Open House? *BWAHAHA*

So you want me to sit Open House for your property?

No. I will hold “Brokers Open” which is for Realtors to preview your property. But I will not sit an Open House where the general public has access to you home. Why? Let me ask you this: Do you want people you don’t know going through your house checking out your possessions? Sure, you’ve been told to hide your valuables or even remove them during the time your home is on the market. But what about that prescription medication in your bathroom? Hey, those credit card and bank account statements sitting in your desk look good to an identity thief! And that big TV sitting in the living room of your vacation home that is vacant most of the year?

The Cat Burglar does not want your cat...

The Cat Burglar does not want your cat...

Thieves do go to Open Houses to check out the opportunities to relieve you of your possessions. And if the home is your full time residence, don’t you just LOVE the inconvenience of hauling the family out the door, containing your pets, and vacating your house for hours at a time every Sunday afternoon? Again and again and again…

Show me the Money!

Show me the Money!

So on one hand, I don’t sit Open House to protect YOU, Mr. & Mrs. Seller. I only allow access to qualified buyers who are ready, willing and able to buy your home and are accompanied by a licensed Real Estate professional. You DO want to maximize the potential for the sale of your home rather than letting anybody off the street in, don’t you? Even if they are not “casing the joint”, Open Houses are used by many buyers to walk through homes in which they have no interest other than to learn the market or to validate a decision to purchase another home.
On the other hand, I don’t sit Open Houses to protect myself as well. Let’s just advertise the fact that I will be in a house in the middle of the day when no one else is around and there are even signs leading right up to the front door! Realtors have been raped and killed at Open Houses,  I have no interest in becoming a statistic. Sit with another agent you say? Well, the State of Hawaii prevents law abiding citizens from carrying a firearm for personal protection. Guess who carries firearms? The not so law abiding citizens with intent to commit a crime. Even if there are several agents with me, a can of pepper spray is not going to do anything to deter an armed intruder.

How long until the end of Open House?

How long until the end of Open House?

Most experienced agents pass off (yes, I said “pass off”) the duty of sitting open house to newer agents because they tell them “If you sit Open House at my listing maybe you will get a potential buyer coming in that does not have an agent!” Or I’ve heard agents say, “I’m sitting Open House this weekend and hope to get a buyer!” Or “Maybe I’ll get a lead on a potential listing!”

Sitting Open House is a very passive form of marketing your home. They are used by real estate agents to convince sellers that they’ll be doing everything they can to sell their home, and they disrupt the lives of sellers with little or no value added to their goal of selling their home.

Whoopty-Doo.  “Maybe” and “Hope to”are not key points in my Real Estate business plan… I know that Real Estate is local in its nature, and I’m sure there are areas of the national market where Open Houses do work to some extent to sell homes. And I know I’m going to get blasted as a heretic by those agents. So be it. Would you rather have a passive agent who sits around your house on a Sunday afternoon “Hoping” or an agent that is “Doing” by actively and aggressively marketing your home? I know which one I’d rather have if I were selling my home…

Aloha from Hawaii,



So You want to buy a Foreclosure? *BWAHAHAHA!*

So You want to buy a Foreclosure? *BWAHAHAHA!*

So you want to buy a Foreclosure because you hear in the Media how great a market is for that property? And how easy it is to fix and flip? And you’ll make a ton of moolah?

*Snort*   (Excuse me, that was the sound of me spitting out my coffee…)

Do you have a lot of cash, time, patience and a strong stomach? Because at the bare minimum, those are what you are going to need to succeed.

Hawaii Real Estate Fixer-upper

HEY! A Fixer-upper Foreclosure to Flip!

First of all, let me explain the foreclosure process here in Hawaii. Don’t know what it is elsewhere, but this is where my Real Estate license hangs. Talk to a Realtor in your area if you don’t live here.In Hawaii, there are two ways a foreclosure occurs: either a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process.

The judicial process of foreclosure involves the filing a lawsuit by the holder of the mortgage or deed of trust to obtain a court order to foreclose. This is used when no power of sale is present in the mortgage or deed of trust. The court declares a foreclosure and the property is auctioned off to the highest bidder. You will go to the auction with a cashiers check for 10% of the sale price and have to cough up the balance in cash at the end of the day if you are the highest bidder. These are usually held on the Courthouse Steps and can be called “Sheriff’s Auctions” here in Honolulu.

The non-judicial process of foreclosure is used when a power of sale clause exists in a mortgage or deed of trust. This states that the borrower pre-authorizes the sale of property to pay off the balance on a loan in the event of the their default. The lender or their representative, typically referred to as the trustee, may execute the sale.

