HRI Blog



Sept. 16, 2020

Oahu Real Estate Newsletter: September 2020


September 2020

Hi friends,

Spring is always a busy time for home buyers and sellers. 

It happens every year... except it didn’t this year. This spring, instead of waking from its winter slumber, the real estate market stayed under the covers while we tried to understand the unfolding crisis.

Since then, a flood of pent-up demand has poured into the market, driving closing prices higher than ever. If things keep up, Oahu home buyers and sellers can expect a very busy and fruitful fall season.

So what can you do to be prepared?

If you’re thinking of buying this fall:
  • Determine your budget, and get preapproved for a loan. This helps you act fast in a fast-moving market.

  • Learn what to expect beforehand. Talk to your agent (we know some great ones) about local market conditions and the buying process.

  • Decide on your deal-breakers and where you can be flexible. Paint and countertops are easily changed. Location and floor plan, not so much.

If you’re thinking of selling this fall:

  • Come up with a plan. Where will you move? Will you rent or buy? Will you invest in high-ROI improvements and staging? It pays to be prepared.

  • Make the most of your time at home by getting your house in selling shape. Declutter and store things away. Boost your curb appeal. Make any necessary repairs.

  • If you plan to buy and sell, then do all of the above!

It’s a unique time to buy or sell, with lots of great reasons to do both. If you feel like it’s time for a change, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help — let’s talk strategy!

Read on for local updates, featured listings and more! 

Talk soon,
Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

People fleeing big cities may spur economic growth in smaller metros
View Article
Mortgage rates tumble to yet another all-time low
View Article
Coming Soon in Kaneohe
Ahuimanu Area Home With Lush Mountain Views

3 BD | 2 BA | 1+ acre of land 
Listed for $1,450,000
751 Kaipi'i Street

4 BD | 2.5 BA | 1,370 SQ FT | $898,000
41-1694A Kalanianaole Hwy

3 BD | 2.5 BA | 2,546 SQ FT | $1,250,000
IN ESCROW in 3 days!
2257 Kula Kolea Drive

4 BD | 2 BA | 1,864 SQ FT | $990,000
IN ESCROW - Represented Buyer
950 Lehua Avenue #602
Pearl City

2 BD | 1 BA | 674 SQ FT | $299,000
IN ESCROW in 3 days!
44-006 Paku Place  

4 BD | 2 BA | 2,827 SQ FT
SOLD for $1,357,000
Sold in 11 days for over asking price! 
92-1117 Panana Street #404

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,007 SQ FT
SOLD for $520,000
Sold in 7 days for over asking price!         
91-1241 Kaiokia St
Ewa Beach

4 BD | 2.5 BA | 2,300 SQ FT
SOLD for $905,000
Represented Buyer

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,189 SQ FT
SOLD for $690,000
Stay in touch with us!
Posted in Newsletter
Sept. 8, 2020

What Is a Smart Home and Why Should You Want One?

When people think about the latest gadgets, smartphones, laptops, or gaming consoles come to mind. One of the newer advances in technology is with smart homes.

What is a smart home? These homes are able to work more for you and assist you although they are not quite popular yet. However, as more homes become "smart" the growth potential and demand is growing. There are more than $45 million smart homes in the US, with the market expecting to climb to $141 billion by 2023.

If you are curious to find out more about smart homes and how they can benefit you and your home's value, keep reading.  

What Is a Smart Home?

There are variable qualifiers that make a home "smart." Overall, smart homes include devices and capabilities that make it smart. Of course, this also means they use fewer wires. You can connect to the Internet, radio, or TV wirelessly or control what you want by voice command. 

The automated equipment handles everything you previously had to do. The artificial intelligence that these devices have allows homeowners to have a better home structure. 

It Offers Better Convenience

The reason many people own technology is because of convenience. Most Americans own at least one "smart" product in their home and are happy with the ease that comes with it. It may not seem like much, but you save minutes to an hour or so in your day with the assistance of smart devices. 

You no longer have to get up to turn a device on or off. Smart devices allow you to relax and will do the work for you. The ease allows many homeowners to multi-task and get more things done or get it done in less time. You can focus more on things that matter. 

Allows You to Save Money and Energy

Thermostat Automation

Smart homes help you by becoming more money smart. For example, automated thermostats in a home that can detect how many people are in a room can make proper adjustments in the heating and cooling system.

You can save as much as 10 to 15 percent on your electricity bill. Heating and cooling cost the most money, and the addition of a smart thermostat can rack up as much as $1,000 in savings by the end of the year. 

You can also save more on your utilities with smart lights that help you decrease unnecessary usage. When you leave a room or leave your house, automated apps recognize this and turn off on their own.

Smart showers will do the same and help you save on your water bills. You could cut as much as 40 to 50 percent of your bill.

