HRI Blog



Sept. 17, 2021

Home Battery Backup Systems: What To Know Before Retrofitting Your Home

Island living in Ohau can be a dream come true. Yet, Mother Nature also enjoys the location.

Whether it’s a heat wave brownout or an earthquake interrupting service, you may not be able to control power outages. Thankfully, the tech world hears your concerns and has solutions for providing comfortable living during these occurrences. 

If you are a current homeowner or looking to purchase a home in sunny Oahu, it’s worth some research to improve your home’s efficiency and resilience.

Maybe a home battery backup is right for you! Read our guide about home battery backup systems and how they are changing the way homeowners think about sustainable power.

What Are Home Battery Backup Systems?

If you have ever endured a lengthy power outage, you know the mess it can create with food spoilage and humidity levels that can damage furnishings and cabinetry.

You may also be part of the growing population of remote workers who require reliable power to do your job. 

Worse yet, you may have a family member with medical equipment that can cause a life-threatening situation if power is lost.

In any of these scenarios, a home battery backup system may be worth the investment that brings peace of mind. So, what are they and how do they work?

Reserved Power

Just like many of the batteries we use to operate children's toys or even the car, a home battery backup system stores power for later use. Units come in various sizes depending on your power source and energy needs.

A home battery can be lithium-ion such as those used in smartphones, or lithium ferro phosphate as used in solar systems. Another type of battery is lead acid, like typical car batteries. In terms of the amount of energy storage and lifespan, lithium-ion outperforms lead acid batteries for home use.

Many home battery backup systems can be installed inside or outside. For large homes, installation outside can be a great benefit if multiple batteries are desired.

How Do Home Batteries Work?

One of the attractions to home battery units is the power of a generator without the messiness and fumes of fuel. A home battery backup system gets energy from two different sources.

Solar Powered Battery Backup

This type of home battery backup gets its energy from solar panels. The battery unit is connected to your solar panel array and is provided with a consistent charge throughout the day.

Homeowners can reserve use of the battery for power outages, or use stored power to operate the home at night for further energy savings.

Grid Powered Battery Backup

This energy source comes from your utility company.

The home battery backup system is directly connected to the main house electrical panel. Should power be lost due to an electrical line falling or peak overload, the backup battery system will switch on to continue powering your home and devices.

Will a Backup Home Battery System Increase My Home's Value?

There are many factors in today's real estate market that suggest home battery backup systems do increase the value and marketability of your home.

In states like Hawaii, clean and sustainable energy resources are almost always a consideration for homebuyers. Here are a few reasons.

Millennial Homebuyers

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) completed a study for 2021 that demonstrates Millenials are the largest percentage of homebuyers now. This is a trend that has continued since 2014.

Millennial homebuyers have different expectations from their homes than previous generations. The top requirements for Millennials are energy efficiency, environmental friendliness, and automated technology. 

Home battery backup systems fulfill these requirements and may be a selling point that encourages higher bids for real estate that is already in high demand throughout Oahu.

Natural Disasters

Wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods… they are a possibility in many parts of Hawaii. Understandably, they are a top concern for potential homebuyers. Any home feature that makes life a little easier when nature strikes is a selling point.

Things to Consider Before Retrofitting a Home for a Battery Backup System

If you are considering installing a home battery backup system, there are some factors you need to consider before making a purchase and hiring an installer.

Energy Source

Will you be using grid power or solar to charge the battery units? Each source has advantages and disadvantages for capacity (how much energy is stored) and discharge (how much power is released). 

Some manufacturers such as Tesla require the purchase of their own brand of solar panels for use with their home battery backup systems. 

When using grid power for charging your home battery, check with your area's building codes for compliance.

Amount of Power Needed

Most people use home battery backup systems to power limited areas of the home such as HVAC, and a few outlets for small appliances and computers.

If you want to power the entire house, multiple units will be needed. Compare pricing based on amps and lifespan of the battery unit.

Space for Battery Units

The amount of space you are willing to dedicate to your battery installation is a very important factor before considering how to retrofit your home for backup power.

Decide if you have ample space in a utility room or garage. If not, you will want to shop for home battery backup systems that can be installed outside. Fortunately, the weather in Oahu and Hawaii is suitable for most outside units.

Homes With Battery Backup Systems in Oahu

The digital age offers many technological advancements to help us live comfortably and sustainably, even when things go wrong. If you want to make your home more efficient and more resilient to potential problems, a battery backup system might be part of your solution! 

Are you looking to buy a home, thinking of selling, or just want professional real estate advice on the advantages of energy-efficient home upgrades like home battery backup systems? Contact us to discuss how we can help you reach your goals.


Posted in Home Improvement
Sept. 9, 2021

The HRI Monthly ? Christmas Card Making, Art Gallery + More!

Hi Friends & Neighbors! 

You may not have asked for it, but they gave you one anyway.

A credit score, that is!

If, like most people, you need a loan to buy a home, your credit score plays a big role in the process. Unfortunately, your score may not perfectly reflect how reliable you are as a debtor. If you save diligently and avoid going into debt for purchases, your credit history may be lacking — making loan approval that much harder.

