PCS to Hawaii: Find a Military Relocation Professional

A few years ago the National Association of Realtors developed a new certification course, the Military Relocation Professional (MRP), after recognizing military buyers and sellers need agents who speak the language of military permanent change of station (PCS) moves, and understand military families’ unique needs and interests. This was old news to me, as we had already developed a team of agents with personal military experience to serve the military market.

The demand for military experienced agents is particularly evident here in Hawaii where, on the small island of Oahu, all services are represented. The Navy and Air Force are based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Army is located at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield. The Marines are based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe and also operate out of Camp Smith, and Sand Island is home of Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

Real estate agents on Oahu without personal military experience should absolutely earn the MRP, to at least become familiar with the market.

While earning the MRP certification provides a basic level of understanding by requiring a reading assignment, a one-day classroom or online course, and two hours of webinar viewing to orient agents to the processes and procedures involved in a military relocation and how these impact service members’ relocation and housing choices, those qualifications do not come close to the level of real-life experience faced by Hawaii Life’s military veteran or dependent agents.

We have personally lived the PCS process, understand the limitations of your TLA, PTDY, BAH and COLA, and know how to assist your family with getting back into a normal routine in an entirely new place. We’ve been there, done that, and will expertly guide you along the way.

Commissioning day

Commissioning day

Here to Serve You

Since there are many agents on Oahu who have authentic military experience in addition to the Military Relocation Professional certification, military families PCS’ing to Oahu can be comfortable requesting a higher standard of service in Hawaii, beginning with our team of agents.


Ka Malanai - Bargain or Bomb of Kailua?

D.R. Horton has offered for sale the final building in the new construction condos, Ka Malanai in Kailua. As an incentive, contracts signed by January 15th allowed buyers to select their kitchen materials. Six buildings are currently occupied, and work continues on buildings 7 and 8. Building 7 was released for purchase in late November, and building 8 is currently available. Building 7 is less preferred since it’s located on the corner of two roads, so I’d expect more auto and foot traffic noise there.

Ka Malanai in Kailua

Ka Malanai in Kailua

Building 8: The Premier Location

Building 8 is the premier location, since it’s the closest to Kailua Beach and away from the traffic and commercial activity of Kailua – but still close enough. The best unit available is 8303, a 3 bed/2 bath unit with 1,491 square feet and two parking stalls. This top floor unit is located in the back of the building bordering a residential area, so it should be quietest and breeziest, yet very close to all of Kailua town.




D.R. Horton released some Building 7 with the requirement that buyers be owner-occupants for at least a year, and use the home as their primary residence, thus giving preference to Hawaii residents. Building 8 does not have this requirement.

Dining Area

Dining Area

The community is approved for VA loans, so military members who PCS to Hawaii can live here and easily commute to the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, or the Coast Guard Station. Military veterans retiring to Kailua can also purchase here.  Because of the price point, however, service members will have to put 25% of the difference between the purchase price and the VA loan limit ($721,050) down in cash. 

Good Value for Kailua Condos

Ka Malanai was introduced in the fall of 2013 with the typical new construction fanfare and hype, including a lottery for the chance to purchase a unit. About two years later, the scene was different. After increasing commissions for agents selling multiple units from 3%, to 3.5%, to 4%, the sales center later offered price reductions and credits toward closing on certain units. But, as the median home price in Kailua kept increasing, Ka Malanai’s asking price began to look more “affordable” and the units sell at a steady rate.

Affordable is a contentious term in Kailua, one of the highest priced zip codes on Oahu. Many long-time Kailuans have disparaged D.R. Horton building this project because it replaced housing for lower income residents previously built on the site. The old building was by many accounts an eyesore with frequent police activity, but many residents were expecting condos geared more toward full-time, working class residents to replace it.

One-bedroom units are usually snapped up quickly and start at over $600,000. There are very few in the plan. Two-bedroom units are readily available, as they make up the bulk of the offering, starting in the mid $700′s. There are some three bedroom units also.

A buyer looking for a 3-bedroom residence in Kailua would have to value new construction and a central location well above space if they purchase in Ka Malanai. With a price tag starting at about $900,000, most buyers would prefer an older single family home outside of the center of Kailua, though those are rare, competition is tough, and condition average at best.

For a buyer intent on a condo in Kailua, Ka Malanai is a good value. Comparable communities in the area include Bluestone and Kukilakila.

As I’ve predicted since 2013, the biggest fans of Ka Malanai should be the owners of the surrounding condos, such as Gardenia Manor, Poinciana Manor, and Hokulani, who have seen their condo values skyrocket with all of the attention next door. Many buyers drawn in by D.R. Horton’s persistent marketing found the prices out of their budget, but love this gem of a beach town, so they quickly looked next door to the older but pleasant units selling for $300,000 less.

In the fall of 2013, typical units in the neighboring buildings sold in the low $400,000 range, and now regularly sell for over $500,000, outpacing the Kailua zip code statistics. For example, here is a lovely two bed/two bath Poinciana Manor unit with just over 1,000 sqft currently listed for $520,000.

I have plenty of photos and video of Ka Malanai, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have about it, or about Kailua. 


Ka Malanai Courtyard

Ka Malanai Courtyard

Is Your Property Manager the Right Person to Sell Your Home?

On Oahu, unlike in many other real estate markets, property management is quite separate from buying or selling homes. So many rentals exist on Oahu that property managers specialize solely in managing properties and have little to no interaction with the sales market on a regular basis. Because renters are so plentiful, landlords rarely even offer a fee for an agent who brings a renter to a property. You will find agents who manage property and Realtors who assist buyers and sellers full-time rarely have relevant information about each others’ business.

So, when it comes time to sell the home you’ve been renting out, is your property manager a good fit?


- Your property manager is used to fixing things. Tenants can be rough on a property, and property managers have many vendors ready to make repairs.  If you're looking at other Realtors, check their vendor list. 

- If you've had a good property management experience, your P.M. probably knows the home well.  If you feel they know your property quirks and condition inside and out, and the property isn’t a simple one, using your property manager can lead to a smooth sale.  

- If your property manager is communicating with you promptly and well, by all means consider him. This will be the person you’ll be dealing with several times per week for a few months.

Consider Other Options.

- Property managers are typically bogged down in repair issues, tenant troubles, and paperwork. That takes a lot of time away from studying and participating in the real estate market. When it’s time to sell, does your property manager know the market pace, current contract strategies, and consumer expectations?  If your property manager isn't out showing homes, seeing the world from a buyer's perspective, you may want to consider other options.   

- Property managers are often not skilled at marketing or staging a home. It doesn’t take much to attract a tenant. A posting on Craigslist and some poorly-lit iPhone photos are enough to have piles of tenant applications. Selling your home for top dollar, however, is another story. To yield the most money, your property needs to be cleaned, repaired, staged, and marketed by a company with an international reach.

- Being priced appropriately for the market is key.  Management companies often mis-price listings. Overpricing kills your momentum, and underpricing means the seller leaves money on the table.

- Realtors who buy and sell are excellent communicators because we’re used to dealing with buyers and sellers who expect instant answers, especially in the fast-moving sectors of our market.

- Realtors who are always operating in the buying and selling market are always in contact with other agents, keeping up those relationships. There’s a good chance they know someone who will bring a buyer to your home.

Final Thoughts

A Realtor will bring a keen eye and attention to detail to your home sale, and will be mindful of the timeline of the transaction and your needs.

If you have questions about the difference between property managers and agents who buy and sell, feel free to contact me.