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Expedia Group & Airbnb Signed Agreement with Kauai County

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami has reached landmark agreements with Expedia Group and Airbnb, two online hosting platforms for vacation rentals that will help the county enforce its vacation rental laws. It is the first time that a Hawaii government has entered into a cooperative agreement with a travel platform.

Kauai allows short-term rentals to operate in areas that are designated for hotels and in designated vacation rental areas (VDA) or properties with a special vacation rental permit. The county’s recent agreements with Expedia Group and Airbnb are designed to help it track and regulate vacation rentals while allowing legal properties to continue operations.

It was agreed that vacation rentals will be required to display a government-issued tax map key, or TMK, in order to appear on their platforms. Currently listed properties without a TMK number have 60 days to provide one, or they will be deactivated, and new properties must provide a TMK number prior to being listed.

Expedia Group and Airbnb also have both agreed to provide monthly reports to the county featuring the TMK numbers. This will help the Kauai County to determine if a vacation rental is compliant with County laws. Airbnb has agreed to remove properties that do not comply.

“We are grateful to Mayor Kawakami and County Planning Director Ka‘āina Hull for working with us on an agreement that preserves the benefits of short-term rentals for residents and the local economy, while providing the County the tools to bring rental owners and operators into compliance with local law,” said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb’s head of public policy in Hawaii, in a statement.

“The signing comes at a critical time as Kauai takes steps toward the safe recovery of its visitor industry,” stated Amanda Pedigo, vice president of government affairs at Expedia Group. “Expedia Group is committed to continued collaboration with the Mayor’s office and community stakeholders in the months ahead.”

The agreements have been in the works for nearly a year.

May Housing Data Largely Encouraging News for Economy

As the economic recovery proceeds, the housing market will be a big factor in the recovery’s pace according to Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The latest numbers are encouraging. They suggest consumers are willing to take the risk of buying a new home and have the resources to make purchases. Interest rates remain low and the pent up demand from the delayed spring buying season give hope that housing market will play a key role.

Like all economic data, the housing measures were depressed substantially in March and April. However, all of them—with the exception of Existing Home Sales (-10 percent)—increased substantially in May. Pending home sales had the biggest leap, growing over 44 percent compared to a 22 percent decline in April. It declined a similar amount in March.

The NAHB Housing Market Index, New Home Sales, Building Permits, and Housing Starts, were all up smartly too after declines in March and April. Home prices ticked up by 1 percent in April and March. The strong housing market rebound is in line with other data points that show consumers returning to spending again, but the rebound is stronger in the housing market. This suggests consumers feel their incomes remain strong and will continue to be strong in the future.

COVID, Income, and Loan Qualification

Let’s review some basic requirements on income if you do decide to seek a refinance or also to purchase a property. Government regulators are not dumb, and the folks at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are constantly monitoring the economic situation and tweaking the steps lenders must complete to ensure every loan funded meets the guidelines. Alan Van Zee of Hawaii Mortgage Company, Inc provides the following guidelines to follow.

If you are one of the lucky ones to be employed, either you weren’t impacted because your employer has an “essential” business, or maybe with the easing of restrictions you are now going back to work, lenders are required confirm if your current hours and pay differ from pre-covid times. Since underwriting is based on tax returns and W2’s your current pay stubs and a telephone verification of employment will be scrutinized to make sure your current income qualifies you for your loan. If you are unemployed or getting furlough pay, those sources of money are not considered income, and can’t be used to qualify.

Self-Employed borrowers are being scrutinized harsher. It makes sense, because as an employee for a company, underwriters don’t review the viability of your employer’s company. But in the case of the self-employed borrower, even if they paid themselves regular pay checks, the underwriter has to see if the company is affected by the disaster to our economy. To accomplish this, self-employed borrowers are now required to provide updated Profit & Loss statements, along with business bank statements. The underwriters review these documents to look for corroborating data. If your P&L statement shows your business had $10,000 in gross revenue in May 2020, your business bank statement for the same period should show $10,000 in deposits. It is important to note for you self-employed people out there that government stimulus money such as PPP does not count towards your income.

