Welcome to the Maui Home Blog

This is where we post news about homes, market trends, information about Maui and tips for home buyers and sellers.

June 19, 2018

Buying Condos

What's to know about a Condo?

Condominiums actually originated in Hawaii as a way to maximize real property - by building ownership vertically!  Because they continue to be a popular choice in purchasing for both residents and visitors, I decided to drill down a bit deeper into condominiums.

Condo Statistics

Here on Maui condominium purchases account for a majority of real estate transactions closed each month - averaging between 80-100 each month.  The median price has risen to $445,000 in 2017.  Over the course of the past few years, as the market continues to strengthen, we have experienced increasing volume and sales price for condo units.  

For anyone looking to purchase on Maui it is very important to get all of your facts straight and understand the market.  Hawaii condominiums can be a bit complicated especially if you are not from an area that has such a economic reliance on tourism.

Fee Simple or Leasehold

First of all, there are many different types of condominiums and those differences are critical factors when making a purchase decision.  Here on Maui we have condos that are Leasehold and Fee Simple.  Leasehold properties are in essence long term rentals.  You pay for the unit, but you do not have an ownership interest in the land and when the lease on the land expires so does your unit ownership.  I typically advise clients to look at only Fee Simple properties which fit the traditional description of condos.  You own the unit and have an interest in the common areas and land on which your condo sits.  For the purposes of this article, I am talking about fee simple only.

Now we need to explore the next level of condo classifications.  There are three types of condominiums and their distinctions can be very subtle but very important when it comes to purchasing.

Warrantable Condominiums

This is the most traditional type of condo.  Warrantable basically means that it can be financed through agency or federal sources - for example Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.  There are many requirements, but one of the most important criteria is that the complex is at least 51% owner occupied.  That means either owners who live there full time as their primary residence, or owners who reside part time as their second home.   Because these properties are financeable through traditional and governmental sources, the downpayment requirements can be very small.  While this may sound very straightforward, this is not the most typical type of condominium on Maui.

Non-Warrantable Condominiums

Condominiums in this category may look exactly like the ones outlined above, but there are some important differences.  Most of the time it has do with the owner occupancy level falling beneath 50%.  With high real estate prices, there is a large and consistent demand for long term rentals.  Long term rentals are defined as six months or longer.  Short term (or vacation) rentals are also a common factor determining non-warrantable condominiums.  If the Homeowner's Association Rules allow for vacation rentals the complex will fall in to this category. Short term rentals are generally defined as rentals less than one month.  If you are buying a condo in this category and using financing, you can expect a slightly higher interest rate and a larger downpayment.


In a vacation destination like Maui, condo-tels or Condo Hotels are relatively common.  What defines a condo-tel is the presence of some amenities that are commonly found in hotels. These can be things like a reception desk, concierge, activities desk, etc.  These types of condominiums are treated very differently by lenders.  Many mainland lenders are not familiar with this type of property and will not lend on them.  If you are looking for a condo of this category the best thing to do is contact a local lender who is acquainted with the various classifications of condos and can provide financing options.  As a note, condo-tels typically require a larger downpayment than traditional condo financing.

Get Informed

My best advice in this, and any considered purchase, is to gather all of the information you need to make an informed buying decision.  Your realtor will be able to help you identify properties that fit your needs and desires.  Realtors will also know the different classifications of condos.  You also need to obtain information from a lender.  Understanding your options and the financial requirements for each s is a critical piece when making a purchase decision.  You don't want to get in the middle of a transaction only to discover that your bank will not lend because of the condo classification. Especially for condominiums, I do recommend talking to a local company for financing.  They work every day with the three different types of condos.  



Posted in Maui Real Estate
May 25, 2018

Evaluating Offers on Your Home

Evaluating Offers on Your Home



Selling Your Home

Selling a home can be a stressful experience.  Making the decision to sell is just the first step.  You need to consider what you need to get out of the sale.  That could mean a lot more than just the financials.  Of course you want to get as much for your home as possible but there may be other considerations.  Things like how quickly you want to move and what you have to do or want to do to your property before you put it on the market are some of the factors to reckon with.

