HRI Blog



Feb. 15, 2021

Meet the HRI Team: Our Newest Agent, Steven Harman!

Good news! Our team at Hawaii Realty International is growing. Meet our newest agent, Steven Harman.

About Steven

Steven Harman has a unique familiarity with the beautiful island of Oahu: from the air, as a former tour helicopter pilot based out of Honolulu; and from the earth, where he takes great pride in expertly guiding his clients home.

After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in English Literature, Steven came to a crossroads of becoming a school teacher or joining the Army. He chose the latter and joined the Army shortly after 9/11, where he spent 10 years flying helicopters for Medevac units stationed around the world. Back in civilian life, he flew medical evacuations for hospitals near the international border in Arizona. During all that flying, he saw a lot of properties.

Steven is no stranger to helping and serving people who are in need. He brings a high level of vigor, integrity and work ethic to his work in real estate, educating his clients on their options in a sometimes complex housing landscape. With his personable demeanor and abundant creativity, Steven is the ideal representative to help homebuyers reach their goals. He is always excited to take on new challenges, and he doesn’t shy away from negotiating the best possible deal for his clients. Steven is relentless in ensuring that your happiness is neatly wrapped up in a bow.

As a veteran, Steven knows how stressful PCS moves can be, and he is well prepared to help fellow servicemembers to smoothly transition in or out of their duty location. Steven deeply understands the impact an agent can have on his client’s life, family and future, so he works tirelessly to make the real estate process as rewarding and stress-free as possible.

In his free time, you can find Steven surfing, working out or hiking, like most folks on the island. To Steven, it’s impossible to stay indoors for long, when you’re surrounded by this breathtaking backdrop. That’s what led him to fall in love with Oahu real estate, and it still inspires his work today.

Contact Steven

You can reach Steven Harman at

For real estate inquiries, feel free to reach out via our CONTACT FORM to let us know your goals and timeline. We'll get in touch ASAP for a no-pressure consultation!

Posted in Meet the Team
Feb. 12, 2021

How to Boost Your Listing’s Winter Curb Appeal

Though the weather outside is frightful, selling your home in the winter actually isn’t so bad! The real estate market in winter months — particularly in December and January — is typically a scaled-down version of the rest of the year. Buyers and sellers with time to spare tend to put their real estate plans on hold for the holidays. With fewer properties on the market and fewer buyers house-hunting during these times, your listing is more likely to stand out and become a prime target for the buyers who are actively looking.

So, while there is plenty of opportunity to buy or sell in the spring, summer and fall, you’re not out of luck in the winter! The real question is: how do you keep your home looking great during gloomy or rainy weather?

The trick is to increase your curb appeal, and it’s easier than you think! Keep on reading for our must-know tips to improve your winter curb appeal. 

Remove Clutter

The easiest and most cost-efficient way to improve your winter curb appeal is to tidy up and declutter your yard. Even the neatest of homes on the inside can quickly accumulate leaves, debris, junk and other items outside that might turn off potential buyers. As a home seller, you want buyers to have a great impression of your home as soon as they arrive, so curb appeal is critical!

Any items that are looking weathered, such as children's play items, outdoor seating, or exterior features like an old, busted fountain should be thrown out or put in storage. If the items can’t be removed, or if you don't have the necessary storage space, then you should still spruce them up as best you can.

Any wooden areas, such as decking, may require new treatments. Replace broken panels, sand the area, and treat it with wood stain. For best results, take a look at your exterior before winter weather kicks in. Repairs are easier when it’s nicer outside, and you definitely don’t want to trap moisture in your wood. 

Finally, clear your yard of natural debris and detritus. Rake those pesky autumn leaves into a large pile, cut off any dead branches hanging from trees on your property, and remove unsightly plants that have overstayed their welcome. Tidying up your yard goes a long way to boost that ever-important curb appeal. 

Give Them a Warm Welcome

Now that your yard is neat and tidy, have a look at your front entryway. Does it beckon potential buyers to come inside and explore your home?

One way to make your home more inviting is to spruce up your front door. If your current door is looking weathered or displays a drab color of paint, consider restoring it with a vibrant color like a rich red or green. It will look fresh and welcoming, and add to the appeal of your home’s facade.

You can also enhance your entryway by adding some new fittings. Install a charming door knocker, or if “‘tis the season,” decorate the door with some holiday cheer. This will inspire buyers with the look of a warm, family home. Keep in mind that you want your home to appeal to any and every potential buyer, so overly religious or otherwise personal motifs should be avoided. But a nice, wintery wreath will be loved by all but the Grinch-iest visitors!

Switch Out the Mailbox and Signage

When it comes to curb appeal, the devil is in the details. Unlike inside of your home, where staging and fresh paint can express elegant style throughout your floor plan and walls, exterior fixtures and fittings are not so abundant. The easiest and cheapest exterior fixtures to improve are your mailbox and signage. 

When you replace your mailbox, select one that complements the architectural style of your home. If you have a grand colonial setting, then go for something that fits with it. If you have a sleek, modern home built from glass and concrete, pick something that supplements that style. These little details add to an overall tapestry that buyers experience when they visit your property.

