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Short-Term Vacation Rentals on Oahu

Short-Term Vacation Rentals on Oahu

With the increasing numbers of visitors to the island and low vacancy rates in hotels, there is a healthy demand for short-term rentals on Oahu. A short-term rental is a property which is being rented for less than 30 days. Visitors who use vacation rental hosting platforms such as Airbnb, Homeaway, or VRBO are looking for cheaper rates or a more local experience when vacationing on the island.

Recently Bill 89 was passed unanimously (9-0) by the Honolulu City Council which will allow permitting for an approximately 1,715 additional owner-occupied bed-and-breakfast rentals on Oahu.  This number adds to the current 816 legal short-term rentals on Oahu, but is a mere fraction of the 8,000 short-term rentals which are presumed to exist in the county at a given time.  An additional measure, Bill 85, was also passed (7-2) imposing a fine of $1,000 for a first time offense and a $10,000 for a repeat offender for illegal short-term rental operators.  Most of all legal short-term rentals exist within resort zoned areas such as Waikiki or Ko’Olina. The other transient vacation properties outside of resort zoned areas have non-confirming use certificates which owners will have to reapply for every two years. 

Hosting platforms such as Airbnb, Homeaway, or VRBO are also required to register and report on a monthly basis the names of the responsible persons for each listing, the address of each listing, the transient vacation tax number of the owner or operator and the length of stay for each listing.

Prior to the passing of these Bills the City had been in discussions with online vacation rental platforms to come up with a solution that allows legal short-term rentals to operate. The problem is that most of the units being offered are illegal because they are operating in residential areas where short-term rentals are not permitted. Though a prior proposal was to have an online rental platform such as Airbnb be a tax collection agent for the State, these platforms were not willing to identify who their hosts are, citing issues with privacy. 

Oahu has some of the most restrictive laws pertaining to short-term rentals, and permits issued for transient vacation and bed & breakfast units were stopped in 1989-1990. On this Honolulu City and County FAQ sheet on Transient Vacation Rentals and Bed & Breakfast Homes, there are answers to the most commonly asked questions that make it clear as far as what properties are permitted for short-term rental use. These properties have received what they call a Non Conforming Use certificate to be able to operate a short-term retnal. Here in this list of permitted Transient Vacation Rentals and Bed & Breakfast Homes on Oahu, you will find the limited number of properties that qualify for short-term use, many of them being in a resort zoned areas of the island such as Waikiki or Ko’Olina. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has also created a map which locates these permitted short-term rental properties in Honolulu County on Oahu.

Similar to Oahu, Maui county has also created a list of condominiums which do not include resort zoned properties, who are already short-term in nature, and it provides information on those properties who can legally operate short-term rentals. This Maui County Short-Term Rental List can include those properties which may be grandfathered.

Though there is no easy solution to determine how to allow all owners of short-term rentals to operate, there is clearly a demand for vacation properties. As an investor of real estate, it would be wise to consider using a rental option that is legal, so that you can remain profitable regardless of which direction the lawmakers take. Should you require more information on how to invest in Oahu real estate please contact us.

‘Iliahi at Ho‘opili

‘Iliahi at Ho‘opili

‘Iliahi at Ho’opili


We are excited to announce that lottery applications for the new sales release of ʻIliahi at Hoʻopili are now being accepted! Download ‘Iliahi at Ho‘opili Price List

Applications are DUE:
Friday, April 12, 2019
by 5:00pm

Lottery will be held on:
Saturday, April 13, 2019
at 10:00am

Lottery applications and instructions can be picked up at The Hoʻopili Sales Center.
For more information email us at our give us a call at 808.753.9033

‘Iliahi at Ho‘opili will presents an opportunity to experience a convenient and new lifestyle, with 8 single family style floor plans. Each residence comes standard with upgraded finishes and a stainless appliance package. The entire development will include seven community and recreation centers, more than 200 acres of commercial farms and community gardens as well as up to 3 million square feet of shopping and dining options. For those with children, five DOE public schools will be within walking distance of many Ho’opili residences.

Ho’opili by D.R. Horton – Development of  Ho’opili in Kapolei has begun and will bring over 11,000 homes to West Oahu. This large master planned community will help alleviate some of Oahu’s pent up demand for housing and possibly make things easier for first time homebuyers and new families on the leeward side.

Real estate developer, D.R Horton purchased 1600 acres of the former ‘Ewa sugarcane land’ in March 2006. In May 2015, D.R. Horton Schuler Division’s Ho’opili won the final approval from the Honolulu City Council. This new project is slated to create over 11,000 homes on 1,554 acres over next 20-30 years. It will include 200 acres of agricultural land, ample space for personal gardens and community farms, parks, open spaces and schools and commercial space for businesses creating thousands of new jobs. With new businesses and education options within the community, residents will be able to reduce their commuting time as well. Nearly 80 percent of community will be connected to public transit via the two planned Honolulu rail stops, expanded bus service and new leeward bicycle paths.

