David's Real Estate Blog | Dispatches from Diamond Head

Latest real estate news and articles from David E. Buck, Realtor-Broker

Nov. 7, 2019

Honolulu's Bill 7 Features and Incentives

Honolulu Hale Bill 7

Here are some of the features and incentives provided by Bill 7 

  • The building is not required to provide parking spaces according to a mandated ratio. This allows the developer to determine the optimum number of parking spaces that will yield the most apartments, given the demand in the market for parking stalls. Buildings near transit stations may offer fewer parking spaces than buildings without easy access to mass transit.
  • Building permit review will be expedited. The intent is to approve permit applications within 90 days through “check-the-box” permitting rather than discretionary permitting.
  • Fire safety is integrated into each building using cost saving strategies. Fire sprinklers can use domestic water lines as designed by a licensed mechanical engineer rather than dedicated fire sprinkler lines. Buildings that have fewer than 36 units can have one 45” staircase or two 36” staircases. Elevators are not required.

In addition to design allowances, there are financial incentives available to qualifying projects.

Park dedication requirements are waived, and wastewater system facility charges are waived (the capacity must be available). Plan review and building permit fees may be waived . The property may qualify for exemption from real property taxes during construction and marketing lease-up period for apartments that are to be rented to tenants who earn no more than 100% of the area median income at rents that are no more than area median rents. Exemption from real property tax can extend to 10 years for apartments that are rented to tenants who earn no more than 80% of the area median income at rents that are no more than 80% of area median rents.

Up to 20% of the apartments can be occupied by the owner or members of the owner’s family. The remaining units must be rented for no more than 100%of the area median rent to tenants who earn no more than 100% of area median income.

2019 HUD AMI (Area Median Income) for households in Honolulu

1 person $84.000
2 people $96,400
3 people $108,500
4 people $120,500 

2019 HUD maximum rents in Honolulu for 100% AMI households

Studio $2,260

One bedroom $2,411

Two bedroom $2,848 

Three bedroom $3,243 

Four bedroom $3,646

Not including utilities

For more information on Bill 7, contact:

Dianne Willoughby, Realtor 



Oct. 31, 2019

Happy Halloween from Harcourts and Old Captain America

Aloha! This is old Captain America here. I just got back from time traveling and I heard my buddy Wolverine studied some properties here in Hawaii a few years back and I figured I'd go back in time to look at some cool looking properties.

The "Old" Captain America presenting some great properties on Oahu

Untouched: Vacant Land on the North Shore

North Shore Vacant Land

2 Acres on the North Shore (MLS # 201913619) for $2 million

This oceanfront two acres of land on the north shore of Oahu is undeveloped and can be purchased for only $2 million.

1945: Palolo Home

Palolo Home Built in 1945

Palolo home (MLS # 201929505

This is in a valley right up the road from us here on Kapahulu in Palolo. It's a 6 bed, 2 bath home built in 1945 (remodeled in 2017) is listed for $1,150,000.

1963: Punchbowl Studio Condo

Punchbowl Studio condo built in 1963

Punchbowl Studio (MLS # 201923006)

This condo was built in the 1960's in Punchbowl near where my buddies were buried. This is a great location near downtown Honolulu built in 1963 and remodeled in 2014.

1967: Punchbowl 2 Bed Condo

Punchbowl 2 Bed Condo Built in 1967

Punchbowl 2 Bed Condo (MLS # 201915065)

Next, we jump later into the 1960's around the crater in Punchbowl to Sky Tower. It's a 2 bed, 2 bath unit on the ground floor listed at $478,000 (remodeled in 2016).

1970: Kapiolani Manor Condo

Kapiolani Manor Condo Built in 1970

Kapiolani Manor 1 Bed Condo (MLS # 201926812)

Then we come to Kapiolani Manor right near Ala Moana shopping center. This is a 1 bed, 1 bath for $330,000 and overlooks the Hawaii Converntion Center and you've got views of Waikiki and the ocean in the background.

