reinstated.  He has also filed for bankruptcy and is having a difficult time holding on to his home.

Wailua Golf Course Considering Lowering Fees

But not for residents, sorry.  Wailua Golf Course found out that by raising the price of playing golf to tourists they won’t play, or at least they won’t play as often.  It’s the tourists that mainly eat at the courses restaurant or buy from the pro shop and the residents just don’t bring in that extra revenue.  In spite of the fact that revenue is up 21% the course lost 5,000 rounds from the previous year and those rounds came from people who ate the restaurant and shopped at the pro shop.  Also what hurts the course is they are not set up to take credit cards so having an ATM on site is being explored as well.

A new bill is being introduced to lower the rates of the county course to combat the problem.  One of the amendments of the bill would define a “resident” which right now is defined as a person who has a valid Hawaii drivers license with a local address on it.  However some Council Members have concerns that this is easy for people to get and the solution to this is it takes just seconds to see if they voted in the last election here.

The bill was deferred for two weeks to have some amendments added to it.  If it passes the bill would bring down daily non-resident fees to $48 from $60; daily non-resident weekend and holiday fees to $60 from $70, non-resident twilight daily to $24 from $30, and non-resident twilight weekend and holiday to $30 from $35. In addition, a non-resident play card, good for five rounds of golf, would decrease to $215 from $275.

Big Gambling Bust at Salt Pond Beach Park

13 Kauaians from the age of 20 to 82 were busted at Salt Pond Beach Park for gambling.  All of them were released on $100 bail.  The bust happened as a result of complaints from local residents and the police have had the area under surveillance for a while.  As a result a week ago Friday the Police Officers walked up to the pavilion undetected and to the surprise of the gamblers!  Everyone in the pavilion was apprehended without incident and police were also able to seize $5,500 in cash, illegal drugs and miscellaneous gambling devices.

“Sit-In” At Governor Linda Lingles Office

7 adults have been holding a sit-in to protest Furlough Fridays in our public schools.  For some time now some Fridays have been earmarked as “Furlough Friday” to help the budget of our cash crunched state.  The Governor’s office and the State Board of Education have been trying to reach a solution.  The Governor wants to spend 62 million to bring the teachers back but does not want to pay the “nonessential workers” while the Union wants $92 million to bring everybody back on those days.

In the meantime it’s the kids and parents caught in the crossfire and seven adults have decided to try to make a difference.  However they were cited for trespassing as they entered their third day of their sit-in.  In response they protesters said they would leave the Governor’s Office and will hold their sit-in in front of Washington Place which is the former residence of the Governor, they also held a rally over the weekend and will be back at Lingle office on Monday morning.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Another Good Real Estate Week For Kauai

This was another great week of a substantial number of properties going under contract followed by a nice number of properties that were reported as sold!  The sale that caught my eye was an estate that was sold at a “luxury auction”.  This 6,015 square foot home was situated on 5.79 acres on the north shore.  It was bought for $3.5 million in 2001.  The auction was really hyped up with pre-auction press material, post cards etc.  The starting bid was $2 million and list price was $9,995,000.  When the dust cleared it sold for $3,192,000, CASH!!!!

And on a smaller scale we had our own great week for sales.  To access a list of what went into escrow, sold  and just got listed last week  CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

Grand Hyatt Kauai and Poipu Bay Golf Course Renovating

On Wednesday night my husband and I went to one of our favorite places here on the South Shore; Yum Chas to have dinner for the last time for many months.  Yum Chas, the Poipu Bay Golf Course and one wing at the Grand Hyatt will be closing for major renovations that will last into later this year.  The Grand Hyatt will close one wing of their rooms on April 12 and after that is renovated close the other wing.  The Poipu Bay Golf Course, which used to host the famous Poipu Grand Slam golf event, will undergo green replacement.  

The restaurant was busy with people getting one last meal in as we overlooked the 18th green where we could see the last of the golfers playing out their rounds.  We will very much miss the restaurant but it’s exciting to see the Grand Hyatt positioning themselves for 2011.