But there’s good news for first-time buyers looking to break free of the rent cycle!

As of September 18th, mortgage giant Fannie Mae will incorporate rent payments into their automated underwriting system. With this update, consistent rent payments will improve an applicant’s chances of being approved, while missed payments will not hurt your ability to qualify.

The change could make a big positive impact for many prospective homebuyers. Fannie Mae estimates that 17% of renters who were rejected for a loan would have actually been approved if their rental history had been considered.

With Oahu home values up about 30% year-over-year, this doesn’t mean that buying will suddenly become a walk in the park. But since loan pre-approval is an important early step, this system update is a welcome change.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. We’re happy to help you and anyone you send our way!

Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

Art Exhibit:
From Renoir to Kostabi
  • Now until October 22nd
  • 10:00 am - 10:00 pm 
  • FREE
  • Park West Gallery
Christmas Card
Making Workshop
  • Multiple dates starting September 4th
  • $99 per person
  • Ben Franklin Crafts
Is residential real estate
headed for a crash?

View Article
322 Aoloa St #1212

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,342 SQ FT 
LISTED for $998,000
92-1284 Kikaha St #64

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,267 SQ FT 
LISTED for $575,000
311 Ohua Ave #PH4

3 BD | 2.5 BA | 2,165 SQ FT 
LISTED for $825,000
1820 Kaioo Dr #A409

2 BD | 2 BA | 833 SQ FT 
SOLD for $725,000 - Represented Buyer
572 North Kalaheo Ave, Apt. A

4 BD | 3 BA | 2,728 SQ FT 
SOLD for $2,500,000 - Represented Buyer
1650 Ala Moana Blvd #1213

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,428 SQ FT 
SOLD for $920,000 - Represented Seller
Stay in touch with us!
© 2021 Hawaii Realty International, All rights reserved.
970 N. Kalaheo Ave A210, Kailua, Hawaii 96734
Posted in Newsletter
Aug. 31, 2021

Tips for Buying Your Oahu Dream Home


Botanical garden settings, panoramic views, and miles of beaches make Oahu a sought-after location for a dream home. Outdoor and water enthusiasts will find much to suit their lifestyles in wilderness parks and warm water beaches. If you’re longing for the nature-inspired serenity afforded by some of the most spectacular sunsets of Hawaii, your wish can become a reality when you buy a house on Oahu. Here’s how you can make everything come true.


Getting Started: Check Your Credit Score

Checking your credit history and credit score will give you an idea of what terms various lending institutions will offer and how much of a down payment will be needed. Your credit score, also called a FICO score, may already be available to you if you use one of the many credit cards offering it as part of their service package. If not, you can obtain your score from one of the three credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion). You can also subscribe to a credit monitoring service. If you subscribe to the FICO service, you’ll be able to see the same scores that mortgage lenders will be looking at when you apply for financing.

Do the Math and Determine Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

A lending institution will want to know your debt-to-income ratio and there can be varying requirements. A conventional mortgage typically requires a debt-to-income ratio to be no greater than 28-percent in order to qualify for monthly loan payments.

You will need to figure in your property insurance, taxes and other projected home-owner expenses when you work out your debt-to-income ratio. Most lending institutions will help you calculate how much of a down payment you’ll need to get the loan you want. You can also find helpful home-buyers’ work sheets and calculation guides at the CFPB’s website.

Get Pre-Approved

Unless you already have an established relationship with a lending institution, there’s no reason to not shop around for the best deal. This may be different for each borrower. The most desirable aspect of a mortgage could be the size of the down payment, the amount of the monthly installments, the interest rate or the length of the loan.

Once you’ve settled on what bank you’ll be dealing with, get pre-approved. This is actually a two-step process that starts with pre-qualification; this refers to a preliminary discussion of your credit, income and employment history. After finding out what loan programs you’re eligible for and you’ve settled on one that fits, you’ll be asked to provide back-up documentation. The actual approval will come from an underwriter who reviews the documentation you provide.

Start House-Hunting With Your Approved Purchasing Amount and a Seasoned Real-Estate Guide

Once you’ve obtained an approval from a lending institution and determined how much purchasing power you have, you’re ready to begin house-hunting. You’ll need a good guide — one who’s experienced, knowledgeable of the area where you want to live and who can be counted on to do what’s best for you. That’s where we come in. If you’re looking for a home for sale in Honolulu, Kailua or one of the other dream spots on Oahu, we’ll help you find it and make sure you tour the types of homes that reflect exactly what you’re looking for.

Wrapping-Up the Deal

When you’ve found the home of your dreams, have an inspection performed to make sure all the vital areas are in good shape. You’ll most likely also be required by your mortgage provider to have an appraisal performed. You may still be working out the final purchase-price negotiations at this point and the inspection and appraisal could have some bearing on how that proceeds.

The closing is the final step and your mortgage provider will present you with a closing disclosure three business days before everything is settled. The CD will outline all the terms and purchase details. Keep this document handy because you’ll need it to claim certain items on your income tax filings.

We Want You to Enjoy Your New Home!

Looking for your dream home in Kailua, Honolulu, or other sought-after areas of Oahu and Hawaii? We’re here to make it all happen for you and we look forward to hearing from you.