1970: Makaha Valley Towers Condo

Makaha Valley Towers Condo Built in 1970

Makaha Valley Towers 1 Bed Condo (MLS # 201905697)

In the same year of 1970, Chin Ho developed Makaha Valley Towers and this is a beautiful unit that was remodeled in 2016 and is available for $220,000.

1974: Beachside Kailua Home

Beachside Kailua Home

Kailua Home (MLS #201927474)

Also in the 1970's, this looks like the year the Harcourts Broker may have been born. This is a beautiful home built in 1974 and completely remodeled in 2012 and is listed for $3,300,000.

1979: Waikiki Sunset Condo

Waikiki Sunset Condo Built in 1979

Waikiki Sunset Condo (MLS # 201921379)

The Waikiki Sunset is a great building right down the road from the Harcourts office on Kapahulu. This is a 2 bed, 1 bath for $440,000 Leasehold.

1988: Diamond Head Home

Diamond Head Home built in 1988

Diamond Head Home (MLS # 201925976)

In 1988, this beauty was built 31 years ago. It was remodeled in 2008 with a high end kitchen and on the slopes of Diamond Head currently priced at $5,380,000.

1992: Kaneohe Home

Kaneohe Home built in 1992

Kaneohe Home (MLS # 201927477)

In 1992, I'm not sure if you remember that year, however it was a fun year! We've got a 3 bed, 2.5 bath home with gorgeous views of Kaneohe Bay. This one is listed for $1,450,000

2016: Symphony Penthouse Condo

Symphony Honolulu Penthouse Built in 2016

Symphony Penthouse (MLS # 201911230)

Last, but not least we have the newest of all the inventory I've been scouting out. This is a relatively new building built in 2016 at the Symphony and this is where we're doing our Harcourts Auctions with a starting bid price of $1,200,000.

Happy Halloween

To learn more about all these cool properties, give "The Cap" a call :) Aloha!

Oct. 29, 2019

Honolulu Bill 7 FAQ's

Honolulu Bill 7 Properties

What size properties qualify for Bill 7 redevelopment?

Lots with area up to 20,000 square feet qualify for Bill 7.  The minimum front yard must be 10 feet, or the minimum required by the underlying zoning, whichever is less. The minimum side and rear yards must be 5 feet, or whatever is required by the underlying zoning, whichever is less. For development purposes, lots between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet are the most desirable.

What is the maximum building “footprint” allowed by Bill 7?

Bill 7 allows a building to cover up to 80% of the land. This compares with a 40% to 60% footprint allowed in Apartment zoning. 

What is the maximum building height?

Bill 7 allows buildings up to 60 feet high.

What is the allowable density?

The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) allowed under Bill 7 is 4.0. This means that the building can be four times the size of the land. Under Apartment zoning, without Bill 7, the FAR ranges between 0.9 and 2.8. Bill 7 allows a larger building to be built on qualifying parcels of land.

How many apartments can I build on my property?

The maximum number of units is determined by dividing the Allowable Floor Area by 800. Under this formula a 5,000 square foot parcel would have Allowable Floor Area of 20,000 square feet. Divide 20,000 by 800 and the maximum number of units allowed on a 5,000 square foot property is 25.

On a 10,000 square foot property, 50 apartments would be possible. A 15,000 square foot property would support up to 75 apartments and about 100 apartments could be built on a 20,000 square foot property.

What type and size of apartments can be built?

Everything from studios to four bedroom apartments can be built under Bill 7. Apartment sizes allowed by Bill 7 are generous. Studios can be up to 500 square feet; One bedroom apartments with one bath can be up to 650 square feet; Two bedroom apartments with one bath can be up to 800 square feet; Two bedroom apartments with two baths can be up to 1,000 square feet; Three bedrooms with a bath and a half can be up to 1,100 square feet; Four bedrooms with two baths can be up to 1,300 square feet. The intent of Bill 7 is to encourage development of livable rental housing that is attractive to a range of families.

What is the maximum rent allowed for Bill 7 apartments?