There are all sorts of notices and time frames that have to occur in a non-judicial foreclosure, I’m not going to go into that here. Speak to an Attorney, Grasshopper…

Up until three days before the sale, the borrower may stop the sale by paying the lien debt, costs and attorney’s fees. Also, even if your sale goes through and you are the proud owner of a foreclosed property, in Hawaii if the property was sold because of outstanding taxes, the seller has up to one year to get current with the taxes and they get the house back. And YOU, lovely buyer, are out of your money.

I have done quite a few “BPO”s (Broker Price Opinions) for banks looking to do a Short Sale (more on that next post) prior to  foreclosure of a property. This consists of me personally going out to the house to place an opinion of sale price on the property for the bank. The home may be in pretty good shape at the time I assess it. And then I have gone back to those same properties after the foreclosure and the occupants have been evicted.

To say these properties have been trashed would be like saying Katrina was a Spring Shower. Plumbing ripped out, copper wiring ripped out, Appliances removed or destroyed, walls smashed in and bathtubs used as toilets. And those are some of the clean ones!  Vindictive former owners will destroy a property as a “Get even” with the evil bank that talked them into a big loan they could not afford.  Yep, it’s always the Lender and the Real Estate Agents fault, no personal responsibility there! I will be the first to admit there were quite a few lenders and agents that were crooked and went into a transaction just to make money, but don’t tell me there were not any greedy buyers involved. If you believe that I have a nice Bridge in Brooklyn for sale…

I’m not going to outline the process here, if you still want to buy a foreclosure you should probably saddle up with a good Real Estate Attorney. And I’m not going to help you buy a foreclosure. I have more fun things to do like Root Canal Surgery…

Aloha from the Hawaii Real Estate Biz!

Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Designation

Let Me Help You!

I just have earned the nationally recognized Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification. The National Association of REALTORS® offers the SFR certification to REALTORS® who want to help both buyers and sellers navigate these complicated transactions, as demand for professional expertise with distressed sales grows.

Biz Kellam earns Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Designation

According to a recent NAR survey, nearly one-third of all existing homes sold recently were either short sales or foreclosures. For many real estate professionals, short sales and foreclosures are the new “traditional” transaction. REALTORS® who have earned the SFR certification know how to help sellers maneuver the complexities of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities.

“As leading advocates for homeownership, REALTORS® believe that any family that loses its home to foreclosure is one family too many, but unfortunately, there are situations in which people just cannot afford to keep their homes, and a foreclosure or a short sale results,” said 2009 NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Foreclosures and short sales can offer opportunities for home buyers and benefit the larger community, as well, but it’s extremely important to have the help of a real estate professional like a REALTOR® who has earned the SFR certification for these kinds of purchases.”

The certification program includes training on how to qualify sellers for short sales, negotiate with lenders, protect buyers, and limit risk, and provides resources to help REALTORS® stay current on national and state-specific information as the market for these distressed properties evolves.

Aloha from the Hawaii Real Estate Biz!

First time Buyers Tax Credit Extended!

Good news for first time buyers! And not-so-first-time buyers!

Senate lawmakers stuck an agreement recently to not only extend the existing program but to expand it to allow current homeowners and buyers in a higher income bracket to claim the tax credit. Senators moved to increase its annual limits from $75,000 to $125,000 for single buyers and from $150,000 to $225,000 for married couples.

Our house is a very nice house!

Our house is a very nice house!

The deadline for first-time home buyers to claim the $8,000 credit has been extended to April 30, 2010. But the term “deadline” doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in the current program. The Senate agreement requires that buyers must have a sales contract on a house by April 30 to be eligible, but it gives them an additional 60 days to close the purchase. The current credit program requires that transactions must be closed by November 30, 2009. So effectively deadline of the new version credit agreement is the end of June.

The current credit is restricted to home buyers who have not owned a primary residence within the past three years. The expanded agreement also allows current homeowners to claim up to $6,500 as long as the property they are vacating has been their primary residence for at least five years. This is intended to target “move up buyers” . In this market many homeowners are taking advantage of lower prices to move from one house to another of higher value.

I’ve got an appointment with some first time buyers who will be purchasing in January 2010, I can’t wait to tell them the good news!

Aloha from the Hawaii Real Estate Biz!

April Commercial Oahu Real Estate Bizness

Commercial Market is great…

if you are a Tenant.

