May 24, 2018

Million Dollar Hawaii House Flipping Case Study

Over the past 18 years, I've flipped several homes and had clients flip over 30. Of all those homes flipped, this Aina Haina property is one of my favorites. For one thing, I live in Aina Haina, but for another, the finished product is the cleanest, most wide open layout that I have seen in a long time.

Located just a few miles East of downtown Honolulu, this Aina Haina home was occupied by hoarders who had neglected the home for decades. When I first saw it, I knew this home had huge potential, with its concrete block construction, mid century modern style, and large 11,000 sq ft flat lot. For all its positives, this home still needed a total gut.

After we emptied the hunk left behind by the hoarders, we took down a couple walls to open up the tiny kitchen, because in the 1950's, people liked to hide their kitchens.

Then we ripped out everything else we could. Floors, windows, cabinets, showers, doors, you name it. The house became a dirty, gross, empty shell. Now we were ready. The kitchen was expanded to about double the original space, with an open bar to the living room. New flooring everywhere. New paint, windows, doors, and a new huge master bathroom, which was expanded into the existing closet. This meant we had to build a new closet, which was part of the large living space before.

This house is now on the market for almost $1.6mil. We had multiple offers immediately, and I expect the client to make a good profit on it. Flipping houses in Hawaii is just as hard as it is anywhere else, but since prices are high, the margins can be higher.

Final Product:

Don't get me wrong, I've seen a house flip lose money here too. Not because the deal was wrong, but because the client did a poor job managing the project and didn't deliver a good product. You can make a lot of money flipping houses, or you can lose just as much. It's not magic. It's hard work. It's a job that pays well or it can cost you everything.

Are you looking to get into house flipping here on Oahu and don't know where to start? Please come talk with me before getting start and we can make magic happen. 

Posted in hawaii house flip
April 18, 2018

Hawaii Kai home flip

I have several clients who flip homes, and I enjoy helping them find a good deal and designing the finished product.

Back in December, my clients purchased this Hawaii Kai house for a little under $1.1mil. The seller was in a hurry, and after sitting on the market for a while, we were able to get a good deal on it.  

Homes with good bones in Hawaii Kai are hard to buy, because there are usually a bunch of offers quickly. In this case, this home in the Triangle neighborhood had great bones - the structure was solid, and the layout was nice, but we knew we could improve it by moving some walls around, so we just waited until the seller was motivated enough. 

Here is the original front when we bought it.

Triangle real esrate

We decided to remove half of the boards in the front above the garage door, cut down the large bush on the right, and add some smaller accent color plants. The best part is probably the river rock on the front. 

Poipu home new front

Once inside the house, we knew the layout was ok, but the flooring was an old blue slate that was replaced with wood.  We also opened up the kitchen wall a bit, since the fridge was blocking the view to the living room. 

Here's how it turned out. Notice the bar counter on the left, right by the sink. 

Now everybody's favorite thing to remodel is a kitchen. In this case, we had a narrow space in a galley kitchen, with old cabinets and the appliances in the wrong places. Check out the weird mirrored ceiling. There are way too many things going on in this kitchen.  I feel like I'm in a house of mirrors. 


 We decided on classic white shaker style with a simple quartz counter, and moved the appliances around to make it more functional. The new layout allows you to be at the sink, looking out into the living room. We added a wine chiller, double oven, and kept the wood flowing into the kitchen, since this brand is waterproof. 

The strangest room in the house might have been the master bathroom, which had a lot of space, but a giant window so the world can look in, plus weird narrow closet with folding doors, and a small shower behind the vanity.  And since there was no separate toilet room, we had to create that for privacy. 

Check out the big wasted space in the middle. 

So we created a walk in closet, a toilet room, and a huge tile shower. Here is the shower.

We removed the huge window and made the massive walk in closet on left, with new double vanity on right. 

The kid's bath was also dated and ugly, but the layout was fine. I wonder if that mustard yellow sink will ever be back in style? 

Here's the new bath. Updated, simple, and clean! I like the rock tile in the shower.

Last but definitely not least, the outdoor space needed a face lift. It had ugly tile but had plenty of space. 

We didn't like the door, the tile, the lights, but we liked the space and especially the beams. So here's what we did. New tile, a simple off white, new outdoor ceiling fans, and a fresh paint job. 

March 28, 2018

How is the Hawaii real estate market doing?

How is the Hawaii real estate market doing? This is the most common question people ask me when they see me around town.  People ask me, "How's the real estate market?" often before they ask me how I'm doing, which is fine because it's what's on my mind as well. 

So how is the market doing as of today? My summary is - there is very little available for sale under $1.5mil, and anything priced correctly has multiple offers.  In short, the market is as hot as ever, but with little inventory, it's hard to be a buyer. 

