Please Do Us All A Favor

If you plan on buying a house, do yourself us all a big favor and pay your damn child support!

It seems sort of basic; YOU DIVORCE AND HAVE CHILDREN – YA GOT OBLIGATIONS! Okay many don’t divorce now days because they don’t even bother to get married, and when they’re tired of it or the going gets tough, or they got their mo-jo workin’ somebody else, why bother with court mandated child support payments?

I’ll tell you why, because not only is it the right thing to do, when you go through the process of buying property lenders and title people, etc., do things like credit checks and lien checks. In life and in buying property, your past has a way of surfacing where you least expect it.

Less than a week away from closing we’re involved with a buyer (we represent the sellers) who happens to be 6 years delinquent on child support payments. I’m sorry, that’s not just a little late or overdue, THAT’S DARN RIGHT CRIMNAL. So how’d this hair-ball get nailed after sliding by for 6 years? When he tapped his IRA for down payment money somehow that activity red-flagged the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) and boom, they filed and recorded a lien for a deficiency judgement.

Escrow doing their job, updated the title report just prior to the scheduled closing date and guess what popped up? Now all of a sudden the buyer has to pay the deficiency judgement or his loan is not approved. To pay the lien he must dip into his down payment money and he doesn’t have enough for both so he’s up the proverbial creek!

On the face of it, it seems he got just what he deserved, but in reality HE HAS ALSO DAMAGED THE SELLERS -BIG TIME! They’ve moved out of the house, completed all their contractual obligations (gone through inspections, made repairs, paid for the termite inspection, boundary staking, etc., etc.) and rightfully expected to collect their closing proceeds momentarily when this issue came up. How rotton is that? And yet, the sellers would be the first to say people owing child support should pay it -when it’s due! Unfortunately, now because of this inconsiderate creep our sellers have to figure out a way to pay two mortgages while they scramble to get the house rented or get it back in contract again. It’s just not fair!

So, to any dirt-bags who owe child support -pay up before you think you deserve a house to call your own!

That’s my Tip of the Day and I’m sticking to it!
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Aloha, Mike

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com

Mele Kalikimaka Monthly Listing Report!

Christmas is almost here! Why are you reading my blog? You should be scurrying around with last minute shopping, stressing and fretting – at least if you’re like most people.

One nice thing about getting older (there are a few!) is you get smarter along the way. About ten years ago or maybe more, WE STOPPED DOING THE COMMERCIAL CHRISTMAS THING. Let’s face it, being in Hawaii unless all your family and friends are right here on the same Island, you’re shipping Christmas gifts here, there and everywhere at great effort and expense. We found that we’d spend almost as much to ship packages as the cost of the gifts themselves. Sure, you can do the catalog routine, but I resent even getting those cataloges in my PO Box to have them end up in the landfill! Anyway, it finally came to us that most people feel stressed and obligated with the whole shopping thing so we stopped doing it. Now I admit, we don’t have kids, so that made it easier but I don’t think the “lesser is better” proverb would do kids permanent harm, at least not past the pre-teen years.

Almost without exception, everyone we know congratulates and commends us for our honesty and bravery at WITHDRAWING FROM THE COMMERCIAL SIPHON THAT CHRISTMAS HAS BECOME. It doesn’t mean you have to be a Scrooge either. We had a Christmas Open House at our place the other night with lots of friends, food and fun. We’ll go to parties and take presents for the gift exchange and we give to the local Food Basket (and you can too-just back your cursor up and click on the red letters), and other worthy charities but we just don’t get caught up with shopping anymore. It feels so good along about November 1st to start bragging that we’re ready for Christmas!

But oh, how I digress! The point of this blog today is to give you the monthly listing statistics so you can follow the market, so here goes. And if you really want to buy that someone special a house -you can!

TODAY IN WAIMEA:

  • 97 homes on the market
  • 35 are less than or equal to $500,000
  • The least expensive = $318,000
  • The most expensive = $5,590,000
  • The highest days on market (DOM)= 668

IN WAIKOLOA:

  • 94 homes on the market
  • 21 are less than or equal to $500,000
  • The least expensive = $415,000
  • The most expensive = $894,000
  • The highest days on market (DOM)= 792

IN KOHALA:

    ** NOTE** Kohala data pertains to the entire district of North Kohala, including the coast and resort properties

  • 66 homes on the market
  • 10 are less than or equal to $500,000
  • The least expensive = $334,000
  • The most expensive = $15,000,000
  • The highest days on market (DOM)= 800

For more information on any of these areas or to fill in the blanks between the least expensive and the most expensive, just call or email me. And have a wonderful Christmas!

