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. In the studio, having just raced through the door at breakneck speed we have David Freedman of "Island Mortgage."
David Freedman: Broke no speed limits there, let me be really clear about that.
B: Okay, excellent. Excellent. Well, I think we've got a lot of interesting things. We're going to focus on what's going on in the world of mortgages today because we happen to have David in our grip here. So, it's going to be really great. I think everybody wants to know more about mortgages. We keep hearing that they're going up, that this is happening, that's happening. But, the key right now, the key is: You need to buy now. The unbelievable, got to buy deals are pretty much gone, you're not going to find any of those. But it's never going to be like that again in our lifetime. So, I think now is the time to buy, prices are still good, and interest rates could be climbing. I'm going to ask David in one-second but I think it's never going to be better, so you've got to buy now. David?
D: I am so excited that I can barely contain myself, so I apologize. I have to disagree with you, I think that there are still some fantastic deals out there. I think what happens is that people have to realize that there's the price of the property, there's the interest rate, and there's the true value of the whole deal combined. And when they take a look at the whole deal combined, there are absolutely incredible deals out there.
B: You know, you are right. You are right, because what I see every day is that I've got the guy that wants to buy the place for $500,000 and wants a house, let's say, in Napili ? somewhere between Kaanapali and Kapalua ? for a great price. Well, the least expensive home on the market, in that area, right now is $700,000. So, you've got a lot of people who watched these deals, they blew it, they didn't step in, they didn't do it. And now, it's hard getting them to realize exactly what you just said. I mean, you've got to look at the whole picture, you can't now look at just "okay, the price is high". The price is high, I mean whatever, we're in Maui. But I think you're right, it's the whole deal.
D: And let's take a "big picture" approach. In the world, as we live ?
B: In the world.
D: As we live our wonderful lives here on Maui, when we take in all the factors and we travel and we go see what else is out there and we come back here who isn't grateful to come back home to Maui?
B: Nobody, nobody.
D: So, we live in a world where everyone ? unfortunately ? puts numbers and assigns values to so many things but what's the price of "happiness"?
B: The price of "happiness".
D: Yesterday, I just took a small vacation and I was flying back from San Francisco and the chatter and the excitement of the people coming ?
B: Yes, I agree.
D: It was equally matched by the people coming back home. And I think the ones that are coming back home kind of have a smirk and a smug feeling of, "I've got the tourists beat". I don't know anywhere else where you can say, "I'm going to where most people vacation and can only spend the week".
B: I've got them beat. There's nothing finer in the world than Maui and I agree with you. When I'm on a plane coming home, I cannot wait for the plane to land. I want to be the first person off the plane. I would do anything to just get into Maui air and I think it's true. I mean, as much as I've got to have some sympathy for how hard it is for a lot of people to be able to buy a home here. But from what we're saying, also, if you can't buy a home here, it is still the greatest place in the world to live and you will find a home here. You'll find a place that you can rent, that you can live, and it's the greatest place in the world. We're going to find you a home.
D: So, let's now go back to the question of, "what does it cost" and what are people getting for what they're buying. That's really, to me, where I'm at in my thought process of being someone who lives on Maui. What do I get for what I pay? First off, I get to live in Lahaina where most people do come to vacation for one week a year.
D: I get to live in a place where I know my neighbors and, most of the time, I'm grateful to have them as my neighbors. I look and I talk to them and I get fresh mangoes from them, so what is the value that I'm getting for my house?
B: That's right. Wait, wait, wait though: David has probably the greatest place to live in the world, I think. He happens to live in the house that my husband, Roy Sakamoto, grew up in. So, it's a fabulous place. His parents have had it for probably eighty years, it's a typical ? let's call it ? a "Cane house". It's fabulous and David bought it after dad passed away and he made it his home. It's beautiful, I mean, it hasn't changed but it's got a roof that doesn't leak and the walls have been repainted and fixed and there's air conditioning. He did some great changes in the yard so that he can park his boat there, and it's not like it's a huge yacht, it's a Lahaina boat, and he's took to that neighborhood. Like, I didn't think that David would stay there forever, but it almost feels like he's a forever Lahaina boy now. He's a Lahaina guy.
