Sakamoto Properties

Maui's Potential for Foreign Buyers
June 25th, 2012

Betty Sakamoto: Aloha and welcome to Betty's Real Estate Corner brought to you by Sakamoto Properties where "prestige is our business, reputation our foundation". Today, in the studio is Mitch Mitchell and Mitch is the person on all the television ads that has added the tag line for all these years which is, Mitch ?

Mitch Mitchell: Sakamoto Properties number one in exclusive Maui real estate.

B: Perfect, we got to where there was a point where the kids where our office is at the Napili shopping center could come to the shopping center and kind of shout to us, "Sakamoto Properties number one in exclusive Maui real estate". And then the other kid would say something like, "Prestige is our business, reputation our foundation". And we used to clap for them because we felt like at least somebody was listening, so I think that was pretty fun and good job Mitch.

M: Thank you Betty. I kind of get that all the time, like "Wow, we've heard that voice. In fact, we hear it too much". Anyway, it's great to be here Betty, thanks for having me back.

B: Well thanks for being here Mitch, it seems we're at another one of those times in real estate where we're going so busy that we're pretty frantic and then it can all of a sudden stop and we'll be sitting in the office thinking 'is the phone turned off?' and we'll all take a look. So we're going through a strange real estate time where we're extremely busy, the market slows down, and then it fires up again just as quickly. So it's hard for us to be sure exactly where it's going, don't you think Mitch?

M: Well two weeks ago we were having so many showings, every day running around trying to cover each other and get the showings taken care of, and then it just kind of quieted down again, and yesterday things started up and I had several showings. I've got a few this afternoon and tomorrow again so you're right Betty, it's hard to kind of figure out.

B: You know, about the time you think that you're just so jamming and you're showing off about how busy you are and then the next day it feels like it's gone so I don't know it's still an exciting time. I read a great article over the weekend and the comment in it was that when you want to buy is when all the good deals are gone and I thought, "well that's kind of silly". Then in the office we all got together and we were talking about the logic of it and somehow it started to ring true to me. Let's say that we're going into a market right now and let's say there's parts of Florida, although I have heard that Florida has come back in a few places, but let's say you went in somewhere and everything is bank owned or everything is short sale or there's all these really inexpensive properties, it's a great theory to step in there and buy something right now except when is that market ever going to turn around and you really don't know. It could be three years or five years, but if you step into a market where theoretically all the good deals are gone there's always some good deals because we know some of them. But if you step in there and you look around you realize that means that the market is already beginning to turn so you really want to step into that market now and I believe that's where we are in Maui and definitely that's where we are in Lahaina, or Kapalua, or Honokowai, or all the little places in between Lahaina and Kapalua. I think the market's turning and you can see some pretty good evidence so you want to get in there now. You know, now's the time.

M: You know, Betty, I was listening to a program the other day where the market in South Florida is really taking off from foreign buyers. And you know, we have the potential for that to happen here again.

B: Oh I think it's starting, absolutely.

M: There's Canadians and ?

B: Chinese, Japanese. I mean they're from around the world here and the area you're talking about is one particular country has been coming in not too far away and they've been coming in and buying up a lot of properties and a small area of Florida. But that area is turning around whereas the rest of Florida is, we happen to own a property there, it's still in somewhat dire straits in my opinion. But again, the same thing, people can get in there right now and make some pretty fabulous buys especially if you're ready to hold on.

M: As you know Betty, I was in San Francisco last weekend, because you had to cover for me, and the market there in San Francisco, in the Bay Area has really taken off. Houses are only on the market a few days before they go into contract. So as we usually follow the mainland, or follow California, I think that's a pretty good sign for us.

B: I think it is too and another thing for that market there, it falls into that category of "When all the good deals are gone, you should be stepping in and buying" because there's still something there if somebody is paying attention and thinking about it. And that is going to be the thing that is going to show that the market is on its way back up. Southern California, I think, is still pretty difficult but again I think once one starts and I think that San Francisco is starting and all of a sudden you're going to hit the more expensive homes in Los Angeles, San Diego, and again we follow them, traditionally we have followed them. Historically even, I mean if you want to get down to it we will follow them. So if they take off the odds are we're going to move into a pretty fast take off even though I feel like we almost started ahead of them at this time. I mean, I think we've got a little bit of a head start, and I think San Francisco we weren't even paying attention to but it's now perked up so it's going to be interesting across the nation. People still want the American dream, no matter what, you know for a while we were almost saying, and you were reading things that maybe the new American dream is rental: You find a great rental and you can live there for a long time and not worry about it. But, you know, that's just not the American dream. The American dream, wouldn't you say Mitch, is home ownership.