Additionally, if you repainted your front door like we suggested above, try and match the mailbox to the color of your front door. Pick bright and cheerful shades to add color that might otherwise be lacking due to the season.

Signage on your home’s exterior is another opportunity to add some flavor. You can update your street numbers, whether they’re on your mailbox or on your home’s facade. An embossed plate can also add a cute message, like “Welcome Home.” Whatever you choose, pick something unique that complements the theme of your home. These will be the first features that buyers see from the street, and first impressions count!

Add Some Evening Lighting

Lighting a home’s exterior is easy, but really doing it well requires some talent and tact. Too much evening lighting can make your house look brash and cause the facade to have a spaceship-like glow. (And it probably won’t make the neighbors very happy!) On the other hand, tasteful evening lights can accentuate your home’s best features and make it look beautiful for more hours of the day. 

Exterior lighting can be placed on your exterior walls, amidst your landscaping, or on features like your mailbox. Lanterns and sconces add a warm touch, and they’re extra helpful if you have a long, dark driveway. If you go that route, metal lanterns will be more durable than other materials which may weather easily. With the right paint, you can even tailor your new lights to match your siding, front door, and mailbox. 

Go Evergreen With Your Curb Appeal

Not all plants wither and die in winter weather. In fact, there are a number of evergreen plants and foliage options that stay green all year round. Some plants even thrive in winter conditions. 

Placing these hearty plants in your garden will give it a lush, well-kept appearance. Find some plants that flower in winter and place them in pots, so you can leave them outside to greet buyers with a touch of color. If you have extra space in your yard, you can even plant some winter-friendly trees. 

Make Paths and Driveways Clear

In addition to clearing the yard, make sure that your driveway and walking paths look clean and pristine. These are the sections that will draw the eye up to the property — particularly if they are cracked or marred. If your hardscape is cluttered, messy, or damaged, it will leave a bad impression before buyers even step foot into your home.

To get your hardscape in shape, clear any dirt and foliage that has found its way onto your driveway and paths. If you need to trim back live foliage, have at it! The walkway must be clear for all to see, and it makes your home more accessible too. Buyers don’t want to feel like they’re trekking through the outback as they make their way to your front door. 

After a good cleaning, repair any damage to paths and drives. This may involve calling in a professional for repair or replacement. It can be hard and heavy work. Additionally, if any weeds or plants are making walkways unsightly, trim them back or take them out entirely. 

Get Help from the Real Estate Experts 

Once you have increased your curb appeal with these handy tips, you just need to get the buyers visiting your home! The best way to do this is with the help of an expert real estate agent who understands your neighborhood and local real estate market. 


If you are buying or selling real estate in the Oahu area, then Mike Styring & Hawaii Realty International are your trusted advisers. We specialize in residential and investment properties in the Oahu & Maui area, and we bring a wealth of experience to all of our work. Contact us today to start the no-pressure conversation, and let’s talk strategy!

Posted in Selling a House
Jan. 31, 2021

Best Ways to Create a Study Room at Home for Kids

With more and more children doing schoolwork from their computers, parents far and wide have found an increased need for a dedicated study room at home. Whether your kids are distance learning, or they just need a quiet space to do homework and projects after school, it's a great idea to create a purpose-built study space to keep them focused and on-track.

So, what are the best ways to create a home office space for your child? Distance learning is a novel concept for most parents, and it can be confusing to figure out what your child needs when you're busy with your own job and responsibilities.

We have a few ideas that can help. Regardless of your child's grade or interests, some things will make any study room helpful. 

Read on for our study room guide!

1. Provide Natural Light

It's helpful to make your child's study space well-lit, and not just through artificial lighting. 

During the winter, when the sun hides away early in the evening, your child might spend most of their daylight hours cooped up in front of a computer. While letting them play outside with an at-home "recess" is a great idea, bringing some sunshine indoors can help them stay focused and energized throughout the day.

With all the additional challenges of distance learning, you don't need a gloomy interior making it that much harder for your child to stay engaged. 

Set their desk near a window or beneath a skylight to let your child enjoy natural light throughout their school day. They'll be happier and more productive.

2. Get the Right Desk

Picking a good desk is a chance to help your at-home learner to study efficiently. At most schools, desks are cramped and crowded. While distance learning is not ideal in many ways, you can at least make the experience better than in-person schooling when it comes to their desk by providing a more spacious surface where they can work.

If your student is very young, they may not need a huge workspace (or even fit sidled up to a full-size desk). However, you have the option of giving them a larger space so they have room for all of their things without resorting to putting books or assignments on their lap. 

A good desk should be tall enough that there's room for their legs underneath — but not so tall that they struggle to reach things they need. Some children may benefit from a desk that can transform into a standing desk. It may help you too, by using up some of their abundant kid energy! 

Select a desk with your child’s needs and height in mind. Even better: ask them what they like when you’re doing your desk shopping. Letting your child help will make them feel more invested in the desk you buy, and they’ll likely enjoy using it for their schoolwork.

3. Pick a Chair That Helps Them Focus

Did you know that good posture in childhood can help children establish good posture in adulthood? Buying your at-home learner a chair with their posture in mind may help them avoid back pain or other problems when they get older.

