April 2, 2009

Honolulu Home owners - watch out for discount Realtors

This week I had the unfortunate displeasure of working with a "discount" real estate service. They list a house with a flat fee of $3500 and claim to save you money.

While they claim to save you money, here is a perfect example of how they cost their client money this week.

My client was a buyer, living in Hawaii, and we made an offer at nearly the asking price. I faxed it over and expected to hear from the agent, since regular agents call right away when you send an offer, to go over the details and see if there is anything we need to adjust before presenting, such as closing time, special terms, etc.

This dicsount agent didn't call. FOR 3 DAYS. I left numerous messages, sent numerous emails, kept calling and calling, nothing. The receptionist said, "he will get back to you right away," to which I laughed out loud at her.

After 3 days, I get a 2 sentence email. "The seller got a full price offer. We will be declining your offer."

This is full service? If the agent had told me there were multiple offers, we would have offfered more. If the agent had counter offered, we would have accepted at least 20k higer. So this agent cost their seller at least 20k! 20k even in Hawaii goes a long way. My buyer was furious at the seller's agent.

How is that any discount? The only discount was the house! If you want to make the most money, you gotta go with full service. The discount agents just DON'T CARE about you!

For Full service Real Estate, Call me.

Posted in General
April 2, 2009

How to have a Moving sale

Advertise First, you have to advertise. In Hawaii this means putting an ad the Honolulu Advertiser, Star Bulletin and on Craigslist. Then have some very bright large signs pointing the way from the major streets, like Kalanianaole Hwy. No signs with small writing please, just big arrows and "Moving Sale". Add "huge" or "giant" or "multi family" and you're bound to get a lot of traffic. Ask permission to post signs at work, church, grocery stores and other local businesses. Tell friends.

In your ad, list popular items to attract more customers. Furniture is huge in Hawaii, and so are tools and fishing gear.Try to coordinate with neighbors and have a neighborhood sale. This really brings in the buyers! You will have people driving from the opposite end of the island for your sale! Organize

Now that you have advertised your sale, you really have to organize your stuff. First of all, the hot Hawaiian sun can make a yard sale very unpleasant, so buy or borrow some canopes so that people will stick around longer. If it's too hot, people will run back to their air conditioned cars. Just a little shade makes a big difference.

A couple weeks before your garage sale, start saving shopping bags and boxes. Make sure items are clean and neat looking. This will help you get more money for them.

Put price tage on everything. Use different colored stickers or an identification code on the tags if more than one family is involved in your sale. People in Hawaii will swarm your sale if you have advertised it well, so be ready for chaos! No time to ask, "who's stuff is this?" Have newspaper ready to wrap fragile things. Put sets of things together. Put the same types of stuff in same area: kitchen stuff, gardening stuff, clothes, toys, tools, etc... Hang clothes on a clothesline or on rack.

Doll clothing and accessories are always in demand. Dolls and stuffed toys make a hit with the kiddies and they can persuade their parents to buy something.

Set up a cashier area with calculator a secure cash box with small bills and coins to make change Make it comfortable

The weather in Hawaii can change suddenly, so be prepared. Have several large sheets of plastic handy to cover everything quickly for that sudden, unexpected rain shower.

Have some soft drinks and bottled water with ice in a cooler . Merchandise

Separate inexpensive items from more costly ones. Establish areas such as "Under $1.00," "Under $5.00," "Free with purchase of $5.00 or more," etc.

String up a clothesline to display any clothing you may have. Remember, clothing for all ages, men or women, is always in great demand. Children's clothing goes over best and especially about the time for school to start in the fall.

Set up tables to display small merchandise. Leave room between tables for a lot of shoppers to browse without being crowded.

Glasses, dishes, and cups will sell faster if you price them in sets of 6 for $1.00 instead of 15 cents each. Paperback books, magazines, records and items that have titles will sell more readily if they are marked separately. If they want them collectively, they'll ask you. Put loose game pieces in a Ziplock bag and secure to the inside of the box.

To get the best prices at your moving sale, clean and shine the objects you're selling, and display them creatively.

Make the sign overly large. Get something that's 18" x 24" or larger. Draw attention to the sign with helium filled balloons or bright colors on the sign will attract drivers' eyes.

If you put toys next to kids' clothes, the kids will play while mom shops. And the kids might ask mom to buy a toy, too! Put high demand and high priced items up high on tables so that they can be more easily seen from the street by people driving slowly by. Toys, on the other hand, should be on the ground where kids can pick them up and get attached to them. Use removable stickers to clearly mark prices.

Be creative with pricing. Things like "buy one, get one free" can work for you, too. Mark things down as the sale progresses. Don't hesitate to do something unusual. Informing your next customer that they're the 25th shopper and entitled to a 25% discount will get a conversation started and could lead to a sale. Toward the end of the day, do free giveaways. "If you buy a shirt, you get free pants."

