- The Real
Estate picture just keeps on keeping on. There is, of course,
talk of a bubble that just has to burst one day, but there are
certainly no credible signs of this happening.
- Our beloved
little city of Hilo is changing. The growing population is swinging
toward affluent mainlanders, as is evidenced by the construction
of an elaborate new Volvo dealership. Up until now, about the
only Volvos we ever saw here were twenty years old and plenty
rusty. That's all about to change.
- Traffic just
keeps getting heavier and more congested, and where most of the
cars used to be older, modest models, we're now seeing mostly
newer, expensive ones. Lexus, Avalon, Mercedes, BMW, and the
like; Cadillac and Lincoln SUVs, and even Hummers. A Dodge Viper
in HIlo?! Yup.
- There is
something just not very "Hilo" about an enormous, ostentatious,
gas-guzzling, four-ton Hummer, but I suppose its something we'll
just have to get used to now. It's like "Honolulu Light."
- OK, back
to Real Estate. The published "median home price" for
the Big Island is now $440,000, up some 47% from this time last
year. There seems to be no shortage of buyers, as most listings
that are priced within the current window of "reasonable"
sell immediately. The properties that stay on the market for
a while, like weeks instead of hours, are the ones that are inspiring
the stories of a softening market. They are also the ones that
are hugely overpriced either by the suggestion of "over-enthusiastic"
Realtors or by the sellers themselves.
- We have actually
heard from people who have no intention of selling their properties
but list them for sale at unreal prices just waiting for some
over-eager mainlander to come along. "If it sells at that
price, I'm outa here. If it doesn't, that's fine too." Definitely
not an aloha wayof thinking.
- There are
still affordable properties available to those who will do their
homework . . . and are willing to roll up their sleeves. There
are "fixers" of all kinds, and they are usually the
best bet for those seeking affordability. One of the big perks
in buying a fixer is that you come in at a low price. After you
do your extensive remodel and make the old place into your dream
house, your taxes, at least for a long while, will be based on
what you paid for the house. Had you bought a really nice, expensive
home, you would be coming in at the higher assessment (based
on the purchase price) and paying the higher taxes from that
- Houses we
call "fixers" can be either a big house with many years
of deferred maintenance, a tiny house in good shape but one that
can be added onto, or any combination thereof.
- We see examples
of these all around the Island. A real dump is bought up by yet
another mainland family and for the next few months we see all
sorts of contractor's trucks there as the place undergoes a transformation.
We're seeing whole neighborhoods get revived this way, and in
that regard, all the new people here are actually an asset. There
has never been lower unemployment in Hawaii, there are all sorts
of new small businesses starting up, and the ones already in
business are beginning to do well.
- As usual,
I can't do an update without touching on aloha. Please
refer to some of my previous updates for more on this so-very-important
topic. We can survive the changes here if we all participate.
We can keep the Big Island that special place people have been
coming to for years because of its ambiance of peace, love and
aloha. More importantly, we can maintain that ambiance
for the wonderful people who have been here forever and whose
guests we are on this beautiful Island. But it doesn't just happen.
We've all got to leave our mainland ways behind and embrace our
new culture. It really is easy. It really is all about living
consciously and in love.
- Let's all
of us keep living aloha!
Mahalo for "listening."
- Skip Thomsen