Smart showers reduce overall water consumption and smart washing machines can do the same. With the use of smart technology, you are in more control of energy usage so you can ensure your home runs efficiently. 

Enhanced Safety and Security

automated home security

As a home buyer, you also expect a home to be in a safe area. Smart homes enhance the safety and security of that home thanks to the addition of smart devices. Security is a top reason many homeowners decide to invest in a home. 

Burglary and violence are an unfortunate reality in the US even at home. Dissuading intruders from entering your home plays an important part in keeping you and your loved ones safe. 

Smart safety devices can also detect radon, moisture, and carbon monoxide levels in your home as well as fire. There are security doorbells that allow you to see anyone on your property through motion detection. 

You are able to check and control the devices at your home or while you are away by using a tablet or smartphone. Homeowners can add more security with a smart lock. Whether you are home or away, smart home safety devices keep you protected around the clock. 

Better Entertainment

Smart home devices such as smart TVs and Bluetooth offer better entertainment. You can control entertainment devices by voice. If you wanted to, you would also connect many of these devices as one, allowing you to control everything anywhere in your home. 

If you have to change rooms and need more volume to hear the movie or song you were listening to, you could raise the volume via speech command. Smart TVs are highly multifunctional. If you like to stay connected to social or speak with family and friends, you can make video calls.  

One of the best smart home devices to own is the Echo. It's a great purchase because it is also highly compatible with a number of devices. 

Higher Selling Profitability

welcome home 

Convenience, entertainment, security, and saving money are great, but do smart homes add value to the property? Smart homes are equally popular among older and younger generations. The value of these homes speaks volumes, and this is reflected in its selling price. 

The demand for owning a smart home allows you to increase the value of that home by five percent. This translates to be $10,000-200,000 depending on the house to purchase or the additives you include. It's a smart investment that you can take advantage of to prevent the values of that home from depreciating. 

Buying a Smart Home in Oahu

Getting another home involves an extensive process of thinking to make the right moves. You must consider things you are looking for while keeping the price in mind. You also want to get a house that can help you while you live in it and help your pocket when you decide to sell it. 

What is a smart home? If you want to learn a few smart home basics and would like help from people who understand the business, connect with us. We can assist you during the home-buying stage so you can make better choices you are happy with. 

We offer amazing resources to our clients and can work directly with those who live in Oahu. 


Posted in Buying a home
Aug. 28, 2020

Oahu Real Estate Newsletter: August 2020


August 2020

Hi friends,

Mortgage rates just keep on falling. For the eighth time this year, the national average for a 30-year fixed conventional loan has hit a new record low.

What do you get when you pair sub-3% mortgage rates with a population stuck inside?

You get the latest trend in real estate: Trading up!

New research reveals that today’s home seekers want more space and more amenities — and they are willing to pay extra for it. All across the country, home sales are shifting upwards from the lower- to middle- to high-end of the market.

It’s understandable: Who wouldn’t want a bigger yard for outdoor play? More living space for virtual schooling? A better kitchen for the chef in the family (who is extra-busy these days)?

Even home builders are getting in on the action, spotlighting dedicated home offices in their newest floor plans to serve the growing home-based workforce.

If you’re like most buyers, recent months have motivated you to improve your living arrangements. With mortgage rates now lower than ever, does it seem like a bad time to make a change?

Talk soon,
Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

Pending home sales continue to rebound across the country in June
View Article
Mortgage rates hit new low, keeping rising home prices in check
View Article
950 Lehua Ave #602
Pearl City

2 BD | 1 BA | 674 SQ FT | $299,000
Why throw away money on rent when you can buy?!

Just a short commute to Pearl Harbor/Hickam or Honolulu and offering a large covered lanai with amazing sunset views, this affordable condo is a great investment opportunity. Fix up and earn immediate equity! 
Hurry, this one won't last!

*$5000 credit for buyers closing costs or upgrades*
92-1117 Panana Street #404

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,007 SQ FT | $515,000
44-006 Paku Place  

4 BD | 2 BA | 2,827 SQ FT | $1,299,000

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,189 SQ FT
SOLD for $690,000

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,199 SQ FT
SOLD for $675,000

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,270 SQ FT
SOLD for $580,000
Stay in touch with us!
© 2020 Hawaii Realty International, All rights reserved.
970 N. Kalaheo Ave A210, Kailua, Hawaii 96734
Posted in Newsletter
Aug. 24, 2020

Mortgage Rates Are at a Record Low



The average rate on 30-year home loans has dropped below 3%, which is the lowest it's ever been since the rates were first tracked in 1971

Many analysts predicted the COVID-19 pandemic would decimate the housing market, but the opposite has happened. Mortgage applications are trending upwards as people want to buy their first home or refinance interest rates. 