It’s no surprise that some office chairs are not ideal for posture. A chair that's too thick and soft might just lead your child to fall asleep, while a chair that's just plain uncomfortable might distract them or cause them to sit in strange positions. 

You want a chair that has enough back support that they sit up straight and tall while doing their work. If stores are open, try bringing your child along to test out some chairs before you buy.

4. Avoid Distractions

Let's face it: Kids aren't great at avoiding distractions. At school, these distractions are managed under the watchful eye of a teacher. At home, you may not have the bandwidth to keep an eye on your children every second of the school day.

To keep your kid on track for success, remove any unnecessary toys or games from the room that might be distracting (though we'll include some helpful toys later on in the article).

Let your child know that while this decision may frustrate them, they'll get their work done more quickly so they can play with all the fun stuff later on!

5. Include All Necessities

Make sure you know everything that your child is going to need for their classes. In school, they have tools provided for them, like pencils and pens, protractors, calculators, and computers. In your home, you need to get those things unless provided by the school for distance learning.

If you're not sure what your child needs for their schoolwork, ask the teacher yourself. You don't want your child to lose focus or fall behind because they don't have a necessary item. 

6. Keep Everything Within Arm's Reach

Once you have the necessities, make sure your child can actually reach them.

As adults, sometimes we forget that things can be hard to access for kids. Things on the top shelf might be easy for you to reach, but they may as well be miles away for a growing child.

Be sure to keep things in drawers or on shelves that your at-home student is able to reach. Once you have the right desk and chair, have your child sit there as if school is in session, and make sure that they can get to everything they’ll need.

Remember: If a child has to get up to go get something, it's another opportunity for distraction. 

7. Keep Some Fidget-Friendly Activities

If your child is a fidgeter (and so many are), they're more likely to get frustrated with the quiet and solitary space of a study room. While your kid’s favorite toys aren't ideal in the study room, it’s good to have a few things around that can keep their hands or feet busy.

We suggest something that can go under the desk, like a yoga ball or a foot cycle, to keep their lower body active. They can also play with clay, a fidget spinner, or other small sensory objects to keep their hands busy. Check in on them when you can, to see if a fidget activity has become a distraction. You can always switch items out until you find a good balance.

8. Provide Recreational Space

It's a good idea to provide some sort of recreational space for when your child needs a break. Rather than letting them run to their bedrooms and all their fun stuff, or off to the park, you can provide a sensory playtime that won't cause them to lose focus. 

Consider some kind of mind game or a sensory path that your child can use to release some extra energy before they get back to work. Sunlight and outdoors time is healthy and necessary, so let them play for a bit to blow off steam.

Provide the Best Study Room at Home for Your Child

In order to make the most of distance learning, your child needs a thoughtfully designed study room at home. Make sure you have everything they need for a productive school day. The goal is to recreate the classroom experience.

If you're looking for a new Oahu home that has extra space for your child to study, we’re happy to help! Whether you're looking for more home improvement advice or you want to sell or buy a home, connect with us today to discuss your options


Posted in Lifestyle
Jan. 23, 2021

Hau'oli makahiki hou!  Happy New Year! HRI January 2021 Newsletter


January 2021

Happy New Year Friends & Neighbors! 

What a crazy year 2020 turned out to be. I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted at the beginning of last year what was to come. From quarantining, social distancing, mask-wearing, homeschooling, and working from home, it’s needless to say that we were all thrown a curveball and have been tested in many ways this year.

Learning to navigate the new ways of doing things was certainly a struggle to adapt to at first, but our team and community are resilient, and we found our way soon enough. Despite the trials of this year, this year has definitely taught us to slow down a bit and enjoy the little things in life again.

As a small business owner, I don’t take it lightly how so many businesses around the area have and continue to struggle. It is a commitment of our team to support local small businesses now and moving forward. We’ve had our fair share of challenges in the real estate industry. The spring slowed a bit as the stock market dropped and fears of Covid took over. However, once the new reality settled in, there was a surge in all things comforting including home. I feel truly blessed that conditions have manifested the way they have, leading to a booming real estate market and as a result, us having our best year yet. Although it may have looked a little different, we are so grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to continue to find families the place they want to call home. The definition of home truly has taken on a special meaning this year as it’s become the place we live, learn, exercise, work, play and more!

Hawaii Realty International wouldn’t be what it is without the support of all of our friends and family, our beloved community, and our loyal clients. We truly appreciate the opportunity to help each of you, in whatever capacity that may be, and look forward to serving you in the year ahead. 

Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

Hawaii's real estate business continues to improve
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View Article
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47-795 Malumalu Place

3 BD | 2 BA | 1+ acre of land 
SOLD for $1,460,000 - Represented Seller
Sold in 10 days for 101% of Asking Price!
Join us as we tour this stunning property in our new video!
45-202 Wena St

4 BD | 3 BA | 1,744 SQ FT
SOLD for $930,000
Represented Buyer
3027 Pualei Circle #307

1 BD | 1 BA | 676 SQ FT 
SOLD for $540,000 Represented Seller
Sold in 4 days for 103% of Asking Price!
91-721 Puamaeole St #19A
Ewa Beach

2 BD | 2 BA | 874 SQ FT
SOLD for $478,000
Represented Buyer
801 Kakala St #1006

3 BD | 2 BA | 945 SQ FT 
SOLD for $505,000 - Represented Seller
Sold in 10 days for 101% of Asking Price!
Stay in touch with us!
Posted in Newsletter
Jan. 17, 2021

Be a Good Neighbor: 7 Unique Housewarming Gifts for a Warm Welcome

Are you trying to make a new neighbor feel welcome and cared for in the community?

