November 2019 Email Updates Oahu Real Estate
Here is our 11/11/2019 e-mail update. The newsletter is sent after the statistics for the preceding month have been posted on the Board of Realtors website. You can find previous newsletters by visiting www.stott.com/news.
The median price in October for single-family homes was $780,000 (2.5% lower than October 2018) and for condos was $441,000 (13.1% higher than October 2018). Low mortgage interest rates appear to be spurring demand compared to last year when the Federal Reserve was raising interest rates. 347 single-family homes sold (12.3% higher than October 2018) and 472 condos sold (6.5% higher than 2018) in October. Supply remains relatively tight with 3.4 months of single-family home inventory and 3.8 months of condo inventory. The months of remaining inventory has been slowly tightening as low mortgage rates have helped spur demand while the supply of homes appears to be relatively constant on a seasonal basis.
Hawaii economists are monitoring the rising number of bankruptcies for signs that Hawaii’s economy continues to slow. October filings rose 19.3% higher than the number of filings for October 2018 to a total of 161. The number of filings through November will exceed the total number of filings in 2018 and will be the highest number since 2014 if trends continue. The rate of bankruptcy filings is still about half of those filed during the last recession in 2008.
Airbnb has come to an agreement with the state of Hawaii to turn over records of 1,000 hosts who made the most revenue from 2016 through 2018. Airbnb will give the hosts two weeks’ notice prior to turning over the information. Airbnb will also provide anonymous data on hosts making more than $2,000 in annual revenue from 2016 and 2018. The state Department of Taxation may then request individual information for these hosts. If a host makes a legal challenge, then Airbnb will not turn over the data until the legal case is resolved. A judge approved the agreement. The state must receive permission to serve the subpoena since the investigation is targeting a group of taxpayers and not a specific individual. Airbnb hosts making less than $2,000 per year annually will receive a letter spelling out the requirements for the state’s General Excise Tax and Transient Accommodations Tax.
A new concern has recently surfaced since the (Thirty Meter Telescope) TMT protestors have successfully blocked delivery of construction equipment since July using disciplined approach to civil disobedience called kapu aloha. 28 protestors were arrested in September for blocking construction equipment and work crews trying to access Waimanalo Beach Park for the controversial park extension into Sherwood Forrest. Over 100 people were arrested in October for trying to stop the delivery of equipment for the Na Pua Makani wind farm on which is on leased land. 237 Honolulu Police Department (HPD) officers assisted the developer in providing access to the site for the first of several deliveries on October 18th. Four oversized trucks headed to Kahuku at 1:15 am on Friday morning with police escorts and had to wait for clearance of a utility pole that was cut down by a chain saw along the route at about 3:00 am. Approximately 1,000 people lost power and the repairs delayed thousands of residents from getting to school and work. Kamehameha Highway was reopened about 7:30 am, police arrested protestors blocking the delivery site around 8:15 am, and the delivery was completed about 10:15 am. The following Monday, vandals damaged one of the windmill foundations while additional protestors were arrested. The number of arrested protestors has dropped over the last few days since bail increases for each individual with subsequent arrests. Like TMT, the Na Pua Makani wind farm project took over a decade to obtain the necessary permits by following the necessary regulatory procedures and now the developer must contend with protestors trying to physically stop the project. Business leaders, union officials, and some government officials are concerned that the rule of law is no longer respected or followed.
The law enforcement tab related to the TMT protests has climbed to $11 million as the standoff has entered its 16th week. Some people are criticizing Mayor Harry Kim’s and Governor David Ige’s hesitation to use law enforcement to provide access to TMT construction crews in light of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s actions to provide access to the Na Pua Makani wind farm project. The cost to state taxpayers continues to climb while the project remains in limbo.
The Waianae homeless encampment Pu’uhonua o Waianae next to the Waianae Small Boat Harbor has announced that they are in escrow on a 20-acre parcel of land about a mile and a half inland from Farrington Highway. The group raised more than $800,000 in private donations and hopes to raise an additional $650,000 by the end of 2020 to pay off any mortgage on the property. Pu’uhonua o Waianae aims to build tiny houses on the property for 219 people currently living by the small boat harbor. Completion of the sale and move by the homeless encampment will help bring an end to complaints of excessive water use, vandalism, and trash blamed on some of the homeless residents.