Then you need to figure out what price to list your home.  Your realtor can provide you with valuable information about the market and what pricing strategies could work for you.  Now you sit and wait for those offers to start rolling in!

Evaluating Offers

Sellers and their agents eagerly anticipate the first offer.  The best advice I give to sellers while they are waiting for the market is to not take anything too personally.  Sellers always tend to place more value on what they are selling. After all, most of us have put a lot of time, money and energy into our homes. Conversely, buyers tend to undervalue because they are interested in getting the best deal they can.  So as a seller, expect that you may be disappointed in the offer - sometimes the first one that comes. 

The key to evaluating any offer is to look at the whole contract, not just the price.  Look at the offer as a whole, and take note of the advantages. For example, perhaps the buyer is not asking for any concessions on closing costs, which could take away from the amount of another offer. If you have already bought your new home and the buyer is proposing a quick closing, that could be very financially advantageous for you. A buyer with strong financials, who may even be able to pay cash, also benefits you, because the sale is more likely to go through without delays.

Also, keep in mind that you can always come back with a counteroffer. Even coming down a little bit from your asking price shows the buyer that you are willing to negotiate. The buyer may then come back with another counteroffer that is more in line with what you were expecting to get from the sale of your home. As long as you keep the lines of communication open, the offer can turn into a contract.

Posted in Maui Real Estate
Jan. 24, 2018

Do You Need To Sell Before Buying?

For many people either moving or retiring to Maui, the process begins with selling your current home.  The process of selling your current home and buying a new one may feel daunting, so I thought this short article about timing might be helpful for you.

Selling Before Buying?

It's not uncommon for buyers to not really know where to start when they already own a home but want to make a move. After all, you need cash for a down payment and closing costs on your new home, but your cash is probably tied up in equity in your current home. That means you probably want to sell your current home first, but you also don't want to be stuck with nowhere to live while you look to buy a new home.

Ideally, you want to wait until you have an offer on your home before you seriously start looking for a new home to buy here on Maui.  I you are in a market where there is a lot of inventory and homes are taking a while to sell, it may be best to list your home sooner.  On the other hand, if homes are getting snatched up as soon as they go on the market, you probably want to take the reverse approach.  However, you must factor in that the inventory on Maui is limited and it may take quite a while to find a place that works for you.  Timing is everything.

So what are the solutions?  I talked before about the importance of using contingencies.  This is a prime example of managing your transition to Maui using stipulations in your real estate contracts.  I you get an offer on your current home, opt for a long contract time on the sale or put in a contingency of sale for securing a replacement property so you have plenty of time to look at the Maui inventory and find a home to buy.  



Conversely, if you find a home on Maui that you want to purchase, you may want to make your purchase offer contingent on the sale of your current home.  However, the seller may not want to have a contingent offer, and if the home is definitely the one you want, you will need to come up with another solution to get them to accept your offer.  One way to make this happen is a bridge loan.  A bridge loan is a short-term loan designed to bridge the gap between the time when you buy a new home and when you manage to sell your old home. Typically, buyers rely on cash they get when they sell their old home to use as a down payment on the new home. The bridge loan provides you with the cash you need in order to complete the purchase of your new home. It can either be designed as a second mortgage secured by your old home or a cash-out refinance of your old home. Either way, it is basically allowing you to tap into the equity you have built in your old home.

Most bridge loans have a term of only six months, which is plenty of time to sell your old home in most markets. If you think your home will not sell within six months, you will need to work out a longer term with your lender. In addition, be aware that most bridge loans are due in full as soon as your home sells.

Either way you go, the important thing is to start your transition to Maui as soon as you can and give yourself enough time to easily manage the move.

Jan. 8, 2018

Protecting Yourself Using Contract Contingencies

A real estate contract is a binding contract.  Purchasing a home is also one, if not the, biggest purchases of your life.  These two facts make it critically important to make sure you are protected when making an offer on a property.  One of the best ways to protect your position is using the contract contingencies to your full advantage.


