Hawaii Real Estate and Community News

Nov. 29, 2019

Ultimate Guide to Honolulu Property Taxes

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Image by: Unsplash

Confused about property taxes in Honolulu County Hawaii? Here, we provide a guide to how property tax works, how much it costs, and when you have to pay it. We offer an overview of property tax in Hawaii and specific information for those in the City and County of Honolulu.

Introduction: Property Taxes in Hawaii

Of all the states, Hawaii's tax rate of 0.27% is the lowest in the whole nation. The value of homes in Hawaii is higher than anywhere else in the U.S., averaging at $563,900. However, tax payments are still lower than in many other states.

One of the main reasons that property taxes are low in Hawaii is that the state provides large exemptions for many properties occupied by their owners. Some homeowners are eligible for homeowners' exemptions of up to $160,000.

Residential properties in Hawaii are taxed. But, in the Hawaiian islands, cars, boats and vehicles are not subject to property tax.

All these different rules and tax exemptions can make Honolulu property tax a complex matter to figure out. Check out our guide below for a clear breakdown of Oahu property tax.

How Does Property Tax Work in Hawaii?

All properties in Hawaii are subject to a tax rate. Each county in Hawaii is responsible for its own property tax administration and collection. That being said, all of them use relatively similar systems.

The property tax that you pay in each county depends on a home’s assessed value. This is determined by county officials in an appraisal. Once your tax band has been determined, any applicable exemptions are applied. From there, you receive your bill. This is due twice a year.

Variation in Property Tax Between Islands

The following tax rates show considerable variation between the counties of Hawaii. These are the rates per building or land plot. They do not account for any exemptions that can be applied.

  • Honolulu: $3.50 per $1000, or $6.00 per $1000 on properties valued over $1,000,000
  • Hawaii: $6.15 per $1000
  • Kauai – $6.05 per $1000
  • Maui – $5.57 per $1000

Tax rates in Honolulu are considerably lower than other parts of Hawaii. Better yet, exemptions mean that the actual paid tax rate for many properties is even less. We'll explain more about exemptions later in the article.

How Are Tax Bands Determined in Honolulu County?

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In Honolulu County, tax bands are based on the assessed value of a property. Assessed value simply means the monetary worth of the property according to the tax office. An appraisal team from the tax office comes up with this figure. You should know that this value will be different from the market value of the property (e.g. the price a buyer would pay).

With new homes, or recently remodeled homes, the property is usually visited individually to form an assessed value. Otherwise, properties tend to be valued by a mass appraisal.

A mass appraisal comprises data on home types, neighborhood, and a range of other factors. The accrued data is used to generate a value for a number of homes simultaneously. The tax office performs mass appraisals once a year. Afterward, the owners of the properties that have been valued receive an annual notice of assessment in the mail. This notice reports the assessed value of their property.

Once the assessed value has been calculated, any exemptions for which you are eligible are subtracted from the value. Following this, tax rates are applied.

Only homeowners who live in their property are eligible for home exemption. You can't qualify for an exemption if your property is a vacation home or rental.

Honolulu Property Tax Categories

The amount you pay for your City and County of Honolulu property tax depends on the tax band into which your property falls. There are three tax bands in Honolulu for residential properties. Here, we'll take a look at the details of each tax bands and any applicable exemptions.

Residential:

The residential rate is 0.35% of assessed value. This rate is used in cases where the homeowner claims homeowners exemption, regardless of the assessed value of the property. It can also apply to properties with an assessed value lower than $1,000,000 in cases where the owner cannot apply or is not eligible claim the home exemption.

Home exemption can only be claimed when the property is the primary residence of the owner. To be eligible, proof of this is necessary. Proof includes:

  • Tax returns filed as a resident
  • Being registered to vote in Honolulu
  • Occupying the property for at least 270 days of the year

Successful claims for home exemption give the property owner a $100,000 exemption if they are under 75 years of age. This means that the assessed value is reduced by $100,000 and taxes are paid on the remaining balance.

For property owners over 75, there are increasing rates of exemption. For those between 75 and 79 years, it is $140,000. For those aged 80 t 84, it is $160,000. For those aged 85 to 89, it is $180,000. Residents aged 90 years or older can qualify for exemptions of $200,000.

