The Hawaiian Real Estate Market - Episode 67

Podcast Transcription

Melina: Whatever you do, don't say bad words.

Frank: Yeah, Tim.

Tim: I know.

Melina: Wow. Blah blah blah.

Frank: Get it out of your system.

Melina: Welcome to "Flippin' Off," a purpose-driven podcast about flipping houses and making a difference.

Frank: Is there music happening right now?

Melina: Yep, it is. Oh, you don't have your things on. Hey, everybody. Welcome. Melina Boswell here. Oh, my goodness. So we are, today, in the studio. And what just happened was we all have headphones on so we can hear the music playing, and Frank said, "Is there music playing right now?" because he's not wearing his headphones. And that made us all laugh.

Frank: Everybody got so quiet.

Melina: Everybody was really quiet. All right. So I am Melina Boswell, co-founder of New Wealth Advisors Club. And today, in the house, we have Andrew Boswell.

Andrew: Hey.

Melina: Not on the mic. Christian Rios.

Christian: Hello.

Melina: Mary Ann Bongco.

Mary Ann: Hey. Aloha.

Melina: Oscar Solares.

Oscar: Hello.

Melina: Tim Wilkinson.

Tim: Hello.

Melina: Joel Bongco.

Joel: Aloha.

Melina: Spoon.

Spoon: Hey, guys.

Frank: Hey, Spoon.

Melina: Hey, Spoon. Frank Luna.

Frank: Hello, everyone.

Melina: And in the corner, together, it's weird, John Slater.

John: Good morning.

Melina: Along with Kevinsito.

Kevin: Hello.

Melina: All right. We call him Kito. Oh, and Karla Wilkinson.

Frank: Oh, Kevin, better late than never.

Melina: Yes, I said Wilkinson. That's who you are. All right. So, welcome, guys. We're having a great time already, as you can tell. We thought today it would be a great opportunity for us to have a conversation about the market in Hawaii. What do we do next? So we have, as you learned in our last podcast, we have opened up NWAC Hawaii and all that that entails. And we're not even exactly sure all that that entails. We don't know where it's gonna go or how many amazing people are going to sprout out of NWAC Hawaii. But we are convinced that there is gonna be some spectacular people coming out of that. And so we thought today would be good to have a conversation about the nuts and bolts, like the nuts and bolts of doing real estate investing both in California and Hawaii.

And we started to have a conversation about, you know, what's going on in your market for NODs? What's happening with, you know, the curve? And Mary Ann referred to the crane. So we're talking about market timing. And, always, in our training, we always start with market timing because market timing is kind of everything. And there's a reason that the best opportunities, you know, exist in real estate in California, and that also means we have the highest risk, right? Because we are the leader, we kind of lead the entire country in the market, and the rest of the market follows. So our question is always, like, truthfully, how far behind California is Hawaii? So, did you find out, Frank? Because you were on your phone and you were doing lots of research. So, can you tell us?

Frank: I want to defer to Joel.

Joel: That's nice, man. Smooth.

Tim: That's smooth.

Frank: So, in our conversation, Joel was mentioning that they're starting to see a change in the market that we experienced months ago.

Melina: Yeah, yes.

Frank: Right. Help me out here, I'm losing my word.

Joel: Days on market?

Frank: No, not the days on market, but just...

Oscar: NODs?

Frank: You still see...

Tim: NTS?

Joel: Commercial real estate.

Oscar: Price reductions.

Frank: It's like you're doodling on a video conference right now.

Frank: We saw that our market started to kinda level off. Value started to correct and saw the correction in the market. But we saw that 8, 10 months ago, and you're starting to see that now in Hawaii.

Joel: Right, exactly.

Frank: So, based on that, it looks like it's an 8 to 12-month lag in that, getting to you guys. So you're still seeing a slight uptake in the number of foreclosures that are showing up, or pre-foreclosures.

Joel: Right, exactly.

Frank: Where we're starting to see a level off.

Melina: Yes.

Frank: See them, but there isn't a big jump like there used to be on a monthly basis, right?

Melina: Right.

Joel: Right.

Melina: So Mary Ann described the crane.

Joel: Yeah, yeah. So, basically, the crane and, basically, it's a symbol of building, right. So, you know, one of the areas where you see a lot of cranes is in the Kaka'ako area, which is in between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. So there's still a number of cranes up there, which basically means they're still continuing to build. As you see the cranes go down, that's an indicator that, you know, things are slowing down.

