Thank you for stopping by!  I hope to feature both real estate and lifestyle information regarding living on this wonderful island, and particularly on the Windward Side.  

The towns of Kailua, Kaneohe and Waimanalo all have their own personalities.  Hopefully, you get a chance immerse yourself in all they have to offer! 

There is so much to do, see and experience!  My hope to to give you a little taste here.  Please read on...

Thank you ~ Jill

Jan. 11, 2020

How to Hang the Right Sized Art

Have you ever walked into someone's home or looked around your own home and said that art does not necessarily fit in that space. Sometimes you will walk in and there will be a little tiny piece of art on a gigantic wall. Well, what are some guides that will help you hang art in your home or if you are staging a property to make it more sellable.

First, you need to gather some basic tools. You are going to need a tape measure.  Next you need some sort of nail or hook. I like little wall hooks over a regular nail because they help catch the back of the frame or the teeth on the back of a frame. You will need a hammer and then you possibly 3M strips type for posters or for hanging art. 

Next, you will need to measure the wall. I try to center the furniture on the wall and then I am attempt to center the art above the furniture.  When you are hanging art above furniture you want to use the thumb rule of about 12 inches above the piece of furniture.  It does matter if the furniture is a buffet or a dresser or a TV stand.  Your goal is to center your art about 12 inches above your furniture.  The other fraction to think about is 2/3. You want to fill up about 2/3 of the space on your wall. If you do not have one large piece or two medium sized pieces you can also create a gallery wall with a lot of individual pieces. 

One tip I have if you live in a home that tends to have high humidity or salt air is not to use these 3M velcro strips because the sticky tape on the back will fail due to the salt and humidity and you will hear a crash in the middle of the night. I have made that mistake myself and want to pass along that tip. The 3M strips are great in some circumstances but again if you have high humidity you do not necessarily want to use these strips.

If you have any questions about hanging out feel free to call me or a friend who is really artsy or a stager and they can help you with your proportion on your walls.



Dec. 14, 2019

How to Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time


In this market, I often get the question, "can I buy and sell at the same time?" The answer is yes!

It is a more balanced market right now. Homes are sitting for a little bit longer, so that gives you the opportunity to go in and possibly make a contingent offer on the sale of your home.

So, the first thing you need to do, especially if you are planning on moving up to a more expensive property is you need pre-approval from a lender. You want to make sure that you are able to get the loan for that next property that you want to buy. You also want to make sure that you have the proceeds from the house that you are selling for the down payment on your next property.

The second thing you want to do is prep your home to list it, but you want to make sure your house is on the market and ready to go. So once your house is listed on the MLS, you want to receive an offer and you want to have the buyers inspect your current property. When they are able to do that, then that is one of the major wickets that you want to get through to tell the next person that you are buying from "our house...has an offer, is in escrow and we've made it through the inspection."

The last little bonus that you may want to go to the next seller with is if your appraisal has been completed, That is kind of the last chance that you have for a  transaction to fall through. So, if you can get your home an offer, inspected and appraised that puts you in a really strong position to go in and make the next contingent offer. So now that you have got your home on the market, you have got an offer, your ready to go. Go put in an offer on that home that you want to buy. It is now your turn to go shopping. You are now able to say the home that I am selling has already made it through all of this process,and we are ready and willing to buy your home. And it is more likely that it will get to the closing table.

The other thing you really want to make sure of is communication. You want to make sure that the seller of the home you are going to buy is friendly and flexible. So, you need a seller that is flexible. And, you also need an agent who is flexible on the other side too, because there are bumps in the road when you have a contingent offer and everybody has to have the same goal of getting to the same place at the closing table. And, you will get there, it just may take an extra few days for lending delays or other things that happen along the way So, the most important this is work with a professional who knows how to work both sides of the transaction, both the selling of your current property and the buying of your new home.