The project will be located between five West Oahu communities: Kapolei, Makakilo, Kunia, Waipahu and Ewa plain. It is the largest development project before the Honolulu City Council in at least two decades.

To get more information about Pahakala at Mehana and/or Ho’opili in Kapolei, please contact us.

Pet Friendly Housing On Oahu 2019

Pet Friendly Housing On Oahu 2019

This article is dedicated to our best friends and furry confidants.  Studies by Scientists at the Claremont Graduate University in California have shown that cuddling a pet, likely a cat or a dog, releases oxytocin (a love or close bonding chemical) in both the human and the pet. This natural “love” chemical has a calming and soothing effect that leads to the development of a strong bond between the owner and their pet.

Per the Hawaii Humane Society, nearly 60% of Oahu’s households have pets. When searching for a new home, it’s important to not only be able to identify properties that allow pets but also to work with professionals, like REALTORS®, rental agents and property managers who understand and appreciate how important your pet is to your family and to your housing decision.

Whether you are looking to purchase, rent or lease a new home for you, your family and your pet(s) take note that buildings, condominiums and developments that allow pets are not necessarily the same as “pet friendly” properties.

Properties that “allow” pets may still have strict restrictions as to the breed, size and/or number of pets that are permissible under the properties “house rules” or covenants, conditions and restrictions used to regulated the use, appearance and maintenance of properties with common and community areas.  For example, some properties might not allow Pit Bulls, or limit pets to 10 pounds or less, while others may restrict a condo or apartment unit to only one pet.

Properties that are “pet friendly”, on the other hand, will allow any type of pet and have building rules and/or amenities and common areas built specifically for the benefit of resident pets.  For example, the newer developments, like the condominiums in Kaka‘ako, tend to be very pet friendly in their approach to promote and develop the urban live/work concept.

With regard to your pet that is registered as a “service animal” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you are allowed to live with your pet in any building or property and thus, the “No Pets” rule or restrictions do not apply.

Click here for list of Oahu condominium associations that do not prohibit pets.

For renters, a pet addendum to your written lease will go a long way to help protect you, your pet as well as the property and the landlord or owner.  The Hawaii Humane Society provides a sample Pet Addendum on their website.

Under Hawaii laws, a landlord may require the tenant to pay, as a condition of a rental agreement, pet security deposit an amount agreed upon by the landlord and tenant to compensate the landlord for any damages caused by any pet allowed to reside in the premises under the rental agreement, provided such additional security deposit is not in excess of one month’s rent.  Notwithstanding, an additional pet security deposit is not permitted as a condition of a rental agreement in the case of a registered service animal.

In closing, here are Four Important Tips for pet owners looking for a new home:


Be honest. Don’t try to buy or rent a home in a complex, development or community that does not allow pets. Subjecting yourself and family to eviction or legal action is not worth the battle.


Be open.  Finding the best home in the best location for you, your family and your pet(s) may take a bit longer, so be open and patient.

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Be willing to pay a little more.  Agree with your landlord to place a larger security deposit to cover possible damage your pet(s) might make to the property.  Also, you might have to pay a little more in order to obtain the best location for your pet(s), e.g. corner, end unit with small yard or lanai.


Be able to present evidence.  Have documents readily available to demonstrate your excellent care and due diligence in raising, training and caring for your pet.  Examples of documents and good evidence supporting that you are a responsible pet owner may include: proof of spay/neuter, records of up-to-date vaccinations, indications of regular veterinary visits, obedience school diplomas as well as proof of a consistent flea management program.  You might also consider obtaining a letter from your existing or prior landlord and neighbors supporting you and your family as a responsible pet owner and also that your pet has demonstrated good demeanor and behavior.

For more helpful tips and information about the current laws that apply to pet ownership and housing on Oahu at the Hawaii Humane Society website:

2019 Oahu Real Estate Market Update

2019 Oahu Real Estate Market Update

Overall, the Hawaii real estate market has had a very good run from the days of the Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which implemented that $7,500 first time homebuyer tax credit, to the all time highs of 2018. We have seen more than just a recovery. We have seen one of our longest periods of improvement with respect to housing prices.

Statewide Trend

For the single family market we have seen the number of sales increasing since 2009 but then tapering off in 2018, with fewer sales overall. Being that condominiums are of a more affordable housing category, we didn’t see a decrease in the total number of sales overall in 2018. However, we did see a similar decline in the later half of 2018, which means that the slowdown occurring in the single family market has now moved to the condo market.

Changes On Oahu

Oahu in particular is experiencing a similar staircase-like pattern of growth as we have seen over the past 33 years. There is also a healthy cycle of sales increases and decreases every 7 to 10 years. One key trend that occurs is when a change in the number of sales precedes a change in price. This has happened in every cycle and is also happening at present. The decrease in number of sales in 2018 is a likely signal that we are starting to have a lateral move in prices.

Buyer Demographic

Part of understanding the market is evaluating the demographic landscape of who our buyers are. It is interesting to note that 2018 had witnessed an increase in offshore buyers from areas such Japan, California, Canada, and Korea. On the other hand, there was a decrease in the number of local buyers in the same regions of the island. As usual, Central, West and Windward Oahu, had a strong percentage of owner-occupant buyers, whereas in North Shore, Metro and East Honolulu, there was a higher percentage of investors in the mix.