CLICK HERE for photos of the Waianae homeless encampment Pu’uhonuao Waianae
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources failed to come up with a viable proposal for redeveloping the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor despite paying a local consultant with political ties $100,000 to manage the request-for-proposals process. This is the second setback after the first contractor hired to redevelop the site went bankrupt in 2016 leaving behind a vacant lot by the harbor. The Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chairman criticized the latest failed effort as “holding hands, singing ‘Kumbaya’ and eating pizza.” The board chairman emphasized that it is embarrassing to have a less than acceptable harbor that receives frequent complaints. All the boaters want is a place to fuel their boats, buy stuff, and conduct boat maintenance.
The state has commenced work on a 95-foot sandbag groin designed to stabilize erosion at the Diamond Head side of Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. The project aims to temporarily restore the eroded shore in the corner of the beach by the Royal Hawaiian hotel. The erosion periodically exposes the foundation of the old Waikiki Tavern that was demolished in 1962.
The Pali Highway was recently reopened from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm seven days per week. Overnight closures will continue through December as the state works to complete the rock shed and paving work. The hill stabilization project has been completed.
Owners of Waikiki Banyan received a temporary stay preventing the city from enforcing the new short-term rental law. The city and Waikiki Banyan owners are working on a settlement since the building has been run as a hotel from its inception in 1979. The stay will remain in place until the parties reach an agreement or the Waikiki Banyan has exhausted all administrative remedies including a review by the courts. Many owners and even some supporters of Ordinance 19-18 have objected to the broad scope that DPP has applied the law in Waikiki and Turtle Bay where most view the locations as hotel-resort neighborhoods.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has announced additional delays to the $9.2 billion rail project since the city has not finalized the traffic management plan for the construction along Dillingham Boulevard. The construction will be very disruptive to the heavily congested route and the city is working on allowing one lane of traffic to continue during the expected two years of construction. Construction crews are scheduled to work two 10-12 hour shifts five days a week and weekends if necessary to complete the work as quickly as possible. Less noisy work will be scheduled during the night.
Ex-Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha pleaded guilty to three felony charges that included one charge of aggravated identity theft, one count of bank fraud, and failure to report a felony to federal authorities. Katherine admitted to withholding key information from Honolulu detectives that were investigating a drug-dealing ring that involved her brother, Dr. Rudolph Puana. Former Honolulu Police Department (HPD) Police Chief Louis Kealoha pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. Sentencing for the two high profile city officials has not been scheduled. The Kealohas are required to pay restitution of more than $450,000 to victims of their crimes as part of the plea deal. Federal prosecutors have filed charges against Dr. Puana and the Kealohas have agreed to cooperate with investigations involving Dr. Puana, Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, and the city of Honolulu’s top civil attorney, Donna Leong.
The Honolulu City Council is working on a bill to create another property tax category in anticipation of the new “Bed and Breakfast” licenses that will be awarded next October. Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to have the category in place before the new permits are issued so that the city can collect additional tax revenue from property tax owners.
Hawaiian Electric Company’s electrical generating station at Schofield Barracks received an achievement award from the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies for advancing operations in the electric energy industry. The 50-megawatt station was a joint U.S. Army and HECO project that came on line last year in an effort to add resiliency to on-base renewable energy generation while feeding the island grid. The generators are capable of using biofuel and it is the only power plant on Oahu located at the center of the island making it less vulnerable to ocean related natural disasters. The quick starting generators increase HECO’s ability to add additional solar and wind power and are expected to reduce oil use by 26,000 barrels annually.
The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and permitting issued 458 PV permits in September, that largest total in three years and a 258% increase over September 2018. 70% of the new permits represent PV systems that include batteries to store energy when electrical production exceeds usage.
The University of Hawaii (UH) Rainbow Wahine Volleyball team continues their strong season and is currently ranked #19. The UH women control their destiny after big wins over UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. They will finish the season at the top of the Big West Conference if they win their remaining four conference matches. The UH Rainbow Wahine are currently 20-3 overall and 10-2 in the Big West Conference.
