Living in Hawaii: Luxury Real Estate Experts

Living in Hawaii

August 6, 2020
YouTube video

Betty Sakamoto: Aloha and welcome to Betty’s Real Estate Corner! It has been a couple of years now since I’ve come back and done this but somehow a little insanity took me over again and here we are kind of with some ideas we want to talk about real estate. Primarily right now I really want to introduce Tom Muldoon, who recently we entered into an acquisition merger with Coldwell Banker Island Properties and now Kapalua. Coldwell Banker Kapalua, Coldwell Banker Island Properties Kapalua. Tommy Muldoon is one of I’m going to call him the executives, the big shots, and we have all known one another since I guess the 70s and we jokingly say it was about time we got together because we all know where the bodies are buried.

Tom Muldoon: Yes, that’s true Betty. Yeah, I have known Betty and Roy since the early 80s. When I first started to play golf, I started playing golf with Roy up in Kapalua and you know when you meet somebody out of the first time you know you are a match and you know that’s what I felt and I think we felt, Betty right? And then recently over the last two, three years…

BS: It’s about that yeah

TM: We had discussions about you know Sakamoto Properties and you and Roy wanted to do up in Kapalua. And through several lunches…

BS: We has some really good lunches down in Wailea, Kaanapali, Kapalua, breakfast…

TM: Yeah, and then we came to an agreement to merge with Coldwell Banker Island Properties and during that process we were fortunate enough to take over this space that was occupied Kapalua Realty. Yeah, it’s a great space and thanks to you and the team, you are doing the remodeling and we are really looking forward to you know seeing what we can do up there. I think we will have a great impact, the two of us.

BS: It’s really going to be exciting! We are there every day right now, pretty much seven days a week for some period of time. We’ve got a lot of renovation happening right now, it’s being painted. There’s so many different little things that none of us were expecting but it’s all bringing I think the fun of the whole thing. And we believe, Roy and I have specialized in Kapalua Properties for the majority the last let’s say 30 years, we still want to do and always do you know we have sold you know small properties up by Lahainaluna Road. We have sold almost anything and assisted people or we also have now which I think will be super all across Maui and Honolulu, almost worldwide, Coldwell Banker is able to help us with anything that we need help with. So if somebody is looking to purchase and more likely to be a Kihei buyer, you know we can actually spend a lot of time helping them get qualified, which is a whole other thing I want to ask you about in a minute the mortgage set up. But we’re going to be able to help them get qualified for a mortgage, talk to different people, determine where they should be. And sometimes from the standpoint of where their job is located, etc, they would do better with a home let’s say in Kihei or Kahului, Wailuku, I mean there are so many options. And now we are going to be able to really assist more but as we are on this and Coldwell Banker and now has entered into somewhat the mortgage business…

TM: Yeah, it is an affiliated business that we’ve just started it’s called Makai Mortgage Company. We have a new office down in Kihei, it’s on 1819 South Kihei Road in the Kukui Mall. A brand new state-of-the-art office and our what functions out of that office is our brokerage side, we have a vacation rental division, we have our accounting, we have our maintenance crews in there. So, we’ve used this space and of course we have the new mortgage company.

BS: Very high tech, the whole office. You walk through the doors, it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen certainly on Maui, almost anywhere and I came from Chicago when I moved here was really Buffalo, New York is home but Chicago on the way here and I think it is really high tech.

TM: It is and we have offices all over the island; Paia, Kahului, Kaanapali, of course Kapalua, Kihei, and Wailea. We just entered into a- we acquired the assets of Clock Realty last week in Big Island and also De La, Coldwell Banker De La in the Hilo side. We were over there last week finalizing that deal. We have offices in Kauai and of course on the Big Island, so we are the largest- right now we are the largest real estate franchise in the state of Hawaii and we are trying to create ancillary businesses that support our brokerage and that’s our goal.

BS: It’s a huge, I think that’s a huge asset.

TM: Oh yeah! I mean people can come and have a sort of a one-stop-shop for real estate with us right now. We have great management, we have great ownership, and I think it is a credit to our company that we’re doing this at this time- during COVID. That we are willing to take those risks, step out, and show that we are able to do these kinds of things. We are not retreating, we’re sort of going the opposite direction, moving forward which I think is a credit to ownership and our leadership.