Cockfighting Resolution Killed in the House

The Hawai‘i lawmakers killed a resolution proposed by Democrat Manahan from Oahu that would have recognized the cultural merits of illegal cockfighting thus making it a legal “sport” here in Hawaii.  Tourism, Culture and International Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Joey Manahan says there weren’t enough votes in the full House to keep the measure alive after it had been approved on a 4-2 vote in his committee Monday.

The Democrat says he’s disappointed the measure didn’t advance because cockfighting enthusiasts put so much effort and enthusiasm into getting official recognition from Hawai‘i’s elected officials. 

Wind, Wind and More Wind

All this week there has been a huge high-pressure system over the islands that have been bringing us 20 to 30 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph.  We’ll have periods of time where we have the normal trades and then the system would come closer to the islands and the winds would come back.  Wind swung power lines would cause power outages across the state on and off all week.  The rain would dominate a good part of one day and not the next.  In short this entire last week has been a mixed bag!

Easter Day at Kiahuna Plantation

Every year the Kiahuna Plantation invites visiting keiki and their parents to join in a Easter Egg hunt on the lawns of the Kiahuna.  The groups are divided by age to keep the competition of finding the “Golden Egg” within each age group fair.  Children that are staying at any of the resorts or living in any of the neighborhoods are invited.  The goal of the hunt is to find the Golden Egg and which is redeemed for a super deluxe Easter Basket.  The Easter Bunny is also on hand for photo ops. 

We had no idea what kind of weather we would be getting but, fortunately, it was clear skies for a record turn out of over 250 kids and adults!

First Time HomeBuyer Credit Deadline Closing In

Considering taking advantage of the HomeBuyer tax credit?  Your time frame is running out but there is still time if you move fast.  The National Association of Realtors says to:

  1. Close on your home purchase between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, or have a binding written contract in place by April 30, 2010 with a closing date no later than June 30, 2010.
  2.  Decide whether to: 
  • apply the credit to your 2009 tax return, filed on or before April 15, 2010;
  •  file an amended 2009 return; or, 
  • apply the credit on your 2010 return, filed on or before April 15, 2011.
  1. Attach documentation of purchase to your return

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Kauai Real Estate 

Last week we had a huge number of properties go into escrow as you will see on my excel spreadsheet.  The numbers are showing some nice activity for properties that are able to be sold at a price reflecting current comps which is key at this point in our market.  The mainland buyers are those that have been watching for a while and feel now is the time to “pull the trigger”.  Resident first time home buyers are using their tax credit to take advantage of the low priced homes which start below the $300,000 mark or condos in the Lihue area that start in the low $100,000 range.

Island wide 68 homes have sold year to date compared to last year’s 44 homes being sold.  In Poipu the condo market is dominated by vacation resorts which are up to 9 condos having been sold compared to 3 condos having been sold this time last year, a gain of 200%.  In Princeville, where the condo inventory is huge and inventory is high condos sales are up to 17 compared to last years 8. 

The median sales price is showing some signs of life but is not rising as quickly as the number of sales which is creating a perfect storm for buyers; good inventory, some signs of Hawaiis economy stabilization, soft real estate prices and good interest rates. 

For a list of what went into escrow, sold or came on the marekt CLICK HERE 

Hawaii Resort Market Home Sales Improve

Home sales in Hawaii’s resort market began to show a rebound in 2009, with just a 2 percent decline in sales from the previous year, according to a report from Data@Work.  The 2 percent decline was on the heels of the 37% drop in 2008 and is the smallest decline since 2006 when the slide started.  The report noted that the lower-priced homes and condominiums have seen more activity than the higher-priced properties. 

Resale’s dominated the market with only Maui showing numbers for new construction.  Statewide prices have fallen a third of what they were (for Resort Home sales only) since 2007 they have stabilized for the last three quarters.  Here are the numbers: 

Kauai had 226 resales

The Big Island 253 resale’s

Maui had 214 new construction sales and 200 resale’s

Oahu with 170 resale’s.