Posted in Buying a home
Aug. 23, 2021

Renovate or Sell? Key Benefits of Selling a House “As-Is”


There are plenty of homes for sale “as-is” in the Oahu real estate market and elsewhere, but what does this mean exactly?


In real estate, “as is” is a term used to describe a home that’s listed for sale in its current condition. In other words, the seller won’t make any repairs to the home from the second it’s put on the market to the moment it closes.


For instance, let’s say you have an Encinitas home for sale and you’ve decided to list it “as is.” In this case, the buyer agrees to purchase the home understanding that what they see is what they get.


There are a few key benefits of selling a house “as is,” and even the top Encinitas realtor may recommend that you list your home on the market without making any repairs to it.

Why Sell A House “As Is?”

Now that you’ve decided to list your Encinitas home for sale (or perhaps elsewhere in the Oahu real estate market), and put it on the market “as is,” you’re still wondering what are the key benefits of selling a home without making any repairs to it?


To help put this into perspective, we’ve put together a list of key benefits of selling a house “as is” that you can read below.


But before we get started, it’s good to remember that a home for sale “as is” comes with an important caveat: the seller must disclose any problems or issues that would impact the value of the home and affect the buyer’s ability to quietly enjoy the property once the sale has closed.

Some disclosure examples are plumbing issues, structural flaws, environmental hazards and noise nuisances caused by airborne or impact sounds. Even the top Encinitas realtor will advise any seller to disclose these types of issues.


What’s more, sellers’ disclosures are part of Hawaii's real estate disclosure laws. This means that they’re legaly required in the Oahu real estate market. And almost all states across the U.S. have disclosure requirements of their own. 

Key Benefits of Selling a House “As Is”

2. Quicker Sale

One benefit of selling a house “as is” is the potential for a quick close. 

To compete against renovated properties, an “as is” home needs to be reasonably priced, especially if the home comes with a long list of problems that you’ll need to disclose to the buyer. If this is the case, you should expect that buyers would pay less for your home than they would for a renovated one in the vicinity.

You may think that selling your home at a lower price is unfair just because it’s not as spiffy as the one down the block. But there’s a silver lining here.


An attractive price tag could draw in prospective buyers quicker than an aggressively priced, turn-key home down the street. In turn, this could lead to a quicker sale, rather than your home collecting real estate dust by sitting on the market for too long. Also, buyers who are looking to put their stamp on a new home might prefer a fixer-upper or an “as-is” property anyway.

If you’re curious to know your home’s worth before speaking with a real estate agent — where it’s in the Oahu real estate market or elsewhere — check out our home value estimators.

2. Cash Offer Potential

You’ve heard about the ubiquitous real estate deal — a property with an asking price that’s “too good to be true” that no homebuyer, real estate developer, or investor would dare pass on it. More often than not, these “property gems” are “as-is” homes with perfectly good bones. They were built on solid foundations albeit with the wear-and-tear of an aging property that hasn’t seen an update in years.


But no matter: if you’re looking to attract a cash offer on your home, it may come as no surprise to you that an “as is” property for sale will spark the interest of a real estate developer or investor who’s looking to close quickly and is prepared to make an all-cash offer on your home.

These buyers are in the “fixer-upper market.” Typically, they don’t mind purchasing a home that’s in a state of disrepair. On the contrary, these buyers prefer a home that they could either demolish and rebuild from the ground up, or demo the existing structure to renovate it to their liking.

3. Avoid Expensive & Time-Consuming Repairs

You may not have the wherewithal to renovate your home, period. Let’s face it: your time is better spent elsewhere, especially if you’re considering making the repairs yourself instead of hiring a handyman or contractor to do it for you.


That said, you can certainly give your home a quick spruce by making a few inexpensive cosmetic changes. These changes will increase your chances of attracting different buyer personas — not just the ones looking to flip the property after a quick close.


Also, sprucing up your home can help it make a good first impression on prospective buyers. For instance, slapping on a new coat of paint to the walls in the living room and replacing a rusty showerhead can go a long way in an open house. But the best part is that these quick and effortless updates won’t make a huge dent in your bank account, so you can save your money for other expenses like the home inspection, escrow and recording fees at closing.

4. Consider ROI

Here’s the ugly truth about home improvements and renovation costs: their returns on investment aren’t as robust as you may think. In other words, that $50,000 inground pool won’t add $50K to the overall value of your home. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average ROI of a home’s renovation costs is approximately 68%. This means that your $30,000 kitchen makeover is actually worth $20K, so you’ll only end up recouping about two-thirds of what you put in.


Sure, real estate appreciation can make up for the difference over time, but do you have the time to wait? Remember, you need to sell your home yesterday. And investing in repairs hoping that you’ll recoup the entire renovation cost is nothing more than a chimera: a thing that is wished for but is impossible to achieve.

Finally, you might have ambitious plans for a new house in the Oahu real estate market or elsewhere. Therefore, strategically saving your money in this sense can help make those plans come to fruition. And if those plans happen to lead you to the Oahu markets, we’d love to hear from you.


Posted in Selling a House
Aug. 13, 2021

The HRI Monthly | Local Articles & Listing Updates | August 2021

Hi Friends & Neighbors! 