Melina: Yes. Did you know, and I don't know if you know this, but builders are always the last ones to get caught in the market?

Joel: Yeah, yeah.

Melina: It's always builders and developers, always.

Tim: Always the last ones out.

Melina: Always the last ones out. So, from my perspective, when I start to see like new developments coming out, I'm like, "Uh-oh, we're getting topped out." I already know that. So we've been watching that happen in our market for the last two years. So, personally, because I'm know, my personal investing style is very conservative and I go pretty much low-risk, if I'm gonna take any high-risk I'm pretty calculated. So I guess that means I don't really go for a high-risk. I take very secure high-risk investments, thank you very much. Can you get me those? I'd like, you know, safe, with the high yields, please.

Tim: There you go.

Melina: And thank you. But, you know. So, because my personal style is to be very conservative, I've been acting as if we are at the top of the market, honestly, for two years, which means, really, my strategy get in, get out, get paid as quickly as I possibly can because of how I see things, you know. And the only time I'm doing any kind of rehab that is extensive is if my terms are really, really great. And I always think through, you know, I play it forward, what is the worst case scenario here? What if, you know, the market does go down? When it does go down, I know it's going to, but the reality is we don't know what it is that is going to cause the immediate downturn, right? Nobody could possibly... Well, that's actually not true. I was gonna say, nobody could have predicted the 2008 crash but, actually, it was very simple to predict. The problem was we just didn't have the information. If we don't have the data, we can't predict it. And I believe we're gonna experience the same kind of thing. I don't think the crash will be quite as dramatic, but I know it's going to happen. And I believe it's based on data we don't have. That's my personal belief, but whatever.

So, as we were talking through acquisition strategies and market timing, we were saying, so I was asking you, so what are, you know, the acquisition strategies that you focus on mostly in Hawaii? So why don't we talk about that a little bit?

Joel: Yeah. So, I think for us, one of the things that we look at is just the market data, and one of the things that we're seeing is, you know, an increase in days on market. And we're also tracking the number of notice of defaults that are coming out as well as foreclosure auctions that are posted in the papers. So we're still seeing an uptake of that. Like, for example, I think in January of 2019, there were about 30 NODs that were recorded.

Melina: Yeah. Which is really funny to me, because when I heard 30 and I said, I asked, what's the population?

Joel: It's about 1.5 million in O'ahu.

Melina: That's pretty incredible, actually. So we are definitely seeing the same thing in our market, specifically in Orange County. Fewer NODs. Do you remember what it was in January? Do you guys remember? Oh, was it December? I mean, it was December of '18 or January of '19? We just looked at this data. Anybody remember how many there were? There weren't very many. Twenty-four, something like that. It was a very, very low number. And, you know, the more inland you come in California, you have your coastal communities, right, Orange County, Los Angeles County on the coast. And then the more inland you come, you have lower price points and then more NODs. So, is it the same?

Joel: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. I mean, if you take a look at the island of O'ahu just from a demographic perspective, whether it's east or on the west, you definitely see a lot more, just from a data point perspective, you definitely see a lot more NODs on the west side of O'ahu.

Melina: Oh, okay. Interesting. So, in terms of acquisition strategies, you said, you were talking to me earlier about intercepting auctions.

Joel: Yeah, yeah. You know, it's a pretty stressful process where, you know, there's a number of auctions that are out there and they're pretty short-fused. So you've got anywhere from four to six weeks to basically intercept those auctions and, you know, either get them to pause or to get them out. And, you know, it's intense and it's sometimes stressful to do that. But we've been successful in being able to...we didn't save all of them but we've saved many of them going into auction.

Melina: You have?

Joel: Yes, absolutely.

Melina: Okay. So, because everybody loves a story, could you share maybe a story with us about one if, you know...could you think of...

Joel: Yeah. So, you know, one of the ones that we had was over in Kaneohe, and basically this lady, she moved to Colorado. She was an interior designer, and basically she rented out her facility. And the person, the tenant, her tenant, didn't pay and kinda ransacked the place. So she wasn't able to rent it out.

Melina: Wait. So you have bad tenants in Hawaii, too?

Joel: Yes, we do. Absolutely.

Melina: It's good to know. It's good to know.

