May 2017 E-mail Update

Here is our 05/11/2017 e-mail update. It is sent after the statistics for the preceding month have been posted on the Board of Realtors website. You can find previous newsletters by visiting www.stott.com/news.

The median price in April for single family homes was $712,500 (1.0% lower than April 2016) and for condos was $415,500 (6.7% higher than April 2016). The number of single family home sales in April fell 7% compared to last year while the number of condo sales grew 5.7%. The drop in sales could be a blip since the number of pending sales for single family home sales is 21.1% higher than in April 2016. Inventory remains very tight. There were only 2.5 months of single family home inventory and 2.7 months of condo inventory in April.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s (HART) signature rail project is on the ropes as the State Legislature session closed without any new sources of revenue to pay for the project. The rail project is expected to now cost about $10 billion to complete, nearly double the original $5.26 billion price tag that Kirk Caldwell and then mayor, Mufi Hanneman, advertised to convince city and county of Honolulu voters to approve the project. The rail budget dominated this years state legislative session and appeared to cost the House Speaker, Joseph Souki, and Ways and Means Chairwoman, Jill Tokuda, their positions. House members voted to remove both Joseph Souki and Jill Tokuda from their positions during the last day of the session. Many state legislatures took the opportunity to rebuke mayor Kirk Caldwell once again for the financial situation that could likely impact both state’s and city’s services in the future. City Councilwoman Kimberly Marcos Pine asked mayor Kirk Caldwell to develop a new budget that provides cuts and tax increases to fund HART’s rail project. Pine said in a written statement, “the Legislature has stated their position to not agree to fund rail and it is time for the Honolulu City Council and the mayor to make some very tough decisions, including the possibility of stopping the project completely.”

State lawmakers are questioning why the consultant who was contracted to supervise construction of the long-delayed maintenance and cargo hanger at Honolulu International airport for $4 million was granted an additional $2.4 million contract extension for delays and cost overruns that the consultant may be partly liable for. The state Department of Transportation declared the general contractor in default on the $73 million hanger project in 2015 and Hawaiian Airlines has stepped in to finish the job.

Government workers and volunteers have been collecting debris that washes up and drifts into the reefs of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument over the past six years. The charter vessel, Kahana, picked up 12 shipping containers filled with derelict fishing gear, old nets, faded plastics, and other junk from Midway Atoll and other nearby reefs in the monument. The Northwestern islands and reefs are vulnerable to floating debris because they are located near the convergence of a series of Pacific currents that move counter-clockwise and carry rubbish from across the Pacific Ocean. During El Nino years, the currents move south and debris gets caught up on the reefs or washes ashore on the islands.   Hawaiian green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals can become lethally entangled in nets or starve after ingesting debris. The state of Hawaii paid about $225,000 for the vessel to pick up the containers and deliver them to Honolulu where the rubbish will be processed and burned in Honolulu’s H-POWER plant and converted into electricity. Government staff members and volunteers have removed an estimated 1.9 million pounds of debris from the Papahanaumokuakea monument over a 20 year time span.

Hilo hosted the state of Hawaii’s annual Merrie Monarch Festival in April. The festival is a week-long event culminating in three days of hula competition. The festival started in 1963 to perpetuate and preserve the art of hula and the Hawaiian culture through education. The hula competition features two types of dance, kahiko and ‘auana. Hula Kahiko was developed by Polynesians who originally settled the Hawaiian islands and participants dance to chants and traditional Hawaiian instruments. Hula ‘Auana was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries and participants dance to song and musical instruments like the guitar and ukulele. You can learn more about the festival by visiting www.merriemonarch.com.

The deed restrictions limiting the use of the land at the 100-acre site at Aloha Stadium to recreational and park use has been lifted. The change allows the state of Hawaii to explore a mixed-use development in addition to replacing the rapidly deteriorating Aloha Stadium.