Hawaii’s economy is starting to show signs of growth with slight increases and the slide backward stopping.  Accommodations and food service — which serve as indicators for tourism — saw jobs grow by 4 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2009 and that  increase is consistent with a rise in visitor spending toward the end of the year. 

Visitor arrivals are forecasted to rise 2.9%.  To quote Bonham who co-authored this report with UH economists “The basic picture is one where the economy is improving, there’s more evidence now than there was one quarter ago. [However,] it’s still a modest recovery.” 

Kauai Representative Angers Governor Linda Lingle 

Kauai’s Representative John Mizuno is in some deep kimchee with Governor Linda Lingle.  At a March 19thcommunity meeting here in Kauai some people in the audience reported to Gov. Linda Lingle that state Rep. John Mizuno stated her administration is “passing out contracts to friends” when he was asked about state Human Services Department contracts.  

Governor Lingle sent a strongly worded letter to the Representative and here is an excerpt; 

“Reportedly you responded that the department does this to ‘give contracts to their friends, if indeed you said this, then I must ask for the factual basis for such assertion or demand a written apology from you for such unfounded and patently false accusations.  Baseless allegations damage the reputation of state employees who manage our procurement process and ensure that we abide by standards of fairness and impartiality.  I expect to hear promptly from you regarding this unfortunate matter.” 

John Mizuno responded that he was not sure what he said and that he will talk to his staff to see what he actually said.  He wants to be respectful, he states, and wants to make sure of the language that was said before he issues a reply. 

“How’s The Weather????” 

That’s the question that I get whenever I get a call from the mainland.  I like the question because I’ve usually got a pretty good answer.  This week has been the same mixed bag that we had last week, it is noticeable warmer however.  We have sunshine then no sunshine, wind then no wind, showers then it clears.  It’s truly a case of if you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes.  That’s our life right now on Kauai.

Weather, Good Rates, Kauai Lagoons, Buffalo, Smart Growth

Weather Report……

The winds were really with us again in the first part of this week along with sudden downpoars.  Then it got just beautiful; sunshine, not too hot….not too cold….sunny….and then came the rains again.  It’s been a bit of a mixed bag and we all are running out and enjoying the good weather when it shows up.  So if you don’t like the weather?  Wait a half hour!

Good News On The Interest Rate Front

Last Tuesday the Federal Reserve has left its key interest rate near 0% which is where it has been since December 0f 2008.  This decision has been both applauded and blasted, some say that this policy “could be” creating a new bubble in financial markets and others are worried that the interest rate will rise once the Feds complete their purchases of 1.25 trillion in mortgage backed securities.

At this time the Federal Reserve is stating the “rates should stay this low for the foreseeable future.”

Kauai Lagoons Resort Pops Back Up On The Radar

Marriott Vacation Club began selling time-share units last Wednesday at its 520-acre Kauai Lagoons Resort.  It’s been very, very quiet at Kauai Lagoons since Marriott stopped construction of the $1.4 billion resort project in 2008 and this is the first we’ve heard of them since then.

Construction however is not being resumed, according to Ed Kinney, spokesman for Orlando, Fla.-based Marriott Vacation Club International. These are for existing units and prices start at $40,900 per week depending on location and the season.  “We certainly need to sell it out first,” Kinney said. “Then we can evaluate construction moving forward.”  August of this year is when the first guests are expected to arrive.

Hanalei; Where The Buffalo Roam

Did you know we have a buffalo ranch here on Kauai?  It’s true and it’s also located on the North Shore in the town of Hanalei on some 250 acres.  Bill Mowry, the owner of the ranch, is reporting that someone is poaching his buffalo, at one point he had 70 heads and now down to 50.  He reported to our newspaper that he has been kept some night with the sound of shots being fired.  Poaching is on the rise here on Kauai both at the buffalo ranch and cattle ranches.  One reason could be that people could be using buffalo meat for drug money since it is such a rarity.

