Property Inspections: Choosing an inspector

The section of the Hawaii purchase contract that concerns property inspections is section J-1 entitled “Inspection, Maintenance, and Warranties.” This section is a contingency which gives the buyer a specific number of days to conduct various inspections and / or research (permits, zoning etc) at the end of which the contingency is either removed with the sale moving forward or the buyer may opt to cancel the contract without penalty. (You will owe for the cost of the inspection which is typically deduced from your earnest money deposit prior to cancellation and return of your funds.)

It is strongly recommended that you hire a professional inspector familiar with Hawaii construction standards and problems associated with a tropical climate. The inspection cost is usually paid out of escrow and will run approximately $200 for a 1 bedroom condo and go up based on square footage and number of bedrooms in the property. It’s money well spent.

Contrary to what some buyers think, inspectors are not regulated or licensed by the State of Hawaii, therefore it is important to do your due diligence in choosing your inspector. Most real estate agents will provide a list of inspectors or you can find a list in the yellow pages or online.

How do you become an inspector? Some inspectors start out as general contractors while others obtain their education from the various professional schools offering training in the field. If an inspector says he is licensed or certified, find out what type of license it is and who provided the certification. TWo national organizations offer education and certification programs for home inspectors — the American Society of Home Inspectors ( and the International Association of Certified Home inspectors ( There used to be a third organization, the National Association of Home Inspectors, but the organization shut down in 2016 (link to”
Each organization’s Web site offers standards of practice and a code of ethics for its affiliated inspectors, and each allows you to search its database for a certified inspector. These are just a few of the many reputable associations providing education and certification.

To become an association affiliate, the inspector must pass a test to gain their certification. To maintain good standing as a member, continuing education is mandatory. If inspectors want to carry errors and omissions insurance, their carrier will require that they belong to an approved professional organization. Asking if they have e & o insurance and continuing education are good questions to ask you inspector, along with their level of experience, their professional affiliation, where they received their inspection training, and how many inspection they have conducted.

All legitimate inspectors welcome calls from potential buyers with questions as to their qualifications and scope of their inspection, which is the topic for my next blog. Stay tuned….


Elaine Schaefer

Hale Honu Condominiums – A colorful history

Few condos in Princeville have as colorful a history as Hale Honu, located on Hanalei Plantation Road, which defines the boundary of Princeville Community Association controlled land. Those of you who have entered Princeville by turning off the main highway at the Police Station drove right past the Hale Honu complex. If you have departed from the Makai golf course heading Mauka (mountain side) for the main highway, again- you went past Hale Honu.

Hale Honu was originally created as Princeville Staff Housing back in 1971. In 1984 the units were converted to fee simple condos and made available to the general buying public. The units were extensively damaged by Iniki in 1992, but most continued to be occupied for about 2 years after the hurricane, as the insurance claim was processed. The replacement buildings were designed to a much higher standard than the original and feature all steel framing, T111 siding and composition shingle roof in place of the old shake roof. I distinctly remember driving past these units post Iniki and seeing the steel framing. They were certainly ahead of their time. The new buildings were completed in 1995 and reoccupied in early 1996. Even today if you look at the tax information for this unit, the roof shows at “shake” with a construction date of 1971.

Most residents of Hale Honu are long term residents, both resident owners and long term rentals. With only 10 duplex type buildings on over 3 acres, Hale Honu is one of the lowest density complexes in Princeville. The duplex configuration gives the complex the feel of a single family residence as opposed to that of a more typical condo complex.

Hale Honu’s location is unique among the choices to live in Princeville. It’s only a block to the local Fire, Paramedic, and Police Station, then another block to Princeville Shopping Center where you can buy groceries at Foodland, dine out at CJ’s or Paradise Grill or enjoy some great shopping. Both are easy walks. Across from Hale Honu are 14 estate lots of approximately 2-3 acres each that have recently sold or listed from $1 million to $3 million each. Some fabulous homes are going up on these lots.

Each night at 9 PM, the Hanalei Plantation Road gate into Princeville is locked which dramatically lowers traffic through this area making it very quiet.  Lushly landscaped, Hale Honu is a great place to invest, retire or purchase as your first “home.”

