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.

 

Everyone Hates Condo Association Fees

Homebuyers are often averse to paying condo fees or living in an association, but in Hawaii they should reconsider this point of view..

  • After seeing unregulated neighborhoods, most people prefer communities with standards for noise, pets, construction, and maintenance.
  • On an island land is limited, and in urban Honolulu the most economical housing is located in a high-rise condominium building.
  • On the leeward side of Oahu, it’s rare to find a home not located in an association, since most construction projects in the past 30 years has involved large developers building master planned communities.
The Arbors   Community garden space: Ewa Beach, Ewa by Gentry Community Association

The Arbors Community garden space: Ewa Beach, Ewa by Gentry Community Association

Mountain View Terrace Pool, Kaneohe

Mountain View Terrace Pool, Kaneohe

What Am I Paying For?

The important question to ask when paying association fees is: What am I paying for?

Select Utilities: In most associations, the homeowner is paying the association for utilities instead of paying the company directly. Depending on the number of people in a family, and the type of water and sewer usage (pool, sprinkler system, etc.), a homeowner not residing in an association may pay $100-250 per month out of pocket to the utility instead. Sometimes, particularly if a building has central air conditioning serving all the units, electricity will be included also. Some buildings do not pay for all electricity, but pay for the amount used to heat water, as it’s located in a central water heater.

Reserve fund for future expenses: Associations are also required to put money in a reserve fund for future expenses, both planned and unexpected. Of course, homeowners are supposed to do this also, but how many of us have been surprised by bill for a plumbing problem, roof leak, or air conditioning failure? Due to the old age of buildings in Honolulu, many have undergone complete system overhauls in the past several years, and many more need to be done. If an association has not saved money in reserve for plumbing replacement, concrete spalling repair, roof replacement, or window replacement, owners may be asked to pay a “special assessment” when the work is unavoidable. This assessment not only raises the dues for unit owners, it also decreases the marketability of the condo, should an owner want to sell. A healthy reserve fund is always better! Fortunately, to verify this, a potential homebuyer is given a review period for all of the organization’s documents, including the budget, once they have an accepted contract.

Insurance: Often, the association carries insurance on the exterior and common areas of the building, so a homeowner pays less out of pocket monthly, only insuring from the “walls in” – essentially the interior structure and personal property.

Common Area Maintenance: This means if your community has a elevator, sign, trash service, private road or driveway, lighting, landscaping, a lobby, a shared roof, or a shared building exterior, the dues pay toward that upkeep. A homeowner not located in an association would be paying to re-seal their own driveway, maintain their yard and exterior lighting, replace the roof, and paint the exterior. That said, some associations of single family homes do require the homeowner to maintain their own roof or paint their house, but there is nearly always some common area the association is maintaining, and the dues should be lower than for an association maintaining those items.

Extra Services or Amenities Requiring Staffing and Maintenance: Pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, extensive gardens, cable/internet, and recreation areas are examples of amenities the homeowner’s dues may pay toward. Some associations have a resident manager or concierge services on site to address any owner’s needs, or a security patrol dedicated to the property. An owner not located in an association would have to pay additional membership fees or use public facilities in order to enjoy these features.

Bottom Line

The bottom line when considering a condominium or homeowner’s association is the value you receive for the monthly dues. It’s important to understand exactly what the association pays for when budgeting for your purchase. Try adding up the following amounts you pay monthly, to see how a property you’re considering compares:

  • cable/internet
  • water/sewer
  • electricity
  • pool/fitness center membership
  • alarm system/security
  • party room/pavilion rental
  • savings for unexpected repairs
  • exterior maintenance
  • driveway maintenance
  • landscaping
  • insurance

Is An Association A Good Fit For You?

I have worked with buyers and sellers of homes in many associations around the island. Contact me today and we can discuss whether a home in an association may be a good fit for you!

Kakaako: The Collection Townhomes

The Collection has just opened the doors to its new model townhome in Kakaako. These properties are unique in the downtown area for a few reasons:

  • 560 square feet of rooftop deck per home – a rarity in the downtown area!

  • Private two-car garages

  • 3 bedrooms WITH an additional enclosed den

  • Finish selections from Philpotts Interiors

 

Availability

Fourteen townhomes were offered and six have been reserved. Prices range from $1,695,000 to $1,795,000 depending on exact square footage and location..

All of the units are essentially the same, though the end units are slightly wider and have side windows.

For the buyer looking for ocean view and more windows, Townhome #1 (along South St. near the corner of Ala Moana) was perfect; however, this model unit sold quickly. Townhome #2 sold soon after. These units may hear more traffic noise from Ala Moana Blvd., but each unit is fully air conditioned, and the windows are very sound resistant.

The most desirable unit remaining is Townhome #14. This is an end unit on the Auahi St. side of the complex, so it will be quieter than the units facing Ala Moana, and has a little extra room.

What's the Catch?

This is not an age-in-place location for older buyers or people with mobility issues.  This condo has three full sets of stairs - one from the garage level to the main living floor, one from the main living floor to the bedroom area, and one from the bedroom area to the wet bar and rooftop deck.  I took clients to view this property and they declined it for this reason.  A stairway chair lift may be possible.  I have researched vendors and am happy to share that information.

Want to Know More?

If you’re ready to downsize from a single family home, but aren’t quite ready for a high-rise because you love your private outdoor space and your own garage, The Collection is perfect. Or if you’re ready to “move up” from a smaller condo to a large home, but want to stay in the downtown area, this is for you.

I took many videos of The Collection townhouse model, inside and out. Contact me today for links or to schedule a showing!