Moving to a new area can be disorienting and lonely, especially in this era of social distancing. Being there for your neighbor in this crucial time can build the foundation for a beautiful friendship, cordial conversation, and maybe a shared cup of flour or two.

So be a good neighbor! Given the busy real estate market these days, chances are you have or will have at least one new neighbor on the street sometime soon. Take a look through some of our favorite creative housewarming gift ideas that will help you welcome your new neighbor home.

1. A Beautiful Houseplant

Here's something that will bring joy (and a little extra oxygen) to your new neighbor's life. If you're concerned about the difficulty of taking care of a plant, try getting something that doesn't require a lot of maintenance, like a succulent.

Houseplants can have a lot of personality. Whether you go for something cute or elegant, this thoughtful housewarming gift could be the start of a great neighborly relationship.

2. An Herb Garden Starter Kit

If you like the ecological vibe of a plant gift but you want to go for something more practical, try gifting your neighbor an herb garden! These days, there are lots of handy little kits that can get your neighbor growing basil, mint, and whatever else they find tasty in no time.

This is a unique housewarming gift that tells your neighbor you're excited for their roots to grow in this new home. Plus, anyone who frequently cooks at home knows the extraordinary value of being able to step outside for fresh herbs!

3. Be a Good Neighbor and Make a Homemade Meal

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or simply doing your best, there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal to warm the heart. This doesn't have to be a full-on, 3-course, Michelin-star-quality meal if you're nervous! Try baking a batch of your favorite cookies (but avoid using nuts or other allergens, just in case). Moving to a new place can be disorienting and lonely, so a thoughtful food gift can go a long way. Nothing warms the heart like a freshly baked treat or meal.

4. Flowers in a Reusable Vase

Lots of people bring flowers to a housewarming, but where do those flowers go? If your neighbors are first-time homebuyers, they are probably still building up their basic supply of home items. A beautiful vase will help them fill out their cache of decor, and it lasts far longer than the flowers you gift inside it.

Try picking out a pretty clay or glass vessel for your blooming beauties. Your new neighbors will think of the kind gesture every time they see your gift of flowers, and every time they use the vase! It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

5. Specialized Kitchenware

Ever used a garlic press? How about a tortilla warmer? Items like these are well-loved by the people who use them, but chances are your neighbor doesn't have one yet.

When people move to a new home, they're often thinking of the basic items they need in order to get started. By giving them some thoughtful specialty kitchenware, you can make their cooking experience that much more unique and efficient.

6. A Cast Iron Pan

If you're worried about going the specialized route because you don't know your neighbors too well, here's something that almost everyone would love.

A good cast iron pan can upgrade the quality of every meal. Cast iron is durable and truly timeless, an heirloom gift that can be passed down through generations. And even if your neighbor already has one, it's nice to have another!

7. A Coffee Set

You might have to sneakily find out what kind of coffee your neighbor likes to make before you get them a coffee set. But the nice thing here is that you can scale the gift up or down.

For a casual gift, you might go with some high-quality beans and a grinder. And for something more generous, you can get your neighbor a nice coffeemaker. There are also “coffee of the month” subscriptions that you can gift to your neighbor, so they can try all kinds of coffee and discover something new.

Put a Smile on Your Neighbor’s Face!

Taking the time to pick out a thoughtful gift for your new neighbor says more than the gift itself could ever convey. After going through the homebuying process, then moving in and getting situated, then learning the neighborhood and meeting new people… it’s a lot to do all at once. By reaching out to a new neighbor, you will plant the seed of friendship and community right away, and you’ll brighten your neighbor’s day.

So be a good neighbor! And if you want to hear about our experience matching homebuyers and neighborhoods, reach out! We'd love to hear from you.


Posted in Lifestyle
Jan. 8, 2021

How to Make Your Home Cozy for the Winter

It’s time to cozy up for the holidays and wintertime. You want your home to be a warm and toasty retreat that you can come back to every evening, right?

Having a cozy home is great for your family and guests. Imagine comfortable nights in with tasty hot chocolate and a burning fire. Doesn’t that sound great?

We have a few tips and tricks for you so you can make your home cozy for the winter. Read on for some of our favorites. 

Keep the Fire Going

If you have a fireplace in your home, you’re so lucky! This is the perfect time to keep the fire glowing.

Organize the rest of your living room around that glowing fire. If possible, position your television on the wall on the wall above the fireplace so you can enjoy your favorite holiday movies without leaving the warm and cozy space.

Make sure you and your family know all about fireplace safety before you keep the fire lit.

Warm Wood Tones

We love warm and natural wood colors for the winter. They’re reminiscent of evergreens and natural tree bark, or a toasty cabin in the woods. 

Invest in a few side-tables or chairs with wooden accents, or wood hanging signs to put up on your walls. They bring a cozy feeling to your living room. 