We know what you're thinking: Should I lock in my mortgage rate today?

Keep reading below to learn about why now is the best time to get a deal on real estate. 

How COVID-19 Affected Real Estate Market

The current home market is opening up opportunities for certain kinds of buyers. But, the fact is the economy is struggling through the pandemic and it will take some time to rebound.

Even before COVID-19, higher home prices made it tough for buyers. There has also been a growing shortage in housing inventory since the 2008 crash. 

So far this year home prices are decreasing and interest rates are at a historic low. 

The virus has also made it difficult to visit potential homes. Many realtors now use virtual home tours to target specific audiences, save time, highlight key features, and more. 


Should I Lock in My Mortgage Rate Today?

Now is a great time to purchase a home if you are a certain kind of buyer:

  1. You have cash saved for a down payment
  2. You're flexible about a closing date
  3. You can demonstrate strong job security

The timing is perfect for first-time buyers—not worried about selling their current home—and real estate investors. 

It's harder selling a home right now so buyers trying to unload their old property may be delayed. 

As a buyer, your most important consideration should be job security during COVID-19. Are you confident that your office won't be closed or you won't be laid off? If the answer is no, it's not the right time to buy. 

Taking Advantage of Current Refinance Rates

Another option for homeowners is to refinance. They could get something lower than their current home interest rates. 

The average rate is under 3% but it's important to remember that mortgage bank rates differ from lender to lender. Some may be 2.8% while others could be 3.1%. This means you'll need to shop around and check the actual APR rate. 

Refinancing can get you lower monthly payments, a shorter loan, or more home equity. But, you'll want to use a refinance calculator to make sure you'll benefit in the long run.

It all depends on your "break-even" point and the total length of your original loan. A few bad calculations can result in losing money. 


Don't Miss Your Chance to Buy or Refinance

Now, if asked "should I lock in my mortgage rate today?" you know what our answer will be: "what're you waiting for?" Don't miss your chance! 

We understand how buying a home is a huge investment. Our role at Hawaii International is to help our clients find their dream home in Hawaii.


Contact us now to get the process started. 

Posted in Buying a home
Aug. 14, 2020

Mastering Real Estate Negotiations


If you want to work with the top Oahu real estate agent, get the best price and favorable terms, and feel great about the outcome when it’s done, you need an expert negotiator. 

Real Estate Negotiations Matter

At its core, a real estate transaction is a push and pull between buyer and seller. Buyers want the best deal. Sellers do too. Both sides of a transaction are looking for every edge to maximize their investment. 


For home buyers who finance their home purchase with a mortgage, the closing price is further multiplied over the lifetime of their loan. On the other side, sellers want to feel like they are getting the most money possible when they part with their property. They may have an emotional attachment to their home, on top of their financial incentive. Decisions can be emotional and not always based on fact, logic and reason. It can seem like a miracle that any deal comes together! 


For the best results, you need an expert negotiator.


Of course, a home is about more than money. A home buyer might love a home so much that they will pay just about anything for it. A home seller might want or need to sell badly enough that price is a secondary concern. But no matter what, you probably do not want to leave money on the table. You probably want to feel that you did the best you could. 


You need an expert negotiator.


Negotiations provide the greatest opportunity for improving the results of your real estate sale. There are many steps involved in listing a home, and each one is valuable. Our team at Hawaii Realty International is proud to bring decades of experience to our clients, helping them win at every stage. But while things like strategic repairs, improvements, staging, and marketing are important, negotiations create value seemingly out of thin air through skill and tact alone.


Whether your listing receives one or five or fifty offers, you want to make sure you obtain the full market value for the home. It can seem like the results do not vary agent to agent. If you look at marketing plans, you might get the sense that we all do the same thing. Make no mistake, there is a difference.


Would it surprise you to know that a listing agent who is a skilled negotiator can increase the sales price anywhere from 1–10% or more from the highest offer that was originally submitted?

Real Estate Negotiations By the Numbers

Let’s say you put your home on the market. When a good offer comes in, does it make sense to accept the offer or go back for more?


We start with the listing price. Next is the initial highest offer, which the buyer originally submitted. That initial offer is influenced by many factors, including list price strategy, staging, marketing, overall market conditions, and initial negotiations between the listing agent and the buyer or their agent. After the initial offer, we negotiate further to arrive at the final price.


Through precise, strategic negotiations, we are able to boost the selling price by thousands of dollars, even with only one or two offers on the table. Our listings frequently close at a substantially higher price than the initial highest offer.


You really do need an expert negotiator.

Best Oahu Listing Agents | Real Estate Agent Negotiator

While most media depicts the real estate process as one big house hunt (and who doesn’t like to watch couples argue over cabinetry?), it often omits the critical steps that happen after buyers submit an offer. 