What is a Contingency

A contingency is defined as "a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty".  A real estate transaction is a process and events follow a systematic time table that builds from prior events.  Depending on a particular outcome, the transaction can proceed in different directions.  Managing this sequence of events keeps you on top of the transaction and avoids any missteps that could result in an unwanted circumstance.


Standard Contingencies

The standard Purchase Contract from the Hawaii Association of Realtors is 14 pages in length.  Compared to many other states, it is quite lengthy.  But considering the importance of the purchase, it makes sense and was created to fully protect all parties.  Standard contingencies for buyers include things such as providing proof of cash funds, obtaining financing, performing a home inspection and a final walk through prior to closing.  There are also contingencies based on seller information and performance.  For example, a seller must provide a full disclosure of the property.  The buyer must then review it and accept or decline it.  Failure to accept the disclosure can result in a cancellation of escrow.  These types of contingencies are similar for surveys, homeowner association and other related documents, and pest inspections and title reports.  The nature of the contingency allows for various outcomes - it can be approved, questioned or simply declined.  If approved, the contingency is settled and the transaction moves on to the next step.  If a contingency is questioned, there are typically timelines that allow for further information to be provided, reviewed and accepted or rejected.  Declined can mean that either the contingency has not been met or is not acceptable.  This can lead to further negotiations or simply can mean the termination of the contract.


Special Contingencies

While the standard contract covers many of the issues that commonly arise in a real estate purchase, there are many times when special circumstances require customized contingencies that are worked out between buyers and sellers.  An example of this is when the buyer needs to sell an existing home before they can purchase.  Conversely, a seller may want the sale contingent on them finding a replacement property.  These scenarios are more common, but really most any item in a purchase contract is negotiable.  



Negotiating Contingencies

The most important thing about any contingency is to be realistic.  There can be real consequences for failure to perform on a contingency item.  Buyers can risk their deposit money.  Both parties can risk losing the transaction entirely and not recouping any associated expenses or costs.Make sure that the contingency and the timeframe for the contingency are manageable.  And, if you are asking for some consideration from the other party, be willing to give something back in return.  The end goal for setting contingencies is to allow the purchase process to move more smoothly. 

Posted in Maui Real Estate
Dec. 19, 2017

Things to Do on Maui

submitted by Chris Norberg, Hawaii Web Group

13 Ways to Ring in the New Year:


January might bring to mind the worst of winter gloom—bleak weather, sludgy streets, and a major hangover from the holidays.


But January on Maui tells a different story entirely. Slightly cooler than the months that precede it, and with fewer crowds after peak season, the Valley Isle experiences a sense of peace and quiet—rendering the first month of the year one of the best times to absorb its abundant beauty.


Happen to be one of the lucky ones heading here post-New Year’s? Here are 13 stellar Maui activities—all of which are sure to lift your wintry spirits:


1.  Restore Your Soul

Lumeria—a gorgeous sanctuary in Makawao—offers the ultimate in healing practices: six lush, private acres, a farm-to-table restaurant that would give Alice Waters a run for her money, a luxe spa complete with reiki and Hawaiian-style massages, and daily courses in yoga, meditation, and hula. In other words, Lumeria is the perfect place to detox from the holidays. Stay for a night to recuperate, stay for a week to revivify completely—or, if you’re a lady looking to exceed her New Year’s resolutions, sign up for January’s Feminine Mastery’s Women’s Retreat, a meditative experience complete with a day trip to Lana’i.


2.  See a Whale’s Tail 

It isn’t just humans that migrate towards balmier temps during the dead of winter: Each year, 12 to 14 thousand North Pacific Humpback Whales journey to the waters off of Maui to calve, nurse, and play. World-renowned for their acrobatics, they’re readily seen from the island’s shores but are best experienced from an up-close-and-personal perspective. Red Line Rafting offers intimate, daily excursions out of Kihei, while the Trilogy presents guests with a smooth sail aboard their deluxe catamaran vessels.


