Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

As reported in the Pacific Business News the home sales volume here in Hawaii has dropped but the prices remain steady.  In a comparative study for the time periods January to September 2007 and 2008 it shows that Kauai number of sales has dropped 33% but the median price for homes is down by -4% and 0% for condos.  Oahu is almost a mirror image with number of sales off by 26% and the median home price down by -3.5% and 0% in condo prices.  The Big Island is +5% and Maui +7% in median condo pricing but their home prices are down with the Big Island -15% and Maui down -7%. For an excel spreadsheet of last weeks sales that came on the market and closed escrows    CLICK HERE

*****Kukui’ula to Lay off 20 to 24 Employees*****  

20% of Kukui’ula staff is are to be let go with some cuts to be done immediately and others by the end of the year.  All employees will keep a re-hire status with the company and no single department is being targeted.  This decision was in light of the slower paced economy that has affected the 1,010 acre project here on the South Shore.  The timeline for the project has not been changed and the shops are visibly making huge headway, last report was they are going to be turned over for tenant improvements in March.   

*****Suffering Killer Whale Beaches Itself On Brennecke’s*****

Killer whales are very rare here in Hawaii and the first ever reporting of one here on Kauai that beached itself on Brennecke’s Beach in Poipu was big news on Wednesday.  The adolescent female Orca had been sick for quite sometime as evidenced by the visible protrusions of its ribs.  The NOAA determined that the whale would be a health risk if released back into the ocean and was euthanized after being sedated.  The following morning a pod of Orcas were sighted off Nawiliwili Harbor and its thought that this sick one had broke away from that group.   Called the “biggest marine mammal emergency ever seen on Kauai” the event drew hundreds to Brennecke’s and the crowd was described as respectful and understanding.  The Orca was taken away to an undisclosed location to study what caused its death. 

Whale standings happen about half a dozen times a year here in Hawaii but the last killer whale that beached itself was on Lana’i in 2004.

*****One of the Best Kept Secrets In Hanalei*****

Every Friday and Sunday a slack key guitar concert is given by Doug and Sandy McMaster at the Hanalei Community Center.  I was first introduced to them by some clients of mine and it has turned into a special place for me to take people.  Such was the case on Sunday when I went with my best friend who is visiting from Orange County and her husband.  It’s a long drive from Poipu but we made a wonderful day out of it by lunching in Hanalei before the performance. 

Slack key guitar started when 3 Mexican horesmen were contracted to came over in the late 1700′s to the Big Island of Hawaii to rustle cattle.  They brought their guitars with them and the Hawaiians were fascinated with the instruments which the horsemen left behind for them.  Unable to tune the guitar the slack key style was born.  However, did you know that most of the slack key you hear is not the original style?  Slack key is played by the thumb playing a rhythm on the lower strings and the fingers play the melody which makes one guitar sound like two.  This is the style that Doug and Sandy play and you can hear a difference.  They also delightfully talk story during their performance and are more than entertaining.  Doug and Sandys history needs more space than this so you are very welcome to go to their webpage and learn more about them. 

They also give out fun prizes during the show and I got to hand them out!McMaster

The next time you are in Kauai do yourself a favor and check out their concerts, you will not be sorry. Here is the link http://www.hawaiianslackkeyguitar.com/

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

Disney is the latest to make a show of moving forward despite the constant negative economic news that we read and hear about daily.  Last week they revealed plans that will invite people to vacation in a new way at its 21 acre hotel and timeshare resort.  Located on Oahu’s West Side the Ko Olina Resort completion is expected by 2011 and will employ local workers to become “cast members”.  The resort will be far from the Disney vacation that guests have at their other resorts as the company is focusing give people an experience of Oahu and the other Hawaiian islands. 

Of the big Housing Bailout Bill that the President signed Hawaii is only to receive $20 million to buy foreclosed housing.  Comparatively this is a very small amount but housing officials say the rise in foreclosures here in Hawaii has not been dramatic as in some areas on the mainland where some foreclosed homes are being torn down to combat urban blight.  The Federal money earmarked for Hawaii foreclosed homes buyout will only go to those homes that are at below market value prices. For our island of Kauai here is an excel spreadsheet that shows the new listings and closed transactions for last week   CLICK HERE

*****New Airline To Expand To Hawaiian Skies*****

Mokulele Airlines, an Indiana based Republic airways affiliate, will join our Hawaiian skies next month to compete with Go! and Hawaiian Airlines interisland flights.  They will operate up to four 70 seat Embraer  170 jets between Honolulu, Kona and Lihue starting on November 19th.  Republic is investing $150 million into the venture and will double their work force with half of those being former Aloha Airlines employees.   Currently they have 56 daily flights to seven Hawaiian cities.