The University of Hawaii’s (UH) Men’s Volleyball team received an at-large bid to the 2017 NCAA Men’s Volleyball tournament after finishing the season 26-5 and ranked #3 in the country. Only six teams qualify to play in college volleyball’s national championship. UH beat Penn State in five sets to advance to the Final 4 and then fell to #1 ranked Ohio State in three sets.

The University of Hawaii’s women’s tennis team won its first ever Big West regular season title outright by going undefeated in conference play. The Wahine lost to 2nd seed UC Santa Barbara in the finals of Big West Tournament this past month. UC Santa Barbara will represent the Big West in the NCAA tournament that starts this weekend. Tim had the pleasure of competing with one of the women on this year’s team during the 2016 Mixed Night Doubles Tournament held at the Kailua Racquet Club.

UH’s successful spring athletic season continue with the Sandbow’s third-place finish at the NCAA beach volleyball championships. The UH Women’s Sand Volleyball team improved over their fourth-place finish in last years tournament.

Garrett and Melanie Marrero, Maui Brewing Company’s husband and wife owners, received the 2017 National Small Business Person(s) of the Year award from Linda McMahon of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Maui Brewing Co. started in 2005 as a small seven-barrel brewpub with the help of a loan from SBA. By 2013, Maui Brewery Co. was producing 19,000 barrels of beer per year. The company has grown to the largest craft beer producer on Hawaii and has recently expanded to Oahu with a Waikiki restaurant and will open a new restaurant in Kailua early next year. Maui Brewery Co. plans on employing a workforce of 700 people by 2018. Maui Brewery Company’s Coconut Hiwa Porter is one of Tim’s favorite beers. Tim also celebrated his 50th birthday this past month with family, friends, and a keg of Maui Brewing Company’s Bikini Blonde Lager.

Tracey had dinner with a client in March whose great-great-uncle is honored by having the army base in Mililani named after him. Schofield Barracks is named after John M. Schofield who served as a distinguished General in the U.S. Army and served as a member of President Andrew Johnson’s cabinet. Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point and Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, and the United States Air Force Academy are required to memorize a quote from General Schofield’s graduation address to the class of 1879 at West Point describing the proper way to inspire and instruct soldiers under an officer’s command.

Hawaiian Airlines will resume its nonstop summer flights between Los Angeles and Kauai, Los Angeles and Kona on the Big Island, and Oakland and Kauai starting the end of May until the beginning of September. Hawaiian’s summer routes have experienced strong demand from West Coast travelers over the past four years.

The movie “Snatched,” starring Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer features a scene at the adult pool of the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. The addition of the Four Seasons to Ko Olina’s luxury hotel market has helped generate business opportunities for companies like Paradise Helicopters, Longhi’s restaurant, and newly opened Coral Crater Adventure Park. The Four Seasons plans to add 200 residential units and condotels behind the hotel in the next three to four years. The planned $2 billion Atlantis mega-resort will add another 800 rooms and 524 residences to Ko Olina’s growing inventory. Finally, a Chinese investment company plans on building 2,500 resort homes around a second golf course on 514 acres that will connect Ko Olina to the city of Kapolei. Ko Olina is starting to take shape as a high-end vacation destination similar to Maui’s Wailea.

Nico’s Kailua opened in April for lunch only. Tim and Tracey took the staff their for lunch one day to try out the new restaurant. The food was excellent and the restaurant has been very busy during lunchtime with parking at a premium. Nico’s needs about 60 people on staff to serve both lunch and dinner and currently has hired only 20 people in Hawaii’s challenging employment market. Hawaii’s current unemployment rate is only 2.7%, a 10-year low. Nico’s Kailua is not alone according to Pacific Business News. The newspaper has also written articles about the difficulty that Big City Diner and Bite Squad have had with finding new employees.

Many small coffee farmers in Kona will not be paid for their coffee after Mountain Thunder, a wholesaler specializing in buying coffee from small farmers, was liquidated by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The liquidation will mean that about 350 creditors, mostly small farmers and service vendors, will receive pennies on the dollars that they are owed.