BS: I think so and when I look back really we entered into our agreement just pretty much pre-COVID. It was just before more or less. You know so then all of a sudden, we were negotiating for the Kapalua space. Which again, I am really thrilled that the ownership was willing to keep going on that with us and probably it was good timing, in a way, but the office is really going to be great. There’s so many people that are out walking around there that are kind of stopping in already to see what we are up to and that by itself has been a big real estate asset. You know mortgage wise, you know someone is coming to us can deal with whoever they want. They can deal with their local banker, local mortgage company but excuse me in a lot of cases I think it’s really great that you do have one-stop-shopping. People don’t want to have to run around anymore, it’s too hard.

TM: Yeah and we do have to give choices obviously we are also, I think in the final stages of affiliating with a title company right so we’ll have that available as well and if I could just back up one minute about kapalua. I remember when me and you and Roy and Bob were talking about making that transition and one of the things that was really important to both of you, and Roy brought this to my attention early on in the discussions, was he said you know he said I want to be able to give back and teach the people. Having 40 plus years of experience and being residents in Kapalua that he felt like he really wanted to give back and sort of teach a history lesson to the newer agents and the real estate community about Kapalua and where it was and where it is right now. And I think that that was a big part of why Roy and you, Ithink joined with us it’s very…

BS: Absolutely! Yeah, no Kapalua for us you know over the years you know I’ve argued with certain brokers, one being probably Tommy Muldoon and Bob Sella, about you know they like to make jokes about it rains all the time at Kapalua.You know, well come on it doesn’t rain! And somewhere along the line I came up with the theory that, now a lot of you are too young to remember Camelot, but my theory is that Kapalua is like Camelot. Where once it never rained till after sundown by 8 am the morning fog has flown don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot for happily ever after in that’s known as Kapalua.

TM: Wow Betty, I didn’t know that about you but that’s awesome!

BS: No but I think Kapalua is, it’s amazing yeah it’s fabulous the golf courses are great the tennis facility is great to just be out walking around the restaurants are really good. And you know the homes are great! The condos there’s no, you know the condos now are getting a little bit older. You know Bay Villas are the oldest you know, so that a lot of them are doing renovations or people buying them right now will be making plans to renovate and right now Kapalua we’re finding we’re really busy especially at the top of the market yeah. And there are people now looking in between you know the you know some of the condos. And the other one that we talked about just before we started the show was the condo or the the local resident, you know people that are looking to buy you know let’s call it their forever home. You know they’re looking for something that they’ll probably own and retire in. And there’s so many of those people here, and right now with the interest rates I think it couldn’t be any better to get together with us, you know one of our agents with any agent. You know because it is time right now if someone can do it, you know stop and figure it out. It won’t be your first or last visit probably to the realtor but you walk in and you sit down and you talk to someone and figure out who you’re going to work with and and then figure out financing and somebody can help you get qualified and then it’s a process it takes time.

TM: Yeah but what we usually do, or what I had done in the past, is the first thing I would ask is sort of like what are you trying to accomplish here and how much time do you have to do it? You know and that’s the way I would approach it. And what I think too today, especially in today’s market, is you know whether you’re on the buy side or the sell side of a deal, what I’m finding is it’s a lifestyle decision right now as much as it is an economic one or financial or all that kind of stuff. Because people are looking to make a change in their life or to settle down in their life with everything that’s going on in the world right now.

BS: I think I wouldn’t have put it that way but I wish I had because I think that really makes a lot of sense people are right now. And again, some of the top of the market people are really making a decision that they feel this could be one of the safest places in the world and they want to come here. We’ve had a couple of people, and have a couple right now, that work here on Maui that are not working right now but they’re actually taking the time to get out, look at properties, work with…you know sometimes there’s some great local resident programs that will accept a fairly low down payment. You know, so it is a good opportunity for people to just come in and try to make it work. I mean, I think sometimes rents get so high that if you really take a moment with your agent and think about it by the time you write off your interest and taxes, which everything changes the minute I say it, but let’s just say it can often be in the end you are not paying more than rent and it’s your own.

TM: Yeah and i think it’s a good time to start the process whether you’re a buyer or a seller

BS: I do too!

TM: Just get that information from a realtor, right? To get it so that at least you can have a conversation with the people that are important to you on what to do now or should we wait, should we do it now? That’s a question we get a lot Betty, is now a good time to buy? Iis now a good time to sell?