“Smart Growth” Community Proposed by Grove Farm

Near “Airport Road” Grove Farm Company is proposing to develop some 130 acres into a “smart growth community” which will have its own grocery store, movie theatre, bank, YMCA and many other business.  Wailani, as its being called, will have retail and residential buildings with the goal being the whole community sustains itself, everything you need will be within walking distance.

Still a long ways off with a build out period to be 10 years it does show a commitment to the future that we are seeing with other companies notably Hyatt, Marriott and on Oahu Disney (just to name a few).  Filing for final subdivision approval will be done this summer and the jobs that it will bring to Kauai are sure to further stimulate our economy.

Sales Up For Kauai Real Estate and a New Format…..

In addition to posting what has sold and what came on the market for the last week I will also post what went into escrow.  This way you can also keep up with our activity that way.  Several of my readers asked to see a compilation of the activity that I see during the week for units going under contract.  You’ll see that we, once again, had really nice number of sales for the week.  For the “new look” on my excel spreadsheet CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Rain, Wind, Rain and Wind

Three pressure systems have been circling the islands this last week giving us weather that will change at the drop of a hat. For the most part the earlier part of the week was wind, wind and more wind with showers on and off. By Friday, Saturday and Sunday the days would sift constantly from nice sunshiny “wear a tank top” weather to the skies suddenly darkening and strong down spurts of rain making us run for cover. It’s been a week of not being able to count on to plan as far as the weather goes but it’s better than most places in our nation (I am told).

Road Widening Project

A question that I’ve been asked, and have asked myself, is “when is the new Safeway Shopping Center in Puhi going to break ground????” The answer to that question came in the form of an announcement of the Kaumualii Highway Road Widening Project this last week. Ground breaking officially took place last Wednesday in a ceremony attended by officials and the Mayor. The $39 million dollar project will take two years to complete and will bring many jobs here to Kauai.

Taking the 2 lane highway to 4 lanes will reduce traffic and make life easier for island residents and visitors alike. The 2 mile stretch of road to be worked on is between the old Lihu‘e Plantation mill bridge to Anonui Street at the entrance to Komohana Subdivision just west of the Puhi Road intersection. The widened Kaumuali‘i will include sidewalks and should have more room for bicyclists. Intersections will also be upgraded and improved the entire length of the project. Safeway has said they will delay their project until this work is completed. The Department of Transportation is saying they are “not taking the blame” for the delay but it makes sense that Safeway would put off their plans while this major project is being done near their new center.

New FHA Loaning Requirements

The Federal Housing Administration commands about 40% of the mortgage market and they have imposed new lending rules that some are calling a “healthy change”. The guidelines include a hefty down payment for low FICO score borrowers and an increase in the upfront mortgage insurance premium to 2.25% (it was 1.75%). The 10% down payment is required for borrowers with FICOs of less than 580. The MIP will be increased in a few months from the current charge of 1.75 basis points. This change is welcome yet long in coming, for the past four years FHA was an ‘anything goes’ environment.” Any change from the FHA being as big as they are will surely affect some housing market segments.

Bank of Hawaii Number One Bank on Forbes List

The number one national bank listed on Forbes ranking is our very own Bank of Hawaii. Citing the bank’s robust capital ratios, its stock performance and the small percentage of money tied up in bad loans, Another Hawaii bank, Central Pacific Bank, was near the bottom of the list, ranked 92nd out of 100.

 Citing Bank of Hawaii’s ultra conservative standards in the heat of the housing market this bank did not get in the trouble that it’s giant counterparts like Bank of America and Citigroup did. Additionally Bank of Hawaii did not take government TARP money last year, which diluted the stocks of many of the banks that took the bailout. Central Pacific was among them.

Kauai Real Estate News

Really, really nice sales activity last month as noted in my excel spreadsheet. We had 16 sales close last week and I’ve noticed a lot of properties going “contingent” on our MLS service. For a list of what came on the market and what sold last week CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Housing Rebounding?