3.  Get a Bird’s Eye View of the Island

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, an award-winning outfit that’s been serving the Hawaiian Islands for more than 32 years, knows the ins and outs of Maui—literally. Deemed “Hawaii’s premiere helicopter tour company” by National Geographic, Blue Hawaiian pairs authority with safety aboard their ECO-Star crafts, which dip into luxuriant valleys, hover over hidden waterfalls, and swoop over the slopes of the world’s largest dormant volcano. With tours that range from West Maui and Molokai to a cruise over the ‘Alenuihaha Channel to the Big Island, Blue Hawaiian impresses and exhilarates in equal measure.

4.   Find Your Castle in the Sky

Living on Maui needn’t be a pipe dream with Fred Haywood Realty. Helmed by Maui born and bred Haywood, this warm and welcoming real estate company prides itself on getting some of the finest listings on Maui, from beachfront condos in sunny Lahaina to luxury homes in Wailea and Upcountry Maui. Take a day to contemplate living Maui style.


5.    Groove to the Blues 

Willie K made his mark on Maui at Hapa’s, a now-defunct restaurant and nightclub that was once a Kihei landmark. Since then, the Lahaina-born musician has gone on to become a household name far beyond the islands. It’s no wonder: the Grammy nominee creates soulful medleys with his combination of rock-and-roll, Hawaiian, reggae, the blues—even opera. Now in its sixth year, the Willie K & Friends BluesFest presents an evening celebrating Willie’s wonder and those of his most talented friends. Can’t make it to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center during your stay? Check out Willie’s show at Mulligans on the Blue Wailea the man knows how to bring down an Irish pub to boot.


6.  Go on an Eco Tour of Haleakala

Haleakala—the massive shield volcano that comprises the eastern half of the island—is a must-see on any Maui trip, no matter the month you might be traveling. But in the wake of the holidays’ materialism, January is the best time to give back to the planet. Accomplish that and more with Haleakala Eco Tours, which takes guests up to the summit (a staggering 10,000-feet above sea level) and into an informative course on the volcano’s myths, geology, and history, with a special emphasis on the native Hawaiian experience and cultural awareness. Best part yet? Haleakala Eco Tours gives direct financial benefits to local conservation efforts.


7.   Run for a Cause

Vacations were once synonymous with me-time; these days, there’s a growing interest in holidaying with a purpose. Find yours by signing up for the Maui Oceanfront Marathon, which will benefit local nonprofits (and serves in partnership with the Sister Marathon Peace Initiative (SMPI), an organization that “promotes world peace and spreads goodwill through the sport of marathon running”). The scenic trek starts in Wailea and ends in Lahaina, giving you and your fellow runners a hypnotizing view of Maui’s breathtaking coastline.


8.  Dine in (Eco-Conscious) Style

The Mill House Maui is known for teaming bold flavors and beautiful plating with a serious eco-conscience: Executive Chef (and ‘Aipono Chef of the Year award winner) Jeff Scheer relies on the crops grown outside his kitchen at Maui Tropical Plantation to put together dishes that are as astounding in taste as they are in their ingenuity. The cocktails are extraordinary, the desserts are wholly memorable, and the plates, ranging from bites to mains, are exquisite. As for the location itself? It’s downright unforgettable.



9.  Witness Some of the World’s Largest Waves

The mood on Maui may be mild in January (thank the smaller crowds for the quiet) but the ocean this time of the year is, well, downright wild—at least on the North Shore, where tow-surfing was partially invented and which sees enormous breaks throughout the winter season. Peahi—or “Jaws”—may be the best place to view skyscraper-high waves (as in an astounding 70 feet), but Ho’okipa and the West Side’s Honolua Bay are also top-notch spots to get awestruck by the Pacific’s antics.