BS: That’s always a hard one because to a certain extent if somebody really is ready to sell and they’ve got another plan, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re making more or less. If it’s really what you want and you know where you want to go, or you have a pretty good idea, so I think that makes a difference for people right now or always. You know, so maybe price…everybody gets so wrapped up in price, and they want to wait to get a certain price. But I think you sometimes pass up, number one, the opportunity to get situated to find a home of your dreams and it can work no matter what.

TM: Yeah I think you heard this too. If you buy at the bottom of the market, you’re just flat out lucky. Because that just keeps out you know you can’t pick that point, right?

BS: No and everybody says you know what you don’t know it’s the bottom until later anyway. You don’t know it’s the top until later but if you can hang in there, usually it makes sense. Real estate is I think will always be one of the best investments long term.

TM: And as we know there’s different segments of our market right you know we do have sort of a higher-end, mid-level, and you know entry level. And everybody who…all the buyers in that price range many of them have purchased before. First time homebuyers, First mid-level maybe they bought or sold one or two properties in their life, so they have the experience of the process which isn’t easier for them in a lot of ways.

BS: It really helps!

TM: Yeah it really helps to have experienced it before, so there’s a different discussion, a conversation, that we have with those. Everybody that walks through the door, it’s a different conversation. That’s why we have to find out about them; their needs, their lifestyle, their family, where they’re from. Schools are schools involved? And medi…are hospitals important to you? Do you need to be Upcountry where it’s cooler? Would you rather be where the weather’s a little bit hotter? It’s all those discussions will help any realtor on Maui and Hawaii define a little bit better to help people come in and focus on where they want to be. Because sometimes they don’t know, they don’t know where they want to be, they don’t know anything at all about Hawaii. Especially the people, the visitors don’t know.

BS: But what you’re saying too can just affect the local resident, you know who are making hard decisions based on where they live. Based on cost, based on financing, traveling…

TM: Gas, traveling, all those costs that come into play when they have to figure out their monthly budgets.

BS: And then if you’re again like we’re kind of talking about, somewhat that first-time home buyer who might also be short of cash. Sometimes we’ll see someone that has a family member that would be willing to gift them a certain amount of money, so that they would get their first break in real estate. So that again, it has to be worked out with a lender but there’s so many ways that someone can get into real estate no matter where you are. And it’s all pretty fun, it is fun.

TM: I want to can i ask a question of you?

BS: Yep!

TM: Tell us a little bit about, I know you’ve done a lot of work in the community, in the Lahaina area, in the couple of areas tell us a little bit about what you and Roy have done for the folks of Maui.

BS: Well I mean there’s been a couple of things that we’ve been involved in that we’re so proud of and have been so amazing. Roy ended up on the Hale Makua board a hundred years ago it seems like but I mean, let’s say pretty much 40 years ago. Around the same time his mother was hospitalized and then at Hale Makua. And they were so amazing at what they did and how they took care of the family, it was beyond comprehension to us. And then we learned so much about Hale Makua; how it started, where it came from, which was basically World War II. That there was no place for the seniors, there was no place for someone who needed medical care at that time because the hospital was being used by soldiers. So it happened there and then the buddhist church came in and helped out by establishing kind of the basements of the church. Maybe a little exaggeration but I’m pretty sure that’s at one time…but anyway Hale Makua came from all of that. I still think they’re one of the best nursing homes anywhere, there’s two. I could go on and on, too long on that one but it’s been really…Roy’s committed. He’s still on the board and we really care! And then somewhere along the line we ended up involved with Lahainaluna High School now. Roy graduated from Lahainaluna in 19 whatever, 1960. His father graduated, I believe 1928, and then my daughter Julie Flynn Sherlock, she ended up graduating in 1982. So our tie is really great with the school and I think it is phenomenal. And we were able to be part of the Lahainaluna High School Foundation, putting together the stadium. The kids had played on dirt and they had nowhere they could really go except to the other side of the island, so it really made a big difference…the Sue Cooley Field. Sue was someone that just brought so much to Hawaii and Maui and her boys, she referred to the Lahainaluna boys as her boys and she treated them like that. They would get together with her and talk to her and sing their alma mater to her, and that’s almost too much information but we love it, we love the community and Lahainaluna. I feel like my daughter, little redhead with freckles at Lahainaluna, in the early days was pretty funny but she excelled at it. She loved being there and you know anyway…

TM: No that’s… thank you for that!