Is buying the home you want easier said than done?

The market has gotten a bit less crazy in recent months, with some prospective buyers put off by rising prices and stiff competition. But supply remains historically low, and the average sale takes just a week... so don’t go celebrating yet.

Luckily, there are proven ways to make your home buying experience less stressful and more successful. And you don’t have to do it alone!

Here are just a few ways to win the home you want, and how we’ll help you get there:
  • Get Pre-Approved: We’ll connect you with our network of recommended lenders to make sure you’re 100% ready to make a timely, winning offer.
  • Find a Hidden Gem: We’ll search high and low for off-market and coming-soon opportunities so you can beat the crowd.
  • Sweeten the Deal: We’ll help you craft an attractive, strategic offer and negotiate terms — without overpaying or overextending.

Want to know more? Whether you’re frustrated with your past home search or just getting started, let’s talk! We’re always happy (and grateful!) to help you and anyone you send our way!

Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

5 inexpensive ways to make
your home green

Read Post
Hawaii Realty International
Paul Allen's Hawaii estate sells for $43M; Oprah home gets $14M on Orcas Island
View Article
Geek Wire
6 tips for building generational wealth through real estate
View Article
322 Aoloa St #1212

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,342 SQ FT 
LISTED for $998,000
92-1284 Kikaha St #64

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,267 SQ FT 
LISTED for $575,000
311 Ohua Ave #PH4

3 BD | 2.5 BA | 2,165 SQ FT 
LISTED for $825,000
1820 Kaioo Dr #A409

2 BD | 2 BA | 833 SQ FT 
SOLD for $725,000 - Represented Buyer
572 North Kalaheo Ave, Apt. A

4 BD | 3 BA | 2,728 SQ FT 
SOLD for $2,500,000 - Represented Buyer
1650 Ala Moana Blvd #1213

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,428 SQ FT 
SOLD for $920,000 - Represented Seller
Stay in touch with us!
© 2021 Hawaii Realty International, All rights reserved.
970 N. Kalaheo Ave A210, Kailua, Hawaii 96734
Posted in Newsletter
Aug. 6, 2021

How to Prepare Your Space For Bringing Baby Home

With a baby on the way, you might feel overwhelmed by all the preparation needed to make your home safe and functional before the new family member arrives. You're not alone. According to a new survey by Orlando Health, 40 percent of new mothers feel depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed following their baby's delivery. 

Although it takes some work, preparing your home for a new baby ahead of time can actually help put your mind at ease. You'll be able to focus solely on taking care of your baby instead of trying to find the right items that have gotten lost in cabinets, closets or under the bed. We’re here to help make baby-proofing your home easier and give you peace of mind.

Read on for our top seven tips on preparing a space and bringing baby home! 

Create Baby Stations

One of the most helpful things you can do to prepare your home for a new baby is to create baby stations throughout your home. Here are some of our recommendations: 

1. Changing Station

A dedicated area helps when trying to change a crying, messy baby! Consider including all of these items in drawers or baskets: 

  • Unwrapped diapers (ready to grab and use)

  • Diaper creams

  • Wipes

  • Clean clothes

  • Towel

  • Spit up cloths

  • Trash can/diaper pail

  • Hamper

  • Toys to keep your baby occupied

Babies are usually wriggling and active when it's time to change them. You'll have your hands full keeping them still, so this is why we recommend including as many items as you think you'll need. You can also keep a pre-packed diaper bag in this area for when you're ready to hit the road. 

2. Feeding Station

The kitchen is where you might prepare formula for your baby, but of course you'll also need a dedicated station for feeding, formula or not. Start with a comfortable chair in the nursery so that you can have privacy if there are guests in your home. Here are more items you'll want to include: 

  • Spit-up cloths

  • Baby books if your baby is ready to fall asleep

  • Nightlight or soft task light

  • Bottles of water for mom

  • Snacks for mom

  • A small tv or a stand for an iPhone/tablet 

Feeding your baby takes some time, so it’s a nice opportunity to try and relax, listen to a podcast or catch up on your favorite show. 

3. Nighttime Station

Routines can help prepare your baby for sleep, especially if they're fussy. By creating a nighttime station, you won't have to search throughout your house to find items that will comfort your baby. Try including:

  • Bedtime baby books

  • Soft night lamp or nursery lamp

  • Calming music

  • Spit-up cloth

  • Baby monitor

We recommend setting your baby monitor in a dedicated space that gives a good view of your baby's crib, like a nearby shelf or a dresser. To get the positioning just right, you might also consider installing a small shelf strictly for the baby monitor. 

Baby-Proof Your Home

Once you have some dedicated stations, your next step should be baby-proofing your home. We recommend baby-proofing sooner rather than later, as it's hard to find the time once you have a crying and needy infant to manage! Here are a few steps to get started: 

4. Secure Furniture

Make sure that you install corner protectors on sharp furniture corners so that your child doesn’t injure themself as they grow and move around. You'll also want to secure furniture to the wall so that it isn't prone to tipping and falling. 