This week we listed a couple new properties, including this nice condo at Hokulani in Kailua, that got an offer over list price in 1 day. 

Hokulani in Kailua

This great 2 bedroom condo in the heart of Kailua town will likely get multiple offers, and will almost certainly sell over the $540k asking price.  Why? Because inventory on Oahu is very low. In fact, this is the only unit available at Hokulani, so if you want one, you're probably going to compete with other buyers to get it. 

I just had a client tell me that it seems like there is nothing available for her to look at, even though her price range is up to about $1.8million.  That is the case with many buyers here, which means prices are continuing to rise. 

How's the market? It's very strong. 

Posted in hawaii real estate
Jan. 19, 2018

Fixer Upper Honolulu-Hawaii Kai Edition

In May 2017 my husband and I bought a fixer home in Hawaii Kai. It was in original 1970 condition and it needed some major TLC!

The renovations that we made were all cosmetic and we (thankfully) didn't have to do any electrical or plumbing work that exceeded the amount to do without a permit.

What we did do: paint, flooring (tile and carpet), lighting, full kitchen, 1 toilet (in 2nd bath) and 1 full bathroom. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it took us 5 weeks. We stayed in our previous home so we didn't have to live through it all. And, luckily I have a very handy husband (James, also on Team Aloha Tony) who has built homes from the bottom, he knew what he was doing and we didn't need to hire a general contractor or a construction manager!
As of now (7 months later), we could sell this house for about $100K more than what we paid for it. We only spent a little over $20K on the renovations. Here are some before and after pics.
And After:
We took down the wall between the living room and the kitchen to open it up. And added a bar.
The Old KitchenThe New Wide Open kitchen

Before: the wall between the living room and kitchen.

After: Open living/kitchen with a bar.
Before: dining room
After: dining room. We made the weird closet into a built in hutch. You can also see that we moved the washer/dryer and put in a pantry.
Before: Master bath
  After: We put a double vanity in as well as tile backsplash.
Before: looking into living room from enclosed lanai.
After: looking into living room from kitchen. 

The key to an efficient renovation is having someone that can plan every step before you start! It's so important in order to finish on time. If you tear out an exhaust vent above the stove top to relocate it, and realize later that you will also need to repair the ceiling above, you'll be constantly chasing your tail. Hiring a construction manager will help save you time and money. Typically, they have contractors in their pocket that will get things done quickly and get you competitive pricing as well.

Call me today to find your Honolulu Fixer upper!

Chelsea Pferschy (808) 754-6000


Oct. 31, 2017

4 bedroom Kailua home near the beach. $1mil.

Here's a beautiful home in Kailua that is back on the market after the buyer canceled, due to a mistake by the appraiser.  We had a great transaction going  until the appraiser measured the house smaller than the blueprints, tax records, and permits on record at the city.

The appraiser's measurement was 70 square feet smaller than the permits and blueprints showed,  which caused him to value the house lower than our sale price.

So here is your chance to get a beautiful 4 bedroom 3 bath home with over 2000 square feet, for $1,049,000.  In Kailua, one of the most sought after neighborhoods on Oahu, this is a great value for Kailua real estate!

Kailua real estate Great Room

Nice white kitchen opens to the living room

Beautiful large grassy yard for the kids!

And here's an added enclosed lanai that serves as a family room off the kitchen.

Currently in Kailua, there are only 3 homes available under $1.2mil and over 1800 sqft.  This is the best value in Kailua real estate so come see it today!

Posted in Kailua real estate
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates
June 22, 2017

7 Tips for selling your home in the summer

Let's face it: there is never a bad time to sell your home in Hawaii! But with school out and a lot of military families starting to arrive, summer becomes a very good time for home sales.

Here are a few tips on getting the most for your home, and even possibly getting multiple offers.

1. De-clutter your entire home. Keep 'knick knacks' down to a minimum and take down a few of those family vacation photos. This will help other people be able to see themselves in your home and help to not distract them when they're viewing your home.


2. Make sure your yard, lanai, and garage are as clean/picked up/de-cluttered as possible. These area's serve as entertainment area's in homes in Hawaii so they really help buyers see value in your home.


3. Leave your home when there is an agent showing it. There is nothing worse than a seller who is hovering over a buyer and their agent when they're trying to see a home. If there are special things about the home that you feel that your agent has not provided buyers, then make a short list and leave it on the kitchen counter for agents and buyers to see. There are other things that a selling agent can do in this type of a situation as well. Call us for more details...

4. If you have AC units, turn them on before a showing. If not, then leave some windows open so that the home can be ventilated. If your home feels HOT and almost as if there is poor ventilation, that could deter them from wanting to live there.

5. Make sure your home is as clean as possible. Hire a cleaning company to do a deep clean before listing your home. I've seen so many buyers who were unable to see past a mess.

