Oahu Realty Blog

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Hawaii's Dart Frogs

The dart frog is a tiny creature, slightly more than an inch long.  After a heavy rain, the dart frogs emerge and roam the sidewalks.  They are agile and have good eyesight.  Try getting close to a dart frog and they can dash (actually hop) away pretty quickly, making it difficult to take a picture.

Here's the my first closeup picture of a dart frog.  I followed it around and cornered it in my neighbor's carport.

hawaii dart frog

And here's a picture I took more recently of a dart frog in my back yard.  The concrete block behind the frog and the blades of grass may help you get a better perspective of its diminutive size.

poison dart frog palolo and manoa

I have lived in Palolo Valley for nearly 10 years and only took serious notice of the dart frogs in the past

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Fire Department Helicopter Loads Water at Palolo District Park

Palolo Valley Park

This morning the Fire Department Helicopter hauled multiple loads of water from Palolo Valley District Park to Waahila Ridge, where a brush fire burned for hours.  The Palolo Fire Department is adjacent to this park.  Firefighters setup the orange pool pictured and ran a hose from a fire hydrant to fill the pool.  I watched the helicopter fill up and drop loads of water for around half an hour. The helicopter was able to fill up the basket, fly up to Waahila Ridge and drop the water, then come back to the park in about five minutes.  The helicopter made water drops for several hours, impressive!  That's some precision flying.

Palolo Valley, Maunalani Heights side

The picture above shows the helicopter preparing to

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If you're trying to find out whether you or another entity has a Hawaii Tax License, the State of Hawaii has a handy webpage.  The webpage can be difficult to find and that's why I'm writing about it!

Purpose of Having a Hawaii Tax License

Persons and companies doing business in Hawaii are supposed to file Hawaii State income tax returns and have certain other tax returns.  For example, a company doing business and having employees should have an employers withholding tax ID.  Persons doing business as independent contractors should have General Excise Tax (GET) licenses.  If you have a rental property, the income is subject to GET and you should have a license.  If your property is used as a short-term rental (rented for periods of 180 days or

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vog at Makaha Valley Towers

I visited Makaha Valley Towers on January 11, 2017 and viewed this voggy weather.  We've been having a pleasant winter with north winds mixed with trade winds then suddenly it came to a stop and now we've got the humid vog.   Our hazy sky looks similar big cities such as Los Angeles.

makaha vog

If you're unfamiliar with vog, here are the basics:

What is Vog?

It's Volcanic Smog - sulfur dioxide emitted from Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island.  Kilauea began erupting in 1983 and has erupted continually since then - 34 years and counting!  

Why do we get Vog?

The Kona side of the Big Island usually gets the worst vog because it's relatively close to and downwind of the volcano. Oahu and other islands usually are less affected as the trade winds

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There are three basic floorplan layouts at Makaha Valley Towers.  Here are the layouts and the respective maintenance fees.

Studios - $606

One bedrooms - $766

Two bedrooms - $906

As you absorb the maintenance fee information, note Makaha Valley Towers is the only building on the west side of Oahu that has central air conditioning.  The cost of central air, electricity, water, sewer and basic cable are included in the monthly cost.  Residents may choose to add premium cable tv, internet and land line telephone service.

The majority of the condos at Makaha Valley Towers are one-bedroom units, 349 of them altogether.  Studios number 169 and two-bedrooms total 68.  If you're staying in your unit (or renting it out) year around, the maintenance

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