10.  Trek the Lahaina Pali Trail

Attempt the Lahaina Pali Trail in the summer months and you’re guaranteed to break a sweat—and that’s putting it lightly. With sparse vegetation and an arduous ascent (“pali,” after all, means “steep slope” in Hawaiian), the trail—which provides spectacular views of Haleakala, the central valley, and North Kihei’s Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge—is often deserted in the sultrier season for a reason. But come winter and its leeward location is a boon for hikers: warm enough to let those muscles work with ease but cool enough to sustain your energy. You’ll need it: roundtrip, the hike is a calve-burning 10 miles and 11 hours from the west trailhead. (Our advice? Hike with pals and leave a car on the other end.) And yet the Lahaina Pali Trail is well-worth the effort: climbing 1,600 feet, taking you in close proximity to Kaheawa Windmill Farm, and offering generous views of the outlying isles, this trail is a fantastic place to see the vastness of Maui Nui—and perhaps espy a whale while you’re at it.


11.  Relish a Cup of Maui-Grown Java

Maui isn’t just prime real estate for snow bunnies and sugarcane: the humid weather and volcanic soil provide the perfect breeding ground for some of the richest coffees on the planet. And while a number of independent stores are known for their excellent island brews—Akamai Coffee Co., The Coffee Store, and Grandma’s Coffeehouse chief among them—there’s nothing quite like sipping a mug of French- press brewed with beans you can practically see in the distance. Experience this on a chilly January day at the Maui Tropical Plantation’s Mill House Roasting Cafe, where expert baristas won’t roast a single bean until your order is placed. Their Mokha Java is divine, their Peaberry terrific, while the shop’s old-world charm—including antique coffee grinders—somehow makes the experience all the more delicious.



12.  Go Green

Parts of the Valley Isle are lavish as is—Hana, anyone?—but its golf courses offer a different kind of splendor. So is it any wonder why Maui’s verdant West Side is home to the annual PGA Sentry Tournament of Champions? Located at The Plantation Course in Kapalua, the four-day, all-star event tests the skills of the world’s champs as they strive towards a—wait for it—$5.9 million purse. Can’t be bothered spectating? Dine at The Plantation House, which serves rib eye and sashimi from the 19th hole (views of the Pacific complimentary).



13.  Laugh Your Head Off

Bill Maher has been delighting crowds at the MACC for six splendid years, where he pairs his Real Time humor with candor and political acuity at his annual New Year’s Day fete. This year, he’ll be joined by Bob Saget—he of Full House fame—and comedic impersonator Reggie Brown (whose deft imitations of Obama have earned him international acclaim). Maher may be a mainlander but the venue, laughs, and community he attracts are 100% Hawaii.

July 30, 2017

Day Trips on Maui

When was the last time you took a day trip?  Whether you're visiting Maui or are a longtime resident, it's refreshing to take time to enjoy what Maui has to offer.  With all the fun activities to do it can be hard to enjoy it all unless you make a point of it.  Before making plans, it's helpful to figure out what you'd like to experience.  If you're looking to experience laid back island style, Upcountry may be the place to go.   

This includes the towns of Makawao and Kula.  These areas are mostly pastoral land of orchid, protea and lavender farms, wineries, charming shops, artist studios, galleries, cafes and restaurants with majestic Haleakala Crater in the backdrop.

Here are a few popular places to consider while visiting the Upcountry area:


Ali'i Kula Lavender- this 13.5 acre lavender farm with over 55,000 lavender plants is a great place to spend the morning or afternoon with the whole family.  They offer walking tours, seasonal workshops and an array of botanicals made from the lavender grown on site.  Try the tea and scones and pick out a gift of high quality bath and body or culinary seasoning.  You'll want to call in advance to reserve your spot 808-878-3004.

Kula Lodge & Restaurant- If you're planning an early morning to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater, this is a must for breakfast on the way back.  The expansive views and delicious food is a great way to relax and warm up after a cool visit at the summit.  The rich pastures, eucalyptus, jacaranda and stunning views of the ocean make this an enchanting stop.  There's a marketplace which offers over 150 local vendors from Hawaii.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Maui Wine- The incomparable beauty of 'Ulupalakua surrounds this vineyard situated on the 150-year-old, 23,000 acre 'Ulupalakua Ranch.  Not only are you able to sip on delicious wine, but also learn a bit of history.  There is a guided tour of the grounds and winery and a history room with information about the long tradition of cattle ranching.  Across the road you may run into a paniolo (cowboy) while savoring on a homegrown elk burger.

