Craig’s List Big Island Kona Rental Ads Warning

I think it’s important for people attempting to rent a home or condo on the Big Island to be made aware of Craig’s List scams such as the following.  I had a client contact me about an ad she had answered for a rental at a local Kona condo. It had a real estate agent’s name associated with it, with an email address, but no phone number.  The first red flag was when that “agent” said he couldn’t get videos because the current tenant required 48 hours’ notice to get in.  The second red flag was when a rental agreement arrived in her email that was not a standard Hawaii Association of Realtors form (a requirement if the rental agent is a Realtor).  The third red flag was that the “Rental Agreement” listed a bank account in Georgia to wire the funds to.  All funds collected by a rental manager who works for a real estate brokerage must go into the Client Trust Account of that brokerage; usually in the form of a personal check made out to that brokerage. On behalf of my client, the first thing I did was check the tax records and found that the name on title was different from the name of the “landlord” on the rental agreement.  Next, I got the name of the Broker In Charge (BIC) for the brokerage in question and asked if the ad was legit.  He contacted the agent whose name was used and found out that he had never listed a property for rent on Craig’s List.  So someone had taken photos from a Zillow listing when the unit was for sale in June, found a name of a local agent to use, and put an ad in the Craig’s List rental section.  The take-away from all this is NEVER wire money to secure a rental and ALWAYS verify through a third party that the rental is legitimate. 

The Origin of the Shaka

This is the traditional “Hang Loose” sign you flash on appropriate occasions; generally with a flip of the wrist or shaking back & forth motion. I can mean “right on brah!”, “no worries”, “that’s cool”, “be cool”, “relax, brah” and any other number of things depending on the situation. Like if someone stops to allow you to enter the highway from a driveway you might flash them the shaka and a way of saying “thank you”.  BTW, “brah” is a more modern contraction of the Hawaiian “Bruddah” which is pidgin for “brother”. What’s “pidgin”?

Back in the old sugar mill days a worker at the Kahuku mill named Hamana Kalili got the three middle fingers of his right hand cut off in a mill accident.  No longer able to work his job, the boss at the mill gave him the job of guarding the mill and facilities including the sugar mill train.  The mill and train cars were a popular place for kids to play, and the mill owners feared someone would get hurt; so there was an effort to keep the kids out.  Before there was a guard, the kids would sneak in through the cane fields and play around the mill half the night. After Mr. Kalili was put on as guard, it became a game for the kids to antagonize him and not get caught. So they wouldn’t have to yell a warning to each other (and reveal their location) when Mr. Kalili was approaching, they would mimic what his hand looked like, shaking their fist in the air with their thumb and pinky finger extended for the other kids to see.  The shaking motion is what gave the name “shaka” to the gesture.  True story.

Building Costs: What does it cost to build on the Big Island?

Subject: Building Costs

We saw several lots on your site and we were wondering what the current cost is per sq.ft. to build on the Big Island.


I get this question all the time. The first time it happened I asked a friend who is a building contractor. First of all, I knew in advance that there was not just one fee that all contractors charge to build a house. But I didn’t know how complicated it was. My friend explained that it depends on if the home is on a slab or post & pier. Single wall or double wall. If it’s single wall, it depends on if it’s fir, cedar or redwood. If it’s double wall, it depends on the type and quality of the exterior wall material (plain plywood, T1-11, stucco, vinyl, etc.). It also depends on the type and quality of the floor covering. It could be carpet, linoleum, laminate (various grades), real wood (solid-various species, veneer, bamboo, tile (ceramic, porcelain, travertine, quartz, etc.). There is a wide variety in the type and quality of the cabinets (plastic covered particle board, solid wood (price varies by species and if the entire cabinet wood or just the face-frame). Counter tops could be Formica, quartz, Corian or Corian type, granite, etc., and the brand and quality of the counter tops also varies greatly. Likewise the brand and quality of all the kitchen and bathroom fixtures & appliances varies greatly as well as the type, brand and quality of the windows and doors. Even the quality of the hinges is a variable factor. You might be able to build a house for around $135/sq.ft. using all the cheapest materials, and you can easily spend over $1,000/sq.ft. and up if you use only the finest and/or rarest of materials. So what my friend told me was: “Give me a set of plans and a materials list and I’ll tell you how much I will charge to build the house.” That’s what every contractor I have ever posed this question to has told me.

So the best I can suggest is to call either HPM Building Supply or Honsador Lumber and ask how much, in their experience, have local contractors charged to build some of their kit homes.
HPM: Address: 74-5511 Luhia St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 Phone: (808) 334-4200,
Honsador: Address: 73-5580 Kauhola St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 Phone: (808) 329-0738
But if you want a custom home, you are going to have to find a contractor and provide him with a set of plans to find out the price per square foot.
Mahalo, Harry

Hawaii Property Purchase, Contract Status and Escrow

I receive quite a few questions regarding the Contingent status.  The best definition in Webster’s Dictionary for “contingent” is “dependent on or conditioned by something else”.  Before I get into contingent status I feel I need to explain what an escrow is.  Many states do not use escrow companies, but use attorneys instead.  So many people do not know what “escrow” is.  An escrow company is set up to safeguard the interests of the parties to a sale.  In the old days, you could hand over your deposit to a seller only to find out two weeks later that he had “sold” his property to ten other people and absconded to South America with all their deposits.  The escrow company’s job is to hold the Buyer’s funds in an “escrow” account while making sure that all the paper work is in order and all the documents get properly recorded at the state Bureau of Conveyances on the day of “closing”.  On the mainland closing may be called “recordation”.  This is the day that the title transfers from the seller to the buyer.  The escrow company than distributes the funds as the Purchase Contract stipulates.  The whole process is called “Escrow”.

Here’s how the sale works.  The buyer’s agent helps the buyer draft an offer, which when completed, the buyer signs.  The buyer’s agent sends the offer over to the listing agent who presents it to the seller for his consideration.  If the seller accepts the offer he also signs it.  Once both parties have agreed on the price and terms of a Purchase Contract and signed it, they have consummated the deal.  Their agents then take the signed contract to the escrow company and an escrow account is opened.  At that point the sellers agent is required by their Multiple Listing Service to change the status of the listing in the MLS data base.   The status was “A” for “Active”.  At this point there are two choices, “C” for Contingent, and “U” for Under Contract.  Here’s where the confusion starts.  A contingent offer is also under contract, but with a contingency.  That is, there are conditions that must be met before the seller must turn the property over to the buyer.  The most common contingency is the home inspection.  The buyer is allowed time to fully inspect all aspects of the property.  If he finds something he doesn’t like within the allotted time period, he can cancel escrow and get his deposit back.  The Purchase Contract is then voided and the property goes “Back On The Market”, and the status is changed back to “A”, active.  The process is similar with any other contingency.  The next most common contingency if financing.  This can last from 30 to 45 days.

The point is, when you see a “Contingent” listing, it’s in escrow, in effect it is sold, but there are contingencies.  The only difference is, unlike a listing that has the “U” designation, a “C” listing could come back on the market at a later date.  When it does, it will show up in the “Back On The Market” category of the UPdate.  But while it is “C” it is not available to purchase.  It is possible to make “back-up” offers on contingent listings but back-up offers stay dormant and are voided if the original escrow closes.  If, however, a contingency is not met and the present escrow “falls out”, then the back-up offer automatically goes into first place and takes over the previous offers position in escrow.  Back-up offers are successful about 10% of the time.