Tax Relief -You Are Kidding, Right?

I was surprised that I had not heard this, but a friend told me about it, I checked it out and sure enough, it’s true. They actually did pass a law (part of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007) that helps a very deserving group of taxpayers – widows and widowers.

Starting with sales in 2008, widows and widowers now have 2 years to sell after the death of a spouse and still be eligible for the $500,000 exclusion in capital gains. This of course, assumes there is a capital gain to be had with all the depreciated values, and it may be a leap of faith, but I think there are plenty of older Americans who bought years ago, and did not go continually to the “Bank of Refinance” and squeeze every last bit of equity out of their homes.

I know my mother could not have held up to the emotional turmoil involved in having to sell the home she and my father shared for the previous thirty-one years when he died in 2003 -so when she finally sold in 2005, under the old law she only got the $250,000 of capital gains exclusion. I know it’s the same for most people. It’s just too much to handle. Well, now they don’t have to.

I’m not a tax advisor (and if I learned anything over 20 years in real estate trying to stay out of trouble, it’s don’t give tax advise or practice law!) so be sure to check with your attorney or tax advisor, but my understanding is beginning in 2008, a widow or widower now has 2 years from the date of death to sell and qualify for the full $500,000 of capital gains exclusion. . . . . but cha better hurry up and die. At the rate we’re going with the Wall Street and Big-boy bailouts capital gains exclusion may be an endangered species!! 

That’s my Tip of the Day!
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Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Hey, That’s Our Trash !

What fun for a Saturday morning! My early morning intention last Saturday was to get to Waimea to join some fellow Rotarians in a trash pick-up project. Our club adopted a stretch of Highway out by the Waimea Country Club a few years ago and we do this every couple of months as part of our community service -and because we all drive that stretch of road and as you might imagine, it looks nicer without the litter. Also, since it just so happens to be right by the golf course, there’s usually at least a 4-some ready to go play golf after our “chores”. In fact, we’ve been know to pitch a tent off the back of a truck, set up hibachis and make a day of it! ono-grinds3.jpg

Now from Waikoloa where I live this requires butt out of bed and on the road no later than 6:30 AM. No, let me back up. If I want to perform my usual morning ritual, it requires butt out of bed in time to have a cuppa coffee and read the morning paper. My husband and I have divergent interests and activities, but we always have a cup of joe and a read ‘n rant together every morning. And boy is there a lot of ranting these days, but don’t get me started!

Anyway, I take off almost on time, (my husband would counter -never on time), but I have to stop at ACE Hardware for some gloves on the way. They’re open early so that’s okay, but it does put me a wee tardy for that 7 AM start. And darn, by the time I get there everyone’s gone, I imagine scattered down the road donning their oh so fashionable, orange vests and trash bags. No worry, I’ll just catch up and pitch right in -after all, this is Saturday morning VOLUNTEER stuff (bad attitude, I know).

Looking toward Honoka’a I spy several bright orange trash bags bulging and neatly tied, but not one single Rotarian. 

“COME ON GUYS, I’M ONLY 15 MINUTES LATE.” NO WAY COULD THEY HAVE BAGGED THAT MUCH TRASH SO FAST.

I drove to the end of our “territory” and counted 14 bags! Anyway, I circled back to the staging area and finally spotted 4 or 5 guys but they’re just as befuddled as me. They didn’t pick up the trash either, somebody else did but nobody knows who or when.

Finally we figured it must have been the politicians. You see it’s silly season and in Hawaii that encompasses sign waving along the roadways and yes, even trash pick-up (so they can slap their slogan stickers on the bags and score brownie points with voters). All I know is it saved me having to pick 500 hitch-hiker stickers out of my socks afterwards and my thighs didn’t feel like I ran a marathon the next day, so I’m happy, but I hope they don’t try that again. I mean, HEY, THAT’S OUR TRASH! . . . .  ;o)

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

They are NOT Affordable !

I’d hoped I would be wrong this time when I first heard about the County’s “Workforce Housing Project”proposed for Waikoloa on the Big Island called Kamakoa at Waikoloa. On the face of it, it sounds great; affordable housing intended for resort workers and public sector employees in the Kohala Coast area and beyond.  

YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE DRIVING FROM HILO, MOUNTAIN VIEW OR PAHOA ALL THE WAY TO JOBS ON KOHALA’S GOLD COAST- EVERYDAY! Oh yeah, there’s a bus you can catch – at 3:30 AM! One would wonder why these folks need a home -they’re never there! Sadly my experience observing these projects over the years is that they just cannot get enough people who can qualify for the housing.

There are 125 units to be built in the 1st phase and according to the North Hawaii News this morning, a third are rentals and the balance are for sale. But I learned from speaking on the phone with someone at Kamakoa earlier, only 170 applications have been received and today is the deadline to be considered for phase one. Of those, I can guarantee the majority will not qualify for one reason or another. You could say it’s because of the current economic meltdown and certainly that could be a factor, but previous affordable housing projects have suffered the same plight. Needless to say, future phases of the originally planned 1200 homes at Kamakoa have been put on hold.

But there’s also a big disconnect in the design & planning of these projects. First of all, they are not affordable for the people they are intended to serve! The Kamakoa single family homes start at $320,000, and you don’t own the land they’re built on. Why would anyone spend that kind of doe-ray-me for a subsidized home with restrictions and not even own the land? ANS:  they won’t!

IT’S OLD THINKING-design and build the same old style home (condo apartments and single family dwellings) on State or County acquired land, give tax or financing incentives to the builders and offer financing incentives and waive fees for buyers. To do this and keep in budget, you have to chop somewhere, cheap them out a little; smaller than normal lots, adequate, but lesser quality materials, etc.

They need to do more comprehensive design and implementation to meet the needs of a wider range of people; area employees, young families, singles, elderly and empty-nesters in a neighborhood concept with common open areas, shopping, etc., in walking distance, and build smaller units. Then there would be more demand. Restrictions are fine, but the majority need to be one and 2-bedroom cottage type homes or apartments, studios even. Pack ‘em in if you need to, but make the design nice and above all, really affordable. I’m not even saying most should be for sale. Make them very reasonable rentals, with rules and standards tenants have to abide by or they’re out. NATURALLY THIS WOULD REQUIRE GOOD MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP, WOEFULLY ABSENT IN ANYTHING GOVERNMENT RELATED THESE DAYS.  

But if all the above criteria were met, there would always be a waiting list. Tenants who were not law-abiding individuals, or did not take care of their units, who were disorderly, or otherwise bad-apples would get the boot to make room for more those deserving. And guess what? There would also be fewer cars on the road!

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

No Viewer Left Behind

I just can’t take it anymore! This goes way, way beyond the Obama-McCain thing. Can someone, anyone please, please explain to me why in the world our government should be pushing TV Converter Box Coupons? I guess maybe it’s just another inalienable right, you know, equal access.  “NO VIEWER LEFT BEHIND” so to speak.

DTV D-Day is coming soon. February 17th 2009 in fact, and the powers that be just can’t stand that maybe some people would be without the ability to watch TV, heaven forbid. That’s right, if for some reason your budget (budget, what’s that??) doesn’t allow for a new TV or a converter box, this program allows each household (at taxpayer expense) to apply for not just one, but up to TWO, $40 vouchers to help defray the cost of the devises.tv-head.jpg

AS RECENTLY AS LAST MONTH 18,084 SUCH VOUCHERS HAD BEEN REQUESTED IN HAWAII. Now being the entrepreneur that I am, I’m thinkin’ maybe I should apply for a couple and scalp them because I know 2 vouchers just won’t be enough for all those families with children (you need a TV in each kid’s room), so there’s a buck to be made. Okay, I’m not a scalper, but mark my words, it’s happening.

Doesn’t our government have enough to spend our money on? Like bailing out banks whose highly paid (some would say over-paid) upper management personnel have been asleep at the wheel or quietly feathering their own beds and making monumental and historically high, bad risk investments like there was no tomorrow.

I fail to see the cause for celebration and a surge in the stock market at the latest folly -bailing out Fannie and Fred. Stocks should plummet and people should be screaming from the rooftops-

“STOP IT! Stop giving away our sovereignty, devaluing our dollar and putting our kids and grand-kids in the poor-house before they’re even old enough to run up their own debt”.