Seasonal Colors for Everything

Does your living room have seasonal colors?

During the winter, most of us think of red, green, gold, and white. Some people also have blue in the mix. These are the colors that you want to decorate with to keep up the holiday spirit while staying stylish.

We love warm red hand-knit blankets and quilts and gold accent decorations on the shelves.

Keep Up the Heat

One of the most important parts of a cozy home is that it’s warm. Make sure you’re keeping the heat high enough that you and your family can stay comfortable inside.

You don’t have to run up your electric bill to do this. Instead, aim for a temperature that’s just warm enough that you can cuddle up in a warm blanket without overheating. 

Keep Some Greenery

Winter isn’t the best time for growing your outdoor garden. Instead, bring the greenery indoors.

You aren’t limited to the classic Christmas tree. You can get all kinds of pine and holly accents (or the famous mistletoe plant) to bring nature indoors. These sweet evergreen accessories make any space feel more wintery.

Live plants are also great for a cozy home. Not only do they look great and give you something to care for, but they also might make you happier and less anxious. Don’t limit your gardening time to the warm summer and spring months. 

Invest in Comfy Furniture

You can’t have a cozy space with uncomfortable couches and chairs. Now might be the time to invest in something comfy and plush so you can take full advantage of your space. 

Everyone has different couch preferences, so shopping in-person is the most ideal option. Do you want something soft that you can sink into, or would you prefer a firm couch that helps improve your posture? 

Whatever it is, throw a warm quilt over it and it’s ready for the family to enjoy. 

Use Warm Lighting

What’s more comfy and cozy than the dim flow from an orange-toned light? 

The bright lights that we’re used to aren’t very cozy. They strain the eyes and they’re often cool-toned.

Warm and dim lighting gives you that “cozy” feeling. Consider things like fairy lights (or string lights), or lights with changing colors and dimming options that you can control from an app on your phone. 

Lighting sets the mood, so pay attention to it. 

Use Candles

Speaking of lighting, candles are another great option for adding a bit of light and warmth to your space.

We suggest scented candles for the ultimate comfy and cozy experience. Nearly all candle brands offer seasonal scents. Some of our favorites are warm pumpkin and cinnamon blends or sweet vanilla. 

You’ll feel as though you’re sitting and waiting for cookies or other baked goods to come out of the oven. What’s cozier than that? 

Use Warm, Shaggy Rugs

Do your floors not keep your feet warm?

Whether you have tile, vinyl or hardwood flooring, you might not be getting cozy vibes from your feet. Even carpet can feel less than ideal if it’s old and flat. The good news is that any of this can be fixed!

Thick, plush shag or faux-fur rugs are a great way to give yourself a better and more comfy experience. You can even layer rugs for a Moroccan vibe, contrasting patterns and textures while providing a cozy surface for your toes.

Extra-Soft Everything

Why not use the coziest season to bring out your softest items? 

We love microfiber and fleece throw blankets for cozy additions to our bedrooms and living rooms, as well as soft pillowcases. 

You can get a couch cover for any couch that isn’t reaching its peak cozy potential. Most of them come on and off with ease, so you don’t have to go through a hassle every time the seasons change. 

Cozy Slippers At the Door

This isn’t a decoration, but it is a great way to make sure that your family doesn’t drag dirt into the home. Place a pair of warm slippers for every person who lives with you at the entrance to your home (preferably next to a shoe rack). 

This lets your friends and family know that they need to remove their shoes before coming in, but they can trade them for slippers!

Do You Have a Cozy Home?

A cozy home is essential for colder winter months. Why not amp up the cozy factor in your house with some of our tips and tricks? 

Making your home cozy, warm and inviting can be lots of fun, and something you can work on together as a household. Keep the warm and fuzzy feelings going all winter long!

If you’re looking for a new home that you can transform into a cozy sanctuary, we’re here to help. Reach out and connect with us to start the no-pressure conversation and discuss your options! 

Posted in Lifestyle
Dec. 23, 2020

Wishing You a Merry Holiday Season from Hawaii Realty International


December 2020

Hi Friends and Neighbors,

The holidays are in full swing, and we’re as busy as Santa’s elves!

With the market still playing catch-up after an unseasonably slow spring, this may be the hottest December real estate market in years.

Yes, yes, we’ll still be eating, drinking and being merry while we safely share the joy with our loved ones. But we’re also excited to help our clients find a Christmas miracle or two as they list or buy a home!

From our hearts to yours, we wish you the happiest, healthiest December and a very merry holiday season. 

Read on for local updates, featured listings and more! 