Komoda Bakery- No trip to Upcountry is complete without a stop at this world famous bakery.  They open early with a line out the door so be sure to get there early enough before they sell out.   The stick donuts, long johns and cream puffs are probably the most popular.  The butter rolls also are a local favorite.  It's a family run business that's been around for a hundred years.

Boutique shops- Makawao town is known for the quaint boutique shopping.  You can find everything from women's unique clothing, maui made gifts, custom jewelry, local art galleries and much more.  

You can spend a few hours just browsing the shops in town then stop for a bite to eat at one of many eateries such as Polli's Mexican Restaurant or Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli.  If you're there in the evening stop by Makawao Steak House for appetizers and drinks.   

Upcountry Maui encompasses the laid back island lifestyle of Maui.  The cooler weather allows for a pleasant change from the shorelines of South and West Maui.  Even if for just a day trip, these areas are well worth the trip!

June 20, 2017

Renovation Tips

If you have owned a home and used a contractor, you will appreciate the challenge of coming in on the budget for any renovation. We hope this article (part 1) will be of help in coming in on a budget.

Buying a house that needs some remodeling can be a great way to turn an inexpensive house into your dream home. However, if you’re not careful, the remodeling job can burn through more money than you expected and take longer than you thought, leaving you scrambling to find somewhere to live while it is being completed. The first part of coming in on budget and on time is choosing the right contractor.

Tip 1: Review multiple estimates

Start by getting at least three estimates for your remodeling job. Remember, though, that the cheapest isn’t always the best. A low price might mean that the contractor is planning to cut corners, and costs could go up once you correct the mistakes or clarify what you really want. If one estimate is significantly less expensive than the others, ask that contractor what exactly is covered in that estimate to ensure it will complete that project to your satisfaction.

Tip 2: Get references and read reviews

Don’t base your entire decision off what the contractor tells you, but do your homework to find out what others are saying. A personal reference is the best way to find out about the contractor’s past work, so ask around to see if anyone in your networks has used that contractor, and find out whether the work was completed on budget and on time. You can also read reviews online, especially on sites like Angie’s List that offer lots of honest, unbiased reviews.

 Tip 3: Take note of what’s not included in the contract

Some estimates don’t include the costs of permits that may be needed to complete work. Others leave off appliances, assuming you will purchase them on your own. Make sure you account for these costs to come in on a budget.

Posted in Maui Real Estate
May 26, 2017

More On Renovation Tips

Renovations can be a great way to improve the value of your home before selling.  We've discussed the benefits of hiring a licensed contractor for the bigger projects but you can also do some things yourself and save money. Here are a few of both that you may want to consider before listing your property.

1. Kitchen Upgrades- There's nothing like walking into a kitchen with new appliances. Spending a few thousand dollars will pay back when the buyers happily walk into a kitchen with a clean, up to date oven, stove and refrigerator. 

2.  Small Things- Grab a few gallons of paint and give your front door a fresh coat. While you're at it, place a few potted plants next to the front door.  You can also stop by your local garden shop and pick out some plants and flowers to add to the front yard.

3.  Market Trends- Watch for clues with homebuyers. What is popular in home design? Open kitchens, modern bathrooms, tiled floors? Keep an eye out for what's in demand and apply and/or enhance those areas.

4.  Stay Neutral- Some people enjoy bright colors in their living space but this can be done with accents.  If you're looking to freshen up the walls, stick to white, beige and sand tones.  Don't overdo it with brightly painted rooms and accent walls. The new owner can take care of that after escrow.  You're better off appealing to a wider group of people by staying with neutral colors.

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Posted in Maui Real Estate
April 14, 2017

Maui Real Estate Development, The Early Origins

If you are a buyer, seller or investor looking at the Maui real estate market today and where it could be going in the future, getting an in-depth historical perspective into how the Maui and Hawaii real estate market developed can be both interesting and very helpful.


When examining the early origins of the Hawaii and Maui real estate industries, the first thing to acknowledge is that their evolution, development, and growth are inextricably tied to the late 19th and early 20th Century development of Industry and Tourism.