At present, there is only one Hale Honu listed which is a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath with apprx. 1085 sqft of living space for $475,000. This is the least expensive 3 bedroom condo on the North Shore. There is also a unit that is being offered as a fractional. Here is a list of both the whole ownership and the fractional:


For information on the fractional or whole ownership Hale Honu or any of the other units, please do not hesitate to contact me. Here are a few pictures of Hale Honu 10B to pique your interest-

This is the exterior of 10B. The entire complex has mature landscaping:

Here is the entry lanai-there is also a very private back lanai:


Good sized upstairs bedroom.  All bedrooms are upstairs for privacy:


This is the view from the livingroom looking out to the lanai:


If you want more pictures of this unit or the fractional unit please let me know.  In the meantime, enjoy the cooling breezes and warm sun!


Elaine Schaefer

What is a typical paradise morning?

What is it really like living here? Let me describe the beginning of an average day for me. It is Monday morning- the sky has not yet come to life at 6 AM but I can see the sun announcing its impending arrival over the horizon. Judging from the relatively few clouds in the sky, it promises to be a beautiful day. The breeze is blowing softly as I head out on foot for the RE/MAX office at the Princeville center with a stop enroute at one of my listings.

As I walk down the road, a friend greets me who is out power-walking with her neighbor. If you like anonymity; a small Island is not the place to remain incognito. You can count on being recognized and greeted even after just a few days of living here. The occasional cars on the road are outnumbered by the walkers and joggers enjoying the early morning.

As I walk up to the Princeville center on the walk / jog path that borders the golf course, I can’t help but smile as I look over at the mountains. The sun is hitting low, emphasizing every valley and crevice that runs along the ridge. You could take a picture of the same spot on the mountains every day and every day the picture would be different and unique. Don’t believe me? Come see for yourself.

I say hello to a neighbor out for her daily walk as I approach the Princeville center. It’s now about 6:45. The fragrance of coffee permeates the air as the Spinner coffee shop located at the courtyard entrance prepares for their steady stream of daily customers. The only real disruption to the softness of the morning are the delivery trucks as they head over to Foodland.

I take care of my business in the office and head back home. It’s now almost 7 AM. More cars are on the road heading for work. The bus carrying the Unlimited Construction Crew turns down Wyllie Road to deposit its occupants at the Starwood timeshare resort currently under construction. When this project is completed, there will be timeshare, a small restaurant and I believe a spa. This development is located on acreage which had afforded many Puamana condo owners a view of the ocean. No more. Any views to be had now will be seen between timeshare buildings.

Construction on Kauai is so robust that some companies, like “Unlimited” bring their crews in from the mainland. While there are many fine construction workers on Kauai, some value a good surf day above a day on the job. I’ve heard that some Contractors shun hiring those who show up with surfboards on their vehicles. Since I’m not a surfer, I don’t know the value of a “good surf day” but I’m told it’s awesome.

I finally get back home to the Cliffs condos and decide to stroll out on the bluff to see the ocean. It’s always fun to see the visitors lounging in the ocean bluff chairs, often looking at nothing more than water itself. Most don’t seem to care if they see whales or not, they enjoy the majesty of the ocean just as much.

Since the Cliffs complex is both timeshare and whole ownership, there are always guests out marveling at what can easily be taken for granted, it is so abundant. They constantly remind me of the amazing place in which we live. I watch them pick up the fallen Plumeria blossoms surprised at how fragrant they are. Blue sky, bright sun, gentle breezes, peaceful ocean, what’s not to like….It’s a beautiful day. Time to go in and get some work done. That’s the start of my day………. It could be the start of yours too….