5. Electrical Equipment

Cover up unused electric outlets with covers. You'll also want to do some basic cord management by bundling cords with zip ties and mounting them to the wall instead of in a tangle on the floor to prevent catches and snags.

6. Sleep Safety

When it comes to baby safety, making sure their sleeping area is safe is one of the most important tasks you can do. Make sure that the crib is free of stuffed animals, pillows, and blankets that your baby may suffocate on since they're not able to control their bodies. You'll also want the crib in your room until they're one year old. 

7. Choking Hazards

Check your home for any small, loose items that may become choking hazards if your baby picks them up and puts them in their mouth. This can include items like pen caps, loose change, Legos, glass nick nacks, and a whole lot more. 

Hanging pull-cords for blinds can also pose hazards for your baby to play with. They can easily wrap around small necks or get caught on hands and wrists. Wrap them up, or invest in some cordless blinds. 

You'll also want to do some research into houseplants. If they're within reach of your baby or small child, they can easily be choking hazards. Some plants are also toxic for humans and animals, so make sure you're only purchasing safe plants. 

If you find that some plants you already own are toxic, you can donate them to someone you know or place them in spots where your child will never reach.

Bringing Baby Home: One Step at a Time

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do before your baby arrives, from home improvement projects to stocking up on all the essentials. However, if you keep a list of things to do and make progress one step at a time, you’ll be able to get things done without stressing more than you already might be!


On the hunt for a new home that's perfect for your growing family? Connect with us today to begin your home search!

Posted in Lifestyle
July 30, 2021

Discover the Perfect Time for Buying a Vacation Home

Are you interested in purchasing a vacation home? Are you wondering what you should know before you take the plunge?

Whether it’s across the country or across the road, buying a second home can be appealing for a variety of reasons. You may be looking to make a sound investment, establish rental income for retirement, or own your dream vacation home in a destination you love to visit.

That said, it’s still wise to weigh the pros and cons of all your options, before you purchase a second home.

Here are some things you'll want to consider.

1. Know Your Budget

If you've worked hard and saved, you may be looking forward to rewarding yourself with that gorgeous condo near the water or cozy mountain cottage you've always dreamed of. When reviewing your finances, just keep in mind that the purchase price isn't the only cost that second-home owners face.

No doubt you will pay taxes and homeowner's insurance on your new home. There will also be utilities such as heat, hot water, and electricity to consider, as well as inevitable maintenance to keep things in good, working condition.

If your home is a condo or located in a gated community, you might also be responsible for HOA fees. This may include services like lawn mowing or the use of a community pool. If it doesn't, remember that you may need to pay someone to maintain the property if you don't plan on living there full time. In this regard, an HOA can be a big plus for a second home, since you won’t need to manage as much upkeep while you’re away from the property.

You'll also want to consider what it will cost to furnish your home, as well as the ongoing cost of maintenance. Make sure you leave yourself a little cushion for emergencies.

Add up your estimated costs and decide what you can truly afford. Consider the rent you'll need to charge in order to keep up with your monthly expenses. Is this enough to cover the costs, and will you be able to generate a little income? Depending on the leasing rates in your target second-home area, you may come out with considerable monthly profit, or you may be cutting things uncomfortably close.

Buying a second home or vacation home can be a wonderful opportunity, and carefully planning your budget will ensure that you can enjoy the experience rather than regret it down the line.

2. Location, Location, Location

As with all real estate, it's important to consider where your potential second home is located. If you intend it to be a vacation home, will you be happy visiting the same place again and again?

Many of us have somewhere away from home that we truly love, but many others prefer not to be locked down to one location. If your options are a second home or occasional trips to far-flung lands, consider which is best for you. (If you have the resources for both, even better!)

Location is perhaps even more important with an income property. As mentioned above, it’s critical that you research the going rates for rent in the neighborhood to make sure your costs are covered. Also, you will have some responsibilities as a landlord.

If your income property is near your primary residence, it’s less hassle to manage the property and tenants yourself. However, if the property is further away, or if you simply don’t want to deal with the extra work of being a landlord, you may want to hire a property management company.

3. Know About Appreciation

You may be purchasing a house to renovate and flip, or you may want to use it as an investment property over a period of years. In this case, it's important that your home increases in value over time. Do a little research and make sure that this is a fairly safe bet before you purchase.

First, the home should be located in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Are there good schools and a growing population? Are there enough amenities to attract young families or retirees? An income property in a dwindling rural area is probably not going to appreciate much in value, but in a popular city or destination it has great potential.

Do some research on the projected growth for a particular area before you make an offer. Interview real estate agents in the area, and find a good fit with an experienced agent whose guidance you trust. As an expert in the area, they will be your greatest resource.

4. Spend Some Time

Maybe it goes without saying, but before you drop hundreds of thousands of dollars on a vacation home, it’s important to know you really like the place! To get a sense of living in an area, it’s a good idea to rent a home, or at least a hotel, for a time before making the big investment.

If you're planning on eventually making your vacation home your full-time residence, make sure you take a trip during different seasons. Are you ready for southern heat in the summer? How about chilly nights in the mountains? Does the area have sufficient local business and amenities to meet your needs while you’re on vacation — say, restaurants, grocery stores, conveniences like gas stations, or medical facilities?