Joel: Yeah. So, basically, the tenant kinda ransacked the place. She wasn't able to rent it out. So, therefore, she wasn't able to pay her mortgage and then she went into default. The challenge with condo complexes, you're dealing with two mean entities. One is the association and then the second one is, obviously, your lender or, in this case, lenders. So the first one that was foreclosing was the AOAO, the association. So we started her journey by trying to intercept the AOAO auction. They're very difficult.

Melina: Why are you laughing?

Joel: They're very, very difficult to work with.

Melina: They are, aren't they?

Joel: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, it's the association but more so the law firm representing them. They tend to be very difficult to work with.

Melina: And so, what did you get done? What happened?

Joel: So, basically, we got our third party authorization and we started working with the association as well as her bank. And then, ultimately, you know, made a deal with the AOAO to take it out of foreclosure status. And the rest is history. We went in there. We helped her get out of foreclosure and we basically got the property sold.

Melina: Nice, nice. So you created a win-win-win.

Joel: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And she was very appreciative of that.

Melina: That's awesome. So, I mean, everybody wants to know, did you make any money?

Joel: We made some money. And that's the thing with Hawaii. You know, what's really important is there's a lot of brokenness out there. I think there's a lot of people that had made some good decisions and then made some bad decisions. So, for us, you know, our intention is really to help the homeowner. And in some cases, you make money, and in some cases, you don't get paid. And for us, we don't necessarily create a distinction. If we're in there to help the homeowner, we'll take them to the finish line regardless if we get paid or not.

Melina: Yeah. So very, very much in line with, you know, the mission of NWAC in terms of, you know, we always put people ahead of a profit, right.

Joel: Yes.

Melina: And so I can see, obviously, that you're living that out right now. When we were talking about housing and the fact that California is in the middle of a housing crisis, right, we don't have enough housing, which is crazy, isn't it? So, just a thought, I'm gonna throw this out there to you guys, is it that we don't have enough housing or we don't have enough money to pay for housing? Come on, students. Throw something at me.

Frank: I believe that it's the later. It's not enough income for a lot of the families in California. If you look at, demographically speaking, Hawaii is very similar to California.

Melina: Yes.

Frank: And so is the real estate market. And so you have an island that has shoreline all the way around. So, obviously, that's their shoreline. That's their high-end stuff. Then you have California that has a shoreline as well. That's where all the high-end things are. Like, Orange County, they're moving prices 900, 950, right? The $600,000 days are gone.

Melina: They don't even exist.

Frank: They don't exist anymore. Same thing with L.A. You get into Malibu, Santa Monica, all those things, right. It's no different from that aspect. So, when you start doing that view, when you start looking at where people actually work, the type of work, the type of income, the money isn't there to support the lifestyle, the expenses, the economy, everything else that happens in California. No different, right, in Hawaii.

Joel: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I mean, in Hawaii it's very, very expensive. You can apply the subway test. So the subway test is $5 footlongs. Well, in Hawaii, it's not a $5 footlong. It's an $8 footlong.

Melina: Really?

Joel: Yeah. You know, a gallon of milk is $5. So, with that said, it's really expensive to live in Hawaii. And then, ironically, the cost of homes are extremely expensive as well. So, I mean, most of the developments in Kaka'ako are in, you know, for one, two, three-bedroom condo. They're in the millions. So what happens is that, especially with the middle-class, it pushes them down. So, many times you'll see these things called Manila villas. Basically, it's a house that has multigenerational families in it because the people inside, they really can't afford it. So they just basically build on what they have. So you'll find 5, 10, you know, or more multifamily, multigenerational families living in the same house.

Melina: Now, is that something new? Is that something new that's happened in Hawaii, the Manila villa?

Christian: Hi, this is Christian Rios. As many of you know, I've been a member of New Wealth Advisors Club for over 7 years and got started when I was 17 years old with absolutely no real estate experience. One of the biggest lessons I've learned from being in the industry is the need for authentic relationships. If you're looking for an actual team locally in Southern California with all the resources needed to close deals, register for one of our free workshops by visiting Thanks for listening to the "Flippin' Off" podcast.

Melina: Now, is that something new? Is that something new that's happened in Hawaii, the Manila villa?

Joel: No, no. You know, it's something that's been there, but we've definitely seen a lot more that I think the city and county, they're passing some laws to start to regulate that because there's just way too many of them. But, I mean, the challenge there being is, "Okay, so what do they do? Where do they go?"

Melina: Right. And let me ask you, what's the argument against it?