The UH Warriors football team has stumbled the past month losing three of their last four games after their strong start at the beginning of the season. UH is still in the running to qualify for a bowl game with a 5-4 record.
CBS sports is partnering with the Hula Bowl to restart the college all-star on January 26, 2020 for the first time in twelve years. The game will feature top college players from around the country plus Australia and Japan.
A couple from California received quite the surprise at Kailua Beach on September 16th. Baby olive ridley sea turtles started emerging from the sand beneath their beach towel in the middle of the day. The couple moved their towel and watched roughly thirty baby sea turtles scramble to the ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that they were olive ridley sea turtles that swim throughout the Pacific Ocean but nest primarily along coastlines of Central America and India. The sea turtle nest is only the sixth confirmed nest in Hawaii over the past three decades. The nest was along the main stretch of the beach near the vegetation line and a NOAA team dug up the nest found empty eggshells and two trapped hatchlings that they released to the ocean. 64 of the 72 eggs produced hatchlings.
CLICK HERE for link to Photos of turtles
The uhu, nicknamed the parrot fish, scrub seaweed and algae from dead coral reefs with their prominent teeth that look like a beak. A single uhu can poop out 800 pounds of sand per year and a majority of the sand in Hawaii comes from the uhu. Tim and Tracey have seen the uhu at work and it is surreal to hear the crunch associated with their feeding.
Uhu or Parrotfish – Photo by Cesere Brothers
Researchers from Hawaii Pacific University teamed up with a nonprofit group to remove six tons of discarded fishing nets from Kaneohe Bay. Removing the nets was important in giving Kaneohe Bay’s reefs a chance to recover and prevent marine life from getting entangled. One of the largest nets had been battering the reefs for over a year.
State and federal officials shared some relatively good news in announcing that coral bleaching is not as widespread this summer as predicted. Conditions for Hawaii’s coral are improving as the ocean temperatures cool down. Actions that people can take to help reduce coral stress include letting fish protect reefs, giving coral space, standing on sand, using reef-safe sunscreen, containing chemicals, and anchoring boats away from reefs.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii has requested federal assistance in eradicating the Australian longhorn beetle, a threat to cacao plantations and kukui and breadfruit trees. The infestation is currently confined to a fairly limited area on the Big Island of Hawaii. The beetle arrived in 2013 and burrows through the trunk of trees and ultimately killing them. The beetle could threaten the $3.85 billion citrus industry if it spreads to the U.S. mainland.
Tracey walked around Kailua recently with a friend and met with street artists who painted previously gray traffic signal boxes with unique artwork. StreetArthawaii, LLC coordinates and helps fund the projects. The Awesome Foundation Oahu, founded by Tracey, has made two separate $1,000 grants to support streetArthawaii, LLC’s endeavors. The transformed traffic signal boxes can be found in both Kailua and Kaimuki.
Pacific Business News (PBN) publishes many lists of businesses and one has caught Tim’s attention. PBN published the list of Hawaii breweries in October. The ten breweries are Maui Brewing Co., Kona Brewing Co., Waikiki Brewing Co., Honolulu Beerworks, Kohola Brewery, Hilo Brewing Co., Big Island Brewhaus, Beer Lab HI, Kauai Beer Co., Kauai Island Brewing Co. Tim has sampled local beers from several on the list and has visited four on the list so far; Maui Brewing Co., Waikiki Brewing Co., Hilo Brewing Company, and Kauai Beer Co. Tim has just added visiting the rest of the breweries to his bucket list.
Tim just returned from Orlando, Florida where he and his tennis team represented Hawaii in the USTA 9.0 18+ Mixed Doubles National Championships. After the tournament, the team went canoeing in Rock Springs Run State Reserve and saw an alligator (can you spot it in the photo?) along with other wild life. Everyone had a fabulous time.
Here is a fun link from Bishop Museum showing scenes of Honolulu today and years past: CLICK HERE
If you need assistance buying, selling, or managing your Oahu property, we want to apply for the job of assisting you.
Tim and Tracey