Luxury Sales

When looking at the most active neighborhoods for single family luxury home sales in 2018, the usual suspects of Kahala, Diamond Head and Kailua Beachside topped the list. Oahu also still dominates the single family luxury market in overall sales. Not surprisingly, Kakaako, Ala Moana and Waikiki are the most prominent neighborhoods for luxury condominium sales. Unlike the rest of the market, luxury properties peaked in sales in 2017 and had a slow 2018. This is not unusual in our cycle, to see the luxury market lead the way of change.

Rental Market

There have also been changes to average rental rates of residential real estate, with some regions of Oahu showing increases in average rents, while others are showing slight decreases. This is to be expected in a changing market. When you have softening sales you typically have a softening of rental rates as well.

Interest Rates

The silver lining to our shifting market is that interest rates have not gone up as quickly as anticipated. In fact, rates are still in the mid 4% range for a 30 year fixed loan. It is anticipated that there may not be much movement for the next several months, but rates could go up to possibly 5% by the end of the year. For higher end homebuyers, it’s good to know that jumbo rates are actually lower than conventional 30 year fixed mortgages.

2019 Forecast

Residential Real Estate in Hawai‘i has seen some leveling off as we depart from the tighter inventory of 2018 to an increase in housing availability in 2019. Sales will perform at a slower pace and number in 2019 than in 2018 with adjustments in price reflecting a more lateral move in the market. If you are a homebuyer you can be more creative with your offers. As a homeseller, you’ll have to work harder at attracting the right buyer, and will have to keep your price attractive.

Ohana Hale

Ohana Hale

Ohana Hale is the newest condominium to offer affordable residential units in Honolulu. Located at 929 Pumehana Street, the project is sandwiched between the neighborhoods of McCully and Moiliili. This will the first new development for the area in over a decade.

Ohana Hale will be 21-stories high consisting of 180 units and floor plan mix of studios, one, and two bedrooms. As an affordable project, 60% (108 units) of the building will fall under the Hawaii Housing Finance Development Corporation (HHFDC) guidelines.  Units will have higher view plains since there will be six levels (Floors 2-8) of parking below the building. There will be a total of 206 parking stalls. Residential units will start from the 9th floor up to the 21st floor.

Units at Ohana Hale will range in size from 316-419SF for studios, 483-504SF for one bedrooms, and 761-784SF for two bedrooms. Affordable units will be priced from $286,000 for studios to $491,000 for two bedrooms. Market units will be priced from $553,000 for one bedrooms to $836,000 for two bedrooms.

Building amenities are limited to a recreation area, roof deck, secured entrance, and bike storage. Maintenances fees are estimated at $.50 per square foot. This will be a pet friendly building. Application packets are available now and due by December 22nd. Contact us for more information or to get an application packet.

How Does A Home Exemption Reduce Your Property Tax?

How Does A Home Exemption Reduce Your Property Tax?

The home exemption for Oahu residents assists property owners by reducing the amount of property tax they pay on their principal residence. The first home exemption law was enacted way back in 1896 by the Republic of Hawaii to provide some tax relief and to encourage settlement. In this year, the home exemption amount was $300. Currently, the basic home exemption is $80,000.  

How a home exemption works is the $80,000 is deducted from the assessed value of the property and the homeowner is then taxed on the difference.  This results in a lower amount of property tax owed. The assessed value of a property is determined by the Real Property Assessment Division of the City and is provided to the owner each year.  This assessed value may change over time as property values change. If you have an exiting exemption on your primary residence this will be reflected on your tax assessment statement.

There are other real property tax exemptions based on your age or life situation.  Your exemption amount increases from $80,000 to $120,000 when you reach the age of 65.  There may also be other exemptions if you are a disabled veteran, or are afflicted by a disability or hansen’s disease.

So just how do you qualify for a home exemption?  Here are specific steps to qualifying for a home exemption as provided by the City and County of Honolulu:

  1. You own and occupy the property as your principal home (“real property owned and occupied as The owner’s principal home” means occupancy of a home in the city with the intent to reside in the city. Intent to reside in the city may be evidenced by, but not limited to, the following indicia: occupancy of a home in the city for more than 270 calendar days of a calendar year; registering to vote in the city; being stationed in the city under military orders of the United States; and filing of an income tax return as a resident of the State of Hawaii, with a reported address in the city.
  2. Your ownership is recorded at the Bureau of Conveyances, State Department of Land and Natural Resources, in Honolulu on or before September 30 preceding the tax year for which you claim the exemption. In the case of a lease, the document must indicate that the lessee has a lease for residential purposes for a term of five years or more and will pay all property taxes.
  3. You file a claim for home exemption (Form P-3) with the Real Property Assessment Division on or before September 30 preceding the tax year for which you claim the exemption.

For more information regarding real estate ownership insights please contact us.

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