Aloha Elaine Schaefer

Princeville Condo overview for the week of April 29 to May 6

Compared to the number of condos on the market in Princeville, it was a relatively quiet week. Two new units came on the market, two went into escrow, three closed, one of which was a presale of a new Nihilani unit from the developer, and there were several price changes, both up and down. Here is the activity:

Copyright 5/6/2007 by Hawaii Information Service


MLS # Tp St DOM Taxkey Tnr Price Location Land area Details
194901 T A 6 4-5-4-5-24-85 FS $869,000 Nihilani At Princeville Resort #29A 1,874 #29A 3/2.5

194565 T A 6 4-5-4-5-16-37 FS $879,000 Alii Kai At Hanalei #5101 1,086 #5-101 2/2.0


MLS # Tp St DOM Taxkey Tnr Price Location Land area Details
188069 T A 47 4-5-4-12-10-6 FS $799,000 Emmalani Court #214 1,192 #214 2/2.0


MLS # Tp St DOM Taxkey Tnr Price Location Land area Details
193039 T C 40 4-5-4-5-23-53 FS $588,000 Plantation At Princeville #1411 1,153 #1411 2/2.0

180015 T C 318 4-5-4-5-4-18 FS $695,000 Ka’eo Kai Ph I #8B 1,498 #8B 3/3.0


MLS # Tp St DOM Taxkey Tnr Price Location Land area Details
195355 T S 0 4-5-4-5-24-16 FS $750,000 Nihilani At Princeville Resort #6A 1,874 #6A 3/2.5
SOLD 2/12/2007 for $750,000 (CNV) DOM 0

187772 T S 10 4-5-4-12-3-26 FS $890,000 Hanalei Bay Villas #26 1,248 #26 2/2.0
SOLD 5/2/2007 for $860,000 (CNV) DOM 10

190225 T S 43 4-5-4-12-10-3 FS $930,000 Emmalani Court #211 1,456 #211 2/2.0
SOLD 5/4/2007 for $900,000 (CNV) DOM 43


MLS # Tp St DOM Taxkey Tnr Price Location Land area Details
179543 SH A 303 4-5-4-15-21-28 FS $390,000+ Sandpiper Village I #128 1,042 #128 2/2.0

184581 T A 222 4-5-4-5-23-34 FS $679,000+ Plantation At Princeville #912 1,153 #912 2/2.0

186775 T A 170 4-5-4-5-24-58 FS $885,000+ Nihilani At Princeville Resort #20A 1,874 #20A 3/2.5

191939 T A 69 4-5-4-6-1-45 FS $954,000- Villas Of Kamalii #45 1,825 #45 3/3.0

193436 T A 36 4-5-4-12-11-1 FS $1,449,000- Puu Poa #101 1,359 #101 2/2.0

The Nihilani that just came on the market, unit 29A for $869 is a resale. Most all of the developer units were sold prior to construction although there are some units still available from the developer in the final release. Unfortunately, these units are priced close or equal to the resale units since developer’s pricing goes up with each release. When Nihilani was first released you were lucky to get in on the ground floor at pricing that was quite bit less. Right now there are 9 Nihilani units on the market starting at $630 (which is less than what the seller paid for it…) up to $929,500.

It’s great to see some movement in the condos as there are ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN (137!!!) condos currently offered for sale. If you have questions on any of these units or any of the condo complexes, please email your questions.

That’s enough for the real estate today. I was absolutely gorgeous with strong trades and bright blue skis. Most headed out for the beach or the pool judging from the many burned legs and arms I saw while at Foodland tonight. Have a great week and stay tuned for your next update…..

Aloha Elaine

Kai’ulani of Princeville

I finally had the opportunity to preview one of the new Kai’ulani “condos” which are located on an 18 acre parcel in Queen Emma’s Bluffs, one of the most prestigious areas of Princeville. I use the word “condo” loosely because these units are so luxurious, so large and configured in such a way that they feel more like a single family residence.

The Kai’ulani concept is one of a low density luxury residential community consisting of 77 attached homes in varying configurations from 1900 sqft to 2870 sqft. The basic features includes upscale design, finishes and amenities located in a spectacular setting on the eighth fairway of the Prince Golf Course, with three heated pools, spa, two BBQ areas, a half mile lighted walking path and waterfall features in the common areas.