Residential A:

Residential A is a two-tiered tax rate. There is a rate of 0.45% for a property with assessed value up to $1,000,000 and 1.05% of the assessed value for properties above $1,000,000.

This tax band applies to cases where the owner of a property does not or cannot claim for home exemption. Eligibility applies where the assessed value of the property is $1,000,000 or more.

Hotel & Resort:

The hotel and resort tax band is for property owners in Honolulu who rent their property/properties out as vacation rentals. In this case, the tax rate is set at 1.39% of the assessed value of the property.

What if You Think Your Oahu Property Tax Band Is Wrong?

Your tax band is determined by your property's assessed value. If you think you're in the wrong tax band, it could be because the assessed value is wrong.

The best thing to do is to check your annual notice of assessment to determine your assessed value. If you find that you disagree with this value - e.g. it is too high - you have the right to appeal the decision. You can do so through the local tax board. It is useful to have actual recent sold data to support your claim.

How Often Do You Pay Property Tax in Honolulu?

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Honolulu County covers the Island of Oahu. The County expects taxes to be paid in two installments per fiscal year. For property taxes, the fiscal year runs from July 1 through to June 30 of the following year. Installments deadlines are as follows:

  • The first installment is due on August 20. Owners receive their bill in July. This payment covers taxes from July 1 to December 31.
  • The second installment is due on February 20. Owners receive their bill in January. This payment covers taxes from January 1 to June 30.

Is There a Fine for Late or Missed Payments in Honolulu?

Yes. Late payment of property taxes results in interest added to the amount due. The interest rate is 1% for each month you are late. This rate applies to all penalties and taxes.

What Do I Do if I Am a New Property Owner in Honolulu?

If you recently bought a property in Honolulu, you will need to send a request to the tax office. Ask them to post your tax bill to a different address, rather than the previous owner's address.

This may take up to four months while the tax office updates its records. To prevent your tax bill from being sent to the previous owner's address, you can contact the Honolulu Property Tax Department directly. Request that they mail your next property tax bill to your address.

What Do You Do in the Case of Shared Ownership Properties? 

In most cases, the same rules outlined here apply for shared ownership of properties. However, there are a couple of differences to point out.

If you already own or are thinking about owning, a property in Honolulu Hawaii with a group of people (such as a timeshare), your property tax bill will not be eligible for an exemption.

You should, however, make sure that all collaborative owners receive both the property assessment notice, as well as the tax bill via mail. At current, none of the Hawaiian counties are able to break down bills to provide pro-rata calculations for individual owners. Shares need to be worked between the group members.

Paying Your Oahu Property Tax and Further Information

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In Honolulu county, there are four ways to pay your property taxes:

  1. You can use the website www.hnlpay.com. Note that you maybe charged for certain card types.
  2. Checks are accepted. These should be issued to 'City & County of Honolulu' and sent via mail.
  3. To pay in person, with either cash or check, you can visit City Hall. Their address is 530 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813.
  4. Finally, you could also pay by telephone at 1 (877) 309-9117.

You can download and print all forms and documentation for property tax from the Honolulu City and County website. The government website also provides essential information and up-to-date contact details for making payments. This can be found on the official Honolulu site.

If you need more information about property taxes in Honolulu, do get in touch with us. We are always more than happy to offer advice and point you in the right direction. You can also get more information about Koula at Ward Village by getting in touch.

 

Posted in Real Estate
Nov. 27, 2019

Moving to Hawaii - Tips & Tactics to Making The Big Leap

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Hawaii is one of the most idyllic regions in the world. A place often associated with a beautiful beach paradise, perfect weddings, and escapism. For some, the idea of living here is an abstract dream.

If your heart is set on moving to Hawaii, we are here to tell you it's possible. This state is close enough to the U.S. which means you won't experience a terribly drastic geographical change. You will, however, wake up every morning to gorgeous scenery.

Our guide will help you answer the question, "How to move to Hawaii". We'll go over everything you need to know before making the move to this scenic state. Let's get started!

About Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the fifty states in the U.S. and is made up of eight main islands. While there are eight beautiful islands, only seven of them are actually inhabited. Only four islands have a population over 10,000. These islands are Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

You're probably familiar with the 4 islands listed above. They are each unique and have something different to offer residents. Depending on what you want out of your new life in Hawaii, each island brings something different to the table.