Dec. 13, 2019

Seller Closing Costs in Hawaii


Today we are going to talk about the fees that a seller has to pay during the course of a real estate transaction so that you can understand the true cost of a transaction.

Hawaii is an escrow state. Escrow is the organization that is in charge of collecting all of the fees and paperwork and acts as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. So when you hear a lot about seller fees, you are really hearing about escrow because they are the ones that are collecting all of the costs that are incurred during the course of a transaction.

Generally for sellers, nothing really comes out of pocket. Most of your costs come from the proceeds of the transaction.

1. Mortage:  The first thing that escrow will look at when you have a final settlement statement is your mortgage. If you have any remaining payment that has to be made, escrow will pay off the bank or the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). If you have a a second loan, that will also be paid off. 

2. Commissions: The second thing are the commissions to the realtors and the brokerage. Commissions are paid to both sides, both the buyer and the seller. And that is determined by the seller as to what those fees are going to be as a percentage of the sale. Escrow will directly pay the brokerages and the brokerages then pay the realtors.

3. Buyer Credits: Sometimes during the course of a transaction, you also have buyer credits. Buyer credits are given to a buyer when something needs to be completed during the course of the transaction and the seller does not necessarily want to take care of the cost out of pocket. Escrow will put some of the proceeds to the side in order to help the buyer take care of those costs.

4. Survey: During the course of the transaction, usually about two to three weeks into the transaction, there is also a survey that takes place. A surveyor will come out to the property and stake the boundary lines and also let parties know if there are any fences or walls or if the structure encroaches on another property.

5. Taxes: Property taxes are also an interesting topic that the seller winds up paying in advance. So if you are selling your property, you have already paid six months in advance to the City and County. Whatever the remainder is in that six month time period will be pro-rated and the buyer will take care of the rest of the taxes for the year. If you live out of state or you are an international seller, you may be subject to a tax called HARPTA or FIRPTA. Non Hawaii residents have to pay the HARPTA tax and international sellers have to pay a FIRPTA tax. So it is an additional tax that is taken out by the City and County at closing.

6. Other fees: The last three fees are some of the smaller fees in the course of the transaction. There is an escrow fee. The escrow company takes a fee for arranging all of again the documentation, the payments and the disbursements. Title, which is the deed to the property being transferred as well as the insurance to make sure the title is clear. And the recording fee, which gets paid to the City and County to make sure that the transaction records properly.

So after all of these fees are paid by the seller, the resulting amount is the net proceeds and that is how much the seller will take away at the close of the transaction.

So hopefully this information is helpful.If you ever have or have any questions, please feel free to contact me via text or email or give me a call.

Nov. 26, 2019

Staging Your Home While You Live There...Or, Just Make It Look Staged

During listing presentations, the conversation always comes up: "What are we going to do about staging?

The answer I often give is "hire a professional."  They know how to stage a room so that things are balanced and airy and fresh. However, if you're going to do it on your own, there are six things you may want to focus on.

1. Exterior: You want to take a walk around your property. You want to see if there are any grass patches that are empty and fill those. Put out fresh plants and flowers and color. The other thing is to make sure you do is power wash. Power washing is key both on the ground and look up under your eaves to see if there's any mold or mildew under your eaves, as well.

2. Clutter: You want to make sure the knife blocks are gone and coffee makers, any personal pictures of your dog, your grand kids, your kids...your refrigerator where you hang a lot of reminders and other things... make sure that is cleaned off. When someone walks into your home, they don't want to see your clutter and they don't want to see anything personal.  You want them to be able to walk in this space and imagine themselves living there.

3. Clean: What is clean to you may not be clean to somebody else, so always hire a professional. They will come in, and they will clean from top to bottom. They will get corners and in other places you  wouldn't think about. Other things to think about are closets and appliances. People will open your closet doors. They will open your oven, so make sure those things are clean as well.