M: It is home ownership. It's a little different, I believe, than it was in the past. You know, you don't have the security you have when you're renting. You know, the rental market is getting tighter and the owners of the property are starting to ask more for the rental and you're going to find yourself kind of out in the cold again with the rent being raised to where you could have a mortgage.

B: That's absolutely right. Here in Maui, in particular, there's very few apartment buildings so in a lot of cases you're renting in "condominium-ized" properties you know. So wherever it is that you go in and maybe there's three hundred units but 80% of them are doing short term rentals, there's maybe 10% or 15% or whatever that are doing long term rentals but they're usually trying to stick that to maybe six months and then renew it, and in a lot of cases after the six months it's coming close to the holidays and they can put it into a short term. So it's harder in Maui I think to find the perfect rental than it is almost anywhere else in the country, except maybe other tourist type operations.

M: You know, we do have a few short term rentals, or vacation rentals, that we handle at Sakamoto Properties. And the beginning of the year was great, it was full, everything was running, and then all of a sudden it dried up for the summer but I'm getting calls every day, three or four a day now, of people trying to set something up in the next couple of weeks. So they're starting to fill up again, so I don't know what put people on a procrastination route but they seem to be filling in and the beginning of next year is solid already.

B: You know, one of the things for the people now that are getting kind of tossed out of rental because people are moving in back to the short term rentals setup is take a look, I mean, call one of us and talk to us about a purchase. Talk to your neighbor who has a real estate license, or talk to anybody. And also you may know a lender, you may know someone that works for a Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, Tricia Morris, Premier Mortgage, Fran Mitsumura at First Hawaiian Mortgage. There's some really great lenders out there, call one of them, and go in and have an appointment and figure out what it would take for you to buy a place and end up with possibly the same mortgage you have now or the same net effect of the mortgage that you have now. So after you've written off your interest or you've written off your taxes you'll probably be in a "plus" category. In some cases there's some mortgages now with very little doubt - FHA, as long as you only go to a certain amount, has some great mortgages with almost no down payment. There's some of the other, there's one of those local ones, Hula Mae, I think it could be Hula Mae, I'm not sure, but it has a set up too that pretty much has a zero down. So it depends on exactly what you're buying but again the interest rates are never going to be this way again so it's time. You want to step in now and figure out if there's any possibility that you can buy a property.

M: This is really the right way to go Betty, it is good to just go in and talk to your lender, or talk with your bank. They all want to do business and everybody's trying so I think if you get in and figure out what you need to do, what you need to have, and what would work for you then it gives you another opening to think about, you know, your next step. But I think you're right in saying that if you get the lending information down, and so forth, first then it makes it much more simple and easier for you to find something you can really get into.

B: You know, one of the other things that we tried to say to people especially as we watched so many people implode with their mortgages and how difficult it became but I think that, let's assume that the lender said to you that you can afford a mortgage of five hundred thousand dollars, or four hundred thousand, whatever the figure is, two hundred thousand. That doesn't mean you have to buy something with exactly that mortgage, you should think to yourself, "In reality I would be more comfortable, we've got kids in high school now or we're going to have somebody going to college so I would be more comfortable with a three hundred thousand dollar mortgage" and the lender can help you with that or maybe you'll walk away from the lender and you think that over and talk to your real estate agent. But I think, again, it's time to be thinking and don't automatically assume you can't do it because there's every possibility that you can do it. Down payments could be an issue, you may have a parent or someone that would help you with a down payment. It can be a little trickier today with the mortgages but don't assume anything until you talk to some professionals. There's so many people right now willing to help you, with the time to help you and I think there's no question that this is it.

M: I totally agree with that.