Part of an agent’s job is matchmaking, finding buyers a home or finding a home a buyer. The other part of the job is what happens next. What separates the best Oahu real estate agents from the rest is the ability to create additional value for the client.


With a skilled negotiator on your side, you’ll come to a smooth resolution with more money in your pocket. Without a skilled negotiator, you’ll leave money on the table (if a deal is made at all).


You need an expert negotiator.


If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in Oahu, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact top Oahu real estate listing agents Hawaii Realty International.

Posted in Selling a House
July 28, 2020

Oahu Real Estate Newsletter: July 2020


July 2020

Hi friends,

Most buyers start their house hunt by getting a feel for the market. Which neighborhoods suit you best? What style of home do you prefer?

Perhaps more importantly, though, you first need to know what you can afford.

In that regard, there’s great news: Right now, your money goes further than ever!

Since late 2019, mortgage rates have been steadily falling. We’ve seen new record lows set multiple times since February. Now sitting at just above 3%, the current national average rate on a thirty-year conventional mortgage is undeniably appealing.

For buyers, this means you can buy “more house” with the same income and savings (or pocket the difference for a rainy day).

For sellers, this means a better chance at higher, multiple offers.

For investors, this means an opportunity for increased leverage. The national average for 15-year fixed-rate and 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages are at rock-bottom, too!

If the trend continues, rates may fall even lower. Either way, now is a uniquely good time to finance a deal. If you’re thinking of making a change, let’s talk strategy!

We'll leave you with a gorgeous snapshot taken by our own Hoku Gunderson at Big Beach in Kihei, Maui (above). We hope lately you've been finding your own rainbow amongst the storm.

Talk soon,
Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

8 outdoor DIY projects that'll add serious charm to your yard this summer
View Article
Before you refinance your mortgage,
ask these basic questions

View Article
92-1117 Panana Street #404

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,007 SQ FT | $515,000
44-006 Paku Place  

4 BD | 2 BA | 2,827 SQ FT | $1,299,000
950 Lehua Ave #602
Pearl City

2 BD | 1 BA | 674 SQ FT 

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,189 SQ FT
SOLD for $690,000

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,199 SQ FT
SOLD for $675,000

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,270 SQ FT
SOLD for $580,000

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,934 SQ FT
SOLD for $1,290,000
120 Kuailima Dr

5 BD | 3 BA | 1,701 SQ FT
SOLD for $1,755,000
Represented Buyer
Stay in touch with us!
Posted in Newsletter
July 23, 2020

10 Major Benefits of Virtual Home Tours

About 81% of marketers agree that interactive content is better at grabbing an audience's attention. About 75% of marketers use interactive content to educate their audiences. Instead of focusing on a hard sell, interactive content combines authenticity and quality content to help you stand out from other homeowners trying to sell.

In fact, offering virtual home tours is one of the best forms of interactive content you can utilize when selling your property.

With COVID-19 quarantines still underway, virtual tours can help you to reach buyers while they remain safe inside. 

Meanwhile, virtual house tours can attract more potential buyers and give you an advantage in the marketplace. Still on the fence? Here are 10 benefits you can experience by offering house tours online.

Keep reading to learn more about how offering virtual home tours can get you ahead of the curve.

1. Generate More Interest

Over 50% of home buyers find their new homes through the internet. Many of these online homebuyers look for virtual house tours before voicing their interest. Virtual tours are most important to buyers who fall within the 52 to 71 age range. 

By creating virtual home tours, you can reach more potential buyers.

With people staying at home in response to COVID-19, you can't wait for people to schedule an in-person tour. Instead, you need to attract more people to your property. Adding virtual real estate tours to your listing can help you expand your reach. 

As more people stay home, buyers are relying on the internet to research real estate properties. Using virtual tours will help you market your property even while buyers stay at home.

Appeal to Your Target Audience

In fact, providing visuals of the property is a better way to appeal to buyers. Virtual tours offer more details than simple sketches. By providing buyers with online home tours, you can add details that are bound to make an impact. 

At the same time, you're providing home buyers with helpful information that will help them make an informed decision.  

Virtual house tours can help you reach your target audience, too. You can integrate customized features based on your audience's expectations. Using a customized approach will increase your chance of closing a sale. 

At the same time, you're making customers feel special and valued. As a result, they'll turn toward your property instead of another.

As you attract more visitors to your listing, you're also increasing your property's search engine ranking. Once you reach the top of a search page, you can earn more visitors than competing sellers. A higher ranking will also build brand trust, your credibility, and boost awareness!

2. Save Valuable Time

Listing a new property for sale by conventional means can result in hundreds of phone calls from potential buyers. You'll need to complete in-person tours that may or may not result in a sale. Meeting each of these potential buyers in person can waste your valuable time and energy.

