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  • Thursday, April 02, 2020 4:45 PM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    28 WHAR members joined the first virtual talk storyon Thursday April 2 at 10 am. President Andee Bemrose moderated, where the members received a mortgage update from meeting sponsor, Dave Cotner, American Financial Network, followed by a list of new homes on the market, needs and wants, and then an open discussion on the local real estate market.

    Mortgage Update:

    Dave discussed the issue of homeowners looking for a safety net in the form of forbearance, where the Federal government is offering homeowners with mortgages underwritten by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac an opportunity to put their mortgages on hold from anywhere to 30 days to a year.  Dave said there has been a lot of misinformation in the media about forbearance and the misconception people may have about it being “mortgage forgiveness”, which it is not. He stressed that the real estate community should use this time to reach out to homeowners to let them know there are ramifications for signing on to any forbearance program which include balloon payments, drop in credit scores, and in what may be some cases, forced foreclosure when the homeowner can't catch up on the missed payments and the bank calls the whole note.

    He mentioned that mortgage servicing companies are overwhelmed with calls right now as people flock to see if they can receive deferred payments on their loans. 

    Dave asked that everyone share that homeowners should talk directly to their servicer's to learn more and remember that making continuous payments is always best and beware of thinking that free money is available.


    The discussion among the attendees also turned to the Small Business Administration loans for small business owners and independent contractors through the recently approved CARES act. Government Affairs Committee member, Tanya Powers, encouraged people to visit Brian Schatz’ Facebook page to get up to date information and links to the applications for the loans. Here is more information, as well.

    Difficulty in removing tenants

    Arnie Rabin brought up topic around a 1,700 sq. foot, $825k home on 3 acres in Captain Cook he has listed. The home has a tenant and under the recent rules around eviction, that the tenant cannot legally be asked to move if the buyer does not want to continue using the property as a rental until the COVID-19 eviction rules are removed.

    Market Discussion:

    Realtors discussed they are seeing people who are uncertain in buying a home right now due to a loss of income.  The issue of how many listing price reductions have been made in the past few weeks was discussed with Realtors saying anywhere from 25-95 from what they are hearing. Kiana from First American said she saw 11 cancellations in three days. While Derinda Thatcher said she heard of 21 price reductions, 22 withdrawals, but also 12 open escrows. She said she saw these split evenly with buyers coming from mainland and locals. She stressed that sales can still be made and people are looking for opportunities, and when things settle, the market will be good.

    Brianna from Title Guaranty said their office is still open by appointment and that the guidelines were still in place. She mentioned that they were awaiting word to see if e-signatures could be allowed so the whole transaction could be completed without a wet signature. Barbara Welsh said that Hawaii just approved E-notaries this week.

    Brianna reported more purchases than refinance transactions, and has seen few cancellations.

    COVID-19 Safety

    The discussion then turned to staying safe and avoiding contracting or spreading COVID-19. Realtors discussed the importance of wearing masks to keep you from touching your face, and using social distancing.

    Upcoming: Webinar with Paul Brewbaker

    Karin Shaw announced that local economist, Paul Brewbaker, will be offering a free economic update for Hawaii Island next Thursday at 11 am directly after the next WHAR “Talk Story” Zoom caravan. A link will be available in the next newsletter.

    Next Zoom Talk Story-April 9th at 10 am

    Please attend the next meeting on Thursday the 9th and be part of the discussion! We will record the meetings and have the link available on the WHAR website if you cannot be there in person to participate.

    If you participate, you can put a link to your new listings in the chat section so members can simply click to see what you have on the market.

    WHAR is working hard to provide you with timely and valuable information during this public health episode.

  • Thursday, April 02, 2020 4:35 PM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    Resources for Hawai'i During the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Brian Schatz’s website:

    We’re working hard to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (click here) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (click here). As a result of this legislation, the federal government is now offering several resources to support our families and our local businesses during this public health emergency. 