With all of the above in mind, how do you know if you qualify or not? That’s where having a straightforward honest conversation with your Loan Officer comes in. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It is always better for you Loan Officer to know exactly what your situation is. That way you can work together to see if your financing will become an issue or not. If you are looking to refinance a Loan Officer may say you look good on paper due to savings and past income but in reality, if your business is dead in the water because of being laid off or your job is considered non-essential, it will be difficult if not impossible to get a loan. Living off savings right now does not permit refinancing.

In summary, talk with your lender and be upfront first before trying to purchase or refinance.

Life Changes After COVID-19: Where will you be?

Ever since COVID-19 we have been quarantined in our homes, re-purposing areas within our homes into spaces we might not of ever consider before. The dining room table became the new office, the kitchen a school room, a corner of the bedroom your sanctuary. The density of the community felt smothering. Our homes may be pushing the limits of comfort and space. Are you beginning to think of a different kind of property, new features, amenities or location that will provide a revamped way of life?

As Jimmy Buffet sang in “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”, this experience may have you looking to relocate altogether or put your money toward a dream “shelter-in-place” escape instead.

Whether you may want a second home that can be monetized as a vacation rental to offset costs and provide some income or a location that promotes a healthy living environment, Kauai offers both.
Properties boasting outdoor living areas with huge patios, outdoor kitchens, TVs, fire pits and pools that can be used for relaxation, fun, exercise and meditation will become the new norm along with flexible work arrangements. Functional floor plans that can used for multiple purposes, such as a workspace, schooling, hobbies, yoga, meditation, guest or in-laws will be key features sought after and are abundant on Kauai.

As we transition to a gradual reopening of the U.S., homes and locations that provide a much-needed escape and the chance to experience an entirely new lifestyle several months of the year – if not as a full-time residence will be highly desirable. Kauai has mountain, beach, resort, and coastal properties all which promote a healthy less dense living environment and outdoor lifestyle.

If you wish to explore Kauai’s options, Donna Rice, senior real estate advisor with Elite Pacific Properties is available to discuss your needs to explore the right location and property that would meet your personal space and lifestyle. She can be reached at 808-651-2840 or Search for properties ideas at
Mahalo for your time.

Kauai, Hawaii Island Real Estate COVID-19 Analysis

Economist unpacks disruptions to
Kauai, Hawaii Island real estate

Paul Brewbaker shares his COVID-19 analysis and forecast
with a joint meeting of three boards of REALTORS®.
— In an historic joint presentation to three REALTOR®
associations on two islands, prominent Hawaii economist Paul Brewbaker provided his insights on the
impact of COVID-19 on the Hawaii economy, the real estate market, and prospects for Kauai and
Hawaii Island specifically.
Brewbaker gave a wide-ranging hour-long live presentation to over 500 members of the Kauai
Board of Realtors®, the Hawaii Island REALTORS® and the West Hawaii Association of Realtors®. All
three are customer boards of Hawaii Information Service, their Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and a
statewide real estate tech and data firm.
“As you know everything was fine until four weeks ago, and then we went off a cliff together,”
Brewbaker said. “But for the contagion, really nothing was fundamentally wrong with the economy.”
Brewbaker was working with home sales and active listing data through March 30, 2020,
provided by HIS, to prepare his “Hawaii Real Estate 2020” report.
He discussed the COVID-19 pandemic as a “Black Swan” event — rare, unpredictable, and
impactful, like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2011, the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and the
global equity market meltdown in late 2018 as the result of the U.S.-China trade war.
“These events are worth remembering,” Brewbaker said. “They’ve never been as big as the one
we’re experiencing right now, but when things go back to normal, normal will still have these shocks.”