In many cases, some of these buyers are simply curious. 

Often enough, curious buyers are only touring different homes. They don't have the intention of making a reach purchase.

Virtual home tours allow buyers to determine their interest. They can explore a property straight from their phones or laptops. If they're genuinely interested in the property, they can contact you for more information.

Encouraging prospective buyers to explore your online house tours first will help you determine the true buyers. Then, you can focus your time and attention on closing those sales. 

3. Encourage Interactions

In addition to helping you attract more site visitors, virtual home tours can also increase your clickthrough rate. A higher clickthrough rate will increase your listing's ranking on search engines like Google.

Virtual house tours encourage people to click around and interact with your content.

Visitors will click around to navigate their way through your virtual real estate tours. Meanwhile, they can also leave comments on your posts and ask questions about aspects of each property. For example, a prospective buyer can ask about the flooring and countertop materials.

Then, you or your real estate agent can easily respond in real-time.

These instantaneous interactions will help you discover prospective buyers. At the same time, you're increasing the listing's search engine ranking, allowing you to reach even more buyers. 

4. Reduce Bounces

A high bounce rate can have a negative impact on your listing's search engine ranking. The bounce rate indicates how many people leave the listing and how quickly.

Adding virtual tours to your listing can boost engagement and the clickthrough rate, which will decrease the bounce rate.

Search engines like Google will recognize that the listing is keeping visitors engaged and on the page. Google will prioritize your listing over ones with a low clickthrough rate and a high bounce rate. 

Most virtual home tours take about a minute. That's an additional minute you can keep people occupied on your listing. As each visitor's dwell time increases, your bounce rate will drop. 

Remember, the higher you rank on search engines, the more people will visit your listing.

5. Stand Out From Competitors

Many real estate agents aren't aware of the benefits of virtual tours. Offering these tours before other sellers do will give you an advantage in the marketplace. 

As one of the few people offering virtual tours in your target area, you can stand out from the crowd. You'll attract the attention of prospective buyers before others can. 

Your target audience will recognize the convenience you're offering them. They'll choose to explore your online home tours instead of touring another property in person. Then, you can get ahead of other sellers in your area by maintaining that advantage. 

Failing to offer remote tours, on the other hand, can cause you to fall behind the curve. As your competitors recognize these benefits, they'll start offering online tours themselves.

Get ahead of the curve and start attracting buyers to your property listing before your competitors can. 

6. Increase Shares

Once your real estate agent posts your home online, you'll want to generate as much traffic to your listing as possible. 

Virtual house tours are eye-catching, engaging, and worth sharing. As more people share your online home tours, you'll receive a backlink to your listing.

At the same time, you'll improve your listing's authority, which can further improve your search engine ranking.

The more backlinks you generate, the better for your ranking. Then, you can attract more visitors to your listing and generate more interest!

7. Get Social 

You can also generate more interest by sharing your virtual tours on social media. A high-quality virtual tour can even go viral. The more people you impress with your house tour, the more likely they'll share the tours with their friends. 

Search engines like Google also use social media signals when determining search rankings. You can ensure your listing goes viral by creating unique, quality content. 

You can also encourage social sharing by using emails. As you share your virtual home tours over email, people will send the email to others. As a result, you're also extending your reach and marketing your property to other buyers!

8. Offer Ease

Cleaning and staging virtual house tours can take time and energy. You'll want to make sure the entire house is in pristine condition before scheduling an in-person tour. With virtual home tours, however, you won't have to waste valuable time.

Instead, you'll have the convenience of providing buyers with a tour regardless of the property's actual state. 

In fact, virtual tours are one of the best ways to present any property. The listing will look attractive and explorable, even online. You can highlight different spaces, allowing buyers to navigate between one room and the next on their own. 

At the same time, you're creating a permanent open house by providing potential buyers with 24/7 hour access to the property. As a result, people will also see you're reliable and ready to offer the information they need. 

9. Highlight Key Features

The time homebuyers spend looking for the perfect home has decreased by three days year-over-year. That means you have a short window to make a strong first impression. 

Decades ago, static newspaper and magazine listings were enough to grab a homebuyer's attention. Now, agencies need to use photography, videos, and walk-throughs to attract buyers. 

Today, you can use virtual real estate tours to provide buyers with all the visual information they could possibly need.

You can also customize these tours to highlight specific features for each listing. For example, if you can show off the latest home improvements you've made. Buyers can zoom in, examine details, and explore your properties day or night! 

10. Improve Your ROI

Virtual house tours can increase your sales and boost your return on investment (ROI). Instead of wasting time and money with in-person tours, you can use virtual tours to pinpoint prospective buyers. You can focus on increasing the value of your home, too!

