As our summer winds down--although you wouldn’t know it by the temperatures every day--our beaches begin to lose a little sand with every low tide and days get a little shorter. Daylight Savings Time will soon become a distant memory (everywhere but here and Arizona). Halloween decorations are popping up on some of the houses in the neighborhood and I know retailers are chomping at the bit to get past Halloween and start right in with Christmas fare. Thanksgiving has long since been relegated to a family gathering and the week you can buy turkeys for .69/lb, but not much more than that.
After a very sluggish September, Real Estate activity seems to have picked up a bit as I’m seeing more “Pending Sales”. While many markets on the mainland are starting to hunker down for the long winter months, we, of course, look forward to our busiest months from December through April.
For those of you, though, who might be inclined to go against the grain and put your home on the market sooner than later, here are five cost-effective improvements the average weekend do-it-yourselfer can tackle that will add value to your home—granted, some easier than others. (ref: RIS Media House calls March 1, 2017)
1. Boost First Impression with Curb Appeal
Of course, pull the weeds and mow the lawn, but how about adding some fresh new blooms in a newly created flower bed framed by some simple bricks? New pavers from the driveway across the lawn to the front door will create a fresh new look. Don’t forget that tired old garage door that’s crying out for a new coat of paint!
2. Re-paint Your Kitchen Cabinets.
The kitchen is clearly a great place to invest your time and a few dollars making easy improvements, and whether it’s kitchen, baths, bedrooms, etc. staging, staging, staging is always a great bang for your buck. Yes, repaint those old wooden kitchen cabinets. Invest in some sleek new hardware for the cabinets. And don’t forget to remove all the clutter from the countertops, pictures, and magnets on the refrigerator, some fresh new kitchen towels, and maybe a new piece of art to hang over the circuit breaker box on the wall.
3. Crown Molding for Along the Ceilings
You may not be able to install crown molding in the entire house over a weekend, focus on the important rooms: kitchen, living room, master bedroom. Keep the color very light—off-white at the most—to draw eyes upward and make the ceilings seem higher than they actually are.
4. Beautify the Bathrooms
Bathrooms sell! Without getting involved in a complete remodel, consider a new fixture over the vanity; clean, new shower curtain; even a new vanity. Paint never hurts, of course, and new fluffy towels displayed in a deco-type fold over your towel rods will help. Accessorize with a new soap dish and toothbrush holder; floor mats, too.
5. Out with the Really Old
Of course, old, tired furniture should be replaced when possible and the clutter removed, but here again new lighting, paint, perhaps a contemporary area rug even just over the old wall-to-wall can help. Move furniture away from the wall when possible; accessorize with throw pillows and new art. Consider taking down the old wood (or worse yet, fake wood) paneling in favor of smooth-walled paint. Shopworn wallpaper or (ugh) grasscloth can be stripped in favor of a nicely painted accent wall. Be creative!
I was recently asked to do a little “staging” with a very minimal budget on a 1BR condo I just listed. Shopping Macy’s Last Chance sale department and Ross, I was able to purchase a chic looking new comforter and bed skirt for the king-sized bed. I added some fresh new art for the wall to replace old family photos, lots of bright and cheery throw pillows for the bed and sofa in the living room, some accessories for table tops and had the sofa and dining chairs steam cleaned all for under $400. Now if I could just find a buyer for the condo…
Perhaps I can find a buyer for some of this month’s Featured Properties, all new to the market (less than 10 days), all with fabulous ocean views and premium locations within their complex, and all vacation rentable with $1,000’s in advance bookings included with the sale:
MLS #380105—Ever since I first visited Maui in 1985, the Mana Kai, Five Palms restaurant, and fabulous location on Keawakapu Beach has been my home away from home. In my opinion, Mana Kai is the best beachfront property in south Maui under $3 million. Minutes to the Shops at Wailea and all the amenities Wailea has to offer. Don’t miss out. $1,550,000!!!4
MLS #380135—The word “iconic” was created to describe Wailea Ekahi, its history in the resort community, beautifully landscaped and maintained grounds, and a favorite as a vacation destination for generations. Many units are sold amongst owners and never even make it to the MLS. Here’s your chance to own a great 2BR/2BA unit. $1,699,000!!!