Rents are based on federal guidelines from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that measure the Annual Median Income (AMI) in cities across the United States. For Honolulu, the 2019 AMI rents are $2,260 for studios; $2,411 for one bedrooms; $2,848 for two bedrooms; $3,243 for a three bedroom and $3,646 for four bedrooms. 

For more information on Bill 7 contact:

Dianne Willoughby, Realtor 



Oct. 24, 2019

September 2019 Oahu Market Report

David and Dianne share the September Oahu and Harcourts Auctions Stats

Oahu Single Family Home Stats

The median sales price for a single family home on Oahu was $777,000, which was a 4% drop from the previous year of $812,500. It's taking homes 29 days to sell, which is 70% increase over September, 2019.

Oahu Condo Stats

On the condo front, we hit a median sales price of $445,000. That was a 4% increase over the previous year of $425,000. Condos are also taking longer to sell with 27 days on market vs. only 20 days last year. Overall, it's becoming a little more of a Buyer's Market.

Harcourts Oahu Market Snapshot Sept 2019

September Market Snapshot

Harcourts Auctions Statistics

We had $42 million in escrow at the end of 2 auctions in September. One property had 5 bidders. We also had a new listing with a start to bid price of $4.9 million in San Juan Capistrano.

Local Neighborhood Update by David & Dianne

Local Single Family Home Stats

The largest increase in the number of sales took place in the Ewa Plain with a 51% jump. What's been happening is people have been priced out of metro/east Oahu and finding better bargains out west. We followed a similar trend where the largest increase in price was in the Makaha-Nanakuli neighborhood. There was saw a jump from $448,000 to $550,000. Buyers are finding a greater value out west and can still enter the market for several hundred thousand dollars less than the median sales price on the island.

Local Condo Stats

The largest increase in the number closed transactions was Downtown-Nuuanu. There was a 72% increase in the number of sales there since last year. In terms of median sales price, 7 neighborhoods experienced a decrease, 10 neighborhoods experienced an increase and 3 of our neighborhoods the prices were relatively flat. It's a stable market which may be slightly softening when compared to the market we've been experiencing the last few years. In terms of median sales price, the largest increase was in our own neighborhood of Kapahulu-Diamond Head. Our median price was up by 145% from $450,000 to $1,100,000!


Mahalo for listening and reading. Just so you know, this is an overall broad view of Oahu. Every neighborhood is different, so if you'd like to know a little more about your specific neighborhood, feel free to contact us directly at 808-777-4880. 

Sept. 23, 2019

Magical Mystical Molokai

My wife and I are travelers and water people. For most of our 47 years together we lived on sailboats on the sea. In our 20’s, we bought a 30 foot sloop in San Francisco although we did not even know how to sail! We taught ourselves celestial navigation (decades before GPS) and everything else needed to become seafarers on the great Pacific.  

Living on a shoestring, we voyaged to The Sea of Cortez (Mexico) for several years and became hooked on the cruising lifestyle. 

Southern Cross in New Zealand

The Southern Cross in New Zealand

After returning to the US, we taught ourselves the real estate business; scrimped and saved for 12 years before buying a 1961 teak Angelman Sea Witch ketch named Southern Cross (Hoku-ke’a in Hawaiian). She needed extensive refitting and we finally sailed for the South Pacific in 1995, again cruising on a shoe string.

Sailing Boat in Hale O Lono Harbor

Hale O Lono Harbor on Molokai

We lived with islanders all over the Pacific and have hanai family from Polynesia to New Zealand. When it came time to give up the strenuous ordeal of crossing oceans, we sold Southern Cross and moved to Molokai in Hawaii.

Lorraine Fishing

Lorraine's Mahimahi caught of Molokai

This gorgeous island, (“The Friendly Isle”) is rural, with a small population, no traffic or stop lights, almost no crime or violence, great fishing, and a perfect climate. Living on land after all those years was a huge change, yet Molokai worked out well for us. It has for many retirees, although we never were ones to “retire.” 