These tours can help you reveal key selling points for each property, increasing your chance of a sale!

Take a Tour: 10 Major Benefits of Virtual Home Tours

Want to sell your home as soon as possible? Experience these benefits of virtual home tours for yourself! By creating a virtual tour, you can attract buyers and sell your property in no time.

We're here to help. Connect with our team today to sell your property using virtual tours!

Posted in Selling a House
June 23, 2020

Oahu Real Estate Newsletter: June 2020


June 2020

Hi friends,

These days, the most popular restaurant is our own kitchen. What’s on the menu?

The gym is our living room, our yard, our sidewalks. Don’t have a barbell? How about the family dog?

School is in session at the kitchen counter. Do you miss your kids’ teachers yet?

Staying at home has put things into perspective—including home itself. You may be feeling cramped by a lack of square footage. Maybe you want a bigger and better kitchen. Maybe you want a spare room for workouts or homeschooling.

Whatever your reasons, you may be surprised to hear that homes are indeed being listed, sellers are selling and buyers are buying. We are doing everything possible to minimize health risks for our clients while, as always, maximizing their results.

If you think it’s time for a change, reach out to start the no-pressure conversation. We’re honored to be of service.

Talk soon,
Mike & Lisa Styring
Hawaii Realty International

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Kailua Side of Waimānalo
41-1694A Kalanianaole Hwy

3 BD | 2.5 BA | 2,546 SQ FT
LISTED for $1,250,000
Coming Soon to Kaneohe  
Gorgeous Home With Pool and Kaneohe Bay Access

4 BD | 2 BA | 2,379 SQ FT
950 Lehua Ave #602
Pearl City

2 BD | 1 BA | 674 SQ FT 

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,189 SQ FT
SOLD for $690,000

2 BD | 2 BA | 1,199 SQ FT
SOLD for $675,000

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,270 SQ FT
SOLD for $580,000

3 BD | 2 BA | 1,934 SQ FT
SOLD for $1,290,000
120 Kuailima Dr

5 BD | 3 BA | 1,701 SQ FT
SOLD for $1,755,000
Represented Buyer
Stay in touch with us!
Posted in Newsletter
May 13, 2020

Should You Sell or Buy a Home in the Middle of the Current Crisis?

Buy or Sell During Crisis


The coronavirus pandemic has left the global economy reeling.


As anyone with an interest in investment knows, a weak economy and a turbulent property market go hand in hand. If you were considering making a purchase or sale of property in the lead up to the crisis, you may well be rethinking your approach now.

However, depending on your particular situation, the pandemic might actually have certain advantages.


Read on as we look at all the factors you should consider when deciding whether to buy or sell property in the current climate.


The Situation Before the Virus


Even before the onset of this public health problem, our country's property market was in a difficult spot.


A chronic shortage of supply had driven prices skyward. Many buyers were unable to find anything suitable within their price range. 


This was a trend that had persisted across the United States for a number of years. The recovery from the economic crash of 2008 brought with it a demand for housing that outstripped supply.


While this trend had reversed somewhat in Oahu in 2019, prices continued to rise. It was still a difficult time to be a buyer. 


As you will see, the coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on this situation.


The Immediate Effects of the Virus on the Property Market


The virus has had a number of different effects in terms of the property market, both in Oahu and elsewhere.


Firstly, jobs have been lost and wages have been cut. This means that there's less money in our economy to pay high prices for property.




In Oahu, we get a lot of tourism and short-term leasing, especially in the approaching summer months. With the temporary reduction in market traffic here, renting may become more affordable in the short term, especially in tourism hot spots.


This may reduce demand for permanent sales in these areas. If you keep an eye out, you could snag a real bargain from someone who's eager to sell.


The virus and lockdown will also have a disproportionately large effect on our economy. Because we are so reliant on tourism and the service industry, our recession may be more pronounced than those in other areas.


If this isn't something that you're feeling the effects of personally, you will be able to capitalize on the resulting lower prices as a buyer.


Should You Buy or Sell?


If you've had plans to buy or sell a home for a while, you may be unwilling to give up on the idea now.


The good news is that you won't have to. The bad news is that, depending on your circumstances, it may be more difficult.


Aside from the economic implications of the virus and lockdown, there are practical, logistical factors to take into account.


Social Distancing


Ordinarily, people go to view a home before they buy it. They may view several homes, or even dozens, before making their choice.


The seller, on the other hand, may have to allow a similar number of viewers before they find a buyer.


With the social distancing requirements currently in place, this is now impossible in many cases. The Hawaii government has issued a stay-at-home order, restricting non-essential travel until further notice.


If and when the government lifts this order, difficulties will remain. Social distancing will remain a necessity until experts find a vaccine.