MLS #380102—Ho’olei has earned its reputation as a superb alternative to the luxury hotels that line the beach in Wailea. With its spacious interiors and 3BR/3.5BA Townhouse design, this 2,426 sq. ft. Plumeria floor plan will satisfy your most demanding expectations. As prices continue to rise, Ho’olei stands fast as one of the better values in the luxury market. $3,390,000!!!
MLS #380101—Wailea Beach Villas, the last beachfront property built in Wailea offers unfettered ocean and outer island views from its high-end Penthouse units. This rare-to-the-market 3BR/3BA 2,180 end unit 4th floor Penthouse features 180+ degree views as far as the eye can see. With access to the shopping and dining options at the fabulous Shops at Wailea just steps away, paradise is at your fingertips. $5,750,000!!!
It has been a long time since I have seen a movie that I cannot stop raving about and will be going back for a second viewing, and I’m likely not the first person you have heard this from. If you only see one movie a year, or one every decade for that matter, go see “A Star is Born”. Here’s easy access to the trailer if you are so inclined.
Mahalo for following my Monthly Newsletter, some of you for many years…so buy something already!
Real Estate trends are always best evaluated over a long period of time and with large sample sizes. Having said that, over the past 2-3 months and with the very small sample of Maui (south Maui, at that) I have noticed what I consider to be a bit of a slow-down. Could be an anomaly, but I tend to look at our number of “Pending” sales from month to month as an indicator of activity in general. Our pending sales have dropped 15-20% during that time period.
Then, as coincidence would have it, last week one of my favorite sources, RISmedia Daily e-News, published an article entitled, “Is the Housing Market Normalizing? One Sign the Tide’s Turning”.
No question the housing market has been strong for the past couple of years—overwhelmingly in favor of sellers. Now, though, there are some very early indicators that the market may shift. Price reductions across the board are becoming more common; this summer has seen 14.2% of homes nationwide adjust their prices downward.
For the most part, larger reductions have been seen on higher-priced properties and on the West Coast (Hawaii?). Entry level homes and those priced at or below area medians are holding and still in high demand.
So how seriously should one take these early indicators? Aaron Terrazas, Senior Economist at Zillow thinks it’s a little too early to judge these premature signs.
“It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market,” Terrazas says. “Home values are still expected to appreciate…over the next twelve months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return to a more normal trend.”
This month’s Featured Property offers across the board appeal, whether you’re getting into the market for the first time or you’re looking for that perfect, affordable Wailea condo for the in-laws to stay in when they come to visit.
Wailea Ekahi- 45A (MLS #379474) is the least expensive short-term rental for sale in Wailea at the present time. Many of you know that the iconic Wailea Ekahi complex was the first condominium project built in Wailea in the mid-1970’s, and to this day, its popularity has never wavered.
This preferred 1BR/2BA unit is situated at the highest point in the complex, with expansive tropical garden views as the property meanders down to the oceanfront. Paddle ball courts and four seldom-used swimming pools are on-site—one of the pools conveniently close to this tastefully appointed unit. Enjoy an artist’s palate of a Hawaiiana floral display from your very private and spacious lanai as you sip your favorite late-afternoon beverage. New carpeting, designer touches, and remodeled bathrooms offer a turnkey experience for you and guests.
What a lovely gift for you and your family—ownership of this fabulous condo.
Wailea Ekahi 45A. $835,000.
Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island and away from all news media, you know that the islands were recently threatened by Category 5 Hurricane Lane. It sputtered and puttered along for several days just offshore in the Pacific until it finally tucked tail and headed out to the deep blue sea. Unfortunately, Hawaii (aka The Big Island) took the brunt of the storm and suffered severe flooding out and around the very same part of the island that has been spewing molten lave for the last many weeks. Maui, Oahu, and Kauai were totally spared, as is often the case. The last serious hurricane to really cause significant damage to Maui was in 1950. Favorable tradewinds and higher elevation wind shear seem to always come to the rescue. Here's a little hurricane humor for you:
As your summer winds down, visions of Maui this winter may be dancing through your head. Make it a reality. Come visit. I’m always happy to sit down over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, or two, and talk Maui Real Estate, or…
Mahalo nui loa,
Many of you who receive my Newsletter, or perhaps friends or loved ones, may have been affected by the horrendous wildfires that are sweeping through northern California and other states, as well. You are in my thoughts and I extend the deepest of sympathies if you have suffered losses. On a much smaller scale, my house was severely fire damaged this past 4th of July due to errant fireworks and it’s not something I would wish on anyone. Fortunately, I have insurance but dealing with the claims adjusters, contractors, Homeowner’s Association, etc., has been all-consuming. Just know that there are better days ahead.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a client looking to do a 1031 Exchange from a rental property he owns in Idaho to an investment/vacation rental condo in Maui. His plan was to purchase something now that he can generate some income from until he’s able to make Maui his full-time home. He would then move into his investment unit or sell it and purchase something else with the money (then pay the capital gains, of course). He has about $250,000 equity in his relinquished property and would be comfortable replacing it with something up to $1,000,000.
In other words, he was looking for something that will “pencil out”. As I have reported many times through the years in my Newsletters, “penciling out” has become a virtual myth. Unless one pays cash, it is very unlikely that a net income can be generated; 75-80% cash in at least.
Nonetheless, we pursued the impossible dream. After looking at several condos, he realized that not only were the numbers not going to work for him, but he didn’t really want a condo as his future home! So we switched gears and I suggested he look at single-family homes with ohanas or separate cottages in the $800,000 to $900,000 price range. He liked the thought of having some acreage as well.
Our search then turned to Haiku, where properties with ohanas or cottages on 2 acres of land are available in that price range. Since long-term rentals on single-family homes have gone up astronomically over the past few years here on Maui (and everywhere, I believe), we were able to create a scenario where he could rent out the main house to cover roughly a $600,000 mortgage, and keep the ohana for his own use! His $250,000 from his exchange was looking pretty good now as a down payment. In addition, single-family homes typically appreciate at a higher rate than condos, so his equity would enjoy better leverage over time.
This same strategy generally holds true regardless of the initial price point of the real estate. High-priced condos are going to generate significant income but when you factor in higher property taxes and upwards of $2,000 or more in monthly maintenance fees, the numbers will still look better with the home/ohana condo combo—especially if having use of the place yourself is important to you.
So, this month’s Featured Properties will provide you with some excellent examples:
MLS 376409—Come home to your private gated oasis with detached cottage tucked away on a .6 acre parcel in the iconic Maui Meadows neighborhood in south Kihei. Featuring 5 BR’s and 3 BA’s, you’ll love the pool/entertainment pavilion giving way to the ultimate indoor-outdoor Maui lifestyle. $1,545,000!!!
MLS 377499—Let’s take a run to Kula 200, Upcountry’s premiere 2 acre subdivision. Again, private, gated with a tree-lined driveway (see the cover shot above) taking yo back to a 4BR/3BA 3,500+ sq. ft. house and a 1,131 sq. ft. cottage that lives like a full-sized home. You’ll never want to leave! $1,840,000!!!
MLS 379193—How about 3.5 very accessible acres in sunny Haiku (no 4-wheel drive required) with two full-sized homes grandfathered in under previous building codes. Share the large lap pool between the two homes and cash some nice rent checks from the fully licensed vacation rental that one of the homes is currently being used for. $2,000,000!!!
MLS 379175—If Upcountry and large acreage is not really your thing, how about direct oceanfront in South Maui? Yes, this one is “toes in the sand” for sure featuring a gracious center courtyard, waterfalls, and lily and koi ponds. 17,250 sq. ft. of the direct oceanfront real estate might get some “oohs” and “aahs”! $4,395,000!!!
Click Here for July Statistics
For many of you summer vacation is over early and the kids are back in school; others over the next couple of weeks. If you do get a chance to get back here with the family, I highly recommend the Maui Ocean Center if you haven’t already experienced it. And while you’re there, drop into Beach Bums Grill for the best authentic barbecue on Maui. I think even you folks from Texas will like it! And, of course, if you’re here during Humpback Whale season, book a whale watch with the Pacific Whale Foundation, leaving from the same Maalaea Harbor as the Ocean Center and Beach Bums.
As always, thanks again for taking time to read my Monthly Newsletter. Truly, I do it all for you!
Mahalo nui loa,