4. Highlight Best Features: Find the best three features of your house and try to highlight those. If you have a cute outdoor sitting area, make sure it has a nice bistro set and some cute accompaniments. Or, if you have a pool, put a cute float in the pool and highlight the pool. If you have a large master bedroom, make sure that is featured as well.

5. Lighting: Lighting is key. Most people don't want to live in a cave, so make sure that all of your drapes are open, and you've replaced all of your light bulbs. If there's a dark room, make sure you put a freestanding lamp in it. So, make sure lighting is taken care of.

6. Cute Decor: You don't want anything that's too specific. You want nice general things: maybe beachy pieces, vases, simple things, but cute modern decor.

The biggest advice I give anyone who's getting ready to sell their house is make sure you repaint as much as you can, both interior and exterior. And, replace old light fixtures and fans.

Make sure that when someone walks into your home when you list it that it's as bright, fresh, open and airy as possible.

Posted in Remodel
Oct. 9, 2019

7th Annual Family Promise 5K Fun Run: A Kailua Community Tradition


Every year, the Windward community comes together to run for a worthy cause - Family Promise, an organization that assists homeless families.


This year’s Fun Run, which will take place on Oct. 26, will be the seventh year for the event.

“It’s a fun way to spend your Saturday morning,” says Laura Thielen, a former Family Promise board member and current executive director of Partners in Care, which oversees all homeless assistance programs on Oahu.

By taking part, community members can do “something that will affect a lot of families’ lives, and at the same time, you can have fun and get together with our community,” she added. “This is such a unique activity - and it’s a really good breakfast!”

Moku and Monkeypod Kitchen restaurants will provide breakfast so participants can replace some of the calories they burn during the run. With the event falling so close to Halloween, participants are encouraged to wear costumes.


The Fun Run was conceived by Thielen and a group of friends who were seeking ways to increase community awareness for Family Promise.  Originally, the goal was to inform the community about Family Promise and its mission. But in short order, it became a significant fundraiser.

Last year’s run raised about $29,000. This year’s event has already surpassed that amount with sponsorships alone. 

Family Promise, which has offices in Honolulu and Wahiawa, provides safe temporary housing for family with children to assist them in in reaching their goals to become self sufficient. It is a national organization and the Oahu affiliate is 11 years old.

Because the organization is powered primarily by volunteers, it has a very low overhead so most of the money raised by the Fun Run goes directly to services for clients.

Family Promise usually serves 4-5 families on the  island at a time. In total, it assists about 100 people a year, most of them children. The organization also has a drop-in center and diversion programs.

Most of the adults served by Family Promise lose housing because they are working 2-3 jobs at a time, but are still unable to provide childcare. The result is that they have to quit one or two of the jobs, and the loss of that income renders them homeless.

Family Promise also provides job training, such as resume writing and financial planing, allowing clients to seek more lucrative jobs in the future.

For more information about Family Promise or to register for this year’s Fun Run:


Photo 1: Participants in the 2018 Family Promise Fun Run approach the finish line.

Photo 2: 2018 Family Promise Fun Run participants pose in flamingo costumes.



Posted in Community Updates
Sept. 30, 2019

My Favorite Moving Tip - Duck Tape!

I came up with a system that helps organize boxes when moving from one location to another! 

I hope it can help you, too!  

Sept. 30, 2019

Windward Aerial Yoga and Pilates: Strengthen, Lengthen, Align and…Fly!

This is the second in a series of two articles about local yoga and pilates offerings.

The Windward side has a diverse selection of venues offering yoga and Pilates classes. And if you’re looking for something new, aerial yoga combines elements of both!

Aerial Yoga

Noe Noe Hawaii

Did you ever wish you could learn to fly? Aerial Arts or Aerial yoga might be the closest you can get (without a plane, of course!).

Aerial yoga allows you to perform the same poses you can do on a yoga mat, but they incorporate a silk hammock that’s suspended from the ceiling as a prop to support you through the various poses. The purpose of the hammock is to help you improve flexibility and strength, while allowing you to do more challenging poses without added pressure on your shoulders, spine or head. Aerial dance provides many of the same benefits.