This is especially true for those working in healthcare, or who have a close relative who is high-risk.


Economic Factors


As alluded to above, our economy is much weaker as a result of the virus. This will result in lower demand and falling prices.


While there are many factors to consider, the upshot of this is that the market is now better for buyers, but worse for sellers.


How to Buy a House During the Pandemic


If you've been trying to purchase a new home for months without success, this pandemic might be a blessing in disguise for you. Prices are dropping, and supply is likely to increase as cash-strapped investors look to offload their holdings to get some liquidity.


Of course, you may have been hit by the economic downturn yourself. If you need to buy a home, but your resources are uncertain, you'll need to make every last cent count.


Whatever your situation, the following steps will help you to make the best of it.


Look for Bargains


The pandemic has left many house sellers with far less confidence in the value of their property. If you find the right house at the right time, you could get it for a steal.


Take Advantage of Low-Interest Rates


The Fed recently cut interest rates by half a percentage point in an attempt to limit the negative economic fallout from the coronavirus. This is great news for buyers.


If you're looking to secure financing for a new property, you want interest rates to be as low as possible. If you combine a low house price with a reduced interest rate on the loan you take out, you could get a deal that would have been unimaginable a year ago.


Allow for Extra Room in Your Budget


If you're still pressing ahead with your plans to buy, chances are you're in a reasonably secure financial situation. However, during these times, you never know what tomorrow might bring.


With this in mind, you should leave room in your budget when you prepare to buy your new house. This will give you room to maneuver if you suffer a job loss or pay cut down the line.


How to Sell a House During the Pandemic


As we've outlined, the virus has leveled the playing field somewhat in terms of buyers and sellers. While house prices in our area were steadily climbing, creating a favorable situation for sellers, prices are likely to decline steeply in response to current circumstances.


This means that buyers have more choice, and are therefore less likely to clamor for your property.


However, there are certain measures you can take to try to offload your home a little more quickly.


Curb Appeal


No matter when you decide to sell your home, curb appeal should be one of your top considerations. In order to sell a property quickly, for a respectable price, you need to make it look attractive to passersby.


Curb appeal refers to the attractiveness of your house from the distance of the nearest public sidewalk. It's about garden maintenance and exterior decor.


You might wonder why this is so important. After all, it's the inside of your property that the new buyer will be living in, right?


Well, yes and no. Because there are fewer buyers around, you'll need to work harder to build demand.


If a casual onlooker (who happens to be in the market for a house) is drawn to your property from the outside, they are more likely to want to have a look inside.


Online Presence


The internet has become increasingly important to the purchase and sale of property over the last number of years. The physical distancing requirements that the virus has imposed have made it even more relevant.


Advertise your property on every online platform you can think of. Share your listing on Facebook and Twitter, and ask all of your friends and family to do the same.


The wider you cast your net, the better your chances of finding a buyer in good time. 


Adaptation to Circumstances


Selling has become more difficult because of a shortfall in demand, but also because of practical issues. Fewer people are out physically searching for homes, and in-person viewing has become impossible.


To get around this problem, the best thing to do is use technology. Consider hosting virtual tours of your home for those who may be interested in viewing it.




If you take every possible step to sell your house, but you still can't find a buyer, you'll have to reconsider your asking price. While nobody wants to have to take this step, there may not be any other choice.


Of course, this depends on your level of urgency in relation to making the sale. If you can afford to wait six months or a year to offload your house, you may well secure more money for it.


Getting a Good Deal Despite the Coronavirus


The global virus pandemic has made a lot of things more difficult. The purchase and sale of property are no different.


However, if you do need to buy or sell a home, you will be able to do so. You may need to take a more considered approach, but you will get there eventually!


If you're buying or selling a home and you'd like to learn more about what we can offer you, connect with us today.


April 10, 2020

COVID-19: Understanding Mortgage Rates and Opportunities


As we battle both a healthcare crisis and an economic crisis due to COVID-19, it can be hard to keep up with topics that might otherwise be important to you like mortgage rates and opportunities in the Oahu housing market.


When you do find time to consume the economic news, you might find it hard to digest. You’ll hear jargon like margin calls, short sales and T-notes. What does it mean for your average Oahu homeowner? What does it mean for Oahu home buyers and sellers?


Instead of relying on opinions from the talking heads, you can stay better informed by understanding the underlying principles behind housing and mortgages.


In this article, we’ll cover the broad strokes of the latest mortgage and housing news. We’ll explain the difference between the Federal funds rate and the 10-year Treasury note, and their effects (or lack thereof) on mortgage rates. And we’ll explore the unique challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19 to Oahu homeowners and prospective buyers and sellers.