D: I've been there for ten years and I don't see myself moving for at least another ten years. Now that we've talked about that's the "get", now what's the cost? So mortgages, now we can touch on mortgages. Because when people just go straight to numbers they forget what they're getting for what they're paying and that's really to me the most important thing. Interest rates are still, if we look at a historical chart over the last fifty years, we're still at the lowest. If we look at the prices here on Maui, we actually have a chart where we take a look at the values and the interest rates, this is one of the best buying windows that we've still seen in the past thirty-five years. The economists, they have to ? when they come out with the reports ? create something that gets people's attention. They still believe that bad news is always going to sell, which is what they're trying to do, their magazine and their media. But if we just take an unbiased look, we have jumbo loans under 5%, we have conforming rates if points are paid, at four percent. I've been now doing this for over twenty years, I remember when people said, "If you can get me out of 10%, I will be grateful". So, if we take a look at an inflationary rate, which is averaged at 4.3% and we're getting our money almost at the cost of inflation, the cost is great, it's fantastic.
B: You know David, I did a million dollar loan in one of our very worst times in the market and it was way before David Freedman, the people had an 18% loan and if they didn't close it by the end of the year, if they didn't close the deal that they were buying, by December 31st the interest rate was going up. You know, it wasn't going down and I remember thinking, "Oh my God, what is happening here" and it was hard. But I mean they had their hearts set on the house, it was fabulous and they were willing to do whatever it took, so yeah David, you're right. I mean you've got to take a look at the total package and the total package is Maui. We're getting to live in Maui, Lahaina, Wailea, wherever. I mean, we're getting to be in Maui.
D: So let's touch on this and even expand a little. So when we come to Maui, it's probably by plane, so we have a wonderful, insulated, safe quality lifestyle. I just got back from being in Central America, the beautiful Panama City and you can't go into certain neighborhoods. I don't think you can say that for Maui. You can go almost anywhere, anytime, anyplace in Maui.
B: I'm with you, I'm one of the world's greatest chickens. So there is nowhere in Maui that I don't feel comfortable going, nowhere. So, if someone is looking at purchasing a home, since this is your real estate show, let's look at all the factors. We have some of the cleanest air in the whole world ?
D: We do.
B: We have some of the best views in the whole world ?
D: No question. Tom Cruise used Haleakala as the backdrop of his last movie, we're a frequent film location. It's one of these things where the Wailea Film Festival, we get to go as Kamaaina. So when I think about the price of happiness and I look at the cost of a home and I look at the quality of my life, I'm getting the best deal in the whole world.
B: Well I'm there with you.
D: So, now mortgages. The interest rates have gone up a little bit and let's have some perspective, we were at the all-time low and now we're off the all-time low, but we're still in historical lows. Qualifying is now easier, the underwriting guidelines shake up has settled down. People want to purchase, banks want to lend, and there's no more fear in the market. I see prices going up and I see interest rates going up and as they do, people will look back at 2013 and if they don't buy then I think they will feel that they have missed the opportunity. I think we have a great window for the next one to two years, but this next three to six months, I would be all over it.
B: It's critical because it is never going to be better, I totally agree with you. The interest rates are scaring some people, but you know, something you just said I think is really a tough thing. People have been almost afraid to try to get a loan, it's been so difficult qualifying. Or they believe it's going to be, or there's these new rules and these new regulations, so people have been terrified to a certain extent. So as this comes out, and you're right to a certain extent, the rumors, the legislation, the newspapers, everything starts to say something and that's what makes it difficult. And what I'm seeing right now is, it's a little harder, especially for the local residents trying to buy. But I think that part of it is that he needs to step up, exactly like you're saying because it's not going to work three years from now or ten years from now. Surely, we're going to all look back at this and think, "If only I'd invested then".
D: Absolutely, and now for the consumers listening on the radio who goes, "Why am I listening to this?" This is the key thing; everyone wants to buy a home ? that's called The American Dream. And what's really, for me, been my experience of having bought a home through Sakamoto Properties, my first house after having been a lender for many years and now being a lender and seeing the process on all sides and all aspects, if you have a professional and you're not comfortable with them, you won't feel like you have access to them. The consumer needs to find a realtor that they feel comfortable with and they need to know that that realtor has the experience. So now we've quantified the value of a realtor and the value of a lender. If you have these two people assisting you in your purchase, they will navigate the waters for that consumer who's doing that first time purchase, and they'll go, "This is fantastic".