Pricing items for a garage sale is arbitrary. It's hard to say what an item is really worth, but it's worth more in Hawaii than on the mainland. Leave room so you can make what you want even after some haggling.

Donate leftover items to charity and get a receipt for taxes. Toward the end some people might come by and offer you a hundred bucks for everything left over. If they do, take it! Don't be left with a bunch of useless junk.

Posted in General
April 2, 2009

Automated Listing emails - why you should sign up for it

It's the greatest thing since the invention of lockboxes and listing signs and it can make all the difference when you're searching for a house. It's called "freemail" and it's the Honolulu MLS automated system that sends you an email whenever a house is listed within your parameters.

Now this may not sound very high tech in light of all the great advances of our day, but when shopping for a house, this system is pretty great. Let's say you're seaching for a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath house with at least a 3 car garage, in the Aina Haina school district, with central air, a tile roof, priced under $860k, with a lot of at least 6000 sqft. I can input all those features (and about 100 more) and make the MLS system email you anytime a property is listed that fits those criteria.

You can specify that you want at least 1782sqft of living space, or if it's a condo, at least 2 assigned parking spots, but not tandem spots. You can tell the system just about anything about the house you want. It's an amazing system.

The system will email you the very day that the house is listed, so if you're looking for a specific house, you can be sure that you won't miss it. I love it, and you will too. Email me your criteria for a home and I'll set it up for you!

Posted in General
April 2, 2009

How to make your home stand out

Right now there are over 4000 properties for sale in Hawaii. So the competition is stiff, and even though there are more buyers out there now than a couple months ago, it's getting harder and harder to lure them. So how can you make your Hawaii home sell faster than others? How does your Hawaii Kai home or Waikiki condo make a statement that's different from the rest?

Here are some ideas to get you started

1) Price - Nothing says "buy me!" like a home that is priced extremely competitively. I ask sellers this question: "Do you want your home to be the next to sell, or do you want to sell in 3 or 4 months?" If your home has 10 showings and no offers, it's time to reduce the price. If your home is shown less than 10 times in a month, it's priced too high.

2) Cooperating Commission - If you want your Hawaii home to stand out, to be the next one to sell, consider offering more commission than everyone else. 3 percent is normal, but lately I'm seeing a lot of 3.5% and 4%, and even bonuses like $5000 to an agent that can close by a certain date. Agents always look at the commissions, it's human nature. So if there are 20 homes like yours (there are) and a few of them pay less commissions, they don't show them. It's just business.

3) Seller Financing - A lot of sellers lately are offering to finance some of the purchase. This is a great tool that makes more buyers able to buy!

4) Buyer Incentives - New Home Builders on the mainland are now offering huge incentives to buyers. Some are giving away $10,000 in upgrades, everything from new flooring to a nice new granite kitchen counter. Some are throwing in items like flat screen TVs and trips to Hawaii . Recently a builder in San Diego gave away a car! Not a bad deal, huh? Buy a home, get a car. Offer $1000 in free handyman work.

5) Marketing - Do traditional marketing: flyers, ads and "Just Listed" cards. Target marketing to surrounding apartments or homes. The bottom line: get aggressive with your marketing efforts.

6) Access/Easy to Show - If your home is only available to be shown by appointment and you must be there to accompany, they will not get shown very often. Make it as easy as possible. Have a lockbox and make it easy for agents to set appointments to see the home or else they will take their buyers elsewhere.

7) Staging - The benefits of professionally staging your listings are huge. There is no doubt this will make the home stand out. If there is too much furniture, remove some of the furnishings to create more space. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Your job is to determine which listings would benefit from being staged and then convince your sellers of the benefits.

8) Curb Appeal - What does the front of the house and yard look like? In Hawaii a lot of homes are ugly on the outside and beautiful on the inside. It's time to change that as buyers become pickier. A fresh coat of paint, some beautiful flowers, a clean and green lawn, these are all things that help. Try getting a new mailbox, cutting back trees, and certainly remove any junk or cars that can be moved.

9) Make it smell and sound nice - candels, music, get the stink out! 

10) Hire a pro - in a tough market, you need an experienced agent who has many lines of marketing, lots of buyer contacts, and expert negotiating skills!  

Posted in General
April 2, 2009

High Tech Realtors Can Make or Break Your Escrow

As an industry, the Real Estate business is archaic. Most of the old dogs are using their cell phones just to make calls, with no clue that it has other super powers.  Surprisingly, a lot of Realtors rely on paper maps instead of GPS or Google maps.

Some Realtors barely understand digital imaging, Efaxing, or wireless email, so if you tell them that you want to fax them a PDF to their cell phone so they can view, and forward it to escrow wireless, they'll probably start hemmoraging from their brain.