Battle for Wall Street: The Fed vs Coronavirus

The economic impact of COVID-19 has been swift and far-reaching. In just a few weeks between February and March, the stock market lost all its considerable gains from the previous three years. This sharp decline prompted the Federal Reserve to cut rates down to rock bottom (0.00-0.25%) on March 15th. Sounds good for businesses—what about prospective homebuyers?


When you hear that “the Fed cut interest rates,” that refers to the Federal Funds Rate. It’s the interest rate that the Federal Reserve charges banks who in turn lend to businesses and individuals. Lowering the Federal Funds Rate gives businesses easier and cheaper access to capital, thereby improving their quarterly outlooks and share values.


Since stocks are seen as a relatively short-term investment, other short-term investments tend to follow the same trajectory. In mortgage markets, these include variable-rate loans, such as 3/1 and 5/1 ARMs, as well as home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs.


As the Federal Funds Rate rises and falls, so do the rates on these shorter-term real estate loans. Rate cuts by the Fed directly benefit Oahu homeowners with an adjustable-rate mortgage and Oahu homebuyers looking to get one.


But adjustable-rate mortgages are nowhere near as popular as longer-term mortgages like the conventional 30-year fixed-rate. How are those affected?

Safe Haven in Long-Term Investments

When investors are spooked by uncertainty in the stock market, they flock to more secure and long-term investments like Treasury notes and mortgage-backed securities. 


You’ve probably heard of the “10-year T-note,” at least in passing. It is the most widely tracked government debt instrument and a common benchmark for other economic indicators. Along with other bills, notes and bonds, the US government partially funds itself by issuing 10-year Treasury notes. Investors receive a modest and relatively safe return in the form of interest payments that are exempt from state and local taxation.


You probably know about mortgage-backed securities, too—they precipitated the Great Recession. When a lender loans capital to a homebuyer, they don’t necessarily hold onto that investment. Oftentimes, they package the debt and sell it, acting as a middleman between many homebuyers and their ultimate debtholder. If the economy falters, that debtholder is left holding a big bag of bad mortgages. So begins a cascade of financial ruin, which in 2007-2008 we saw firsthand. Fortunately, lending standards are tighter now, and Americans as a whole are less leveraged with debt.


Because mortgage debt securities and Treasury notes are both long-term investments, their rates also tend to follow the same trajectory. When wary investors shift from stocks to long-term investments, that increased demand prompts lower interest rates on the long-term investment supply.


In short, the falling stock market led indirectly to lower 30-year fixed mortgage rates due to increased demand for long-term investments.

Opportunities for Oahu Homeowners and Homebuyers

On March 5th, the national average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hit its all-time low of 3.29%. Homeowners and buyers leapt at the opportunity to take advantage of this historic low, and lenders were soon overwhelmed by an onslaught of refinancing applications. In response, mortgage lenders raised rates back up to 3.65%. Since then, rates have fallen yet again and leveled out at a very attractive 3.33% over the past two weeks.


With average 30-year fixed mortgage rates again close to historic lows, now is a great time to refinance your existing mortgage or even buy a home.


Keep in mind that refinancing has costs. All told, the fees associated with refinancing—like closing costs, term extensions, and debt consolidation—can total upwards of $5,000. The first step is to make sure the numbers work out in your favor.


Conventional wisdom says that you should only refinance if current rates are at least 1 or 2% lower than your existing mortgage. However, real estate analytics firm Black Knight contends that a refinance makes sense for any homeowner with an existing mortgage more than 0.75% (or 75 “basis points”) higher than the going rate.


For prospective homebuyers, low rates mean they can afford more home with the same savings and income. Every basis point, up or down, makes a tangible difference in the cost of a mortgage across its lifetime. At 3.33%, today’s near-rock bottom 30-year fixed rates are incredibly appealing for buyers. The question is… during a global pandemic, are they willing to buy?


The impact of the novel coronavirus is still evolving throughout local real estate markets and the national economy as a whole. Stay-at-home orders make home tours complicated, if not impossible. If you’re looking to buy a home while rates are low, are you open to making an offer based entirely on a virtual tour, videos, photos, and a look at the exterior? Are you open to leaving your place of residence to tour a property with your partner and a showing agent?

Your Trusted Oahu Real Estate Advisers

At Hawaii Realty International, we are working hard every day to facilitate the needs of our buyer and seller clients with the utmost concern for their health and safety. Some buyers and sellers are motivated by external life events like relocation, divorce, or a birth or death in the family. Some buyers are looking to take advantage of low rates while they last. The good news is that, although business has inarguably slowed, sales are still happening. New listings are coming to market, properties are entering escrow, and deals are being closed.


If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, taking advantage of low rates by refinancing, or if you simply have a question about the market, feel free to reach out. We are always here to help, and it’s our honor to be of service. Now more than ever.


Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch—figuratively, of course!

Posted in Trends