Chandra Miars opened Noe Noe Hawaii in Kailua in 2018. At this expansive, high-ceilinged venue, Miars teaches classes in aerial yoga, aerial dance, and aerial techniques.

A professional hula and modern dancer who has also studied Pilates, Miars trained in aerial dance in 2005. After falling in love with the art form, she went on to receive a certification in aerial yoga.  

Miars found the perfect location for Noe Noe Hawaii when a family-owned space on Kihapai Street which previously housed a custom engine shop, became available for rent in 2018.

“I was always looking for the perfect space and having grown up in Kailua, and still a resident here, it was a dream to be able to have a space in Kailua to teach and share this love for the aerial arts,” she said.

Miars conceived Noe Noe Hawaii as a health and wellness venue offering performances and event rental for the Windward community. 

“It has fit nicely with a lot of cutting edge ideas for groups to come together and do something totally different and out of the box,” she said.  “Educators, practitioners and instructors, can share workshops with the community or hold classes. It’s great for parties, fundraisers and even business networking gatherings.”

Other teachers also offer workshops at Noe Noe Hawaii and on the last Saturday of every month, Miars hosts an aerial sound bath with music by Lucie Lynch, a singer songwriter musician and sound healing alchemist.

For these events, Miars dims the light and guides visitors on a restorative experience either in the aerial hammocks, which transform into cocoons, or on the mat.

On Instagram: noe_hawaii

Aerial 2


Kailua Pilates and Wellness Center

Kailua Pilates and Wellness Center provides private, semi-private and group classes on a mat or using the Stott Pilates Method. They also offer various massage services such as Deep Tissue, Lomi Lomi, Prenatal, Chinese Cupping, Reiki and sports massage. All can be customized to meet client needs.


Harmony Pilates and Physical Therapy

Harmony Pilates has private and semi-private Pilates mat and equipment classes including Restorative, Prental, Barre and more. This studio also has licensed physical therapists on staff who work with clients, sometimes incorporating Pilates equipment into therapy.


On Balance Pilates

On Balance Pilates owner Lisa Ortego Loya opened the first Pilates studio on Oahu in 1993. Today, On Balance offers private and group mat and equipment classes as well as classes in CoreAlign, Gyrotinic, TRX, Floor-Barre.


Photo 1: An aerial class for children at Noe Noe Hawaii

Photo 2: Participants lie in silk “cocoons” during an aerial sound bath

Sept. 27, 2019

Windward Yoga: Stretch, Renew, Condition, Breathe

If you’re interested in starting or continuing a yoga practice, the Windward side offers a variety of studios featuring diverse class options.

Yoga 1

Yoga instructor Leah Distad opened The Yoga Hut in her bucolic Waimanalo backyard three years ago.

Prior to opening The Yoga Hut, Distad ran her own yoga studio in Kailua from 2008 to 2010 and then taught lessons privately and for other local yoga venues.

Creating The Yoga Hut on her property three years ago seemed the perfect blend that allowed Distad to focus on teaching in the the nature-oriented atmosphere she desired for her students.

The Yoga Hut is a screened in space nestled among lush Waimanalo greenery. Voices of sheep, goats and chickens add to the soundtrack of every class. Distad’s dogs, Peanut Butter and Buddha, greet students with wagging tails and lounge placidly on the studio floor, belly-up, during classes.

“What’s really unique about The Yoga Hut is the setting that it’s in, in a farm/nature/jungle/country kind of setting,” Distad said “So it gives you a better chance to not only have your practice, but to reconnect with the mountains and the trees.”

Distad’s teaching style is organic and she rarely comes to the mat with a plan.

“I totally wing every class because I want to feel the energy in the room, take people’s requests and cater and adapt the class, where I’m not rigidly connected to a plan,” she said.

Distad strives for an atmosphere where people can express any emotion from laughter to tears.