B: You know, one of the things that we have been saying ever since this recession started is "A recession is a terrible thing to waste". Another one of those really amazing statements that you go through it and think it over and over and over but when the recession is over, it's over, and things are flying back up again. So, whatever end of it we're at, or you think we're at, and everybody thinks we're at a different place, but the bottom line is right now is the time. With interest rates low, properties I think are still a good value, I think there's fewer in the better neighborhoods, there's definitely fewer bank owned, there's fewer short sales. They're all very difficult purchases also to get into the bank owned or the short sales but there's also a lot of people that have owned a house for a long time. They are not in a short sale situation, it's definitely not bank owned but they're ready to do what you want to do, except they're ready to move up the ladder but they need to sell you their house first. So let us all help you, our number is (808) 669-0070, our website is So look at that, look at our website, it's got a lot of information, it will show you all of our listings, it will take you into the multiple listing service, you can put in some figures and fool around with it a little bit, you can find a mortgage payment. But, take a look at that and then call us, again, (808) 669-0070.

M: You know Betty, you and I have a listing that I think is kind of a little gem and it's 31 Pualu Loop in Napili. It's a great family house or extended family house. It's five-bedrooms, four-baths, it's a large lot up against the gulch of eleven thousand five hundred plus square feet for the lot, over 2,500 square feet for the house. It's great mountain views, it's got great ocean views, it's walled and fenced.

B: A short walk to Napili Park.

M: Napili Park is right close by and there's a pass through so you're only two blocks from Napili Market. So I think it's a great little neighborhood, it's out of the traffic, and again it's kind of an extended family home so if your children want to live in the downstairs and you have the upstairs or vice versa. I think it's a really great piece of property.

B: I'm with you, it really is a great piece of property. The neighborhood was originally built for employees of Maui land and pineapple. A lot of the original people that built in there worked for Kapalua and they built their dream houses at the time. You know, they're not as new obviously as they once were when it all started. The neighborhood is fabulous, amazing people, and a great place to live. There's a few of the homes that aren't quite this kept up today as they once were but they will be again. I mean, there's issues that happened for someone and they go through periods where they aren't as able to keep the properties up but if you take a nice ride through there and zero in on it, the majority of the homes are in great shape, the yards are kept up, the paint is kept up, kids play on the streets, and there's also the Napili Park and if you look at that I believe there's tennis, there's a whole lot of the little swings or spinners or whatever they have in those parks for the little ones.

M: There's basketball courts.

B: They've got basketball courts, soccer fields, baseball. They've got a little bit of everything.

M: You know, it's the true neighborhood. And I think it's great for children and grandchildren and it's away from the traffic. There's no traffic passing through so I think it's really something that people should take a look at.

B: I think that really is one. If ever we had a quick pick that was a good one, that's it. I think that's perfect. You know another thing, Mitch, you and I were talking earlier about, you know, sometimes somebody will get into it with us, you know, "Why should we use a realtor? We can go around and we'll look for what we can buy for sale by owner" or you'll get someone that sees a sign and they try to figure out the owner and go knock on the door or whatever. But you know, there's a number of good reasons. One of them is just plain experience, realtors are professionals when it comes to buying and selling homes, you know, we really know how to make it happen. And knowledge, we have the knowledge of the many resources that are available to assist you. Realtors are bound by a strict code of ethics and pledged to protect and promote the interests of their clients. You know, that holds us to the highest amount of integrity. Objectivity match, you know, having no emotional ties to the home we can assist you in reviewing the advantages and disadvantages. We once dealt with a person that owned a variety of properties, who would come to us and say I would sell it for $400,000 and pay you a 6% commission. But he would go sell it himself for $475,000 with no commission, so obviously he just told people that "okay I got a great deal for you, there's no realtors involved" but then he would sell it to them for more money and people were okay to do that. Realtors, in my opinion, don't do that. You know, they're great negotiators, they're going to help you glide through the thing, they're going to kind of talk you into it a little bit. You know, sometimes I'll say to someone when we're walking in and the owners of the property are there and I'll say, "Let's go in and let's have a good look." If the people will ask the people to leave so we can walk around but for right now don't lock in and say "Oh my God, this is the house I've always wanted". You know, you want to go in and be a little bit cool about it, you want to think about it afterwards, you want to have time to talk to myself, to Mitch, to whoever your agent is. But you want to be a little cool, you don't want to walk in and say, especially in front of the owner of the property, "This is my dream house, there will never be another house for me" because you kind of lost your negotiating advantage right there.