He noted that Hawaii had just had its own “Black Swan” event with the 2018 eruption
ofKilauea’s east rift zone in Puna.
“The East rift zone eruption was a speed bump in increasing valuations,” Brewbaker said. “If
you’re willing to bet that whatever made the neighbor islands attractive will continue to be factors
influencing investor decisions going out into the 2020s, there’s no reason to believe a path like this
couldn’t be restored.”
In terms of the distribution of home prices, he said Hawaii Island has lower numbers because
the East Side of the island has the state’s most affordable properties. The Kona side is more similar to
Kauai in terms of pricing, and the Hilo side is more similar to Kauai in terms of transaction volumes.
The key question put to Brewbaker was what the future would look like for Hawaii real estate.
“If you say you’re doing forecasting right now, you’re not,” he said, noting that the current
situation is of a scale never before observed. “But I would expect a pull back in sale volumes and some
compression in valuations.”
He was also optimistic about some of the changes seen across the industry, such as transaction
acceleration through paperless, all-digital tools, and the adoption of virtual tools for property showings
and other work. We might also see shift toward less dense, less urban communities, he said.
When asked when things would stabilize in a “new normal,” Brewbaker said a lot depends on
what Hawaii does right now.
“If we get the daily case counts down, we implement contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine,
maybe in a year — maybe in 18 months — we’ll reach the day when a version of herd immunity or a
vaccine becomes available,” he said. “But my own impression is that the state is not leading as much
as following, and not following fast enough.”
Following Brewbaker’s presentation, he answered questions from REALTORS® during the
video conference, then provided written answers to the remaining questions. Recorded video of his
presentation, his presentation slides, and written answers are now available to MLS members.

Hawaii Real Estate 2020 Takeaways
Brewbaker provided the following five key takeaways:

1. Hawaii COVID-19 case counts are responding to social distancing and sheltering-in-place
protocols, “bending the curve” in successful mitigation, leading to a possible stabilization
by May, at which time risks of revived pandemic infection will have to be managed
2. The sudden emergence of Hawaii’s coronavirus infectious threat precipitously decreased
new home listings for sale, international and domestic travel, and interest rates, and has
also disrupted supply chains and clouded the investment outlook, even for ongoing
construction and development.
3. Big Island regional and Kauai housing markets were in a relatively stable, extended
trajectory of modest, single-digit annual price appreciation and sales volume growth.
This trajectory will be disrupted by the sudden stop associated with the novel
coronavirus, but it can still serve as a reasonable longer-term benchmark for housing
market returns on investment during the inevitable recovery.
4. Among the lessons from the global influenza pandemic from one century ago (1918-’19)
are the facts that recession can be sharp but comparatively brief, that risk of second or
subsequent infection waves must be taken seriously, and that it’s easy to forget how the
risks of Black Swan events are ever-present.
5. With tourism as Hawaii’s principle export, and primary channel of transmission of the
pandemic’s economic effects abroad (although not infection, 80 percent of which in
Hawaii was introduced by returning residents), prior experience does not compare in
magnitude of economic impacts, but does offer insights into the V- and U-shaped nature
of these experiences.

Released by Hawaii Information Services

Forbearance – Don’t Skip That Payment till You Read This!

Thousands in Hawaii, and millions across the country are now unemployed and unable to make their mortgage payments.  There are also those that own investment property where the tenant is in the same situation and can no longer pay rent.

The Feds have come to the rescue and are telling millions of Americans to skip paying their mortgage.  Frankly, they have done a terrible job on communicating to the public, and as always, there’s always going to be good and bad with any decision.  Before you do decide to not pay your mortgage this month, there’s some very important information you need to know (especially with what happens after – see below).

What is Forbearance?

Forbearance is not payment forgiveness!  Forbearance is your lender allowing to make that payment at a later date – it doesn’t eliminate the payment you skipped.

How Long is the Forbearance Period?

If your loan was sold to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or is a government loan such as FHA, VA or USDA, you can request to delay the payments you owe for up to 6 months.  There is also a provision to then possibly extend the forbearance period for another 6 months after that.

What Happens AFTER the Forbearance Period?