Hawaii or the Big Island

This is not only the biggest of the Hawaiian islands, but the biggest island in the U.S. This part of Hawaii was formed due to a hot spot in the Earth's crust. This means there are three active volcanoes on the island. Don't let this scare you away as they act as some of the most iconic and beautiful backdrops in this state.

You'll be surprised to learn that this island holds 12 climate zones. This means you can experience anything from lush rain forests to snowy mountains. Plus, due to the Kilauea volcano, it's a hot tourist spot that brings in both revenue for the island and jobs for its inhabitants. However, if you're wanting to avoid tourists, consider living on the eastern side of the state as its less populated with tourists.

Largest City: Hilo

Population: 186, 739 (2011)

Unemployment: 3.7% (2019)

Oahu

Oahu is the third-largest island in this state and the most heavily populated. It is home to the largest city in Hawaii - Honolulu (also the state capital). It's also home to Hawaii's government and economy, contributing to its name as the 'Gathering Place'.

Like most of all main Hawaiian isles, Oahu is popular with tourists, not only because it's home to two volcanoes, but because of its infamous beaches such as Waikiki beach. There are a variety of shops and activities here which also make it popular. And of course, we cannot forget the historically monumental Pearl Harbour which occurred here.

Honolulu resembles that sky-scraper city life that is so familiar and loved in the U.S, yet with a more tropical and exotic flair. Whether you want to be in the bustling Waikiki or the more tranquil Kaneohe, their exciting foodie and local culture will please wherever you go.

Largest City: Honolulu

Population: 976, 372 (2012)

Unemployment: 2.7% (2019)

Maui

This is the second-largest of the Hawaiian islands, also known as the 'Valley Isle'. This is because of the huge valley that lies between it's two major volcanoes. The beaches and its outstanding landscapes are what visitors and residents adore about Maui.

Products such as coffee, pineapple, flowers, macadamia nuts, and sugar are all produced here, which works in favor of their economy and agriculture. As well as residents getting some organic and local goods.

Kaanapali Beach, Lahina and Haleakala National Park are just some of the wonders that make this island so desirable to live and visit.

Largest City: Kahului

Population: 154,834 (2016)

Unemployment: 2.5% (2019)

Kauai

Now we come to the fourth largest island, Kauai. This is also referred to as the 'Garden Isle' and you probably don't need us to tell you why that is! This is one of the lesser developed islands, however, that is exactly where its charm lies.

The Na Pali Coast resides here, lined with waterfalls, valleys, and streams. It is one of the most breathtaking places on the planet. With no volcanoes here, this mountainous region may be more your forte. Tourism is where this island gets most of its revenue.

Largest Town: Kapa'a

Population: 72,029 (2016)

Unemployment: 2.1% (2017)

Now that you know a bit about the 4 islands, you can decide which is the best island to live on in Hawaii! Here are a few more factors to consider before finalizing your decision.

Cost of Living in Hawaii

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Initial Moving Costs

Like anywhere you decide to migrate to, moving to Hawaii will require some initial fees. These fees will include such things as moving your furniture (if you plan to bring any), booking a flight and accommodation when you get there. If you want to ship your car over too, that will add to the costs.

If you're a U.S citizen you won't have to worry about visa costs like other foreign nationals will. If you aren't from the U.S, then you will have to fork out for a H1-B visa which can cost around $5000. It's wise to save up some money before you make the final leap and fully locate for that extra added security.

With all this aside, it's important to know the cost of living in Hawaii as a whole.

Is it expensive to live in Hawaii? Yes and no. (But mainly yes)

Living Costs

Hawaii is deemed one of the most expensive places to live in the United States.

The cost of living in Hawaii is high. In fact, it's one of the most expensive states in the U.S. The cost of living in Honolulu, the capital, is extortionate! A bottle of wine, for example, costs around $20. 16oz of cheese costs around $11 and 1lb of chicken breast $6.

The utility bills in this part of the states are also pretty high, although they do vary from one island to the next. The small island of Lanai is the most expensive and Oahu is the cheapest. You'll be pleased to know that taxes in this Aloha state are some of the lowest in the nation, so it's not all bad!

Housing Costs

Renting costs are much higher than other mainland states, with the average monthly rent being around $2,400. Compared with the living wage of the residents in Hawaii, it doesn't quite match up either. To afford it, locals usually have to spend around 30% of their income to pay rent.