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

What Do Bottled Water, Sea Horses, Abalone & Algae Have in Common?

Cold, mineral-rich deep seawater, that’s what! The State of Hawaii in what started out as a use for buffer land surrounding the Keahole Airport (known as the Kona Airport), now does a booming business with a wide variety of vendors, scientists and entrepreneurs at the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) at Keahole Point. They pump up to 27,000 gallons/minute of the deep seawater through a 55-inch diameter pipe to the 40 different companies in a wide variey of entrepreneral pursuits.
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The nutient rich water is a great medium for growing algae, seahorses, lobster and abalone among many others partly due to the maximum days of sunshine along the Kona Coast and the pure water available in abundance.

NELHA was home of the first successful Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant in the world. It uses the difference between deep, cold ocean water and warm surface water to create electrical power. But probably the most successful commercial use of this cold, deep sea water is in the desalination of the nutrient rich, 100% pure water for drinking water. It is marketed under the “Mahalo Deep Sea Water” brand name.

Koyo USA Corporation established in 2002, leases property from the State, built a water processing plant and a bottle manufacturing facility right there to produce, bottle and ship the super pure, nutrient rich water to Japan and other locations around the world- to the tune of 50-60 container ships a day out of Kawaihae Harbor! In fact, so successful is Koyo that they were named “Exporter of the Year” in 2004 and honored for this feat by the State and Governor Lingle. Now with a capacity of 800,000 bottles a day, Koyo is Hawaii’s No. 1 exporter, surpassing all other industries in Hawaii! I am told a 1.5 litre bottle sells in Japan for $4.00 ~ and we thought gas was expensive!

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

Only in Hawaii!

Colt Brennan, our 2007 HEISMAN TROPHY FINALIST is pictured in this morning’s paper receiving his diploma -in slippers! (for Hawaii neophytes, slippers are rubber thongs, go-aheads or zoris, not bedroom slippers) in any case, HAWAIIAN STYLE ~ ALL THE WAY.

Colt graduated Sunday receiving a degree in communitcations. And don’t forget he had the chance to go into the NFL draft last season. He admitted it was a hard choice, but in the end he said that his teammates had become family to him, he wanted to graduate, and he appreciated what Coach June Jones had done by taking a chance on him when he did. And bottom line -he loves Hawaii!

June Jones, University of Hawaii Warriors football coach was on the Big Island this weekend signing autographs in the book by J. David Miller which Jones wrote the forward for, “Hawaii Warrior Football: A Story of Faith, Hope and Redemption”. He’s such a likeable guy and so sincere. It’s not hard to tell why he is so successful as a coach. He’s soft spoken, he says what he means and means what he says.

A lot of people cannot figure out why Hawaii fans are so loyal. We don’t have any professional sports teams here so we’ve always embraced the local sports teams. We love our high school sports and WE REALLY LOVE THE UH WARRIORS! Sugar Bowl-here we come!

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

How Would I Describe Waimea?

Clients, newcomers and buyer-prospects alike often ask me to describe Waimea. Like the other day when these folks sitting across the desk from me said they were looking for a lot in Waimea. I said how well do you know the area? “Oh, not well, but we like it.”

Did you know there can be as much as 60 INCHES DIFFERENCE IN RAIN FROM ONE END OF TOWN TO THE OTHER in the course of only a few miles? They look at each other, then back to me with a “really?” look on their faces.

I’ll have to say WAIMEA IS ONE OF THE MOST DIVERSE LITTLE COMMUNITIES I know. Rainfall aside, just start with the fact that there are two names for this town! The post office address accompanying the 96743 zip code is Kamuela, though the old timers and Hawaiians still call it Waimea which means red water. The post office had to differentiate itself from towns of the same name on O’ahu and Kaua’i, so came up with Kamuela. And even that name origin has a couple versions attached to it.

But for such a small town we have a very wide range of income levels, educational backgrounds and ethnic variations. We’ve got the farmers of Waimea, mostly of Japanese ancestry who collectively produce a good portion of the vegetables for the entire state. You have the Paniolo, our Hawaiian cowboys taught by the Mexican vaqueros from California who contributed hugely to our rich ranching heritage.

The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation is responsible for the French speaking members of our community and together with the scientists, programers and astronomers at the W.M. KECK Observatory contribute immensely to our economic base all the while driving the need for good education and health care. We’ve got several private schools in town from Hawaii Preparatory Academy to Parker School and the smaller school options of Waimea Country School and the Montessori schools. And the North Hawaii Community Hospital, a full service acute care, non-profit hospital serves us all!