Early Visitors and The Beginnings of Tourism in Hawaii

Hawaii was first discovered by Europeans in 1778 when James Cook and his crew came across the islands. The unique location of this grouping of islands, located fairly centrally in the Pacific Ocean between the east and west, made it a logical and perfect strategic stop along the way of several key trade routes.  

Travel to the Hawaiian Islands began to rise in popularity as a destination when steamships made faster travel possible. Prior to the steamship, the only viable means to get to Hawaii was by Sailboat and a 2,000-mile crossing was neither appealing nor viable for a family vacation!  Beginning in 1875, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company allowed passengers to book travel to Honolulu on board the ships that stopped there between the United States and Australia.

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The Hawaiian Promotion Committee, founded in 1903, was one of the key early forces and seeds that laid the foundation of Maui real estate development. Funded in part by government monies, the Committee was the first bonafide organization to put Maui on the International map as a Tourist Destination. It even hired an advertising agency on Madison Avenue, to help with this effort. The Committee went over and above the mere promotion of Hawaii, getting behind necessary beautification and infrastructure projects such as the Mala Wharf and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. If Maui were to become a choice destination, it would need first class facilities to attract people to its shores.

The opening of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in February 1927 was met with great praise by the newspapers. It was seen as a magnificent world class resort in the heart of paradise and a landmark moment that would put Hawaii on the world map. In retrospect, historians consider it's opening a pivotal event in the development, promotion, and awareness of Hawaii as a destination resort.

In addition to resort life, the sheer natural beauty of the islands also drew tourists to its shores. Maui’s leaders understood the necessity to preserve these for visitors and residents alike into the future and for their own potential profit. Lorrin Thurston, for example, worked tirelessly from 1906 to 1916 with Congress to establish the Hawaii National Park. He also, along with several others started the Volcano House Company in 1891 acquiring and renovating the existing hotel structure, right at the edge of the Kilauea Volcano. Thurston was credited by Robert Allen (a highly respected Hawaii tourism executive) as having “created the foundation for Hawaii tourism.”

In due course, the advent of commercial aviation made the islands more accessible and was a powerful catalyst in the ongoing promotion and development of Hawaii. On November 22, 1935, Pan American Airways offered the first regular commercial flight from the US mainland to Hawaii.

Hollywood also helped to build the mystique of the Islands featuring the Islands in a number of movies in the 1930’s such as “Waikiki Wedding” starring Bing Crosby and Martha Raye which won the Oscar for best song in 1937. 

By the end of the 1930s, tourism was the third largest industry in the islands, behind sugar and pineapples.

Industry & the Emergence of the Maui Real Estate Market

Hawaii’s Sugar and Pineapple industries would play a significant part in the development of the real estate market on Maui and Hawaii. As each industry witnessed its heyday and then gradual decline, plantations and companies consolidated and executives looked for the next “big” thing to invest their profits into. Real Estate and Tourism was a good bet to target. For example, the Maui Land & Pineapple Company which was formed in 1969 would play a major role in resort development and the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) was instrumental in conceiving and building the dream city of Kahului.


Changing Landscapes in World War II

The Hawaii Islands - Pearl Harbor - were at the epicenter of the event that brought America into the second-world war. It was the catalyst that brought put everyone to work and brought America out of recession, sparking one of the greatest periods of innovation and prosperity that America and the world had ever seen.  

The impact of the second-world war on Hawaii was far reaching. Due to the position of the islands, they were a key strategic point for the United States military forces during World War II. As a result, vast new infrastructure was added across the islands inclusive of harbors, roads, and airports for use during the war.

This infrastructure was an essential and key part of the foundation for the development of both Tourism and the Hawaii and Maui real estate industry. Demand for real estate increased when World War II was over. The passing of the GI Bill helped veterans buy homes at unprecedented low-interest rates, and many who had spent time in Hawaii during the war wanted to live there when it ended.