The cost of homes in Hawaii can vary significantly. In Hilo, the average on $300k, in Waipahu $700k and Kailua can reach $1 million and above. We've put together a comprehensive list of our favorite new condo developments in Honolulu to help with your housing research. Again, Oahu is currently the cheapest Hawaiian island to live on and Wailea, in Maui is the most expensive.

So, yes the living is pricey, we won't lie. However, the living is easy and you can't put a price on the quality of life there. There is also plenty you can enjoy without spending a dime here. This includes lazing on one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire of North America or walking through stunning rain forests.  

Jobs and Work in Hawaii

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The biggest industry in Hawaii is the tourism industry. With tourism comes a variety of jobs, such as working at food stalls, waiting at or owning restaurants, hotel work or management, and retail. This can be ideal for finding an existing job or becoming an entrepreneur, mind you will have a lot of competition!

Agriculture is also huge here with some amazing and highly valued fruits and foods grown here. Some residents even produce these goods in there very own back garden.

Pay

Salary on these islands, unfortunately, isn't as good as on the mainland. However, with the average salary being between $30-50,000, it's not a poor wage to live on. Like with most other areas of the world, the highest paying jobs here are those in the medical, legal, military, and government sector.

Work-life

The working environment in Hawaii, as you would imagine, is much more laid back than what you would expect in other parts of the U.S or the West. The hours are less strict and the dress code doesn't really exist here. Can you imagine wearing a suit in Hawaii?...

Unemployment

The percentage of unemployment in Hawaii is actually half of the rate of other U.S. states. Unemployment rates have been so low for so long that some suggest it indicates a crisis ahead. Yet, this can't be guaranteed. Maybe there's just something these little havens are doing right. Plus, Hawaii isn't necessarily the place to kick-starting your career as it offers a more humble way of life.  

Surprisingly, the idea of living in Hawaii does come with its downsides, but these aren't factors that will have a vast and poor impact on your life. Money may be tight, but how could you not be happy in this little utopia? We think this is a leap of faith to be encouraged!

Ready to move to Hawaii? Take a look at current listings in Kakaako including Sky Ala Moana, Keahou Place, and The Collection Honolulu.

Posted in Real Estate
May 6, 2019

New Condo Developments In Honolulu

  • Sky Ala Moana: Modern new condo design in 2 towers. Amazing views.
  • Keauhou Place: 43 story contemporary condo building. City and harbor views.
  • The Collection: Moderately priced and luxury new condo units. Walk to the beach.
  • Symphony Honolulu: Spacious 2 and 3 bedroom condos. Luxury amenity deck.
  • Anaha: Ward Village location for this new condo in Honolulu. LEED certified building.
  • Ae'o: Completed in late 2018. The Ae'o condo is adjacent to Whole Foods Market.

Whether you’re looking for a Hawaiian vacation home or a permanent tropical escape, I’ve rounded up six of my favorite new condo developments in Honolulu that are sure to provide you with your own little slice of paradise.

As the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is located on the blissful island of Oahu’s southern shore. And, with magnificent beaches, palm-lined streets, fragrant flowers, stunning sky rises, and plenty of entertainment, it’s easy to see why the city is well loved by young and old alike.  

Sky Ala Moana condo

Sky Ala Moana - Honolulu's New Residential Condo Tower and Hotel

Sporting airy lanais, modern interiors, and gorgeous panoramic views, Sky Ala Moana kicks our list off as a strong first contender. 

Sky West, the residential tower at Sky Ala Moana, includes both one and two bedroom condos. With views ascending up to four hundred feet over the Ala Moana/Kapiolani Corridor, you’re sure to feel like you’re one with clouds. 

Boasting the largest terrace of its kind in Honolulu, Sky Terrace has everything you want and need to enjoy both indoor and outdoor sports, activities, and relaxation. 

Sky Ala Moana new condo pool deck

What sets Sky Ala Moana apart: 

  • A vast eighth-floor deck that hosts amenities like spas, playgrounds, dog parks, pools, fitness centers, and fragrant gardens. 
  • Located in the heart of Ala Moana, this development has some of the best commercial retail, entertainment, and dining experiences in the world right in its backyard. 
  • Situated conveniently by the coast, over a half mile of sandy white beaches are just minutes from your doorstep.