When I think of my work productivity, a few things stand out as amazing time savers and money makers. With my wireless email from my wireless laptop, I can be alerted within minutes of a property getting listed, no matter where I am. I can receive offers and counter offers while I'm on the road. I can receive a fax and forward it while I'm in a meeting, all from my phone.

Let's say that you need something urgently to close your escrow. A form was forgotten by the signer, or something needs to be ammended at the last minute. Can you low tech, I-don't-use-wireless-email Realtor get what is needed within seconds?

What if you get a counter offer with a very short time frame to respond, and your Realtor is out of the office? With my high tech lifestyle, I can get everything done from just about anywhere.

When it comes to Real Estate, you want a high tech Realtor on your side. I'm a geek.I admit it.

Posted in General
April 2, 2009

I'm gonna be on TV!

This year I will be
featured on 4 episodes of HGTV's show, My house is worth what? This popular show is
hosted by Kendra Todd, winner of The Apprentice with Donald Trump. Yes
I'm name dropping.

I will be working with a few Oahu home owners that have done
renovations and would like to know the value of their home. My role on the show will be to assess the value of the renovations and
give the homeowner an accurate value with the improvements.

And of course I get to hang out with Kendra. With my wife closely
watching :)

 I think the first of four episodes begins around June.

Posted in General
March 28, 2009

Have a boat in your backyard, but not in Hawaii Kai

Living on the water in Hawaii
I've said before that Hawaii Kai is the only place in Oahu that you can live on the water and have a boat, which is true, sort of. There is Enchanted Lake in Kailua, where you can have a non motorized boat. kailua enchanted lake

Last week I showed a buyer several properties in Kailua, and one of them was this house for exactly $1million on the lake. For a million dollars you get a pretty good size houe in Kailua if it's not on the beach or on the lake, but this house even has a nice pool where you can sit and view the lake. While you can't waterski or jetski on Enchanted lake, you can get a nice water view and throw a fishing line out and catch some fish that you would never want to eat.

The water is a bit brown compared to the aqua green Hawaii Kai Marina, but it's still access to the ocean with a kayak, not that you would want to paddle that far. But if you want to live in Kailua and you want to live on the water, this house and others like it, are a great alternative to Hawaii Kai.

Posted in General
March 28, 2009

Huge decline in homes sales on Kauai, Maui, and Big Isle

Home sales are down huge on the neighbor islands compared to last year, the number of sales has dropped more than 50% across the board. Condo prices on the Big Island were down 20% from a year ago! The Realtors there must be really hurting. The number of Maui single family homes sold dropped 50%! What is happening over there?

Well people who move to Hawaii are doing so for jobs or military. People who buy on the neighbor islands are mainland vacation home buyers, people with a lot of extra money, and retirees. As the market on the mainland has come to a screeching halt, the neighbor islands are really feeling it, since they have no real economy of their own apart from Oahu and the mainland.

Posted in General
March 28, 2009

The train from Ewa Beach

Will it cause Ewa Beach Oahu Real Estate prices to rise? The city's new Fixed Guideway system, fancy talk for "a train." Will be running from the west side into town in about 15-20 years.

Will this effect prices? Maybe insomuch as people perceive a future value that this will add. It's like buying stocks. The rumor of a buyout is worth more than the actual buyout. In this case, the future potential train system is a good selling point and could increase the value of properties that will be effected, primarliy those that are within walking distance of a train station.

This is primarliy going to effect Ewa beach, where traffic is the worst. Plans for the train stations are not final yet and won't be for years, so you can stop guessing. Overall, I think this is good for Ewa beach real estate. Whether or not it is actually good for the state or for Honolulu is anybody's guess.

Posted in General
March 28, 2009

Under $700k, there are only fixer uppers in Hawaii Kai or Kailua

I'm only exaggerating a little. Even though inventory in Hawaii is about flat in the last year, a lot of the homes for sale in East Oahu are in need of serious renovation.

When I take buyers to Ewa beach or Kapolei or Makakilo, there are plenty of nice houses for sale and we get to be picky about what we look at. In fact I had over 20 homes to show a client a couple weeks ago in Ewa.

But when I look for homes in Hawaii Kai, Diamond Head, or Kailua, which are my specialities, I see a lot of run down, small, poorly decorated homes. If you decorate a house nicely and update it with modern flooring and windows, it sells quickly at a price almost over the market. Yes, over the market.

That's because there still isn't much for sale right now.  Inventory in Hawaii hasn't risen like in other states. Bottom line - the market on the east side of Oahu has gone down only slightly, while the west side has gone down a lot.  Can a small island like Oahu have small pocket markets like this? You bet it can! Even from one street to the next you can see huge price differences.

So if you are thinking that the Hawaii market is going down, you're wrong and you're right. It just depends on which side of the island we are talking about.

Posted in General