All 77 homes will have an attached two-car garage. Planned exterior features consist of concrete tile roofing, synthetic stucco exteriors with natural stone detailing, lush landscaped yards, and stamped concrete or flagstone driveways. All homes have assisted-cooling throughout and will include such amenities as slab granite countertops, Aristocratic cabinetry, and Subzero/Wolf built-in appliances. Most of these units are still under construction with completion scheduled for 2008

The Kai’ulani I previewed, listed for $2.1M, is one of the few that can be seen due, in part, to the on-going construction. It is a 3 bedroom 3.5 bath 2,443 sqft. unit with every amenity and luxury you could want.  A large water feature (sure to be quite beautiful) is under construction outside.  Kai’ulani certainly sets a new standard for luxury “condo” living in Princeville, providing the size and feel of a home with the ease of condo living. There are still several “pre-sale” Kai’ulani units on the market starting at $1.7M. For more information or to see any available units please call or email me at 808 639 2935 or Here is an aerial view of the site:

Here is a view of the unit:

Until next time,

Aloha from Elaine!

Princeville condo update for the week of April 23 to 30

Another beautiful day in Paradise and I am thankful to be here!  I just returned from a weekend in the Waikiki area which makes me appreciate Kauai even more. I never rent a car, preferring to walk to the Waikiki beach or over to the Ala Moana shopping center.   Just too much traffic, everyone speeding to get from here to there with traffic bumper to bumper during rush hour and many other hours of the day. What a contrast to the peacefulness and slower lifestyle of Kauai.  I was very happy to come home.

 Last week we had more units come onto the market than what into escrow.  It’s still a great time to be a buyer.  If you have questions about any of these units do not hesitate to contact me.  Here is last week’s activity:




An explanation of Condo Maintenance Fees

One of the first things I discuss with condo buyers are the maintenance fees, also referred to as HOA fees (Home Owners Association) or AOAO fees.  (Association of Apartment Owners)  All of these terms refer to a monthly fee charged to each condo owner for the management, insurance, upkeep, maintenance and future repairs (reserve funds) needed for the given complex.  Typically, maintenance fees cover the following:

Property Management
Professional Fees- Legal
Accounting Fees Audit
Common Area Electricity
Water & Sewer
Community Association Dues Supplies
Pool Service
Refuse Removal-General
Pest Control Taxes-General Excise
        Real Property Tax on Grounds (Land)
        Real  Property Tax on “Structure”
Insurance-Package Fire, Hurricane, Liability                                                             

A few also cover electricity within the unit as well as cable TV. 

Maintenance fees vary widely depending on the project but generally start around $400 month and go up.  Buyer’s need to know this from the start in order to accurately determine their buying power.  

In addition, they need to be aware that maintenance fees can and do increase over time.  Many complexes on the Island faced increases this year caused by spiraling insurance costs due to the Hurricane damage suffered on the mainland.  For example, the Cliff’s condo fees went up 15% as of the first of the year because of this – from apprx. $495 to $575. 

No part of the fee is “profit” for the Association. Condo Associations are non-profit corporations set up to administer the building on behalf of the owners. The directors are almost always unpaid volunteer unit-owners. Larger projects will have a paid staff usually consisting of a licensed Community Association Manager and staff.

Outside of normal maintenance fees, a unit owner can be exposed to “Special Assessments” for large maintenance items for which adequate reserves do not exist as well as for updating and improving the property (“capital improvements”).  This occurs less often but can happen. 

Condo associations are required by State law to maintain a reserve fund to pay for anticipated future repairs, like repaving or reproofing.  If funds are not available to pay for needed upgrades or repairs, then the Association will vote on a special assessment.   

Although these fees may seem high, when you sit down and calculate the cost of all these items for a single family home: yard maintenance, property insurance, building upkeep and maintenance, pest control and management for a single family home, these numbers start to make sense. 

Plus, in a condo you can be gone for extended trips or vacations and not have to worry if your gardener showed up this week !  I like my large “front yard” that disappears over the bluff into the ocean.  I have a gardener that comes each day and rakes up the Plumeria blossoms that fell from the trees the day before. Someone makes sure the trees branches don’t get so long as to scrape against my lanai.  They leave a note on my door letting me know when to expect pest control.  (condo fees at the Cliffs include exterior as well as interior pest control.)  All I have to do is show up and enjoy the view!  For me, condo living is ideal. 