I guess it just reiterates to me that the market will not get better until it really gets bad. It’s like propping up a drunk or an addict. They won’t get healthy again until they hit bottem and coming to the rescue every time only delays the inevitable.

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals &
Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail:
Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

Pets And Parking

The biggest, most contentious issues among owners in condominium associations are PETS & PARKING. And after living in a condo myself for the first time in my life I can tell you it is absolutely true!

board-meeting2.JPGMore time, energy and money is spent by homeowner’s assocations, boards of directors and management companies on these two issues than you can imagine. Just give it a moment’s thought. How many times have you heard,

“Well they don’t have kids, those dogs, are their children.”

As if any behavior, sound or odor eminating from the blessed little creatures is somehow forgiven.

Our condo doesn’t allow pets -at least according to some of the documents. The bylaws say one thing but the house rules have somewhat different wording allowing for that little difference of interpretation. After determining by a vote at the very first annual AOAO meeting, that the majority really did not want pets, one owner in order to rent his unit in an otherwise flooded rental market slipped a pet in because the newly clarifed rules had not yet been recorded, therefore technically the old rules ambiguous as they were, still applied. How to make friends and influence people, huh? I swear to you, it’s true! I couldn’t make this stuff up.

And parking -OMG! no-parking.jpgAnother owner swears he paid more for his unit just so he could get two parking spaces (actually all of us, as evidenced by our recorded apartment deeds, get two parking spaces). So he went about painting out parking stall lines and numbers hoping to enforce his point! He did pay more for his unit and his monthly maintenace fees are higher, but only based on his square footage and percentage of common ownership. It has nothing to do with parking!

Are we having fun yet? So my advise to you? – of course read all the condo documents before you buy and if there are ambiguities, well good luck! It takes more than an act of congress to get the documents changed and as you can see by my couple of examples it goes with the territory. Having said that, I still love my condo. The views are great. I love being able to lock the door and go travel. I like having the pool, the spa and the work-out room. But it is a trade off. We weighed the issues and decided this was the way to go. But pets and parking are going to be issues of contention so just understand that going into it. 

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com

August-Aukake Listing Stats For West Hawaii

As a kid, to me summer was June, July and August even though I know summer’s not really over officially until what, the summer solstice on September 21st? After that the days get shorter and shorter, everyone’s back in school by several weeks and summer is pau! But as they say, ”Lucky you live Hawaii” where it’s always summer -or more or less. So even though August slipped right by, no worry we still get plenty summer left and plenty time to ponder the listings and see what’s for sale even though many would be happier if there weren’t so many listings to ponder – am I right, Sellers?

Here’s what it looks like at the moment.

TODAY IN WAIMEA:

  • 105 homes on the market
  • 15 are less than or equal to $400,000
  • The least expensive = $269,000
  • The most expensive = $5,390,000
  • The highest days on market (DOM)= 920 (I can just hear them telling the Realtor, “We don’t have to sell”)
  • Sales in the past 90 days = 19
  • Sales in the past 30 days = 4

IN WAIKOLOA:

  • 94 homes on the market
  • 13 are less than or equal to $400,000
  • The least expensive = $315,000
  • The most expensive = $875,000
  • The highest days on market (DOM)= 542
  • Sales in the past 90 days = 21 (48% were developer sales)
  • Sales in the past 30 days = 12

IN KOHALA:

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

  • 87 homes on the market
  • 10 are less than or equal to $400,000
  • The least expensive = $259,000
  • The most expensive = $15,000,000
  • The highest days on market (DOM)= 613
  • Sales in the past 90 days = 4
  • Sales in the past 30 days = 0

IN SUMMARY:  Recent sales (90 day and 30 day comparisons) do indicate an up-tick in activity in Waikoloa with somewhat less activity in Waimea and still very slow movement in the Kohala market.

 That’s if for now. Be sure to tune in about this time next month for the most recent listing and sales recap.

Aloha, “Mikie”

Mikie Likes It LLC
Realtor Referrals & Mortgage Freedom

Waikoloa, Hawaii
Phone: (808) 896-1943
eMail: Mike@MikeSells.com
website: MikeSells.com