    For information on federal resources for governments, health care providers, educators, and non-profit organizations, click here.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2020 1:32 PM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    WHAR is offering a scholarship for the Hawaii Association of REALTORS® Leadership Academy (HARLA).  Download the application here! Email completed application to

    HARLA is a program crafted by Hawaii Association of REALTORS® for Hawaii REALTORS®. Students will join their peers in a series of powerful retreats to improve all aspects of leadership skills such as communication. Media training, team-building, goal-setting, and more.  HARLA graduates have used what they learned to take on leadership roles in businesses, communities, or within local, state, or national REALTOR® associations.

    Click here for more information.

  • Monday, March 16, 2020 11:48 AM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)


    WHAR has made the following decisions to provide for the health and well-being of our members, our staff and our overall community. Several factors helped to arrive at this decision, including the increasing number of calls being received from members with concerns. Effective Monday, March 16, 2020 through Thursday, April 30, 2020:


    ·         All WHAR classes and events will be cancelled or postponed. This includes, but is not limited to, the YPN Professional Panel on March 25, our General Membership Meeting on March 27, and the weekly Kona Caravans. DCCA has notified all CE providers that as of this time they are not planning to extend the license renewal date and will look to online classes.  Anyone who has paid for classes or events will be refunded. 

    ·         WHAR offices will be open for email and phone service only, no walk-in service. Should a member have a need (which could include the need to purchase store items or lockbox servicing), members will be asked to schedule an appointment with staff. 

    ·         All committee meetings will take place via tele-conference, including the WHAR Board of Directors meeting on March 25, 2020. Assistance will be provided to committee/board members if needed to provide a call-in number for meetings.

    ·         The period of modified classes/events/meetings/walk-in service will be Monday, 3/16 through Thursday, April 30, 2020. Should the situation improve, full services may be reinstated sooner. We will reassess the situation and make further determinations as necessary on April 1, 2020.

    Mahalo for your patience and understanding during this time of uncertainty

  • Thursday, March 12, 2020 11:49 AM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    Amidst the economic upheaval that is affecting global markets recently, the shining light is the drop in interest rates, providing home buyers more purchasing power. Will this help the West Hawaii real estate market through the spring market?

     The first two months of 2020 have indicated the desire in the North Kona single family home market with prices and sales seeing double digit increases year over year, according to the February statistics from Hawaii Information Services. There are also buyers, who have been waiting on the sidelines for years, waiting for an opportunity to get into the market after the year over year increases in home prices since 2012. 

    The median price for a single family home in North Kona was $770,000, an increase of 17.56% from $655,000 year over year. Single family homes sales jumped 19.44% from 36 homes sold in February 2019 to 43 in 2020. 

    For condos in North Kona, sales were up 9.68% from 31 in 2019 to 34 in 2020. Prices, however, dropped 13% year over year from $375,000 to $323,500. 

    South Kohala, which had been tracking the robust market in Kona the past few months, saw a dip of 18% for single family home prices from $690,000 in 2019 to $565,000 in 2020, with 23 homes sold last year compared to 25 this year, an uptick of 8.7% year over year for sales. 

    Sales volume for North Kona for single family homes was up 57.34%  year over year and 65% up year to date while condos were up 10.98% year over year. 

    As we know, inventory is still tight and there have been instances of multiple offers in the market. Anecdotal stories of buyers looking to remove funds from the stock market to put it into real estate have occurred. 

  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020 3:19 PM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    Do you have a favorite local not for profit that you would like for WHAR to support? WHAR is now accepting applications for it’s annual Charity of Choice. The announcement will be made at the General Membership Meeting on March 27th at the Waikoloa Marriott. Previous recipients include Hospice of Kona,Teach For America and Kona Historical Society

    Applications are due by March 18th. Click here for the link to the application. 

    In past years, WHAR has created fundraising events to fund the Charity of Choice, including a Halloween-themed event which raised $31,000 for Hospice of Kona. Last year, WHAR held a successful silent auction during the Annual Membership Meeting and Inauguration which raised over $2500 for Teach for America. 

    Help us make a difference in our community and nominate your favorite charity today! 