B: It works perfectly, I mean there's no question. I always try to say to someone, "If you have a realtor that you've worked with, work with them". If you have someone that you've known or that you've been referred to and they're in your neighborhood, work with them. It's great, however, if you're looking for someone call us at Sakamoto Properties (808) 669-0070. Our office is in Napili, we have a staff of fabulous realtors available to talk with you and we'll assist you in a variety of ways. One of the things that we'll often do is start with the process of we need you to talk to a lender. We don't want to get you all fired up on a particular home that's exactly what you want when the reality is that if you talk to David Freedman he's going to say, "Wait, we've got to kind of settle down here a little bit because you need to do this, this, and this in order to be able to qualify and this is the approximate amount that we can do a mortgage for you". But knowing that is really the greatest educational piece of information that you will ever get. So that's what we're going to say to you. It's going to be critical that you talk to us, you talk to a lender and then we're going to head out and we're going to look at properties.
D: And it doesn't cost the consumer anything to do all of that.
B: No, exactly.
D: Here is a professional realtor with many years of experience, and a lender who has many years of experience and we're going to give you our best honest effort. We've been in this market, I can say, I've been in this market and served in this market for over fifteen years, specifically, and I've now been a lender for almost twenty years. Your experience?
B: It is pushing forty years here.
D: So, experience is key. It doesn't have to happen today. If you start the process today, it might take two weeks, it might take six months to find the right house. This is Maui, let's go back to why we do this. We love our community.
B: We do love our community. It may take two years because there's times when we'll talk to someone that wants to buy a place and, you know, what we'll discover is that we'll have them start to talk with David or they'll talk to their lender that they've worked with or that they know and the reality is that they'll need to clean up some debt or they need to get rid of some credit card problems, they need to pay off a tax lien. But you know, lenders like David will sit down with you and help you devise a plan because you can still buy a place and there's a lot of different loan opportunities and different ways to do it. So, we can all help you but you have to start the process and learn. I mean, like, we had someone a while ago that I believe David said to them, I think what we need to do is you need to clean up some credit card debt and then you learn that they were just ready to buy a new car and that's a "No, don't buy the car. Let's get the house first". Because you're never going to be able to get the loan if you throw that on there right now, so by the time they cleaned up their things, they were ready in six months to be able to buy a house and they got a fabulous place. So again, we've got to keep working that way.
D: And talking about home ownership for just a minute. In a community, let's talk about the first homebuyer because that's kind of, to me, the one that I get the most satisfaction from. It's nice to do the million dollar loans and the five million dollar loans but I had a client call me up once and put his cell phone up and said, "That's my lawnmower, I'm mowing my lawn". And that was his moment of absolute ? and that was a great moment where I said, "This is why I do this". We live in your community, we're approachable. There is no cost unless we perform and find and get you, on my side, the loan, and on Betty's side, a piece of property. What's amazing is, and they all kind of take this for granted, and I've just come back from vacation, but you can live one mile from the beach for less than a million dollars in Hawaii.
B: Absolutely, you can live ?
D: Where else can you say that?
B: No matter where you are on Maui, you're just a short distance from the beach. And our beaches, because they are all public, you know. Look at families, you drive ? which, you do ? through Kaanapali, Waipouli Beach Park, it has to be the greatest place in the world. On the weekend where you see people start to gather there at 5:30 in the morning, on special days, and they've got family and somebody is holding the place ? there's nothing like Waipouli Beach Park.
D: So let's talk about a fantastic deal that was just on the market. There was a house on Fleming Road, a half acre, it has now gone into escrow. Nobody looked at it, it's sad. Someone got a half acre that they can walk to the beach, walk to Lahaina, or walk to Kaanapali. And their payment, if they put 20% down, is going to be somewhere around $1,700 a month.
B: That was a great value, I totally agree with you.
D: And as a rental, they will pay more to rent it than they do to buy it. When we take in that factor, it's still cheaper to buy than to rent.
B: In Lahaina there's absolutely no question. It is far cheaper to buy than it is to rent. We had a house that last year was being rented for three thousand dollars a month. Now if it were being rented it would be four thousand dollars a month. If anyone, we've had so many people day by day, walk in our office trying to find a rental. It's very, very difficult. So the place like the one that you're talking about is a fabulous value. An amazing, older home. It was great. But with each one of those that sells, we're moving up. We're moving up and you've got to take a look. Take a look also at our website SakamotoProperties.com and we've got so many things on there. There's a section on the website where you can pick the amount that you're thinking and you can pick the location. So it isn't, all of our listings are on there, and are the ones that are more or less, let's say, highlighted. But if you go in, it'll take you to everything in the Maui Multiple Listing Service. So whatever you're thinking or whatever sounds good to you, we can get you looking at it online and then call us (808) 669-0070. Someone is always available and will work with you. If for some reason, it's Sunday afternoon, leave a message because we are checking there often and we'll get back to you.