At the end of the forbearance period you are expected to make a payment for all the past months of payments missed.  That’s right, if you skipped 6 months of payments, you’ll owe all 6 months plus your current 7th month payment as well.  If you extend for a year, then you’ll need to come up with the 12 payments, plus your current month’s payment for a total of 13.

What Happens if I can’t pay the balance owed at the end of the forbearance period?

The guidance given to the loan servicers so far is to try and work out a modification of your loan.  That could resemble paying the back amounts over a specific time period or tacking it onto the end of your loan.  One thing it does not mean is forgiving you of the amount you owe during the forbearance.

As with the housing meltdown in 2008 and the years of loan modification applications submitted, the servicer does hold the ultimate right to accept or reject a modification request.  If they deem you are financially unable to continue making on time payments, they can force you into foreclosure

What Happens to my Credit Score if I choose Forbearance?

Your loan servicer is not supposed to report any negative information (late payments) during the forbearance period.  By law, your servicer must report your loan is currently in forbearance.  They also must report $0.00 payment received for each month you don’t make a payment.  Be mindful that while forbearance will not alter your credit score, creditors will know you are not paying your mortgage.

I know in these extraordinary times one must do what is best for their current financial situation.  But if you are one of the lucky that is still employed and able to meet your financial obligations, do not take advantage of the system thinking you’re going to get something for nothing.  Accepting a forbearance has serious consequences.

If you cannot make your mortgage payment, PLEASE contact your loan servicer to arrange a plan.  DO NOT simply stop paying your mortgage payment!

Compliments of Alan Van Zee, Hawaii Mortgage Company, Inc.

10 Simple Ways to Engage Kids Struggling with Social Distancing

March 19, 2020

As schools begin shutting down, parents are wondering how to balance working at home with children. Here are some ideas you can implement to alleviate cabin fever


The spread of the coronavirus in the United States hit a major milestone this week — it’s reached all 50 states and Puerto Rico. As a result, federal, state and local governments have enacted stricter social distancing measures, including a number of shelter-in-place orders and statewide or district-wide school closures.

These measures mean many Americans are adjusting to a new way of life that includes working from home while managing their children’s daily activities, which would’ve taken place at school.

Missouri-based realtor and former elementary school teacher Liz Bruch told Inman the key to managing work and children is keeping a set schedule, which relieves stress for parents and provides reassurance to children.

“Keeping a schedule and keeping a consistent structure just like they would have in a classroom is important,” Bruch said. “They need to know that they have a certain routine in place, especially when they’re feeling unsure or that it’s more lackadaisical than a normal classroom.”

“Posting it up on a fridge or a playroom is a good visual reminder,” she added. “It gives them reassurance and helps them to set their expectations.”

Bruch said it’s important for parents to strike a balance between work and play for their children and to use online educational and entertainment resources to lighten the load.

“They’re going to feel stir-crazy as is, so it’s important to give them breaks,” she said. “Utilize these educational resources, whether it’s online study guides or teachers offering virtual lessons. They exist.”

With that in mind, here are 10 things you can do to keep your children engaged during social distancing:

  1.  Start the day with meditation

Meditation and mental health app Calm released a number of quick, easy-to-do meditations and relaxing playlists. Six meditations with titles such as “A Heart Less Heavy” and “Softening Fear” will help you and your family work through anxiety and panic caused by the coronavirus.

Calm’s Sleep Stories will lull your children to sleep for naptime, with narrations by Matthew McConaughey and David Walliams. Lastly, Calm offers a number of playlists with spa-like music that soothes the mind and soul.

  1. Make time for easy learning with Scholastic’s Learn At Home Program

In light of Covid-19 school closures, Scholastic is offering a free learning program, Learn At Home. The program provides four weeks of lessons timed at three hours per day for all grade levels.

Kindergarteners can learn about how plants grow, while first and second graders are introduced to weather patterns and the environment. Older elementary school students can take a virtual field trip to the Museum of the American Revolution, and middle and high schoolers can learn about chemistry through a fun lesson called “Extreme Candy.”