“It is a space where people feel safe to be vulnerable and raw,” Distad said.

In addition to her regular class schedule at The Yoga Hut, Distad can provide classes for special events such as baby showers, bridal showers, or wedding days, on or off her property.

She and her husband, Dodge, recently added catering to their event repertoire and can prepare five course meals for events (with or without yoga instruction) for up to 12 people. All meals are farm to table or locally sourced as much as possible.

The Yoga Hut classes cater to all levels and include Vinyasa, Gentle Yoga, and Yin Yoga .

Yoga 2


CorePower Yoga

CorePower Yoga is a national chain with a studio in Kailua. The venue offers both traditional Vinyasa yoga classes and Yoga Sculpt, which combines free weights with cardio and yoga sequencing to boost metabolism and build lean muscle mass. CorePower also has a teacher training program.


Bella Kai Yoga

Bella Kai Yoga offers Bikram method classes, Barre classes and Yin Yoga classes for all levels.

Bella Kai has a philanthropic focus and has raised more than $10,000 for the Windward-based non-profit Huakailani School for Girls. The studio partners with national non-profit Warriors at Ease, an organization committed to making yoga and meditation relevant, accessible and welcoming for members of the military, veterans and their families. Every Wednesday, the studio offers free yoga classes for active duty, veterans, and their families.


Hot Yoga By The Sea

Hot Yoga By The Sea offers a variety of heated and non-heated classes for all levels including Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, and Mommy and Baby. It also offers workshops and a teacher training program.


Aloha Yoga Kula

Aloha Yoga Kula has two studio locations in Kailua with a variety of classes including Vinyasa Flow, Gentle Yoga, Yoga Basics, Body Sculpting Restorative Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Senior Stretch, various workshops, and a 200-hour teacher training program.


yoga 3


Photo 1: A class at The Yoga Hut in Waimanalo.

Photo 2: Leah Distad poses with some of her students The Yoga Hut in Waimanalo.

Sept. 11, 2019

Want to Stay Out of Hot Water With Your Electricity Bill? Try a Solar Hot Water Heater

Are you considering converting your home’s electric to solar energy? Switching from a conventional hot water heater to a solar hot water heater is a great place to start!

hot water panels

“A solar hot water heater is almost always the first recommended step for someone to go solar,” says Zach Englert, sales director at Sunetric, which is headquartered in Kailua, but operates statewide.

According to Hawaii building codes, every residential home built from 2011 onward is required to have a solar water heater. But if you are not living in a relatively new home, there are some terrific reasons to make the switch and cost savings are at the top of the list.

With a conventional hot water heater, in an average home, hot water heating costs are about 20-40 % of the electricity bill, according to Englert.

Most solar hot water systems cost between $6,000 and $10,000. With the monthly electricity bill savings, a 30% federal tax credit, and a 35% Hawaii state tax credit (capped at $2,250), net costs are only $2,000 to $4,000. Homeowners can expect to pay off their system in three to four years, Englert says.

If you’re thinking about making the switch, there are two types of solar hot water heaters to choose from, according to Englert.

A conventional or active pump system, coupled with a tank, pumps water up to the roof to thermal collector plates. It then passes through copper pipes to further heat it, and then it goes back to the tank and continues those operations to keep the water at that hot temperature.

Hot water heater

The other type of solar water heater is a passive or blazing tubes system, which operates without a pump. With this system, the water stays on the home’s roof in collector tubes. Which system you choose should depend on many factors including the angle and access of sun at your home.

As with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for electricity for your entire home, solar water heaters include many environmental benefits. Conventional water heaters often use natural gas or other fossil fuels to heat water, releasing large amounts of carbon into the environment. Switching to a solar water heater reduces carbon and other greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Coal also releases mercury emissions into the air. The particles can make their way into the groundwater and then into nearby streams, lakes and oceans, affecting drinking water and the fish that we consume.