Growing Our Own Vegetables

Growing our own vegetables

After growing nothing but barnacles in our lives, we planted a large veggie garden and dozens of trees and now eat only (GMO – Grow My Own) from of our garden every day, and sell our overage to vendors at the local Saturday market. Lorraine learned to paddle and steer a va’a (traditional canoe), joined a local club, and paddled in the State Championships. 

Lorraine Steering a Canoe at States

Lorraine steering a canoe at States

The call of the sea is too strong -- time for us to travel again, this time to the Atlantic. We’re just waiting for the right person to come along and buy our beautiful home and we’ll be on our way.

205 Aahi Place on Molokai

Our home at 205 Aahi Place (MLS # 201914727)

Thank you and aloha to the nice people on Molokai. Robby and Lorraine Coleman

Posted in Lifestyle
Aug. 16, 2019

60 Years of Statehood in Hawaii: Admissions Day and Homes Built in 1959

Today we celebrate Admissions Day in Hawaii as the 50th State in the Union. As we embark on 60 years of statehood, I though it would be fun to reflect back on some of the homes and architecture built in 1959.

Hawaii State Capitol Building

Hawaii State Capitol Building

Most of the construction taking place back then could be found in Honolulu, Pearl City and the Windward side (Kailua-Kaneohe). Some of the architecture featured Mid Century Modern homes, while others were still building "plantation style" homes, some still single wall construction. Here's some examples of homes currently on the market:

Oahu Homes Built in 1959

Waimalu Home in Pearl City Built in 1959

Waimalu home in Pearl City (MLS # 201904429) priced at $625,000

Momilani Home in Pearl City built in 1959

Momilani Home in Pearl City (MLS # 201907321) priced at $665,000

Halekauwila Home in Kaneohe built in 1959

Halekauwila home in Kaneohe (MLS # 201919620) priced at $739,000

Lower Waialae Nui Home near Diamond Head built in 1959

Lower Waialae Nui Ridge home near Diamond Head (MLS # 201829952) priced at $799,000

Remodeled Halekauwila home built in 1959

Remodeled Halekauwila home (MLS # 201919170) priced at $865,000

Remodeled Pearl City Home built in 1959

Remodeled home in Pearl City (MLS # 201922722) priced at $887,000

Keolu Hills home in Kailua built in 1959

Keolu Hills home in Kailua (MLS # 201918484) asking $918,000

Another Momilani Home in Pearl City built in 1959

Another Momilani home in Pearl City (MLS # 201921292) asking $925,000

Remodeled Lower Waialae Nui Ridge home built in 1959

Another home in Waialae Nui Ridge (MLS # 201918705) asking $1,049,000

Hauula home built in 1959

Hauula home near the ocean (MLS # 201922648) asking $1.1 million

Oceanfront Mokuleia home on the North Shore built in 1959

Mokuleia home on the North Shore (MLS # 201921418) priced at $1,329,000

Mid Century Modern Lanikai home built in 1959

Mid Century Modern Lanikai home (MLS # 201905392) priced at $1,695,000

Kahala Home built in 1959

Kahala home (MLS # 201823962) priced at $1,850,000

Lanikai Oceanfront home built in 1959

Lanikai Mid Century gem on the ocean (MLS # 201910281) priced at $5,395,000

60 Years of Timelessness and Change

Scrolling through these listings built in 1959, you'll see some that are in somewhat original condition to others that have undergone full blown remodels over the years or within the last few years. It's almost like a microcosm of Oahu. There are some things and areas that haven't changed much and others that have changed significantly. Although 1959 was well before my time, it definitely appeared to be a golden age here... If you're looking for a home with a vintage or newer style, feel free to give me a call. Mahalo and enjoy the rest of Admissions Day!

July 30, 2019

Client Testimonial - Leslie Goldman

Leslie Goldman stopped by our Harcourts office to share her experience in working with David Buck over the past 18 years and here is what she had to say:

She said David is the most patient Realtor. She gets very overwhelmed with paperwork and David sits down and patiently explains everything to her. He makes her feel safe in what she is buying because if something is not good or not a good deal, he is not going to let her buy it. However, if something is really nice and she loves it, he will sit there and brainstorm with her to see if it's the right place for her. She highly recommended him as a Realtor.