“We designed Scholastic Learn At Home knowing that administrators and teachers need to create extensive virtual learning plans, quickly, and that students need uplifting and engaging experiences,” Scholastic Classroom Magazines Editor-in-Chief Lauren Tarshis told The Hill. “Our hope is that even though daily routines are being disrupted and students may not have valuable time in school with their educators, together we can support meaningful learning at home while it is necessary.”

  1. Host a Netflix Party for your children and their friends

Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that enables Netflix users to gather virtually and watch a show or movie. To get started, choose a movie, and click the “NP” logo. Once you do, the Netflix Party extension will generate a URL invite code that you can share with partygoers.

The extension also has a chat function, so everyone can share their reactions in real-time. If you’re concerned about what might happen in the chat (looking at you, tweens and teens), you can ask a parent to act as a monitor or shut the chat function off.

For small children, PJ MasksShaun the SheepThomas and Friends and Octonauts are currently Netflix’s top picks. For older children, Stranger ThingsUnbreakable Kimmy SchmidtOne Day at a Time and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse are good options.

  1. Bolster creativity and practice writing skills with The New York Times’Learning Network

Perfect for high schoolers, The New York Times‘ Learning Network offers free, thought-provoking articles, quizzes, lessons and writing prompts. The Times covers current events, with a quiz dispelling Covid-19 myths, and basic subjects, including language arts, science, mathematics, social studies and arts.

  1. Help your children battle procrastination with this Smarter Living guide

Children (and adults) may be tempted to procrastinate on important tasks while working from home. In this installment of Smarter Living, opinion columnist Adam Grant shares that procrastination isn’t a matter of laziness, but a matter of “avoiding negative emotions.”

Gleaning information from the world’s top psychologists, Grant encourages us to stop worrying about perfection, to adjust our schedules to fit when we’re naturally most energized and to consider working near someone (which in this situation, could be a spouse or loved one you live with).

For parents, this could mean allowing your night owls to tackle take-home assignments in the evening, allowing children to work in pairs, and taking time to talk about anxiety and fears they have about missing school or the virus.

  1. Have storytime with celebrity guests

As reported by Inman’s Veronika Bondarenko, celebrities are bringing stories to life by hosting daily storytimes on social media. Keep an eye on Josh Gad, Jennifer Gardner, Amy Adams and Reese Witherspoon’s social media feeds for new reads. If you’re not a social media lover, then download Libby on iOS and Android to access children’s audiobooks at your local library.

  1. Use YouTube to find educational videos

Although YouTube is primarily known as an entertainment platform, the site has plenty of channels that offer educational content perfect for children and adults.

SciShow Kids offers short videos for young children on topics such as “How are raisins made?” and “Why is fire hot?” Crash Course Kids offers more fun, partially animated science videos fit for older elementary and middle school students, and the main Crash Course channel covers everything from philosophy to media literacy.

Thought CafeThe Brain ScoopSmarterEveryDay, and ASAPScience and the PBS Idea Channel also have plenty of thought and conversation-provoking videos.

  1. Let them play outside

If you’re not living in an area with a shelter-in-place mandate, consider allowing your children to play outside in a fenced-in backyard, or take them for an afternoon stroll in your neighborhood (remember, to stay at least 3 feet away from others). Use this opportunity to get some fresh air, or teach them schoolyard games that you used to play. Freeze tag, anyone?!

  1. Loosen your restrictions on tablets and games

Inman design guru Ted Irvine suggests keeping a tablet or gaming device charged up to quickly calm anxious children. “Audiobooks and Nintendo Switch are really good things for parents to have around when the kids meltdown,” he said.

Although you don’t want to let them play it all day, have a few go-to games uploaded when you need a quick fix in the midst of a work rush. Animal Crossing, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and Super Mario Party are bestsellers.

  1. Rely on your community

Although most of us are living in near or complete isolation these days, Bruch said it doesn’t mean that we can’t connect. “I’m happy to offer resources and help to anyone who needs it,” she said while mentioning there are thousands of teachers and parents who are quickly connecting via social media to conduct virtual lessons, storytimes and babysitting sessions.