So, if you’re about to venture into the realm of solar energy, a solar hot water heater is a great place to start: you can save money and help the planet at the same time!

For more information, see HECO Clean Energy


Photo 1: PV panels tend to lie flat on a roof top, but solar hot water panels often come in a set of two and are raised on a slight angle. 

Photo 2: Solar hot water panels heat the water which goes directly into the tank (Courtesy of Hawaii Energy)

Posted in Remodel
Aug. 29, 2019

Harnessing the Power of the Sun in Hawaii

Due to its consistent sunlight throughout the year and its proximity to the equator, Hawaii is an ideal place to go solar!

The greatest benefit of adding solar panels to your home is the cost savings; but, there are very appealing environmental benefits as well, says Zach Englert, Sales Director at Sunetric, which is headquartered in Kailua, but operates statewide.


PV panels

The Battery System

In 2018, Hawaiian Electric (HECO) began offering a program called Customer Grid Supply Plus. 

Under this program HECO allows you to “bank” kilowatt hours for use at night. Customers can then use those kilowatt hours at a 10 cent per hour discount.

Most of Sunetric’s solar installations now use battery storage, enabling customers to charge the battery during the day and then draw from it overnight, Englert says.

“If I can store my kilowatt hour, I can use my kilowatt hour instead of pulling it back at a discount,” he says.

As technology for solar system batteries continues to improve, they are gaining even more popularity here in Hawaii.

This is no surprise as Hawaii has long focused on conservation of natural resources.

“Hawaii is always leading the way in terms of clean energy,” Englert says.  

Solar batteries

Cost Savings

How much homeowners save per month depends on a variety of factors, such as the financing they choose to pay for the solar system, Englert says.

“When we design solar panels, we design for full-offset of the energy usage in the home,” says Englert.

Therefore, on a $0 down loan, you can realistically expect to save 20-30% per month on your electricity bill. If you pay cash for the panels, you can eliminate the bill, except for the connection fee plus any excess usage fees from the utility company.

But it is the long term investment by which you can realize the biggest savings, according to Englert.

HECO’s rates increase an average of 5.5% per year. If you pay $3600 per year for electricity now, factoring in a modest 2-3% increase per year, in 25 years, you can expect to pay $10,000 a year. Savings on that size of bill are even more significant.


Paying for Your Solar System

There are numerous ways to finance a solar system, including a home equity line of credit or a no-money down loan. Loans can include an 18-month or two-year introductory period in which payments can be deferred until you realize the tax benefits over multiple tax seasons.

Solar systems will yield a 30% federal tax credit and up to 35% from the state. You can expect to realize an estimated $10,000 in state tax credits for a $50,000 solar system, which will cover the costs of the system in six to seven years.

If you’re thinking about going solar, there’s no time better than this year. Federal tax credits will decrease to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021, before zeroing out in 2022.

If you begin the process and pay 5% down by the end of 2019, you can lock in the 30% tax credit.

In addition to tax credits, home values often appreciate with the addition of solar panels, according to Englert.

“Studies show that your home sells for approximately $4.50 more per watt of solar on your roof,” Englert says. “In Hawaii, that would equate to an approximately $40-$50K home value increase.”


Environmental Benefits

The benefits of solar power are well-known. Generating electricity with solar power rather than fossil fuels can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce your carbon footprint. Greenhouse gases, which are produced when fossil fuels are burned, contribute to rising global temperatures and climate change.

In Hawaii, there is even more reason to go solar, since oil has to be shipped here, which uses even more energy. 

“In Hawaii, we are still about 75-80% oil dependent, so it’s expensive and bad for the environment,” Englert says. “You are no longer contributing to that with a solar plus energy storage system and you are leaving a legacy of clean power for future generations.”

There are many reasons to invest in PV panels. If you have not already made the investment, now may be a good time.


Photo 1: A solar system (PV panels) installed by Sunetric

Photo 2: An energy storage system installed by Sunetric

Posted in Remodel