Oahu Realty Blog

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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Regency Park Fee Simple Interests Available

When Regency Park was built in 1981, it was a leasehold property with the fee owned by the Marianist Church.  Leaseholds fell out of favor with buyers in the mid- 1980's and thereafter.  If you're wondering why anybody would buy leasehold, first consider that it's less expensive than fee simple.  For example, when this condo was offered for sale in 1981 the units were priced in the neighborhood of $125,000 with 55-year leases. Those prices were reasonably affordable at the time.  Fast forward to 2016.  The units that haven't been converted to fee simple (still leasehold, in other words) have increased in value by approximately 150% however the remaining time on the lease is now 20 less than years.  Banks

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Leasehold Condos in Hawaii - The Better Deals 

A lot of people are interested in leasehold condos - at least initially.  When they're searching by price, leaseholds are usually priced lower than fee simple condos. Are there any good deals out there?  Yes, but first read this.

Guidelines for buying a leasehold condo

  1. Leasehold condos are generally being sold by a lessee and if you buy one you will be the new lessee.  The lessor is the true owner of the property.  The lessor may opt to offer the fee simple interest or extend the lease.  Or the lessor might decide to take the property back at the end of the lease.
  2. The lowest priced leasehold condos usually have very short lease terms remaining.  After all, how much are you willing to pay for a
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The City and County of Honolulu offers a special tax credit to homeowner occupants on Oahu.  The credit is available to homeowners meeting the following:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Real Property Tax home exemption must be in effect when the credit is applied for.
  • Owner(s) cannot own any other real estate, anywhere.
  • Combined income of all titleholders cannot exceed $60,000.
  • None of the taxpayers have violated Revised Ordinances of Honolulu Section 8-13.5 (Penalties relating to the County Tax Credit) by filing a false application or attesting to any false statements with the intent to defraud the city or evade the payment of real property taxes.  

Amount of the Credit

2017 Update - the tax credit figure is 3% for all qualified

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makaha valley towers

Makaha Valley Towers is consistently one of the more affordable condos on Oahu.  The location is "out there" - about 40 miles from Waikiki.  At the same time, because of the distance to town, prices at the Towers are much lower than they are in Waikiki.  And it's a great building!

Monthly maintenance fees for 2016 are as follows:

  • Studio               $588
  • One Bedroom   $743
  • Two Bedroom   $879

The fees increased by 2% from 2015.  Why are the fees so high, you might ask?  Well, Makaha Valley Towers includes almost all the necessities in the maintenance fee.  

  • Electricity
  • Central Air Conditioning (this is the only building on the west side of the island with central air)
  • Basic cable TV
  • Water, hot water and sewer

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