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020 12:13 PM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    Buyers Snap Up Single Family Home Sales in Kona and South Kohala

    The West Hawaii housing market saw a banner month in January with increased sales activity this January compared to last year. 


    Single family home sales increased 35% year over year in North Kona and 150% in South Kohala, according to sales statistics from Hawaii Information Service for January 2020. Homes sales in North Kona rose from 34 homes sold in 2019 to 46 in 2020 and in South Kohala from 12 to 30. Condominium sales fell 12% in Kona year over year and rose 8.3% in South Kohala. Islandwide, residential homes sales rose 44.5% from 148 in 2019 to 214 in 2020. 

    Median Price 

    The median price of single family homes rose in both areas as demand for homes in West Hawaii increased dramatically from the fall and into the new year.  The median price of a home in North Kona rose 22.23% year over year from $609,500 to $745,000 and in South Kohala, prices rose from $545,000 to $702,500, a 31% increase from January 2019 to January 2020.  The median price of condos in North Kona rose 20% year over year from $325,000 to $390,500 and in South Kohala prices rose 31% from $482,000 to $632,500. 

    Sales Volume

    For sales volume for January in North Kona, single family homes rose 74% year over year and in South Kohala, the sales volume rose by 567%. 

    What Are They Saying?

    Industry leaders are sharing that the mortgage rates holding at historic lows are driving the national real estate market. Mortgage rates have fallen a full percentage point since October 2018 to around 3.7 percent.

    WHAR Realtors we spoke to shared that there are occurences of multiple offers in the local market, homes that have been sitting on the market for over 200 days are getting new interest and offers and there continues to be pent up buyer demand. Homes in the $600k-$750k range are seeing alot of interest and buyers looking for deals are often disappointed as buyer demand makes deals less and less common. 

  • Tuesday, February 04, 2020 2:46 PM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    Join us at the Keauhou Shopping Center on Saturday, February 8, 2020 from 12:00-6:00 pm for the Best of Kona Festival. The festival offers exposure to all aspects of life in Kona; education, healthcare food, agriculture, keiki activities and more!

    As one of the event sponsors, West Hawaii Association of REALTORS® (WHAR), will have REALTOR® members and mortgage professionals on hand to discuss the home buying process from 12:30-4:30.  All sessions will be held in the in the Keauhou-Kahaluu Heritage Center, which is located off of main courtyard of the shopping center.

    Information covered will include understanding the pre-approval process, dispelling the notion of a 20% down payment, credit worthiness, short term vacation rental information, down payment assistance programs, exactly how to go about buying a home in Hawaii from searching to contract and more!


    12:30-1:15 “Facts and Fiction About Getting A Mortgage” Sponsored by West Hawaii Association of REALTOR® Panelists: James Allen, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Susan Gordon, Premier Mortgage Resources; Barbara Welsh, APEX Mortgage.

    1:30-2:15 Homebuying 101- (REALTOR PanelSponsored by West Hawaii Association of REALTOR®.  Panelists Gretchen Osgood, Hawaiian Isle Real Estate; Kelly Shaw, Elite Pacific Properties; Angel Wannemacher, Hawaii Beach and Gold Properties.

    2:30-3:00 “What You Need To Know About Buying Second Homes and Vacation Property in West Hawaii” Panelists: Kathren Rosales, American Financial Network and Gretchen Osgood, Hawaiian Isle Real Estate

    Other presentations include:

    “3:15-4:00 “Debunking the Myths Stopping You from Buying a Home” Sponsored by the Wynn & Eagan Team-Citywide Home Loans  

    4:00-4:30 Accessing Down payment /Closing Cost Assistance Programs and Grants – Featuring Hawaii Homeownership Center

    For more information go to:

  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020 4:13 PM | Karin Shaw (Administrator)

    Effective August 1, 2020: Below memo, unless or until the Hawai'i County Code is amended to address the issues contained herein.