D: And the other thing is, the computer can't talk back to you. So what I see sometimes happening, and this is dangerous for the consumers, they get too stuck in the computer and they don't talk to their realtor. And the realtor would tell them, this is the asking price, why don't we try making an offer at what you're comfortable with. So, there's reference points. The computer can't talk back to you, it can't explain things to you, and if you're not careful as a consumer, you're picking up information, coming up and creating a story that may not be as accurate as you think it is and that's where calling a realtor, or calling Mitch, calling Roy, Betty, Dean, Elizabeth, or whoever it might be and saying, "I have a question." The computer will not answer the question in an educated, local market, the way that a professional realtor can.
B: Now you're right on that too. A lot of people right now are spending so much time before they arrive on Maui, online. And they'll even talk to someone sometimes and they're maybe exaggerating the point here, but they're talking to a realtor who's in Hana trying to buy something in Lahaina. Well, you know, here that really isn't going to work real good. You really want to find someone that's pretty much in the area or you know, has really full access and they're really working everything. You don't want to, you want to call one of those numbers, you're online, you're looking at wherever you found it and you're looking someone up, call somebody. Obviously to me, call Sakamoto Properties, but I think that it is, you've got to talk to someone. If you don't you're only getting a third of the story or a tenth of the story. You really do need to talk. What about David though? What's happening right now in your life? You're getting set where someone can reach you at (808) 385-8558.
D: I can always be reached at (808) 385-8558 and now that we're talking about what's going on with me, I'm back from vacation and actually happier to be back on Maui. I had a great vacation, it's just always good to come back here. It's now twenty years that we've been friends.
B: It's been a long time.
D: And I now think about when I met you at Charley Pride?
B: That was such a fun day.
D: This goes back to why we live here. The paperwork, the loan process, it all has perspective. We live in the best place in the whole world. We live in a community where today I can say, it's now twenty years and we still get along because people here are a little bit different, we're a little bit nutty. We're a little bit, kind of, I can call Betty and go, "I'm coming in, I'm going to be two minutes late" and she goes, "Okay". And we're all good.
B: Charley Pride though, I haven't thought about him for a while. But Charley Pride, we met here doing real estate. Charley Pride, the country western singer. He always says Charley with an "e-y", but an amazing family. I will never forget, and I went to their fiftieth wedding anniversary in Dallas, you know not that many years ago now. But they have to be one of the finest couples in the world. They've been together for a lifetime, obviously fifty years they were married. They got together when they were teenagers, I mean, it's such a story. I love Charley Pride's story. You know, we are totally winding down now, and we keep getting the four-minute, the three-minute, two-minute warnings and I think we're almost there. So, we need to say, if you're looking to talk about a mortgage call David Freedman (808) 385-8558, check out our website SakamotoProperties.com everything is on there. There's so much information that you'll find that it's perfect. Then call our office, oops, I'm giving you my cell phone which is (808) 870-7062, call that anytime. Call the office at (808) 669-0070. And I'm not telling you about any properties today, we're keeping them all a secret.
D: And that's the way it should be because if you need a realtor or if you need a friend call Sakamoto Properties because we've now been friends for twenty years and I don't see this ever ending.
B: I don't either.
D: And we happen to buy houses from you and I've seen other people with the same relationship and the one thing that I wanted to touch on that you didn't mention and it's because it was in my mind is when someone is on the computer what they forget is that when there's a human being on the other end that knows the market that human being will call them back and say, "Hey, there's something coming on the market that hasn't been told to the community yet. Let's go take a look at it." There are so many advantages that we don't have the time in this quick short segment, to cover. Get the right realtor, get the right professional. There's a reason realtors exist. There's a darned good one, it's the biggest investment in your whole life. There's a reason you want someone who's got twenty plus years experience. This is the number one thing that you're going to do in your life that will lead you to happiness, that's a material possession.
B: And Maui is the greatest place in the world so we would love to be talking to you. We'd love to tell you why you ought to and here we are. Check this out on YouTube and you can actually get an instant replay. David Freedman and Betty.
D: The quickest thirty minutes on radio, real estate.
B: It is. Aloha, Danny Couch is back and buy a Danny Couch album too. He is the best in Hawaii. Aloha.
D: Call Sakamoto Properties and make a friend.
B: David Freedman, make a friend too.