6. If you're trying to sell a home that is vacant, try to go to the home every 5-10 days. There is nothing worse than opening a kitchen drawer and seeing a dead cockroach...


7. Turn ON all of your lights even if it's daytime. It sounds absurd, but it always helps your home appear more "light and bright"!

If you have any questions about selling your home, call us! Our team has been on the Realtor Top 100 of Hawaii for 6+ years now. We specialize in both buying AND selling and can help you get the MOST for your home.

Call Jim and Chelsea Pferschy @ (808) 754-6000 (C) (808) 342-9000 (J)



Posted in General
April 30, 2017

Can I buy a home with 3% down?

"I don’t have 20% to put down. Does that mean I’m out of the game?"

If you’ve even thought about purchasing a home, you’re already aware of the industry standard in home-buying: 20% down for a mortgage loan. The absence of that amount of cash is enough to defer the dream of home ownership for many. But this doesn’t have to be the case for everyone…

Why is 20% such a magic number in the first place? From the lender’s perspective, offering you more than 80% of the value of the home is a huge risk. Why? Well, statistically speaking, a buyer who hasn’t had the income or financial habits to save that amount of money is more likely to default on their mortgage loan. Nothing personal, these are just the facts.

But what if you have great financial habits? What if you’ve got a good credit score and you’re good at saving? Let’s say you’re thrifty, out there hustling every day, but not making the 6-figures it seems you have to make in order to buy a home. What then?

Freddie Mac’s HOME POSSIBLE program may just be the right fit, which allows a minimum of 3% down up to a loan amount of $636,150 in Honolulu County.  So with 3% down, you’re looking at a max purchase price of $655,824.  Whoa.

Yes, Freddie Mac developed what you can say is a hybrid loan between FHA and USDA loans to serve low to moderate income buyers.  Unlike a USDA loan (in which you’re limited to buying in rural and underserved geographical areas) the HOME POSSIBLE program allows you to purchase island wide! You would just need to make sure you're within the income limitations. These limitations depend on which area you’re looking to live in, but note: there are even some geographical areas that don’t have any income limit. More info here:

Some basic details:

  •       3% down payment
  •       Down payment can come from a gift (e.g. from mom, dad, grandma)
  •       Buyer must be owner-occupant, purchasing as their primary residence
  •       Minimum FICO of 620
  •       Income limits may apply depending on location
  •       Home ownership education certification required for first-time home-buyers
  •       Max loan amount for Honolulu County can’t exceed $636,150

Do what you can with what you have, where you are. That’s what Theodore Roosevelt said. So you can’t buy a median-priced $750K home in Hawaii? Start somewhere. Start small, start now. Begin to build the dream. It’s your dream. And we’re here to be on your your team.

Thanks to our info source for this article: Steven Bui, loan originator at Compass Home Loans, LLC. He’s a responsive, informative and creative problem solver. Great guy to have on your team.

Posted in General
Feb. 24, 2017

Moving to Hawaii and thinking of buying a home? Forget what you know about real estate on the mainland!!!

     One of the most common phrases a Realtor in Hawaii will hear is ”back on the mainland” or “back in Seattle” or back in (fill in your city), followed with, ”my home was so much bigger” or “brand new” or “I had this much land!” These statements always end with the inevitable disbelief of how much a single family home will cost in Hawaii specifically on the island of Oahu. Not only how much they cost, but what you get for your money.

     The island of Oahu has a land mass of approximately 600 square miles. With over 950,000 people occupying the space, and so many people looking to stake a claim in an area this size, it is no wonder that many homes in highly sought after neighborhoods have soared to over to well over $600.00 per square foot.

     According to an article in Pacific Business News published in January of 2017, home values on Oahu rose 5% in 2016 and the median home price rose to $740,000.00.

     In this article I will focus on one very hot area of Oahu for home sales, Hawaii Kai. This area began to be heavily developed in the seventies so many homes for sale in this area will typically be forty to fifty years old. For most people moving here from the mainland they are quite shocked to find a 40 year old 1200 square foot home selling for upwards of $800,000.00 and in many cases the home may still need a renovation or makeover to bring it up to date. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for these homes to only last on the market for a few days, with offers well above asking price. However, with all of that said, Oahu is still one of the best places in the country to invest in real estate!

     Before the market crash in 2008-2009 Nevada was one of –if not THE- fastest growing states in the nation. For comparison, I will show how an investment in real estate in Nevada compares to an investment in real estate on the island of Oahu.

     Post-crash, at the end of 2009, this 5800 square foot house (in Reno, NV) was only two years old, sat on an acre of land and had 4 bedrooms and six bathrooms. Sale price was $1,000,000 or $172.00 a square foot.