Posted in Honolulu, Testimonials
July 15, 2019

The Cliffs at Pohakea Homes in Kaneohe

The Cliffs at Pohakea is a cluster of homes in Kaneohe's Lilipuna neighborhood on the upslope of Lilipuna Road. Built between the late 1980's and early 1990's, they're all contemporary/modern in design and boast beautiful views of Kaneohe Bay. Two of the "primo" homes are now available for sale.

Cliffs at Pohakea Point Lifestyle seen through Unit G

Unit G (MLS # 201831620)

This was the original developer unit we have listed. You'll see the views, space and privacy in the video above. Built in 1992, this 3 bed, 2.5 bath has multiple living areas, decks and is a great home for entertaining.

Cliffs at Pohakea G Great Room

Cliffs at Pohakea G Bar Cliffs at Pohakea G Upper Living

Great Room, Bar and Home Office Mezzanine above

Cliffs at Pohakea G Kitchen

Cliffs at Pohakea G Downstairs Living Cliffs at Pohakea G Dining Room

Remodeled Kitchen, Living Room and Dining Room w/ Views of Kaneohe Bay

One of the big differences between this unit and the unit C next door is the large backyard oasis this property boasts...

Cliffs at Pohakea Backyard Oasis

Cliffs at Pohakea Kaneohe Bay View from Deck Cliffs at Pohakea Backyard Deck

Backyard Oasis with forever views of Kaneohe Bay...

Unit C (MLS # 201825399)

Also built in 1992, this home underwent a major renovation in 2016. The interior living area is similar, however this one is a 4 bed, 2.5 bath. Like unit G, it has a 3 car garage and also an interior elevator. The floor plan is quite a bit different as well. It has a beautiful kitchen on the same level as the main deck and backdoor space.

Cliffs at Pohakea C Kitchen

Cliffs at Pohakea C Deck Cliffs at Pohakea C Back Yard

Remodeled Kitchen, Deck and Back Yard

Kaneohe View Properties

If you're interested in the Cliffs at Pohakea Point or other homes in Kaneohe with spectacular views, feel free to contact me for more information.

Posted in Kaneohe
July 13, 2019

Sales Increase 2 Years After Marco Polo Fire

Tomorrow marks two years that have passed since the tragic Marco Polo fire. Last year I wrote an article about the real estate sales in the building a year after the fire. At that time, there were only 2 cash sales that took place. Fast forward to today and sales have increased over 500% with 11 transactions taking place.

Marco Polo Sales Before and 2 Years After Fire

Marco Polo Sales 2 Years After Fire and Years Prior to Fire

Increase in Sales and Loans Now Possible

Although sales aren't back to where they were prior (north of 20 deals per year), this was a healthy increase in transactions. Our office was able to successfully auction one off through Harcourts Auctions. Another driving factor was Territorial Savings started lending in the building. 4 of the 11 transactions got financing and the other 7 were cash buyers.

The Rebound has Already Taken Place

As I predicted last year, the building would ultimately rebound as lenders start to lend and Buyers come back into the marketplace. If you're thinking about buying or selling at The Marco Polo Apartments, feel free to contact me for more information.

May 21, 2019

Client Testimonial - Raymon House

Rayon House recently sat down to share his experience in working with his Realtor Mark E. Buck to buy and sell his Uraku Tower condos near Ala Moana.

He moved here from Florida and said he had a great experience in working with Mark Buck with Harcourts Island Real Estate in purchasing and selling his condos here. Mark showed him all the "ins and outs" of purchasing real estate here in Honolulu, which is somewhat unique compared to Florida where he came from.

The one thing unique about Mark is he has lived in Hawaii almost his entire life. He knew so much about the history, ins and outs, where to go, where not to go and really knows the islands.