So much diversity packed into such a small place is a big reason for Waimea’s wide appeal. There’s defintely something for everyone!

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

Reality Check Needed

Some agents are just as bad as some of the sellers today. Get this, I get a call, no not just one, this guy keeps calling me. He’s an agent from Honolulu who is on the Big Island doing an open house on a listing he has taken in Waimea – let’s see, that would be FOUR ISLANDS AWAY! (generally not a good idea -especially when he is not a member of our MLS system and cannot even see the comparables). So he tells me:

“I heard you’ve got your house in _ _ _ _ _ subdivision in escrow. I just listed a house in there too and I thought maybe you could send any spillover of interested buyers my way.”

Oh yeah, I say, what have you got?
“Well, it’s a little high, but you never know”.

What’s the price? I say. He hesitates, not wanting to admit it, but the price is $675,000. Well, I know the comps in there and IT’S LIKE $300,000 TOO HIGH! I am not kidding.

“But it’s a great house and it’s brand new. The owner is in construction and has been building down at the resorts, you know, Mauna Lani and Waikoloa resort”, he says.

This tells me he has over-built for the subdivision and it didn’t cost him much because he probably scabbed materials from his other jobs!

Anyway, so I tell him he should refer the listing to a local agent who knows the sales comps and who can advise him how best to market this property. Then he says:

“Would you do it for a 50% referral fee?”

“No way!” is my reply, “You aren’t going to do any of the work and you have already over-priced it and got the Seller’s expectations way too high”. Seeing a no-win situation when staring it in the face, I send him on his way with a “good luck” and a pat on the back.

I swear I love the real estate business because it is the last bastion of the free market system. A seller can price their property wherever they want and a Buyer can pay whatever they want, and generally this works but these 2 clowns are going to be in this game, (holding and covering the debt on this property) a long time at that rate. You may want to keep this example in mind if you’re a Seller or an agent who is tempted to go against the tide of market data and reality in our current market.

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

Why Not Work for The State or County?

Looking for a job on the Big Island? WHY NOT CONSIDER THE STATE OR COUNTY? Sure you may take a cut in pay, but hey what about those bennies??

Hawaii steaming along with an unemployment rate of about 2.2% has made it really tough getting employees of any caliber. I’ve actually seen ads offering not only a signing bonus, but additional perks if the employee stays on the job longer than 3 months! Some employers have forsaken the recomended drug testing for fear of having no applicants to even select from. THE HOTELS WORK FURIOUSLY NAVIGATING IMMIGRATION RULES & HOOPS TO GET TEMPORARY WORK VISAS FOR EMPLOYEES FROM THE PHILIPPINES- who they love by the way, for their work ethic and willingness to learn and do a good job.

But not to get off track, the State and County go on all the time it seems, with vacant positions, moaning they cannot compete with the private sector. But I tell ya, I’d sure give it a go if I was hunting for a job. Just look at the benefits offered in an ad I saw recently in the West Hawaii Today to fill a position for a plumber with the Parks & Recreation Department:

  • Medical plan
  • Dental plan
  • Prescription drug plan
  • Vision plan
  • Free life insurance policy
  • Deferred compensation plan
  • Tuition reimbursement program
  • Parent/teacher conference leave

and, GET A LOAD OF THESE, the ones I think I love the best-

  • 13 Paid holidays a year PLUS election day
  • 21 Paid vacation days/year (which you can accumulate up to 90 days!!!)
  • 21 Paid sick days leave/year (unused portion may be accumulated towards retirement)
  • 3 Days funeral leave – with pay of course!

Why would you consider anything but a County or State job? GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY you’d be getting paid for not even working almost 16% of the time! Or to look at it another way, that’s almot 5 days off a month with pay! All at the taxpayers largess you understand.

Yep, I’d forgo maybe a little on the salary side for the perks, benefits and longevity available through County employment.

That’s my Tip of the Day and I’m sticking to it!
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Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

Clamp Down on Mortgage Lenders?

Alright already. BASTA! That means enough (I’ve loved that word ever since I went to an Italian restaurant once in San Francisco called “Basta Pasta”).

