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… 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