*****Matson Lowering Their Shipping Prices*****

If you are planning on moving here than the news that Matson Shipping Lines is lowering their prices for the third, time is good news!  With the cost of oil decreasing we’ve also seen lower gas prices, Costco hit an all time low of $3.50 per gallon for regular.

*****4 Visitors Drown In Kauai Waters*****

Tragically we had 4 visitors drown on the North Shore last week.  One a 74 year old Japanese tourist who was swimming out in front of the Lae Nani condos in Kapaa (north of the airport).  The other two were pulled out of Queens Bath where they had been walking along the shoreline and a large wave swept them out to sea.  One was a 33 year old female from Washington and her sister-in-law a 38 year old from Colorado.  On Monday a visitor from Poland drowned while swimming in Hanakapi’ai beach after hiking 2 miles to get to the remote location.  He jumped in the ocean and was quickly swept out to sea, another hiker who saw the incident hiked out to get help but by then it was too late.  The North Shore continues to issue high surf advisory warnings with waves reaching 14 to 18 feet and producing strong rip currents.

*****Man Murdered In Kapahi*****

A 43 year old man was murdered after having an argument in the garage of his home last Sunday (October 12).  The incident was believed to have started as a domestic dispute before shots were fired.  A 22 year old male was taken into custody at the scene.  The murdered man was the boyfriend of the 22 year olds mother and has not been formally charged with a crime and is being held without bail.  Dependant is claiming self defense and stated that the mother’s boyfriend had made threatening statements, police had found a loaded shotgun in a truck that was accessible to the victim.

*****Hawaii Quarter In The Works*****

Marking the end of a 10 year series of quarters commemorating each state Hawaii’s quarter will go into circulation on November 3rd of this year.  The quarter is the 50th to be issued for the 50th state and we are coming up on our 50th year of statehood.  The quarter depicts King Kamehameha famous statue reaching out towards the Hawaiian Islands with the states motto “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness” written in Hawaiian.  Other designs that were considered were a hula dancer, Diamond Head and a young surfer looking like Duke Kahanamoku.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

*****Hawaii Banks to Lower Base Rates*****

In response to the Fed’s interest rate drop First Hawaiian Bank, Bank of Hawaii, American Savings Bank and Central Pacific Bank all lowered their prime lending rates from 5% to 4.5% on Thursday.  I have had a number of people asking me if loans are available in light of the widely publicized banking crises.   What I have been told is with good credit and a fair enough down payment loans are indeed available including stated income.  As for Real Estate here on the island here are is an excel spread sheet on last weeks new listings and closed transactions;  CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

*****Hawaii Tourism CEO Resigns!*****

Rex Johnson, CEO of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, resigned on Wednesday.  The CEO was a lightening rod for controversy after it was found that he sent pornographic and sexist emails from work.  There is plenty of evidence to support that Rex has done an effective job for the HTA and he had many supporters show up at a special hearing to discuss his fate.  However, his conduct of sending offensive emails from work proved to be his undoing as Governor Linda Lingle and Civil Rights groups demanded his removal from his office.  Rex submitted a simple statement thanking the HTA for the years that he spent with them and Lloyd Unebasami has been named as their interim president and CEO. 

*****Oahu Store Owners Exporting Maui Rocks Via Superferry*****

On the heals of Maui’s Mayor Charmaine Tavares upset over the amount of fish leaving her island for Oahu comes the new report of a Oahu couple who attempted to take rocks off the island to sell in their Oahu store.  In June and July alone some 490 pounds of fish, 370 pounds of limu, 59 pounds of opihi plus lobster, crab and shrimp were discovered at the Superferry terminal.  The amount that had made it through without authorities’ knowledge is unknown.  Now two Oahu store owners, who insisted that they did not know the law barring rock removal, were fined $3,500 after 16 buckets were found in their possession to contain $20,000 worth of ‘ili ‘ili stones taken from the Maui shores.   The ‘ili ‘ili stones are those used by hula dancers to click together during while dancing.  The Oahu store owners said there are no signs posted anywhere saying rock removal is illegal.  The state Board of Land and natural Resources said this law should have been known by the store owners as the fine was unanimously handed down.  