Now that nearly everybody has chimed in on the sub-prime mortgage debacle, spouting off about irreputable lenders who preyed on people too stupid to know any better I think we can all agree it was a combination of many factors but I sure don’t want to see MORE KNEE-JERK REACTIONS BY OUR BELOVED GOVERNMENT like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in reaction to the crooks involved in the Enron debacle and other corporate ripoffs like it. I mean, did it really solve anything? I know it created a ton of paperwork for companies, and keeps a lot of attorneys employed, but that’s all government really ever seems to produce; more paperwork and red-tape.

If we just followed the KISS Doctrine (Keep It Simple, Stupid), we’d go a long way to a much better fix. Mortgages are complicated and wordy (thanks again to our attorney + government friends), so much so that barely anybody reads any of the mountainous paperwork that has become part of the loan process.

I’ve tried it and even with almost 20 year in the real estate business I had to really work to pull out the key information. We got loans on 2 different properties a year or so ago. You know, THOSE TERRIBLE, NOW INFAMOUS INTEREST-ONLY, ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGES, leading down the path of ruin and damnation? But, kidding aside I just wanted to know the basics:

  1. What is my loan amount?
  2. What is my interest rate?
  3. When do I have to pay it off or refinance?
  4. How much do I pay every month?
  5. When will the interest rate adjust?
  6. Is there a pre-payment penalty and if so, how much will it cost me?

You know, just the facts mam. ALL ON 1 PAGE, IN BOLD PRINT. The only other essential I would actually love to see enacted would be to require your mortgage holder to return your phone or email inquiry within 48 hours of receipt. There is probably nothing more frustrating for people than to get in that 800 phone number loop and never get satisfaction.

That would be my fix! Pretty simple: A 1-page straight forward disclosure of your loan terms and the courtesy of access to a live person when you do have a question. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. What about you?

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

The Right to BEAR Names!

I know this is supposed to be a real estate blog, but the great thing about a blog is nobody, AT LEAST IN AMERICA, can tell you what to write or not write. (Okay, that’s naïve with the PC police everywhere you turn especially in politics and government.) But at least so far in America they WON’T DECAPITATE YOU for naming a teddy bear “Muhammed”. Where’s it going to stop?
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But did you know there is actually a company already making the cute, cuddly TEDDY BEAR MUHAMMADS (just in time for Christmas!) complete with embroidery work bearing the same name, (pun intended) AND $1 of each purchase goes to the USO to support our troops!
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So here’s your chance to take a stand, expressing your support for freedom, equality and common sense. WHEN CHILDREN CANNOT EVEN NAME A STUFFED BEAR WITHOUT FEAR, SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. Please continue to spread the word. They’re less than 10 bucks so do it now, it’s TeddyBearMohammad.com.

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com

Kohala Cheerleaders Goin’ Mainland!

I know it’s hard to believe since it’s a reversal where most of the rest of the world would love to go to Hawaii, but local kids just love to ‘GO MAINLAND’, as they say.

The lucky ones get an opportunity through school events, sports teams competing in regional or national playoffs, hula exhibitions, etc. And these kids (and their parents) will do anything to raise the money for the travel. Bake sales aren’t a biggie, but if you have kids or are just the type that likes to support them when they come knocking at your door, GET READY TO BUY A TON OF PORTUGUESE SAUSAGE, LAU-LAU, ZIPPY’S CHILE, HULI-HULI CHICKEN OR SWEET BREAD just to name a few of the most common items usually sold.huli.jpg

“I saw smoke, then I smelled chicken”. (As you can tell, huli-huli Chicken is a favorite of mine)

This group of girls -cheerleaders from North Kohala on the Big Island are headed to Orlando, Florida! It all started with a JAMZ cheerleading camp sponsored by the NORTH KOHALA COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTER (which does wonderful things for the community in North Kohala in case you are looking for a worthy place to invest your donation dollars for the end of any tax year, hint-hint). The girls did so well at the camp they were invited to perform during halftime of the Capital One Bowl which will be nationally televised New Year’s Day!

Coach Toma Raymond and the girls and their families have been practicing and fundraising and have raised more than $15,000 so far but they are only about half way there. I know they’ll make it and I know they will all benefit from this trip to the mainland. Imagine if you are born and raised in TINY LITTLE NORTH KOHALA ON THE VERY NORTHERN TIP OF THE BIG ISLAND (population less than 6,000, NO traffic lights and one high school) going to the mainland for the first time and seeing Orlando, Florida!

All I can say it they are going to love it and what an experience for them!

Aloha, Mike
RE/MAX Pacific

On Island: 885-5557
Toll Free: 800-500-4895
My “Sell” Phone: 808-896-1943
MikeSells.com
WestHawaiiBlog.com
Mike@MikeSells.com