“Oahu Home Sales Continue At Fast Pace”  “Maui Home Sales Rise As Prices Fall” “Kauai homes sales jump 82 percent”   These are the headlines that we are now seeing on the front pages of our newspapers and they are accompanied by statistics to support their headlines.  Got my attention!  I thought I’d check out what Kauai did island wide for the month of February.  By using real statistics as inputted into our Multiple Listing Service here’s what I found: 

For the Month of February 2010 

The entire island had an increase in sales by 81.83% over February of 2009.  All areas of the island showed positive growth with the exception of the area of Waimea which had a decrease in their residential housing.  In the Kapaa area condos and commercial land were also down. 

The median price increased by 10.71% island wide.  Overall Island wide every sector improved modestly.  

Inventory needs to clear out before we see any price increases and I’ve seen similar figures like these for the last couple of months.

For a current list of what came on the market and what sold last week

 CLICK HERE 

Orange County California Benefits From New Flights Being Added to Hawaii 

Continental Airlines is adding three new flights from Honolulu and Kahului on Maui to the West Coast starting yesterday (Sunday, March 7th).  Continental will launch a flight from Maui to Los Angeles and another from Maui to Orange County also a flight from Honolulu to Orange County.  These routes had been announced last December. 

Green Cars Come to Poipu

Warren Doi and Justin MacNaughton are bringing a new business to the south shore of Kauai along with a partner that you might have heard of, The Grand Hyatt.  Together they are offering “on-demand” transportation to the visitor industry.  Visitors can now rent their vehicles on an hourly basis and are provided with a “cost-effective, green alternative.”  For $15 an hour guests can rent one of four custom-made, family-friendly Ford Hybrid Escapes with all the latest technological frills.   

Currently visitors to the resort will rent a car that might sit in the parking lot unused for several days of their vacation.  Statistically 50% of the visitors to the Hyatt do not have cars and rely on shuttle, buses or taxis.  This service is available to everybody in the area and the duo hope that this is only the start of a new “Going Green” Win-Win method of tourists transporting themselves around the Garden Island of Kauai. 

Bethany Hamilton Movie 

The teenage surfer who lost her arm to a Tiger Shark on the north shore of this island has inspired millions of people who saw her appearances on shows like Oprah and The Ellen Degeneras Show.  Bethany Hamilton, who was 13 years old at the time of the attack, was surfing on the north shore off Makua Beach in October, 2003.  She lost her left arm from just below the shoulder to the Tiger Shark but was able to make a full recovery and is now surfing again. 

She’s poised and mature beyond her years and credits her faith to sustaining her through the recovery.  Her story is now being filmed on the north shore and is being directed by surfer Sean McNamara who spent several years directing the “Baywatch” television series and knows his way around surf and beaches.

Actress Anna Sophia Robb plays Bethany in the film and three days are being spent filming here in Kauai with the remainder will be done on Oahu.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Tsunami!

Saturday morning started for my husband and I with a phone call at 5:45 a.m. from the Civil Defense Department warning us of an approaching tsunami.  We were awake anyways as we were planning on going golfing so we were watching the morning news when the call came.  I checked our phone book as the news had suggested to make sure that our home is not in a tsunami zone which it was not but, our main access road is Poipu Road which looked like it would be blocked off.  We decided to continue on with our plans to golf because the 9 hole Kukuiolono Golf Course is uphill in Kalaheo and well out the way of danger.  The golf course is also a park and has plenty of lawn areas and walking paths, a favorite for joggers and dog walkers.

We got to the deserted golf course (very unusual for a Saturday) and started our round with another local friend.  The three of us noticed car after car after car of tourists coming up to the course with the same idea about the safety of the location that we had.  By the end of our second round the parking lot was full, the driving range was closed since emergency helicopters were parked on it, hundreds people were camped all over the course in beach chairs and some had brought pillows, blankets and umbrellas.  The golf course snack shop was packed and well over capacity with people drinking beer and watching the news on the flat screen tv.  Those on the lawns all over the rest of the course were getting updates on their cell phones and sharing those updates with everybody around them.  On hole number 7 people had tents set up and acted as a gallery for us golfers, applauding good shots and being politely quiet when we missed pitch shots or par putts.  The atmosphere on the course was that of a “concert in the park” setting and I sensed no panic or distress from the displaced tourists.