Talk soon,
Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

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Honolulu Family
47-795 Malumalu Place

3 BD | 2 BA | 1+ acre of land | $1,450,000
Represented Seller
45-202 Wena St

4 BD | 3 BA | 1,744 SQ FT | $885,000
Represented Buyer
3027 Pualei Circle #307

1 BD | 1 BA | 676 SQ FT | $525,000
Represented Seller
91-721 Puamaeole St #19A
Ewa Beach

2 BD | 2 BA | 874 SQ FT | $458,000
Represented Buyer
751 Kaipi'i Street

4 BD | 2.5 BA | 1,370 SQ FT 
SOLD for $911,000 - Represented Seller
Sold in 23 days for 101% of Asking Price!
801 Kakala St #1006

3 BD | 2 BA | 945 SQ FT 
SOLD for $505,000 - Represented Seller
Sold in 10 days for 101% of Asking Price!
91-1057 Laaulu St #4G
Ewa Beach

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,060 SQ FT 
SOLD for $502,000
Represented Buyer
41-684 Kaaumana Pl #0

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,386 SQ FT
SOLD for $548,000
Represented Buyer
41-1694A Kalanianaole Hwy

3 BD | 2.5 BA | 2,546 SQ FT
SOLD for $1,200,000 - Represented Seller
Sold in 4 days for 100% of Asking Price!
Stay in touch with us!
© 2020 Hawaii Realty International, All rights reserved.
970 N. Kalaheo Ave A210, Kailua, Hawaii 96734
Posted in Newsletter
Dec. 18, 2020

7 Indoor House Plants to Help Brighten Your Home During the Colder Months

If the dark and dreary days of late fall and winter tend to bring you down, why not brighten your home’s interior with indoor houseplants this year? Once you get one, you'll find it hard to stop acquiring them. That's how uplifting indoor plants can be.

Most indoor houseplants are inexpensive and require relatively little maintenance. However, if you prefer a more significant challenge, there are more needy and delicate options, such as orchids.

Here, though, we'll discuss seven of our favorite indoor houseplants. All are readily available at local garden or home stores. You might even have friends with cuttings to share from their plants.

Indoor Houseplants to Lift Your Spirits

Important Note! The first four houseplants listed are toxic and should be kept away from cats and dogs. The last three plants listed are safe for pets (although the plants themselves might look a bit ragged after their first "pet vs plant" encounter).

Plants to Keep Away From Pets

If you love surrounding yourself with vibrant life, you may have both flora and fauna sharing your home. Just watch out that neither is harmed by the other. Avoid tragedy by keeping poisonous plants on a high shelf or in a room with the door closed. Many houseplants are super simple, but there are some essential rules. This may be the most important: Don’t mix pets and poisonous plants! Now, on to the houseplants.

1. Pothos

Like many other fast-growing plants, hardly anyone ever pays for the pothos. At some workplaces, you'll find pothos that started as a wee clipping from a coworker’s plant, now growing wildly and taking over a desktop or windowsill. Yes, they do enjoy the sunlight.

As many have experienced, it is possible to over-water the pothos, so be sure to water it only when the soil is mostly dry. You'll enjoy watching its curled-up leaves gradually unfurl, somewhat like an umbrella. Don't be impatient, though. It takes a few days. That’s part of the fun!

2. Snake Plant

The snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is native to tropical climates. These are among the best indoor plants and are sometimes referred to as "pieces of furniture," being so hardy as to withstand even weeks of neglect or the mistakes of plant newbies. Snake plants are great for beginners.

Snake plants don't need frequent watering since their thick, waxy, fibrous leaves store lots of moisture. If anything will kill a snake plant, though, it's cat pee, which alters the soil's pH. So keep your cats away.

Besides, eating snake plant leaves causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in both cats and dogs. No bueno.

3. Clivia

The clivia (Clivia miniata) is one of the most beautiful indoor flowering plants. While it can take a few years for this plant's bright orange blossoms to appear, the bloom is truly awe-inspiring and worth the wait. Clivia is fickle, and might not bloom regularly, making it even more special when it happens.

If you see a clivia plant suddenly start looking sickly, check the roots. These plants tend to split into multiples and proliferate, or they can become root-bound just as fast. If this happens, you should either divide the plant or put it in a larger pot.

Be aware that the clivia, especially large amounts of it, can make your pets quite ill, so take the necessary precautions.

4. Polka Dot Plant

With its delicately patterned and brightly colored leaves, the polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) makes a welcome addition to any room of the house. While this plant can grow from seeds, it's more often propagated by cuttings. Ask around, maybe your friends have some to share!

With a stunning plant like this, there are sure to be many clippings available.

Although the polka dot plant isn't highly poisonous to pets, it might give them tummy aches if they eat a lot of it. For your pets’ sake and the sake of this lovely plant, try your best to keep them away from each other.

Pet-Safe Plants

You may be surprised at how many of the best indoor plants are also safe for pets—though you don't exactly want to give any of these to your cat or dog for dinner, either.

But if you want to know how to brighten up your home in a pet-safe way, then check out these and other pet-friendly indoor houseplants.

5. Spider Plant

Who hasn't owned a spider plant (Chlorophytum) at one time or another? Hardly anyone has to purchase these dangling beauties. Most of the ones we've had in our homes began as offshoots or "babies," grown from someone else's original plant. Spider plant is among the most common houseplants, and for good reason.

Since spider plants usually hang from a hook on the ceiling, your cats and dogs will gaze longingly at them. But gazing is all they can do, unless, of course, it grows down to the floor.

In that case, it would be wise to trim off some of those baby spider plants and give them away to people you know.

6. African Violet

African violets (Saintpaulia) enjoy low light and moderate temperatures, making them ideal inside plants, as well as easy to care for. A soil-free potting mix and a balanced fertilizer help African violets stay healthy.