     Almost 2 years later, at the end of 2011,with the economy still struggling, this 1242 sq. foot home ( in Hawaii Kai) with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms sitting on a little over 1/3 acre sold for $799,000.00. Or $644.00 a square foot.


     It is obvious, as the pictures show, you get a lot more bang for your buck on the mainland. However what the pictures don’t reveal is the investment potential. The home in Nevada sold at the end of 2015, six years later, for $1,175,000.00. Or $217.00 per foot that equates to roughly 2.91 % a year in appreciation.

     On the other hand, the home on Oahu is currently listed at $1,145,000.00. ($921.00 per foot) This sale price will bring the annual appreciation rate up to 8.6% over the last five years. To further illustrate the value of the Oahu home over the Nevada home you also have to consider the difference in real estate tax rates. The real estate taxes on the Nevada home were roughly $11,000 per year, while the Oahu home is only $2,900.00.

     So what does that mean for a buyer moving to the islands from the mainland?

     Real estate on Oahu continues to be a great investment!

     The best advice I can offer is to work with a Realtor who knows the market well. Have your Realtor begin your home search well before your move so you have a better idea what to expect before you arrive. This will not only save a considerable amount of time and frustration trying to adjust to the real estate market on Oahu. It will also prepare you to take the next step once you have found that dream home.

     Stay tuned for part two of this article “you’ve found the house you want-how do you get it?”

p.s. it is not as easy as you may think!

James Pferschy RS# 79141 (808) 342-9000

For questions or comments on this article email me at

Posted in General
Jan. 18, 2017

Before and After my North Shore Remodel

People often ask me about remodeling in Hawaii. Is it hard to find a good contractor? Yes.  Are materials and labor more expensive?  Yes. But you can do it and you should. I've done several remodels now, and this one is my favorite.  

A couple years ago I bought a foreclosed home on the North Shore from a bank.  The process of buying it was a crazy ordeal that took over a year to complete, dealing with title problems and termites.  But once I finally closed on the purchase, the real work began.  This is what the front of the house originally looked like. The trees and grass were overgrown, and the carport had a very plane look to it. 

We removed the center post in the carport, added a nice door and some wood to give it a board and batten look, and cleaned up the landscape for a nice clean look. Landscape is often a part of house flipping that gets overlooked in the budget. 

The original kitchen had a wall that closed it off to the living room, apparently because people in the 70's liked that kind of thing.  I wonder if that will come back in style, but for now, everyone prefers the kitchen to be wide open. So we took this original kitchen, which had a hole in the floor and mold growing everywhere from the leaking refrigerator... 

And turned it into this new open concept with quartzite and monkeypod wood counter, with simple shaker style cabinets, and new tile floors that look like wood.  The wood counter is everyone's favorite part. Hard to believe it's the same room isn't it?  We got the wood for the monkeypod counter from my friend Ty, who tragically passed away last year, so it's a constant reminder of my friend whenever we use it. 

We had to gut almost every part of the house.  New electrical and plumbing, new roof, and we refinished the original oak floors, which looked like this. See the dark stain on the left side?

After the wood refinish, new paint, and the wall removed, the room looks like this. Yes that's the same wood, but sanded and with a new satin finish on there. Satin finish doesn't hold the dust as much, so it's easier to keep clean. Also we replaced the old windows with vinyl jalousy and added a pantry where the stairs used to be. This is a how a kitchen should feel - open and inviting. 

This house original had a weird addition on the side, which many people told me to tear out.  I try not to tear out things that can be used.  The room  was formerly a second living space for the many drug abusing squatters who were renting the house from the foreclosed owner.  (Yes I had to evict them.)  This odd room was long and narrow, with a makeshift bedroom that someone had apparently built out of scrap wood and leftover tiles that were unevenly cut as you can see in the bottom of this next picture. Look closely to see the next room that was built with an interior sliding door in between this wall and the rock wall in back. 

We cut this odd room in half and made a master bedroom and a family room.  Here it is with new flooring, windows, doors, paint, baseboards, etc. This picture below is just the back half of the room above. 

The other half of the long narrow room was turned into a master bedroom with a huge new walk in closet, new carpet, and a new bathroom. Here is the new master bedroom. 

Then we added a new bathroom in what used to be part of the carport. I got these vanities off the shelf at Home Depot.  They actually have really good stuff sometimes, and these actually match the kitchen counters. 

Every house in Hawaii should have a nice outdoor dining space.  When we bought this one, it was like a jungle with an odd rock formation that looked like some kind of altar.  Pretty much a total mess. 

We removed the rock firepit/altar, added a new fan, a new set of french doors, and cleaned up the landscape. 

Best of all is the beach at the end of the road.  We didn't have to do anything to that part, and it's just a 1 minute walk from our front door