*****Car Crashes Into Pizettas In Kapaa*****

A 16 year old male crashed an SUV into Pizetta’s on Friday night at around 10:30 pm.  Fortunately no one was hurt as the car sailed into the northern wall past the “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign.  The strength of the northern wall kept the car from continuing on into the bar area where injuries would have been certain.  The driver was detained on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence and without a license and then released into the custody of a guardian.   Pizettas has two locations with the second one being in Old Koloa Town.

*****Tour Boat Set On Fire In Koloa!*****

Arson was the suspected cause of a single operator’s tour boat fire here in Poipu early Wednesday morning.  The operator, a single mother, uses the tour boat to support her family and is now without a job or income.  The boat is stored at the companies’ headquarters which is a trailer on Weliweli road in Poipu and operates out of Kukui’ula Boat Harbor (near Spouting Horn).  A neighbor noticed the fire and at first tried to put it out with his flip flop before successfully extinguishing it with a nearby fire extinguisher, had it not been for the fast actions of this Good Samaritan the boat would have been completely destroyed once the fire reached the gas tank.  As it is a hole in the front bulkhead has grounded the boat and insurance will not pay for damage done by arson, so the single mother is without income to support her children and mortgage.  Donations are being accepted at Koloa Federal Credit Union in Tara Leotas name.   

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

*****Kauai Real Estate*****Hawai’i representatives Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono both helped to pass the historic 700 million Bailout Bill.  Abercrombie stated that the revised plan provided more protection for the individual taxpayer, increases the FDIC’s coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 and it provides income tax relief for some 91,000 Hawai’i households.  Hirono stated that the bill is “far from perfect” but contained noticeable improvements over the initial measure.   Senator Inouye and Akaka both voted in favor of the the bill when it reached the Senate.  History shows us that this is not an immediate fix as we saw with the 1 year turnaround timeframe for the 1989 savings and loan crisis and subsequent government bailout.  For our weekly report here are last week’s new listings and closed transactions: CLICK HERE FOR EXCEL SPREADSHEET

*****Hawaiian Airlines To Add More Jets*****

In spite of the sagging tourism industry Hawaiian Airlines is investing in 4 new fuel efficient jets with the first one taking to the sky last Thursday.  Hawaiian Airlines is adding 111 more Oahu flights to the outer islands by the year’s end; 40 to Lihue, 27 to Kahului, 25 to Kona and 19 to Hilo.  Kauai clearly dominating the lion’s share of the new flights.   

On a related note….. Lihue Airport is going solar and have entered into a series of agreements with Hoku Solar Inc.  The state will not have to lay out any monies for the upfront costs of installation of the solar panels, Hoku Solar will own and operate each system and sell the energy to the state at a predetermined rate for 20 years.  The rates will be different for each island and the baseline rate for Kauai is 38 cents per kilowatt-hour and would rise 2% per year for the length of the contract.  Completion of the installation is to be completed at the end of this year.

*****Hilo Hatties Files For Bankruptcy*****

Citing high oil prices and the weakening of Hawaii’s tourism Hilo Hatties said it had not choice but to file for Chapter 11 said CEO Ted Nelson.  The store manager in our one Hilo Hatties did not make a comment to our island newspaper but it was business as usual on Thursday with the Hilo Hattie shuttle bus making the rounds as usual.  The chains 256 employees will not be affected and all 9 retail locations will remain open.  The company is also moving forward to open a new flagship store in the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki with a tentative opening in the summer of 2009.  The company is deeply committed to ushering the chain which started in 1963 into a new era.

*****Home Blows Up In Wailua!*****

 Residents that have lived in their Wailua home for 53 years found themselves, along with the rest of the neighborhood, rocked by a huge explosion that sounded like a jet breaking the sound barrier.  Early Sunday morning the two residents of this home were watching a football game on television when the explosion went off.  Both escaped with little more then the close on their backs and their lives as the entire house burned up in just a matter of minutes.  They were both taken to Wilcox where they underwent smoke inhalation treatment and were released.  The resident speculated that the propane tank had a slow leak in it which allowed gas to pool under the house and ignited when it reached the pilot light, however the fire inspector said the fire was not caused by that and is bringing investigators to Kauai to determine the cause.  Firefighters had arrived on the scene within 5 minutes but the nearest fire hydrant was 100 yards away and took 5 to 7 minutes to even start to put the blaze out.

*****Visitor Drowns Off Lawai Beach*****

A 73 year old Pennsylvania tourist who was spending the day on Kauai while on a cruise died while snorkeling on the South Shore.  The man was found to be struggling in the water by a surfer who brought the man to shore and moments later the man collapsed and a resident preformed CPR on him until an ambulance arrived to take over.  The man died en route to Wilcox Hospital.  Cause of death is being determined.