M: That's true, and another thing I think are the disclosures. From doing as many sales as we have I've seen all different types of properties and sometimes we can see different red flags that we think you should know about or we think you should figure out or understand before you get into a contract situation. We'll make sure that all the disclosures have been given to you and we figure out that you really know, and that we really know, what it is that you're buying.

B: That's really great, the disclosure law in the state of Hawaii is really pretty fabulous. But somehow, when a property ends up just between a buyer and seller and everybody is very trusting, that's all great, but when it's all over you know someone could say that they never got a disclosure statement, we were fine, we didn't really need to have it or et cetera. But if it doesn't go good and you get in and the roof is leaking and you learn from all the neighbors which could happen I'm sure even with a realtor but you know you've got a better chance when you've got a realtor there who's been checking the property out and trying to figure out exactly what has happened, future termite inspections, all of the things. We're going to stay on top of the property with you and see to it that the terms of the contract that has been negotiated on your behalf are all met. We'll use a great escrow company, we've got our Joel on board. Joel Navarro, Title Guarantee.

M: Absolutely. Something else we were going to mention is solar.

B: Good idea right now.

M: It's pretty amazing, I've just signed up with Haleakala Solar to put solar hot water in my house and PV also and I'm getting pretty excited. You know, driving over here from the other side today, passing through Wailuku I noticed how many local families in the neighborhood around here are also taking advantage of the new solar tax benefits, and it cut our daily cost down. I think it's really a great idea.

B: Yeah, I do too Mitch. We're kind of in the middle of trying to do the same thing. You know some of the developments over here I think that the actual developers had a setup to do solar at the time of construction which is really amazing. But it is great to see that the people who are living over here, long term Maui people, are seeing that it is an advantage, it's going to help us all in the future because there's only so much of everything. There's only so much electricity, everything that it takes to bring electricity to your home is becoming less and less available and I think that solar, we all know here in Maui, the one thing that we've got is the sun.

M: We do have the sun, so renewable energy is great.

B: Well we're trying to do the same thing, and we're kind of urging other people to think about it. The other thing that I don't quite understand about it is that they're saying that eventually the grid, the different grids, will be full. And once they're full it's going to become harder and harder to actually add solar to your home because it's just not going to be available. So that's an interesting one. Mortgages right now, I still like getting on the whole idea of what can we do to help people who are in their home and want to keep their home. You know, the government has come up with a variety of things but they only help people up to a certain amount and they help one but not another et cetera. And I think everybody should write to their congressman or their senator or talk to whoever they can and really urge the government to come up with some ways to help people who want to stay in their home and will do anything to make it work but they can't because they really can't afford it and nobody's helping them out, nobody's cooperating and I think that we need our lenders to do that. Well I'm being told here Mitch that we're down to probably a minute and a half, so we're getting into our closing mode.

M: Napili Point, I have to talk about Napili Point.

B: Well you've got a half a second left.

M: Napili Point, great buy. It's oceanfront, give me a call.

B: Old Hawaii at its finest. So Danny Couch will be coming up pretty quick and again he sings for us "I Love Hawaii". One of these days maybe we'll come up and use one of his other songs but for us he's one of the most fabulous Hawaiian entertainers. He has a show going on in Honolulu off and on, I'm not sure when it is at this point but I always check if we're going over there for a couple of days. So now, I think I'm going to say call us, call us about real estate, check out our website A number of our properties actually have their own website incorporated and you'll be able to figure that out, I won't try to list them right now, but go to or call us at (808) 669-0070 or if you want to get direct to Mitch (808) 870-7062.

M: No that's yours.

B: Oh that's mine.

M: (808) 870-5548

B: Aloha, and Mitch (808) 870-5548. Aloha

M: Aloha

Mailing Address:
Sakamoto Properties
P.O. Box 10068
Lahaina, HI 96761
Phone: (808) 669-0070
Fax: (808) 669-1234
Office Address:
Sakamoto Properties
Napili Plaza
5095 Napilihau Street #203
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
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