There’s no one perfect place for everyone; it’s just a matter of finding the right place for you. Once you know what you can realistically expect from your vacation home, and you are happy with it, then go for it!

Your Dream Vacation Home

Real estate transactions are among the largest purchases we make, so buying the perfect second home will take a bit of research. However, once you've found the right property in a location you love, you're on your way toward a very rewarding lifestyle! Your family and your stress levels will be thanking you for years to come.

Don't stop getting smart about vacation and rental homes now. For guidance on buying or selling a home in the San Diego area, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact Hawaii Realty International today! 


Posted in Buying a home
July 23, 2021

5 Inexpensive Ways To Make Your Home Green


Say you have an Oahu home for sale and would like to attract an eco-conscious buyer. Even if you live outside of the Oahu real estate market, there are myriad benefits to “greenifying” your home.


As you’ll soon find out, adding green updates to your home can save you thousands of dollars over time. Not only that, but you’ll be doing your part to reduce environmental pollution that harms the atmosphere.


Whatever your reasons for going green — whether you’re in the Oahu real estate market or elsewhere — you’re looking for updates that won’t take a toll on your bank account.

This precludes solar panels for the simple reason that they cost tens of thousands of dollars to install on your roof. And although solar energy is the endgame of going green — not to mention it’ll make your Oahu home for sale look uber-attractive to prospective buyers — solar panels aren’t exactly affordable.


But no worries. There are other ways to make your home greener as you work towards the prospect of solar energy down the road. In the meantime, below is our list of five inexpensive ways to make your home green. These steps will add value to your home in the Oahu real estate market, or anywhere else for that matter!

Conserve Water

One of the most inexpensive ways to make your home green is to start with your ceramic friend in the bathroom. Today’s standard toilet is guilty of consuming 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Granted, this figure is less damaging than the older toilet’s whopping 3.6 gallons of water per flush! But you can do even better. To conserve water and come up with an inexpensive way to make your home green, consider installing an affordable, high-efficiency toilet like this one.

This bad boy will save you more than 3,000 gallons of water each year. And here’s another bathroom upgrade for you: a low-flow showerhead that conserves roughly 160,000 liters of water each year, enough to fill a swimming pool that’s forty feet wide, twenty feet long and five feet deep. And now that you’re done with the bathroom, head on over to the kitchen where an energy-efficient dishwasher starting at around $399 will save approximately 4,000 gallons of water over its lifetime.

Conserve Energy

CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are a tad costlier than your traditional incandescent or halogen light bulb. But CFLs and LEDs possess a greater value over time. This is because they last up to 25 times longer and use up to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs. When you look at it this way, CFLs and LEDs are actually inexpensive ways to make your home green. And if you’re feeling ambitious, throw in motion-sensor lighting while investing in energy-efficient bulbs. This way, your light bulbs can switch off automatically when you’re not at home.

Additionally, there’s an upgrade in the energy side of things that’s also an inexpensive way to make your home green. We mean, of course, a SMART thermostat that will optimize your heating and cooling system at home and can be yours for the handsome price of $99. With this nifty gadget, you can control your HVAC remotely from an app on your phone, which comes in handy when you head out of town and forget to switch off the AC. Oh, and if you’re curious to know how smart home technology can affect the sale of your home (in a good way), click here to read one of our previous blog posts.

Consider Insulation

Another way to conserve energy and gas at home is to insulate your walls, ceilings and attic spaces. Besides soundproofing against airborne sounds, insulation can also improve your home’s resistance to heat flow. The more R-value imbued in your insulation of choice (eg. fiberglass, Rockwool, foam, etc.), the cooler your home will be. This is particularly useful in the summertime when air conditioners propped on windowsills nationwide thrum collectively while blasting frigid air for hours on end. Then comes the astronomical bill from the electric company, much to your dismay.


So, to avoid this tragedy and find an inexpensive way to make your home green, you can insulate the walls and attic spaces in your home with eco-friendly insulation called “blown-in cellulose.” The latter is composed of 85% recycled material and is one of the least intrusive ways of insulating your home. Check it out and see if it’s the right fit for you. If not, there are plenty of insulation types out there to choose from.

Install An Electric Car Charger

If you own an electric vehicle or are considering getting one, you can make your home greener by installing an electric car charger in your garage or near your parking space. But, wait… this consumes energy, you think to yourself. And so far we’ve been admonishing you against this wasteful practice.


But consider the alternative: carbon emissions from transportation alone account for 15% of the global warming pie. In light of this information, consider your electric vehicle a “hall pass” in the energy conservation department. For less than $200, you can purchase a portable Level 2 charger to install in a jiffy. And if you need any further incentives to own an electric vehicle — or looking for other inexpensive ways to make your home green — there are plenty of government programs and rebates to make this a lucrative opportunity for you.

Revamp Your Landscaping

Another way to make your home greener is to strategically improve its landscaping. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends planting trees around your home that’ll capture the sun’s scorching UV rays and absorb carbon dioxide in the air. If you have south-facing windows (where sunlight is abundant throughout the day), some tall greenery in between these windows and the sun’s path can keep your home cooler in the summertime. Conversely, if your tree loses foliage in the winter, direct sunlight can keep your home warmer on those chilly days.

