Oahu Realty Blog

We were lucky to get a table at JJ Bistro on January 28th, it was the restaurant's last night in business.  Yes, JJ Bistro closed up after 18 years at 3447 Waialae Avenue near the intersection with 9th Avenue in Kaimuki.

JJ Bistro (many call it "JJ's") is named after its owner, Praseuth “JJ” Luangkhot, of Laotian descent with French culinary training.  Initially a bakery, JJ Bistro grew and became a full restaurant with seating for up to 100 persons.

JJ said he's looking to relocate to a smaller location with better parking - Waialae Avenue parking can be hard to find.  That night we parked on 9th Avenue, mauka of Waialae Avenue in lower Palolo Valley. It sounds like a long walk, Palolo Valley to Kaimuki but it was about a block - not that far.

JJ Bistro last night

282 Views, 0 Comments

It's a new year and we have new maintenance fees.  For 2018 Makaha Valley Towers maintenance fees increased by 2% from 2017.

Makaha Valley Towers have three types of units.  Here are the maintenance fees for each.

Studios - $618

One bedrooms - $781

Two bedrooms - $924

The cost of central air, electricity, water, sewer and basic cable are included in the monthly cost.  Premium cable TV (through Spectrum, formerly Oceanic Cable), internet and land line telephone service are additional.

The majority of the condos at Makaha Valley Towers are one bedroom units (349 of them).  There are 169 studios and 68 two bedrooms units.  For year around residents the maintenance fees are a great deal.  Owners who frequently leave their units vacant are

91 Views, 0 Comments

Pualei Circle is one of the more affordable places to live at Diamond Head, an upscale and expensive neighborhood. Here's a comparative market analysis of Active listings, in escrow and recently sold (November to late-December, 2017).

Leahi Avenue is the main access way to Pualei Circle and Diamond Head Surf is located there.  Off Monsarrat Avenue, Kanaina Avenue is an alternate route to Diamond Head Sands as well as Ilima Apartments, Diamond Head Manor Apartments and Diamond Head Lanai. I mention this because while some of the buildings that don't have Pualei Circle addresses, locals generally consider them part of the neighborhood.  And some buildings with Pualei Circle addresses are accessible via Kanaina Avenue.

 pualei circle comparative market analysis 2017

Here's the market wrap-up

143 Views, 0 Comments

I read about a great service the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) offers homeowners and it's free of charge!  If you live in a single family home and are planning a vacation, HPD will perform a "house check" while you are gone.  Uniformed police officers visit your home and look to see that things are in order.

HPD's house checks are limited to the following:

  • Single family homes - no condos, townhomes, commercial or construction sites.
  • House checks are for occupants away from their home for a vacation or similar purpose.  HPD doesn't do house checks on vacant homes that are on the market to be sold or rented nor when they are being fumigated.
  • The resident(s) must be away for at least five days and no longer than 30 days.  The residents'
209 Views, 0 Comments

DHHL administrative rules may affect transfers of vacant land

The Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) administrative rules §10-3-36 do not allow lessees to sell their lease interests for consideration if improvements are not in place. 

  • "For consideration" means a lessee cannot sell for money or other consideration, for example a vehicle. A lessee can transfer the lease interest to another qualified DHHL applicant for no consideration (free).
  • "Vertical improvement" for residential leases means a house. In the case of agricultural lands, crops, barns or other structures in use qualify as improvements.

 Considerations for lessees

  • If currently leasing a DHHL property and the home is in poor condition, don't tear it down if you're
129 Views, 0 Comments

Jalousie windows are as prevalent as rubber slippers in Hawaii.  Many older homes and condos have them. In the days before central air conditioning became common, jalousie windows were a common window upgrade for increased airflow (read: cooling). Think about sliding windows and when you open them, one side is closed because it's blocked by glass.  Jalousie windows provide near 100% airflow when completely opened. They are popular in Hawaii and other warm climates and less so in cold climates because even when completely closed, air can still pass through. Not desirable on a cold evening when the heater is on. In Hawaii, most homes and condos don't have heaters.

Jalousie window panes are held in place by aluminum frames and mechanisms. They hold up

387 Views, 0 Comments

makaha beach cabanas 2017

Low maintenance fees are one of the attractive features at Makaha Beach Cabanas for years.  In 2017 we're seeing a significant increase - don't worry, it's a good deal!

People naturally want the lowest maintenance fees possible. However it's important to look at the amenities included at the property you own or are contemplating purchasing. Makaha Beach Cabanas maintenance fees have been in the low $400's (per month) in recent years. This year, 2017, the maintenance fee increased to $430 in January then $480 starting in February. The increase between January and February is a result of the association's adoption of a cable tv and high speed internet package deal with Oceanic Cable.

Cable TV and internet now included in Makaha Beach Cabanas

132 Views, 0 Comments

Real Estate related tax documents

Purchase information and receipts for improvements and upgrades should be held for as long as you own the property.  If the property is an investment, the cost of improvements and upgrades may increase the property's basis and potentially reduce your taxable capital gain.  If the property is your main residence, you might qualify for the $250,000 gain exclusion (single) and $500,000 (married) and that will cover most people's capital gains - but not all.  It's still good to keep the receipts.  

Income Taxes

The IRS has three years to audit tax returns unless income has been seriously under-reported (appearance of fraud).  Note - that's three years after your tax return is filed.  If you filed your 2016 tax return

163 Views, 0 Comments

Marco Polo view from the McCully Street Bridge during the fire

marco polo fire july 14 2017

Honolulu's worst high-rise fire in the city's history occurred at the Marco Polo building on July 14, 2017. The fire started in unit #2602 just after 2 p.m. Occupants of that unit managed to escape.  Three occupants in neighboring units stayed in their apartments and died. A fourth person on the 32nd floor was disabled and waited out the fire in her apartment. She died several weeks later due to complications. 

Residents have mentioned the building's design cause its hallways to be wind tunnels, which is great for natural cooling from the tradewinds however the winds might also contribute to spreading the flames.  Another complaint is about the fire alarm system - some say the alarms

269 Views, 3 Comments

Oahu residents generally have a low property tax rate compared with other states.  Still, we want to take advantage of the tax exemptions available to owner occupants.

Owner Occupant Exemptions

One exemption is available for owner occupied residences, amounting to $80,000 (tax assessed value).  The exemption applies to single persons and to married couples.  For married couples, the exemption is still $80,000.  If the couple owns more than one property, the exemption can be used on only the property the couple owner-occupies.

When the owner (or oldest spouse, for couples) reaches age 65, the exemption can increase to $120,000.  I say "can increase" because the office will adjust your exemption if it has your birthdate on file. If the office

1,101 Views, 2 Comments