More Real Estate and Living Aloha
July, 2005
The Real Estate frenzy is still in full swing with no signs of slowing. There have been reports from specific areas, state-wide, saying that the prices seem to have stabilized, but these reports are not followed up with any further confirmations. Here on the Big Island, it appears to be business as usual. Properties are still selling quickly at ever-higher prices, and some properties are still being sold before their listings ever make in onto the MLS.
The upside of all this is that the Big Island no longer has the image of Hawai'i's stepchild. Rather, the Big Island now seems to be the address to have. An attendant reality is that a lot of formerly tacky (and worse) looking homes and even whole neighborhoods are being cleaned up by the newcomers who seem to have no shortage of cash. The downside of all this has always been and still is that our local folks - those who have lived here all their lives - can no longer afford to buy a home on their own Island.
We feel a lot of compassion for the people who are the victims of these times.
In response to our concerns, we had one Realtor comment to us, "Hey, those people couldn't afford to buy a home when the prices were cheap, either." Well, that certainly applies to some people, but there are many who have been saving for the day they could afford to upgrade from tenant to owner, and they are now out of luck.
What we are already seeing now are the resales we predicted many months ago. Some are properties bought strictly for profit. They're the listings we see now for properties that we saw on the market a year ago and are now for sale for twice (or more) their original prices. Bare land prices show the most dramatic increases, sometimes tripled.
The others are properties that were bought in the passion of "Oh this is soooo beautiful. We've just GOT to live here." Then as a year goes by, some of these buyers get cold feet about the move to the Islands, or perhaps they do move and it takes them a year to figure out that this really isn't where they wanted to be after all.
In days gone by, like a few years ago, this little error in judgement would always cost a bundle. There were the huge moving expenses in both directions, a possible loss on the value of the home, starting over in the job market when returning to the mainland, and so on. Now, it's all different. These folks now get all of their expenses paid by the value increase of the homes they bought here.
Moving right along, let's talk about aloha. I've covered this before, several times, and I'll no doubt cover it again. Please, please, please, leave your mainland ways behind when you move to the Islands.
What we're seeing more and more as the masses move here is folks who decided to relocate to Hawai'i because while visiting, they were so overcome with the wonderful feeling of peace, friendliness, calm and beauty. We call it aloha.
Trouble is, after some people are here for a while, they start to slide back into their old mainland ways. Their tempo-of-life starts to speed up again, their expectations of performance from others begins to rear its not-so-pretty head, and soon that very ambiance of "laid-back" that so enticed them while visiting starts to become an aggravation.
This phenomenon is covered in-depth in Affordable Paradise.
We've seen this over and over, and not just with the recent arrivals. It's been happening as long as we can remember. Some people are simply not cut out for "island life."
What we ask, again and again, is if you are new to Hawai'i, please live a conscious life here. Please pay attention to what makes this place so special. Pay attention to what brought you here in the first place. Watch others, especially the locals and the folks who have been living here for a long time.
Among other things, aloha means giving back.
When you're driving and you see somebody waiting to get out of a parking lot into the flow of traffic, give up that precious five seconds to let him or her in. When you come to an intersection, look around you. Is there a way that by giving up a few seconds of your time you could ease a situation that will make the traffic flow better for everyone?
It's really amazing how this works: You slow down to let somebody in front of you in, or maybe to make a left turn across your traffic lane. Do you have to? No, of course not. You do it because it makes your heart feel good to live aloha.
Often, the simple act of allowing someboy to make a left turn in front of you will unsnarl an otherwise congested intersection. It makes life easier for everone around you. Try it!
On the mainland, the norm is to speed up to make certain the other person couldn't get in front of you. But here, you do what you can to help others. After that kind little deed that cost you nothing, you've brightened the day of somebody else, and that person will extend the same courtesy at his or her next opportunity. And on it goes. It just feels good.
Have you noticed that the only time you ever hear a horn honking is when someboy is saying "hello?"
The driving thing is just one tiny example of the details we need to be conscious of and to practice on a daily basis. After a while, it becomes second nature, and pretty soon you start to feel like you belong here. Now that's special!
The thing is, if we all do our share, we can all share this space and not dilute the aloha in the process. Many of us came here because of the awesome feelings we felt while visitors in the Islands. Some of us have been living here for many years and still feel that awesome feeling every day. Some of us have to pinch ourselves occasionally to make sure we're not dreaming. Some of us never, ever forget that we are the guests here.
Some of us strive to learn all we can about Hawai'i, the Hawai'ian people, and Hawai'i's culture. Let's all of us live consciously. Let's respect others and their chosen way of life.
Let's all of us keep living aloha!

Mahalo for "listening."
Skip Thomsen & Ohana
Updated 3/6/05