Over on the Commercial leasing side office vacancy continues to rise Downtown to around 10%. Any time you have a vacancy rate close to 10% and up you have a tenants market. And the tenants are certainly calling the shots these days! Depending on the building, I’m seeing free rent, build out allowances and all sorts of goodies tenants were not able to get since the mid  1990s.

Honolulu view of Diamond Head

Honolulu view of Diamond Head

Retail is very soft; there are a lot of vacancies. Small strip malls across the state have an average vacancy rate of 9 %. Retailers are continuing to struggle with losses and many are going out of business entirely. Some are just walking away from their leases and letting the chips fall where they may, particularly in the big malls that charge high overhead.

Even some of the Big Dogs are biting the bullet: Niketown in Waikiki is selling its flagship building and Chicago-based General Growth Properties just recently filed Chapter 11.

In Hawaii, General Growth owns Ala Moana Center,  the largest open-air shopping mall in the world, and Ward Centers. These are two of the largest shopping centers in the state. And if you stroll around either one of them, you’ll see quite a few empty stores…

Industrial is always a winner here because we don’t have much land to sprawl out on, and really tight zoning keeps growth to a minimum. So we are getting roughly $.85- $1.50 per square foot. Some a little lower, some a little higher depending on the property and the use.

I’ll be having an upcoming brown-bag lunch seminar in May for commercial tenants: “The Care and Feeding of your Commercial Lease- How not to get Bitten!” More on that as the date gets firmed up, or email me for more info!

Aloha from Hawaii,
The Real Estate Biz

April Residential Oahu Real Estate Bizness

I can’t believe it’s April already!

I’m seeing a definite shift in market activity here on Oahu. At least we are getting faster responses from sellers on offers we put in representing the buyers.

The sellers are realizing that the market is still sluggish and if they don’t want to hang on to their property for several months (while inventory is high and better priced properties are selling)…they need to jump on it.

With so much inventory on the market the sellers don’t have the luxury of overpricing their properties.

The Easter Bunny at Halewa Farmers Market!

The Easter Bunny at Halewa Farmers Market!

March numbers are in and we still have a lot of single family homes and condos on the market, 1,901 and 2,582 respectively for a total of 4,483 units. That is a total of 15.5 months of inventory if no new homes come on the market, and last month another 489 SF and 709 condos joined the party. Only 188 homes and 248 condos sold. Homes are sitting on the market for less time than the first two months of ’09 which reflects pricing more appropriate to market demand as opposed to being overpriced.

Sales are up over the first two months of the year. This indicates to me that buyers who have been sitting on the fence to see how low the market will go have realized that if they can qualify and are ready to buy, THEY need to jump on it.

What buyers REALLY need to jump on right now is the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit of $8,000. Buyers must not have owned a home for the past three years to qualify as a “first time buyer” and they are entitled to an $8,000 ( or 10% of the homes value, whichever is less) refund on their 2008 or 2009 taxes. To qualify, the purchase must be made between January1, 2009 and November 30, 2009. Some people think it’s December 31 but that is incorrect. If you want more information about this great opportunity, contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

If you want to know what exactly is going on in your neighborhood give me a call, I can give you a “Market Snapshot” specific to your area.

March Musings on Oahu Real Estate

A bit late with the Stats… I’ll blame writers block!

I’m reading on the National front that sales of new homes unexpectedly rose in February. A Commerce report indicated new-home sales jumped 4.7 percent from a record low pace in January.

“The more we get economic data points like these, the more there’s an indication that stabilization in the economy is starting to unfold,” said Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse Holdings USA in New York.

sThe Weather is Here, Wish you were Beautiful!

February Oahu Home sales for single family were 129, and 160 condos for a total of 289. There wasa total of 4,435 homes on the market in the Multiple Listing Service. (1,928 SF and 2,507 Condos) This brings us to 15.8 months of inventory remaining, up from 10 months in January. According to the National Association of Realtors a balanced, normal market has 6 months of inventory. Mortgage rates are still under 5% in many cases, so if your credit score is good enough to qualify you for financing or you are paying cash it is a shopping spree out there!

I keep hearing on the local news “The Median prices are up from last year!”… that can be misleading. Do you know that Median price is a number that can be skewed by one high end sale? If you have three homes in a neighborhood that sold for $450,000 and one that sold for $650,000, that one high sale will drive the “Median” upwards. Truth be told Oahu overall is down around 33% + from this time last year. However, some neighborhoods such as East Oahu and the Town-Kaakakao Corridor are holding values very nicely. Oahu is NOT one Real Estate market, it is many individual niches!

If you want to know what exactly is going on in your niche neighborhood give me a call, I can give you a “Market Snapshot” specific to your area.