The Keauhou Place 

With unparalleled views of both the city and harbor, forty-three story Keauhou Place is a true contemporary urban community. 

The unique village set up and modern architecture of this magnificent development is only one of the many reasons it’s made our list. 

Panoramic mauka to makai views and an abundance of amenities provide all Keauhou Place residents with a true resort worthy lifestyle. 

Keahou Place honolulu condo interior photo

What sets The Keauhou Place apart: 

  • One to three bedroom condos and townhomes with smart, energy efficient designs. 
  • Spacious floor plans, high ceilings, plenty of natural light, and scenic views.
  • Luxurious touches like fine European cabinetry, porcelain tile floors, and Kohler fixtures. 
  • A modern fitness center with state of the art equipment. 

The Collection Honolulu

Located in the Kaka’ako neighborhood, The Collection Honolulu is a modern paradise lovers dream.

The complex consists of three different types of condos. 

With The Townhouse, The Mid-Rise, and the luxurious High Rise to choose from, there’s a piece of paradise for every taste and budget. 

The Collection Honolulu interior photo of new condo

What sets The Collection Honolulu apart: 

  • The street level townhouses are spacious and provide residents their own private two car garage and rooftop deck. 
  • The modestly priced mid rise allows even the budget conscious a piece of prime Hawaiian real estate.
  • The high rise provides the most luxurious perks, including an 18,000 square foot amenity deck, pools, jacuzzis, cabanas, and fitness centers,

Coastal Kaka’ako Waterfront Park is only a short walk away and is sure to be a favorite for your weekend recreation

Symphony Honolulu

A high-end condo development boasting modern architecture, The Symphony Honolulu building stands four hundred feet tall and towers over the hub of Kaka’ako.

Fascinating art, culture, food, and entertainment are just minutes from your front door as you enjoy experiencing all the heart of Honolulu has to offer right in your own neighborhood.

With beautiful features like sleek lines, glass walls, and floor to ceiling views, these spacious condos are an oasis of luxury.  

Symphony Honolulu new Honolulu condo pool deck photo

What sets Symphony Honolulu apart: 

  • Friendly lobby staff is available 24/7 to help you with all of your needs.
  • Amenities like a yoga studio, fitness center, onsite movie theatre, surfboard storage, and residential parking are all included. 
  • Unmatched interiors in each condo include oak hardwood floors, polished quartz countertops, deep stainless steel sinks, solid white oak doors, and soft closing cabinets and drawers. 
  • Each floor contains approximately 11 units and a large deck that includes a breathtaking infinity edge pool and two luxurious Jacuzzis.

Honolulu’s sunny climate, vibrant views, and laid back lifestyle are just a few of the reasons people love to call this utopia home. With an impressive 10/10 rating on the desirability scale, it’s no wonder that Honolulu was ranked #32 by US News on their list of 100 best places to retire

John Gephart New Honolulu Condo RealtorAs you can see, some of the most unique and extraordinary homes in the world are located in this picturesque paradise. To find out more about these and many other stunning Oahu locations, call or email me today, and let me be your guide. 

If owning a Hawaiian vacation home or relocating to Honolulu is on your bucket list, I would love to help make your dream a reality. Call 808.203.7424 or email John@UrbanOahu.com.

Call me today. Paradise is waiting here for you. 

Posted in Blog
Jan. 27, 2019

Aloha Stadium $350 Million Redevelopment Proposal Nears Approval

Being a sports enthusiast who happens to live just above Aloha Stadium in Halawa Heights, I am definitely in favor of the redevelopment of the 98-acre property that is nearly 45 years old. The Star-Advertiser has been writing about the stadium's future for quite some time now, but by reading the Sunday paper this morning (1/27/19), it looks like the State

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Posted in Blog
Jan. 15, 2019

Using Your Hawaii VA Loan // The Home Buying Opportunity of a Lifetime!

Using your Hawaii VA loan can provide you a nest egg for retirement. For many military personnel, being stationed on Oahu in the State of Hawaii is like a dream come true.  Being stationed in “paradise” where many people cannot even afford to vacation, and you get chosen to work here?!   It’s like hitting the jackpot in Las Vegas!  Now if you really want to hit the financial jackpot, there is an even bigger opportunity for

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