The growing mechanization of sugar and pineapple production that happened after the war decreased the number of workers needed on these plantations, forcing many workers out of the plantation camps where they were living, to look for new housing. Planned communities, such as "Dream City" of Kahului in Central Maui, sprung up as places where former plantation workers moved.

Real Estate Boom During the 1960s

Commercial jet travel brought many visitors to Hawaii during the 1950s, but not necessarily to Maui, which actually declined in population as mechanization of the plantations led to layoffs and workers left looking for work on the main Hawaii Island. The answer to stem the outbound flow of labor and invigorate the Maui economy was outlined in a land use report prepared in 1959 that analyzed what could be done differently.

The report identified the massive under-utilization of Maui’s spectacular natural beauty and beaches. A key recommendation was to build upon the existing infrastructure and develop some fine destination resorts.

The report led to the birth and rise of the resorts in Kaanapali, Kapalua, and Wailea which were fueled by mainland and foreign leisure companies and the wealth of the local Pineapple and Sugar corporations.  Tourism brought money into the economy, fueling new jobs, the need for housing and real estate speculation!

In our next article, we will take a closer look at the factors impacting real estate development from 1950 through the 1990’s on Maui.


March 25, 2017

Surveys Protect your Property Interest

If you are planning buying, selling or making any improvements to your home, the below is a brief refresher on Property Surveys.

What a Survey Does

A property survey defines exactly what land and structures are part of a specific piece of property. Your lender and title insurance company often require a property survey when you are purchasing a home, but even if they don’t, it can be a smart move to get one. A survey typically cost varies depending on your location and the size of your property.

When creating a property survey, an independent surveyor will use a combination of archived land records and current measurements. The survey will lay out the lot size and dimensions, and then mark the location and size of the home on the lot. In addition, the survey should indicate the presence and location of other structures, like a garage, driveway, retaining wall, or fence. It may also mark right-of-way privileges for utility companies or other quirks of your property.

In Hawaii, the legal description the of land and real property originates from the survey. Our survey system is a Metes and Bounds System, which means the surveyor relies on monuments, angles, and measures to determine the boundary of the parcel. Typically the survey will be a map showing the boundaries and all of the structures that lie within.  Also included in the survey are things like utility easements, drainage easements or other areas where the land is set aside for a use other than that of the land owner.  If there are structures on the parcel, the survey will also show if there are any issues with setbacks.  Depending on the property and its zoning, there may be setbacks from the boundary of the parcel in which nothing can be built.  A survey will highlight any encroachments on setbacks.  The other thing a survey will show is whether there are any encroachments involving neighboring parcels.  These can be things like fences, rock walls, driveways, etc. that may cross the boundary with the adjacent property.

 De Minimus Laws

Improvements in technology have made surveys incredibly accurate.  Unfortunately with many properties here in Hawaii, that accuracy can be very different from the boundaries originally established by historical surveys.  In order to address this issue, the Hawaii Legislature enacted De Minimus rules.  De Minimus means "minimal impact" and guidelines were established in which certain variances between modern and historical surveys would be tolerated.  For residential properties the variance is 6" or .5 feet.  Agricultural or Rural land is 9" or .75feet.  Other types of property have different allowances.  As an example, a fence built on a residential property that is 5" on the next lot is determined to be within the de minimus and therefore not an encroachment.


If that fence is 7" over on the next parcel, one option is to remove it and rebuild it within the boundaries.  For some encroachments that may be very difficult and cost prohibitive.  In that case an encroachment agreement may be the best course of action. In an encroachment agreement, the two neighbors settle and agree in writing to allow the encroachment, describe it, memorialize who is to make repairs, rebuild in case of such a need and it is recorded as a perpetual easement that "runs with the land" meaning it carries over to subsequent owners. It is best to have this agreement prepared by an attorney and recorded as part of the deed the property.

Surveys for Property Improvements

A property survey is very useful to have if you are planning to make improvements to your home after you buy it. That way, you know exactly where your property line is so you can properly install a fence on your side of the line. A survey also indicates how much space is available for building an extension onto your home. You also may need a survey for completing landscaping projects or adding features like a deck or swimming pool.

Posted in Maui Real Estate