An African violet produces beautiful bright purple flowers among its thick and fuzzy leaves. And even though it won't harm your pets if they ingest it, this is a delicate plant that you should display on a high shelf.

7. Calathea

Another of the indoor flowering plants is the Calathea, also known as prayer plant, zebra plants, and peacock plants. There actually are several different species in the Calathea family, some with intricate patterns of parallel lines on the leaves.

Since plants in the Calathea family come from the tropics, they require warmth and a certain level of humidity to flourish. Given this, it does seem odd that they prefer limited water and indirect light. They are what they are. And they are great as houseplants!

Your Indoor Garden

Indoor houseplants don't just brighten your home. They also clean the air, release moisture, relieve stress, promote relaxation, and even increase our attention spans. What's more, the presence of plants can give anyone's spirits a boost.

If you're thinking of selling your home but not planning to fully stage it, houseplants are a nice way to liven up your interior for photos and prospective buyers. Houseplants can even be a heartfelt little welcome gift for the buyers of your home. So try one of the hearty plants we've discussed here!

If you're interested in buying or selling real estate in Kailua, Honolulu, Oahu, and beyond, give us a shout! We're a seasoned team of Kailua real estate agents with offices in Kailua, HI, and we'd love to hear from you.


Posted in Lifestyle
Dec. 14, 2020

Should I Buy a Real or Artificial Christmas Tree?

Real or Artificial Christmas Trees

With the holiday season in full swing, you might be wondering: Should I buy a real or artificial Christmas tree? A majority of Americans decorate a Christmas tree for the holidays, but you may not have considered whether a real or fake tree is better for the health of your family and the environment. 

This year, we decided to look into the health and environmental impacts of real vs artificial Christmas trees. In this article, we’ll explore the history, production and disposal of real and artificial Christmas trees, and we’ll share some tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint and have a “green” Christmas!

So, should you buy a real or artificial Christmas tree? Let’s find out, starting with a little background on the subject.

A Brief History of the Christmas Tree

Predecessors of the Christmas tree date all the way back to ancient Rome, but their modern conception comes from 16th-century Germany. Early Christmas trees were adorned with apples, candy canes and festively shaped pastries — decidedly more edible decor than the current fashion of lights and ornaments. Hessian soldiers brought the tradition from Germany to North America during the Revolutionary War, and by the 19th century Christmas trees were popular throughout the young United States.

All Christmas trees were real until Germany innovated again, inventing artificial trees in the 19th century. The first artificial Christmas trees were crafted from goose feathers dyed green to mimic evergreen boughs. Fast forward to the present, and you can now buy an artificial Christmas tree made of PVC, optic fiber, mylar, cardboard, glass — you name it!

Today, over three quarters of American homes display a Christmas tree during the holidays, and over 80 percent of those trees are artificial. The trend is clearly towards artificial Christmas trees, but that may not be the healthiest option for your family or the environment. Here’s why.

Environmental and Health Impacts of Christmas Tree Production

At face value, artificial trees sound like a win-win proposition. Obviously, you don’t need to fell a real tree to get an artificial tree. Sounds pretty green! Even better, you can reuse your artificial tree and save another tree every year. However, these perceived benefits are based on the notion that chopping down a real tree is bad for the environment. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Real Christmas Tree Production

Real Christmas trees are actually grown on farms, like the produce you buy at the supermarket. It takes about eight years for the trees to grow to popular heights of five to seven feet, so the Christmas tree industry maintains an expansive forest habitat that might otherwise not exist. According to The Nature Conservancy, “Out of the 350-500 million growing on tree farms across the U.S., only 30 million trees are harvested for Christmas each year.”

Christmas tree farming occurs in all 50 states, so buying a real tree is more akin to patronizing your local farmers’ market, rather than supporting large-scale deforestation. Buying a real tree helps to incentivize those farmers to continue growing trees, capturing carbon, and providing more healthy forest habitat where wildlife can thrive. That’s all good stuff!

If real Christmas trees are a crop, does that mean they’re sprayed with pesticides? Unfortunately, yes. As Dr. Nathan Donley outlines in this 2019 article, real trees are sprayed with some pretty nasty stuff to help them grow successfully. But if proper farming practices are followed, the pesticides should not be around when you bring your tree home.

Pesticides are labeled with a “pre-harvest interval” which tells farmers when they can apply their last spray before harvest. Christmas trees are last sprayed in the spring or summer, which gives the pesticides time to break down before the trees are cut and sold. According to Jeffrey Jenkins, Ph.D., an environmental toxicologist and professor at Oregon State University, “These products [pesticides] have been evaluated by the EPA and they have a very long and involved process for evaluating potential impacts on human health.” 

So yes, pesticides are used on Christmas trees, but it’s not a major cause for concern. In his article, Dr. Nathan Donley states confidently that “the last thing you should do is go out and buy a new plastic tree. That is by far the worse choice for your health and the environment.” Here’s why.

Artificial Christmas Tree Production

Artificial trees are manufactured. Most artificial trees are made of PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which is a non-recyclable, non-biodegradable plastic. When PVC is manufactured, burned or landfilled, harmful dioxins are released, potentially leading to developmental and reproductive problems in humans and animals. This is definitely not good for your health or the environment.