    This memorandum (memo) is to provide clarification regarding code interpretation and implementation of guest houses and detached bedrooms. Although there have been numerous director policy memos on this subject, former Director Duane Kanuha issued a memo on October 20, 2014 which rescinded all previous directors' memos. Effective August 1, 2020, this memo will rescind all previous memos regarding code interpretation and implementation of guest houses and detached bedrooms until an ordinance amending the guest house sections and related sections of the Hawai'i County Code can be adopted by the County Council, at which time this memo will be considered void.

    The traditional single-family dwelling unit comprised of a single structure containing all functions of a dwelling is still applicable. Today landowners often want to utilize an architectural style of dwelling design commonly referred to as "pod" or "pod design" where the functions of a home are dispersed across several structures. However, pod construction does not comply with the county code. The current code only allows for one detached guest house with a maximum of 500 square feet of gross floor area.

    A previous director had implemented a policy that offered a solution that meets the requirements of the current code while allowing the possibility of having pod style  dwelling.  This alternative was termed a "structural attachment." A structural attachment establishes a common roof line where the structures share a roof or a common wall line where the structures share a wall. The structural attachment maintains the single-family definition of a house as it may be considered one structure while allowing the appearance and functionality of a detached structure.

    This memo returns to the policy of structural attachment as it provides architectural guidance to designers and landowners for application submittals, as well as to staff for review of the requirements for application approvals.

    Therefore, the department will implement the following:

    Guest House

    Section 25-1-5 of HCC defines a guest house as the following:

    '"Guest house' means an accessory building used as sleeping quarters for guests of the occupants of the main dwelling and having no cooking facilities." (underline added for emphasis)

    By definition, a guest house is sleeping quarters. Bedrooms are spaces within dwellings where occupants sleep, so they are also sleeping quarters. Thereby, a detached guest house and a detached bedroom are the same thing pursuant to the following:

    Section 25-4-9 of the Hawai'i County Code (HCC) states:

    "One guest house may only be established on a building site that is at least seven thousand five hundred square feet in area. A guest house shall not exceed five hundred square feet in gross floor area, shall not be more than twenty feet in height, and shall not have a kitchen." (underline added for emphasis)

    Gross Floor Area

    Section 25-1-5 of HCC defines gross floor area as the following:

    '"Floor area, gross' means the total area of all floors of a building including a basement measured along the exterior walls of such building."

    The planning department continues to interpret the gross floor area to include all interior space and any attached area including, garages, car ports, lanai's, decks, balcony's, etc. This will now include living areas that are structurally attached as outlined in this memo.

    Structural Attachment

    If the structure or living space is structurally attached, the 500 sq.ft. limitation does not apply. The structural attachment provides the planning department a reasonable argument to identify all structures attached by roof or wall as one structure.

    Maximum Distance for Primary and Accessory Structure Relationship

    This applies to both detached guest houses and structurally attached living spaces. As noted in the definition of a guest house, it is an accessory building and is accessory to the primary dwelling. As the accessory structure increases in distance from the primary structure, it loses its relationship to the primary structure or use.

    This memo establishes a policy that has been a long-standing practice for the accessory structure to be within thirty (30) feet of the primary structure to maintain the relationship between structures. If a hardship is clearly identified on the application and found to be reasonable by the department, a distance of no greater than fifty (50) feet can be allowed between the primary and assessor structures on a case by case basis. Potential hardships may include but are not limited to: a change of grade on the site, existing vegetation that is to remain or is difficult to relocate like a large tree, siting of utilities like wastewater septic system, etc.


    •  A dwelling may have separated living spaces that are structurally attached by a common roof or wall.
    •  In addition to structurally attached living spaces, a dwelling may have one (1) guest house in accordance with the Hawai 'i County Code.
    • Both guest houses and structurally attached living spaces must be within thirty (30) feet of the primary structure, subject to demonstration of a hardship, which may allow a distance of up to fifty (50) feet.
    • The above is subject to compliance with all other Hawai 'i County Codes.

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West Hawaii Association of REALTORS®
75-5995 Kuakini Hwy., #221, Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Phone (808) 329-4874 Fax (808) 329-5191

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