If you have questions about the maintenance fees of any Princeville or Kauai condos, please do not hesitate to ask.  Below is a link to a spreadsheet which will show all the maintenance fees of condos currently on the market:


Aloha for now, Elaine

Princeville Condo Week update for April 15-22


What I hope to do on a weekly basis is to present a synopsis of what occured in the Princeville Condo market the week prior.  This information includes new listings, what properties went into escrow ( if any) expirations, withdrawals, sales and price changes.  Attached below is an Excel link for this week’s update:


Just for fun, I’m attaching a photo of the beautiful sunrise as it came up over the trees this morning.  It was a beautiful day today.  Hope yours was the same!


Aloha, Elaine

Cliffs condo analysis

It’s always fun to sit down and take a look at activity within a given condo complex. Recently, I was asked to look at the Cliffs at Princeville. I especially like to look at the starting price of a condo compared to current pricing. A couple of years back you often saw price increases with “Days on the Market” of a couple of months, if that. Now, if a seller wants to sell, lowering the price is often the ticket and “days on the market” can be extensive. I’ve attached an Excel spreadsheet showing all the whole ownership Cliffs Condos (fractionals not included) currently on the market along with the one unit in escrow and all the units that have sold since 4/1/06.


One unit, 4303, is currently in escrow. This unit came on the market at $699,000 and finally found a buyer while listed at $635,000. We won’t know the actual sales price until the sale closes and is recorded. It has a nice ocean view from the lanai which is shown below. (To see this photo along with the others associated with this property you can go to and seach MLS # 184227.


There’s another 2 bedroom unit currently on the market listed for $649,500. This unit is in building 2 which has valley and occasionally a very distant ocean view. Below is the view from this 2 bedroom unit. Additional photos can be found at the above mentioned link by entering MLS # 188728.


To understand the pricing you must know where the units are. The 4 digit Cliffs room number starts with the building number, the second number is the floor and the last two numbers are the room numbers. The room numbers run right to left as you stand facing the buildings with the first unit (ie 7201) and the last unit (7206) located on the end of the buildings. The number of units per building varies but if you are looking for 4303 it’s best to head toward the middle of building 4 and go to the top floor.

All the buildings are 3 floors. The first two floors are all 1 bedroom 2 bath units and the third floor is the same with the addition of a second loft bedroom. Now you know, whenever you see a “3” as the second number in the unit address you are looking for a 2 bedroom unit. There are few 4 bedroom units which are basically a combination of the first and second floor units, with the downstairs kitchen and living area replaced with 2 extra bedrooms. You have 1 bedroom/ 2 baths with living area upstairs and 3 bedrooms 2 baths downstairs.

As I said once before, location within the complex is key especially if the complex has ocean and non-ocean view units as does the Cliffs. I’ve attached a site map for this complex below:


You can easily see that building 8 has exceptional ocean views, followed closely by buildings 9 and 6. Building 7 is next in location, followed by building 5 which has ocean view but sits back behind buildings 6 and 7. Building 4 has some views from an angle down Edward Road while building 3 occasionally has a tiny peak of the ocean but mainly has garden views, along with building 2 and 1, which borders Edward road. If you prefer a lush garden view, building 2 might be the one for you.

If you have questions on these or any other units, please do not hesitate to ask. You just may find your question answered as a future blog topic! If you prefer a move private venue, my email is

Aloha and Mahalo!


Condo living in Princeville – an overview

Looking for a condo on Kauai? Princeville is a great place for one stop shopping with condos galore to meet every price range, every amenity, every view and they’re all contained within the world famous Princeville at Hanalei Resort! Granted, there are other condos throughout the Island, all offering various features and benefits, but for overall choice, Princeville can’t be beat. I admit to some degree of prejudice here, after all, my blog is about Princeville condos and I do live in a condo in Princeville, but even if those two facts were not in evidence, I would still place Princeville at the top of the list when it comes to condo living.

Let me tell you why. First you have to imagine living in an ocean view resort community where the beauty of mother nature is carefully enhanced with landscaping and architecture along with all the amenities needed for gracious Island living. Living here feels like being on vacation every day!