Joel: Well, I think part of it is just maybe, I don't know, it's overpopulation. In some of these areas, it's very difficult. They're very, very dense. Meaning, the fact that it's very difficult to even go through those roads because there are so many cars parked on the road. And it gets dangerous after a while, you know. How do you get a fire truck through a road that's pretty narrow with a bunch of cars on it?

Melina: Absolutely. Too many people. That does make perfect sense. And we are definitely...I think we might have done a podcast on this.

Oscar: We talked about multiple directions and the reason why that's happening and so forth. Very similar.

Melina: Yeah. Because we're seeing that in our market. And in fact, one of the rehabs that we're working on right now, the only reason we're taking this project on is because we're building a second floor on a property in Orange County, and we're creating a master suite. We're adding like the house is gonna have two master suites for that exact purpose. We know who is going to buy that house. It's going to be at least two generations. More than likely, it's gonna be a three-generation family that buys that house. And we're doing it and taking on such a big project because we're partnering with the owner of the property. So our risk tolerance is, you know...the risk is very, very low. But I feel confident that selling it based on the way that we are rehabbing it specifically for three families, that's the entire point of it. So I think that it's interesting that the market is the same. And so, if the housing is so expensive, is income not keeping up know, employment and income is not keeping up?

Joel: Absolutely. That's one of the big challenges there, you know. I mean, inflation, things are going up, but your compensation and pay continues to stay the same.

Melina: Yeah. And isn't this the problem you guys? This is the problem that we're all experiencing right now, the idea of the middle-class being squeezed out. And we have a crisis because we have people who need housing. It's like you're talking about, but you can't put everybody in one place because it does become unsafe at some point. I know, in my personal community, this is what's happening and they're wanting to build more housing. And everybody is saying, "Whoa, how do we get on the freeway?" You know, I can't even get on the freeway to my house. People are taking families 45 minutes to go 4 miles in the morning to get their kids to school because the traffic is so backed up, because there's just so many people. So, yeah, we don't have the infrastructure there to, you know, help and to support all of the families. So I know the state of California is really pushing hard right now to force cities to develop affordable housing.

And so what we're seeing is, well, the state of California just sued the City of Huntington Beach for noncompliance of the development rules. So it is interesting. The problem is that the real estate, that the land is so expensive, right. So I always wonder, what is the answer? And do you think that this is going to have an impact on the, you know, I hate to say it but, you know, the crash, the inevitable bursting of the bubble? What is the answer to that?

Frank: You know, the interesting thing about that, because we looked at a property out in Fontana at one point, and we were talking about building multiple units on it. And in speaking with the city, they definitely had a criteria they had to allow for, which was the lower income housing. A percentage of it had to be allotted for that. But what really baffled me is that, because when you hear low income, right, you're thinking Section 8. You're thinking all these other things, it's not even what they're talking about. Low income for that purpose is still in the making $70,000 a year. And there's this whole demographic that's way below that. So, whatever the state is thinking or trying to do, I don't think they're really focusing on what the actual problem is.

Melina: Well, that is shocking because our government is so efficient.

Frank: They are. They are not.

Melina: And they're so relatable. They know what's happening on Main Street. No, they really don't.

Frank: Totally disconnected.

Melina: Totally disconnected. They don't understand what is actually needed.

Frank: Yeah, it just kinda threw me off there because it's low incomes like this...that's low income? Seventy five, 80 grand a year? That's like normal.

Melina: The problem is that there's not enough money, in my opinion, to support development, right, because who's gonna pay for it? That's the biggest problem. So, Joel, then let me ask you this, who is buying up all the real estate then?

Joel: Yeah. I think in Hawaii, I mean, there's definitely a lot of foreign investors and a lot of them come from Asia, actually, and other places. That's who's buying it.

Frank: Sounds just like here.

Melina: Yeah. It's identical. It's exactly the same in California, from Asia. Also from Canada, we're seeing a lot of people, you know, buying from Canada, which is an interesting thing. So, what is your approach then, Joel, like when you're looking, you know... Because we know, as real estate investors, we wanna buy properties at a discount. Right. And it's the most difficult thing when you're on a market like we've been in, you know, a seller's market. We're trying to buy properties at a discount. So, how do we do that? How do we get there? And so, for us, we go after distressed property acquisitions, right, so people that are in distress.