To make matters worse, most artificial trees are produced overseas. That means less money goes to local farmers, and more fossil fuels are burned to ship the fake trees to be sold in the US.

As far as production goes, real Christmas trees are the clear winner over artificial trees for personal and environmental health.

Recycling Christmas Trees

Real or artificial, chances are you have a tree. When the holidays are over, what do you do with it?

With an artificial tree, you can pack it away for next year. In addition to the convenience of simply pulling your tree from storage, reusing the same artificial tree over a period of years helps to diminish the environmental impact of its initial production. That is, as long as you’re not buying a new artificial tree every year.

If you do get rid of an artificial tree, it will likely end up in a landfill. As we mentioned previously, the PVC from which your fake tree is made is not recyclable, and it is prone to releasing negative chemical compounds into the environment. In short, if you’re going to buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s something you’ll be happy to use for a long time. 

If you go with a real Christmas tree, you have a few environmentally friendly options to get rid of it. Real trees are recyclable, and most municipalities offer curbside pickup of real trees after the holidays. For info on how and where to recycle your tree on Oahu, Hawaii News New has you covered.

Another green option is a real, potted Christmas tree. Potted trees are live trees that you can decorate and nurture for the holidays, then plant in your yard and watch it grow. The downside is that they tend to be on the small side, as a large tree would be heavy and require a hefty pot. But if you have a hankering for the real thing, and you have a place to plant it, a potted Christmas tree is a great option.

Buying a Real or Artificial Christmas Tree

From production to disposal, real trees have less negative impact on the environment than artificial trees. Of course, there are a few more factors to consider when you make your next Christmas tree purchase. Let’s wrap up by listing out the pros and cons we’ve listed, and a few more for good measure.

Real Christmas Tree Pros

- Supports local farmers

- Provides forest habitat for wildlife

- Captures carbon

- Recyclable and compostable

- Makes your living room smell great!

Real Christmas Tree Cons

- Heavy and unwieldy

- May trigger allergies

- Must purchase new each year

- May come with some pests, since pesticides wear off between last application and sale

Artificial Christmas Tree Pros

- Reusable

- Cheaper over the long term

- Easy setup (sometimes with built-in lights)

- No allergens

- No pests

- Never sprayed with pesticides

Artificial Christmas Tree Cons

- Emissions from manufacturing

- Emissions from international shipping

- Rarely made in America

- Non-recyclable

- Releases harmful chemicals


For the most environmentally-friendly Christmas, we recommend purchasing a real Christmas tree. If you must use an artificial tree, or if you already have one, try and use it for as many years as possible to minimize the negative environmental impact.

While the Christmas tree is not ubiquitous, it is certainly a centerpiece of holiday cheer in our households, and maybe in yours too! We hope this article can help you make green decisions in your holiday decorating endeavors this year and into the future. And when the time comes to rethink your living arrangements, we hope you’ll think of Hawaii Realty International as your trusted adviser in real estate decisions as well. Let us know how we can help!

Happy holidays!

Posted in Lifestyle
Dec. 4, 2020

Oahu Real Estate Recap Newsletter: November 2020


November 2020

Hi Friends and Neighbors,

One defining feature of this year’s housing market has been the “at home” revolution.

Staying at home. Learning at home. Working at home.

Life these days is lived “at home,” for better or worse.

In a new survey from LendingTree, nearly half of respondents said they now work from home. Yet only 42% of that group work in a dedicated office space.

Of the rest, 19% work in a living room, 18% in a bedroom, and — skipping down the list — at least 2% work outside. (Nothing like fresh air, I guess!) Men were more likely than women to use a dedicated office, at 48 to 30% respectively.

Consequently, it’s no surprise that over a quarter of likely movers place features like office space at the top of their list of must-haves in their new home.

Now more than ever, an extra room works wonders for the mind, body and soul (and productivity). A bigger, better kitchen can liven dull weekday dinners. A more spacious yard offers pleasant afternoons, not cooped up inside.

With mortgage rates still below 3%, it remains a uniquely good time to buy, sell, or buy and sell a home. Now’s the time to consider your options, before the holidays arrive!

As always, if you have questions about the market, or if you or someone you know is thinking of making a change, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re happy to help!

Read on for local updates, featured listings and more! 

Talk soon,
Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

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47-795 Malumalu Place

3 BD | 2 BA | 1+ acre of land | $1,450,000
801 Kakala St #1006

3 BD | 2 BA | 945 SQ FT | $499,000
751 Kaipi'i Street

4 BD | 2.5 BA | 1,370 SQ FT | $898,000
41-684 Kaaumana Pl #0

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,386 SQ FT | $538,000
Represented Buyer
41-1694A Kalanianaole Hwy

3 BD | 2.5 BA | 2,546 SQ FT
SOLD for $1,200,000
Sold in 4 days for 100% of Asking Price!
55-347 Kamehameha Hwy

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,098 SQ FT 
SOLD for $875,000
Represented Buyer
950 Lehua Avenue #602
Pearl City

2 BD | 1 BA | 674 SQ FT
SOLD for $299,000
2257 Kula Kolea Drive

4 BD | 2 BA | 1,864 SQ FT 
Sold for $970,000
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Posted in Newsletter