You can make your home greener on the inside, too. To find out how, check out our blog post on “7 Easy Houseplants To Liven Your Living Space,” no green thumb required! Finally, let us know in the comments how your inexpensive ways to make your home green turn out!


Posted in Home Improvement
July 16, 2021

The HRI Monthly | Local Articles & Listing Updates | July 2021


July 2021

Hi Friends & Neighbors! 

There are many ways to invest your money: stocks, bonds, gold, even cryptocurrency. How about an investment in yourself?

In just the first quarter of 2021, US homeowners saw their wealth grow by $2 trillion as the housing market soared. Real estate is no slouch when it comes to return on investment, and it has the added benefit of, you know… living in it.

Since you are subscribed to this real estate newsletter, you’re probably familiar with the many advantages of home ownership. But at the risk of “preaching to the choir,” here are some more statistics we found worthy of sharing, courtesy of Habitats for Humanity:
  • U.S. homeowners have an average net wealth that is 400% higher than that of renters with similar demographics and earnings
  • On average, US homeowners gain an additional $9,500 in net wealth each year through their homes
  • Children of low-income homeowners are 11% more likely to graduate high school, 4.5% more likely to complete post-secondary education than children of low-income renters
  • Homeowners are 1.3 times more likely to become involved in a neighborhood group and to join a civic association than renters
Family, community, wealth — owning a home that meets your needs can improve your life in so many ways. If it feels like the right time for you to buy, sell or both, please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your options. We’re always here to help you and anyone you send our way!

Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

Hawaii's hot housing market is squeezing out renters
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Honolulu Civil Beat
This 27-year-old bought his first home in 2020 - his top tips for millennial homebuyers
View Article
322 Aoloa St #1210

1 BD | 1 BA | 713 SQ FT 
LISTED for $598,000
322 Aoloa St #1212

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,342 SQ FT 
LISTED for $998,000
1650 Ala Moana Blvd #1213

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,428 SQ FT 
LISTED for $925,000 - Representing Seller
1820 Kaioo Dr #A409

2 BD | 2 BA | 833 SQ FT 
LISTED for $718,000 - Representing Buyer
572 North Kalaheo Ave #A

4 BD | 3 BA | 2,728 SQ FT 
LISTED for $2,550,000 - Representing Buyer
841 Papalalo Pl

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,147 SQ FT 
SOLD for $1,040,000 - Represented Buyer 
46-098 Konohiki St #3321

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,029 SQ FT 
SOLD for $660,000 - Represented Buyer & Seller
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Posted in Newsletter
July 6, 2021

Pop of Pantone: Decorate With 2021’s Colors of the Year

Pantone, the company known worldwide for color expertise, released an annual color of the year (or colors of the year in 2021). In addition to helping companies like designers and manufacturers to define and control color, Pantone’s color guides and documentation help regular homeowners to pick a style that fits with their own sense of decor. This year, Pantone released “joint colors” for just the second time, in their colors of the year for 2021. (The last time colors of the year come in pairs was in 2016 with Rose Quartz and Serenity.)

So let’s get right down to it. What are 2021’s Pantone colors of the year?

Discover: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.

According to Pantone, the message of these shades is of strength and positivity. In this pair of hues, Pantone aimed to encapsulate hopefulness, energy, and clarity, a fresh look after a tough and uncertain year in 2020. Sounds nice, no?

Well, iIf you’re interested in adding a dash of positivity to your home’s decor, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are a great option. For some interesting and effective ways to use these colors throughout your house, read on!

On the Table

Yellow and gray are a popular color pair, and it’s easy to see why. Yellow’s vibrancy adds life and joy to the subtle, calming nature of gray, and each works well in small doses too.

Even without any paint, you can bring yellow into your home. Real or artificial sunflowers, tulips and daffodils can add a happy touch to a living space. Even a decorative bowl of lemons on the table does the trick. Taking some inspiration from the Pantone colors of the year, try putting them in a gray vase or bowl for an eye-pleasing contrast.

In the Bathroom

Look, bathrooms aren’t the most exciting part of the house. Most folks have a lot more fun in the kitchen, family room… you name it, really. So how ‘bout some color to bring your bathroom to life? Especially in a small space, a pop of color can make a big difference and create the illusion of size and scale.

If you’re still unsure about the colors you want, whether that’s Pantone’s gray and yellow combo or something else, start small. Don’t go painting a full wall right away, just get a little decoration and see what you think!

For instance, you can display a combination of yellow and gray hand towels, a yellow shower curtain, gray bath mats. It adds that wow factor while being temporary — ie. low or no commitment. When you're tired of the combination, change them out. This strategy is perfect when changing decor for each season or just on a whim, and it works particularly well with neutral wall paint as a backdrop. 

In the Bedroom

A bedroom should be comforting and calm, whether it’s a huge primary suite with a balcony and fireplace, or just a smaller spot to sleep. For an added touch of happy energy when you wake up in the morning, try incorporating yellow throughout the bedroom. A subtle, less-flashy yellow can even be nice as sheets or wall colors. 