The expanse of Poipu and Waimea was easily seen from our location and we kept up on the news by asking the people on the course what they have heard, by the end of our second round the tsunami was suppose to hit Kauai within the half hour but it had already proven to be a “no show” on Hilo where it was suppose to hit first.  Oahu and Maui didn’t have any real activity either, but that did not mean that we were a guaranteed the same.   So we decided to walk another nine holes while the course itself was almost deserted because now the golfers had parked their carts and joined the crowds of tsunami watchers. 

All over the rest of the island coastal roads were closed with Kauai Police standing guard at the roadblocks.  Resorts had evacuated their guests by 9 that morning and all outdoor activities were cancelled leaving some brides stranded that had planned a Saturday Kauai wedding.  Crowds formed outside of Walmart, Home Depot  etc. with people doing just what we were doing at Kukuiolono Golf Course.  Calling to the mainland got cut off to us at times and we all knew our loved ones were watching and worrying back on the mainland. 

As my husband and I were walking our third round of golf it became obvious that the tsunami was going to be a non-event on our island as well.  Thankfully and with good humor people made their way to their cars and filed out of the course and we did the same when we finished our 27thhole of golf.  We saw as we left the course that the overflow of cars had people parking all over the residential neighborhood of Kalaheo and trucking up to the courses high ground on foot.  I would love to know the final count of people that actually were there that day. 

I can say that there was no panic, lots and lots of Aloha Spirit and good cheer from the tourists who obviously had not planned on this during their vacation.  This is the spirit of Kauai.  Our hearts go out to all those involved in the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Chile and by the end of our day there were efforts to help those in Chile that are in need.  This is also the spirit of Kauai and this is why I love living here.

Murder-Suicide in Lawai 

On Wednesday morning the South Shore was abuzz with an apparent murder-suicide that happened in the sleepy small town of Lawai.  Largely a residential community not much news is made in Lawai which is located right before you get to Kalaheo.

The dead man is Duane Bukoski, 38, of Lawa‘i. The female victim was an acquaintance of Bukoski named Clara Kaneshiro, 43, of Kapa‘a.  After completing their investigation Kauai Police Department said the female victim had been shot and the male had committed suicide.  The females name was originally held back so her husband could be notified.  Police are not speculating on the relationship between the Clara Kaneshiro and Duane Bukoski.

Clara Kaneshiro’s truck had been missing and was discovered at Bukoski’s Lawa‘i residence where both the bodies were also found.

Pirates Of The Caribbean Coming to Kauai?????

The Black Pearl, which is the pirate ship in the widely popular Pirates of the Caribbean movies, is “dry docked” in Oahu at the boat repair facility in Kalaeloa and attracting a LOT of attention.  Aggressive and curious movie fans are lined up outside the gates and security has a strong presence.

What is being done to the ship is not being discussed but the obvious fact is they are working on it for the next picture which is rumored to take place on Kauai and Oahu.

And from the shoreline, visitors can feast their eyes on a close-up view of the Black Pearl’s high, swooping stern — plus get a snapshot of the ship’s actual name: The Sunset.

Kauai Real Estate News

Again this week we had some really good number of completed sales.  The island is packed with people and I’m seeing a lot of properties going “contingent” on our MLS so these hopefully will be future sales to report.  Here is an excel spreadsheet on the activity island last week CLICK HERE

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Body Found in Kalalau Valley

A week ago last Sunday Inter-Island Helicopters was doing a typical tour of the Kalalau Valley when the saw that “SOS” had been scrawled on the sand by the campers in the valley.  They notified the Police Department who sent a rescue specialist to the site.  One of the campers said that he had hiked back into the valley because a man who is in his late 50’s was overdue to come back.  Once there they found him dead in his sleeping bag.  The remains were turned over to the Kauai Police Department and on Wednesday the man was positively identified as Rodney Ahn, 58.  Rodney was a surfer and a waiter here on the South Shore before moving to the north shore.