BS: You know the other thing coming up right now kind of a little off beat would be, we talked earlier, we were all here kind of talking a little bit about the elections coming up and the fact that we do all need to vote. Now I think now we voted already by mail, did you vote by mail?

TM: Yeah I did.

BS: Good job! And I think that we’ve all got to do that. I’m feeling I’m going to be comfortable with it! I think it’s the wave of the future, it’s like in a way we aren’t always comfortable with computers or this or that, and this is kind of a new change but I feel like we’ve got to go with it. And especially in a pandemic year it’s going to be extremely important. I’d rather go to the voting booth and be a part of that because I always feel good when I walk in there, and so I hope that we do get to do that again but we’ll have to see what happens next. But again the point is let’s all vote, doesn’t matter who you’re voting for, which party, what you’re doing but think it out. Be sure that you get as educated as you can. Talk to family, friends, listen to anything you can on television, and form your opinions.

TM: Yeah, very few countries in the world give you that. Right?

BS: Isn’t that the truth.

TM: It’s a true privilege to be able to vote for the people that we want to represent us, regardless of what your views are. You get that right.

BS: We got that right. Yeah and I agree with you there’s very few countries in the world and I think we all have to support it and keep going. You know some elections, and I never realized this until a particular year which I can’t remember which, but like the voting in the primary If you don’t vote in the primary you lose the opportunity to even have those people on the ticket that you want to be able to later vote on. And everywhere the people that vote in the primaries are probably 20 to 40 percent of the actual voters, so I think that again that’s a big thing. We’ve got to vote. We got to vote and we’ve got to finish our construction at Kapalua. I think you guys are coming over Friday?

TM: We are coming over Friday.

BS: Wait until you see where it’s at now!

TM: I can’t wait! You are amazing though. You took that in a week or two and transformed it, I can’t wait to see it. You’ve been working hard at it, thank you.

BS: But we’ll see we’ve got a bunch of people there today and nobody’s kind of there. I think Roy is there, hopefully Janelle’s back, wel have a few people but it’s been…we’ve got a disaster going on but it’s all come together. And of course moving day, just if anybody moves, when we move Sakamoto Properties basically after pretty much 40 years and tried to break it down and get it into our Kapalua office and take some of it home. I just have a disaster everywhere it’s the joke of the office is how we can find anything, so if anybody needs anything they ask me and they think that I know where it is. So anyway we’re all excited Sakamoto Properties, now Coldwell Banker Kapalua, and the office is great. We’re in the middle of everything at Kapalua.

TM: You know, I won’t tell everybody how old we are but we’re in the…we’re a little bit older and to have this opportunity at this point in my life and our life, right? To be able to create something and move forward in with Kapalua and Coldwell Banker Island Properties, it feels great. It just feels great to have a lot more energy even now than I may have had even three years ago.

BS: I agree, I do too.

TM: You know what I mean? It’s exciting! You wake up in the morning and you have some challenges and you know that you’re attempting to create something for the community and helping people out. I know we talk about that as realtors, we like to help people and we really do and I know you’re doing, I know roy does, and I know our management team does, so well…

BS: I think too right now at Kapalua, what we’re trying to do is have agents there that will be able to really learn about Kapalua and take it over. I mean like there’s going to come a point, none of us are getting like you say and younger, and I don’t need to take over every person. I don’t need to sell everybody something but if we can teach other people about Kapalua and why it is glorious…it’s going to be fun. I mean it’ll make us you know…we are teaching other people.

TM: I’ll just say this when I first met you, we walked around Kapalua at the hotel. We couldn’t walk 10 feet without somebody coming up to you and saying hello to you and Roy. Whether it was people at the front desk, in the kitchen, the landscapers. And that’s what I think is most important in any business, is the relationships that we have with the people that we meet every day, regardless of their walk in life.

BS: Yeah the Ritz Carlton is where we were and it’s so fun for us to be there. We love the Ritz Carlton and it’s our friendships there and it’s everybody. But I guess we are winding down and they’re saying we have maybe 45 seconds. It has been so fun Tommy Muldoon that we actually did this and this will be one of many radio shows that we’re going to end up doing. And I think we’ll have fun doing it and sharing different things with the community. I think we’ve done okay, we were a little off at start but we’re good. Here’s our music back!

TM: Thanks Betty!

BS: Thank you Tommy, aloha!