For a dose of calm, Ultimate Gray is the ticket. More modern looks are also available in darker shades of gray, like sleek charcoal and steel.

In Furniture

Go big or go home, right? Bright yellow chairs love to stand out and offer a super cute and vintage vibe. On the flip side, a charcoal gray lamp adds a bit of modern bite to your design. 

If you're daring, how about a yellow sofa? A statement piece like this can serve as a focal point in the living room or a nice addition to a large bedroom. Find a contrasting gray designer wallpaper as an accent wall, or gray curtains to balance the brightness.

As Art

Perhaps the easiest, tried-and-true method of adding color to your home is art. Posters, paintings, photos, sculpture and more can all add interest without being overwhelming (and being easily interchangeable). 

If you are a budding artist yourself, try creating a gallery wall of alternating yellow and gray DIY artwork. It's a fun learning activity for kids and adults. 

Your Front Door

There are two ways you can include Ultimate Gray and Illuminating for the front door. The simplest way is with a wreath, adding a dash of color on your home’s facade. 

The other way is with paint. Be bold and paint your door yellow! And to mimic the Pantone-approved color pair for ultimate curb appeal, you can add some gray by switching out hardware like the handle and deadbolt lock.

Outdoor Space

To transform your outdoor living space, try a gray outdoor furniture set offset by yellow cushions and pillows. It’s a sure way to brighten a dreary deck or drab backyard. 

Or, instead of investing in new outdoor furniture, you can decorate with colorful accessories like stools, lanterns and end tables. Candles are also an easy way to add yellow or gray without going overboard or breaking the bank!

In the Kitchen

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so making it a “happy place” is a top priority. If you’re up for taking a big leap, try painting your kitchen cabinets a cheery yellow! If that seems like too much, there are very colorful and easily applied peel-and-stick backsplash tiles that might be just right for your design. 

If that all seems like too much work, you can add some colorful appliances, vases and kitchenware.  Gray tea kettle? Meet yellow mixer. And don’t forget about towels! Textiles like dish towels and aprons are amazing opportunities to add color that is interchangeable any time.

In the Nursery

Blue and pink may be standard fare for a nursery, but in recent years new parents have expanded their vocabulary of baby-room color. As an added bonus, you can paint the room ahead of time when you’re not trying to match color with your new baby’s gender. 

Pantone’s yellow/gray combo is an easy, soothing palette for both baby and parents to love. The gray is calming while yellow warms it up.

And, as your little one grows, you don't have to worry about repainting or redecorating. It's a color combination for all ages.

On the Floors

Whether it's in the bedroom, living room, bathroom or kitchen, you can spruce up any area with a good rug or two. Expert designers even overlay area rugs for a bohemian, contrasting look. 

Since we’re talking about contrast, did we mention Pantone’s yellow and gray? There’s an idea to instantly liven up a space.

On the Walls

When you think of design, you probably think of walls first: art, paint, wallpaper, paneling, moldings and more. There’s a huge variety of options for wall decor, allowing you to get extra creative with it to make a smaller feature wall or cover whole swaths of your home’s interior.

For an accent wall in a larger space, try fresh paint or wallpaper to add some visual contrast. Patterns and texture really heighten the appeal, whether that’s designer wallpaper, painted wood paneling, or a molded plastic art form that you buy and install. Tiles are also a way to add interest at a relatively low cost. 

As Lights

Lighting truly makes the home, from natural light to your installed light fixtures. While it’s not so easy to knock out a wall to add a new window, installing new light fixtures can be a cheap and very effective way to bring light and contemporary design into a room all at once.

If you’re going with the gray and yellow look, you can try gray sconces flanking a headboard in the bedroom, and subtle, cheerful yellow sheets. In a dining room or kitchen, a pendant light on the wall can make a big difference too.

As Books

Now, books are primarily for reading, but displaying them on a shelf means they’re part of the scenery too. Got some empty bookshelf space? Head to a local used bookstore or thrift shop to find colorfully bound books that will enhance your shelves and the whole room.

Even if you’re not a big reader, books and candles are a classic adornment for shelves. Who knows… maybe you’ll even get around to reading the decorations. 

As Small Details

Gray and yellow are a proven color pair, but it can still be easy to get carried away and end up with a weird-looking living room. The best way to go is to start small, and use bright, eye-catching color sparingly so the room is not overwhelmed. 

Luckily, starting small is also the easiest thing to do! Just begin by adding in little colorful details like trinkets, pillows and throw blankets. See how you like the colors first, and reevaluate before you make bigger decisions.

Getting a Home Ready to Live in or Sell?

We hope this guide on decorating with Pantone Ultimate Gray and Illuminating has been a little bit of helpful fun. The truth is, when you decorate a home you own, the world is your oyster! It’s one of the many benefits of home ownership.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, then you want to appeal to the broadest swath of potential, qualified and likely homebuyers. We’ve helped hundreds of Encinitas, North County and other San Diego home sellers to make the right staging and improvements that stay within budget and avoid leaving money on the table.

For more information on how Hawaii Realty International helps to get your home in top selling shape, please reach out any time to start the no-pressure conversation and discuss your options. We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in Trends