Second, the oceanview in Princeville is for everyone to enjoy and is assured by the view points throughout the complex. You can wave watch or whale watch (in season) from the Princeville Hotel Bluff (did I mention this world famous resort is just minutes away from any condo in the development?) Hanalei Bay Resort (another fabulous resort) or from the view point across from Hale Moi condos.

Third, Princeville has two championship golf courses on its grounds: the Makai Golf Course and the Prince Golf Course. Both the Prince and Makai Golf Course feature breathtaking coastal views of of our the incredible Pacific ocean. Did you know that the Makai is really three courses in one? The Ocean Nine is closest to the Pacific, the Lakes Nine winds its way around serene lakes and the Woods Nine is a pleasant diversion through native woodlands. All three offer challenge and variety.

Fourth, all the shops and restaurants of Princeville are at your fingertips. The Princeville Resort and Hanalei Bay Resort offer upscale dining at their various restaurants. All offer unriveled views of the magnificent Hanalei Bay and Bali Hai. There are several casual restaurants at the Princeville Center, along with Foodland, Banking, and a varity of shopping opportunities. The Princeville Center is about a 15 or 30 minute walk from your condo depending on location and just minutes by car.

And finally, we have the very best and most beautiful library in the entire state! Go there for Internet access, for a “magazine swap”, check out a best seller or DVD or sit and read the local, state or national newpapers. These are just a few of the amenties of this great resort. Oh — and do you have kids? There’s a great playground complete with swings and slide just behind the library in Princeville community Park for all to enjoy.

Did I forget to mention that all beaches in Hawaii are public?– so you can go to the Princeville Resort beach and snorkel and swim to your hearts content. Take the 198 steps down to the beach located to the left of the Princeville Hotel entry gazebo or make good use of the hotel elevators. And Halalei bay is just 15 minutes away by car – an absolutely breathtaking beach area not to mention all the restaurants and shopping of quaint Hanalei town.

Ok, now that I’ve extolled the benfits of Princeville in general lets go back to the condos: The price range for condos in Princeville is from $399 for a leasehold 1 bedroom 1.5 bath Pali Ke Kua (you pay a lease fee as well as a Homeowners associaton fee) up to $2.675M for a top floor ocean view 2 bed 2 bath Pu’u Po’a condo. Certainly, somewhere in between these numbers is a condo to suit your specific needs. Here is a list of all the Princeville condos currently on the market:

Condos on the market as of 4-17-07

This is a custom list that shows the various Homeowners Association fees (paid monthly) the days on the market and the price per square foot. Check it out.

Nihilani and Kaiulani are two of the newest condo complexes in Princeville. Nililani is almost completed while most of Kaiulani is under construction slated for completion in 2008. It promises to offer the ultimate in condo “residentail type” living on the Island with top of the line design, amenties and finishes along with a two car garage. Villas on the Prince was the first complex to offer a one car garage along with Villas of Kamali’l which was built after VOP. The Plantations, located next to Nihilani, also offered a one car garage and two floor plans. Nihilani was the first to offer a two car garage along with four floor plans.

None of the other condo complexes have garages, although some do have covered and / or assigned parking. Your choice of condo will depend on if you wish to vacation rent it, hold it as your second home or use it as a long term rental. A vacation rental condo will typically cost more than long term rental, as most vacationers prefer an ocean view or golf course location– and as we know…. the three most important things is real estate are location, location and location. Prices can vary widely within a complex based solely on location. A garden view in the Cliffs, for example, is in the mid $400K’s while ocean view is in the $600K’s, $700K’s and up. Just to give you an idea of where all these complexes are in relation to one another, I have attached a link to a map of Princeville condos.

Princeville Site map showing condos

I can, and will, in the furture, discuss the various complexes as to age, location etc, but for now would like to end with this rainy sunset picture taken the other day from the Cliffs bluff. The sun was setting back behind the moutains so I can’t really explain why it looks like it is over the ocean, unless it is some reflection from the rain that was coming in at the same time. You can see the color of sunset reflected in the rain as it touched down on the ocean—- enjoy.

Aloha Elaine