Have Hands and Car Worked on Simultaneously!

Hair Razors and King Auto Center have teamed up to help the woman of Kauai multi task.  On Fridays between 9 and 1 you can have a technician working on your car and a nail technician working on your fingernails.  This program has been in existence for the last two weeks and is a hit!  The dealership and salon are experimenting with the times that work best.

Hawaii Hotel Occupancy Improves

Hawaii hotel occupancy overall improved 78.4 % February 6 to Feb. 13, this is a 2.1 percentage point increase as compared with the same week last year.

Room rates are still down but the numbers increase is encouraging and the first step toward stabilizing and raising rates.

Occupancy and room rates for the four main Hawaiian islands were as follows:

• Oahu occupancy was up slightly to 82.9 percent, while room rates slid 7.7 percent to $152;

• Maui occupancy jumped 9.1 percentage points to 81.5 percent, while room rates dipped 7.2 percent to $235;

• Kauai occupancy slipped 1 percentage point to 68.1 percent, while room rates dropped 6 percent to $189; and

• Big Island occupancy eased 2.1 percentage points downward to 64.5 percent, while room rates were off 2.1 percent to $170.

Nationwide hotel occupancy was down 1.3 percentage points to 53.7 percent

Hawaii Has Highest “Well-Being” in the U.S. for 2009

 “Individuals wanting to increase their personal well-being and enjoy the highest quality of life in America might want to consider relocating to Boulder, Colo. or the state of Hawaii,” according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The survey questions were designed to measure how respondents are faring in all aspects of their lives: physically, emotionally, socially and professionally.

The top 10 states for well-being and their survey scores were Hawaii (70.2), Utah (68.3), Montana (68.3), Minnesota (67.8), Iowa (67.6), Vermont (67.4), Colorado (67.3), Alaska (67.3), North Dakota (67.3) and Kansas (67.2).

The bottom five states were West Virginia (60.5), Kentucky (62.3), Arkansas (62.8), Ohio (63.6) and Nevada (63.8).

The top 10 cities for well-being were Boulder (72.5), Holland, Mich. (71.0), Honolulu (70.8), Provo, Utah (70.6), Santa Rosa, Calif. (69.4) Santa Barbara, Calif. (69.3), San Jose, Calif. (69.2), Washington, D.C. (69.1), Ogden, Utah (69.1) and Oxnard, Calif. (69).

This was a national telephone survey completed by 353,849 adults between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009.

Waimea Town Celebration

Much like the Koloa Plantation Days that we have here in July the town of Waimea is alive with thousands of people turning out for the Waimea Town Celebration.  The weather has been perfect for residents and tourists alike to enjoy canoe races, lei contests, robotic show, music and much, much more.  Kirk Marois owner of Island Taco, Waimeas newest take out eatery, has reported record business and his team is staying super busy keeping up with the thousands of tourists.  Additionally the tour boats have been packed here on the south side enjoying booming business due to the fantastic weather we have been having.  

Kauai Gets Higher Bond Ratings Across Three Categories

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said the county has received record high credit ratings from three bond rating companies.  That means the interest rate for a new $120 million bond issuance will be lower than it would have been with the previous ratings and that will translate to a savings of $3 million in gross interest.  Moody’s Investors Service announced the county received an Aa3 rating, up from A1 and Standard & Poor’s Rating Services raised its rating and underlying rating for Kauai from AA- to AA, while Fitch Ratings assigned an AA- rating to the county and upgraded its general obligation debt to AA- from A+. 

Our market also looked good this week, here are the new listings and closed transactions for last week.  For an excel spreadsheet CLICK HERE