Joel: Yeah, it's actually the same for us. I mean, it's kind of like, you know, a clone of what you guys have in California. And most of our acquisition strategy are going after, you know, distressed properties, properties that are currently in auction. The other thing that we also do is, you know, there's a lot of property out there that's owned by the older generation. And some of them are on undeveloped lands or, you know, they've got a house that nobody has lived in and it's pretty much a teardown. So we're also contacting those homeowners as well to see if, you know, they wanna sell.

Melina: That's great, yeah.

Frank: You know, one of the cool things, right, is that because they operate like we operate...

Melina: What do you mean?

Frank: Well, Joel and Mary Ann and NWAC Hawaii operate the way we operate here. Then the synergies that exist are pretty cool because we all know that some of the owners of property in Hawaii are here in the mainland, are here specifically in Southern California.

Melina: Yes.

Frank: Right. So, now the opportunities that exist for that, we'll call it cross-pollination between two entities, is gonna be pretty cool, right? Because likewise, we have relationships here just like you do. So, now, let's share that knowledge base and have a...we'll outflank them essentially, right, and provide that level of support that they need. That's really what we're looking for is, it's almost like you have to force-feed the help. So, now you're not having to reach out to them. We can just be there and do that reach, right. So it's kind of a cool concept that's coming up.

Melina: Yeah. Do you think that there's going to be... Let me ask you this. Like, what is the best way to get a property at a deep discount? So I'm just gonna ask Tim. Like, if somebody were to say to you, "Hey, how do you get a property at a discount?" what would be your answer to them? What would you say to look for and what would be the most efficient way to do that? What's it about?

Tim: For me, it's definitely about the homeowner being in a distressful situation. Excuse me. But one of the things that Joel said, and he talked about intercepting the auction, and intercepting the auction is a really good lead source to be able to get deep discounts. Specifically, I mean, I think Joel was more alluding to intercepting a foreclosure auction or something like that. But a couple of my biggest deals have been intercepting a tax sale auction, which is just as stressful, even more so because there is no postponing it. There's no bankruptcy to postpone a tax sale or anything like that. So there is a lot of stress that goes along with it, but at the same time, we can then really help the homeowner out and buy properties at a really good discount in that situation. So I like tax sale, and intercepting a tax sale auction is a really good strategy.

Melina: That's great. So I think that's the same thing. I think that, you know, our whole class, we have one whole class called distressed property acquisitions for this exact reason, because there's so many different opportunities to create win-win situations where people are in distress. And I always tell my students, I always ask this question, like, "Who has the stress, you know? Who has the problem? Is it the property or is it the person?" And it's the person, right, just manifests itself in the property. So we always have to get to the person behind the problem and help them solve the problem, and sometimes we get paid to do that. But more often, we don't.

Tim: Just the other day, I was talking to a fairly new club member, and they were asking me, "What is the best strategy?" right. Like, where is your best strategy? And the truth is it's in the homeowner, right. I like to talk about Chris Albin, and he talks about being Batman and having these, basically all of these tool belts. So, for me, it's not about looking for a very specific homeowner. It's about just talking to homeowners in distress, right. Any homeowner that you could put yourself in front of that is in a distressful situation, it doesn't matter what their distressful situation is really, but if you can really dig into what that homeowner truly needs. And then you just pull out the tool that, you know, maybe it happens to be that that particular seller is in foreclosure. Maybe they're in tax default. Maybe they're going through divorce. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter because we have a strategy for all of it.

The key is to be in front of a homeowner at all times. Like, if there's one thing you need to be doing in this business, it's to be sitting in front of a homeowner.

Melina: It's the only thing.

Frank: Build the relationship.

Tim: And one of the things that I've really taken from this conversation because... You know, from the beginning of this conversation, I was kinda just learning. And that's the truth because in my business I'm very focused on dealing with the homeowner. So, when we're talking about this lawsuit, you know, California lawsuit, I'm like, "I hear about it. I know a little bit about it, but I don't know any details." It doesn't necessarily concern me because my key is to talk to homeowners. And I have this team of people that I can come to and they're like, "Oh, well, you should know this and this and this." But we'll deal with that once I have a homeowner. Like, I don't need to spend all this time learning all this stuff because we have this team. And I'm just in awe know, I'm sitting here next to Joel and I'm like, "Man, the people in Hawaii, I don't think they'll really grasp what they have in Joel and Mary Ann here, in their ability."

Like, literally, if you're in Hawaii, all you have to do is talk to a homeowner and these guys will come in and help you to solve a problem, whatever that problem is, because these guys are Batman in Hawaii.

Melina: Perfect.

Joel: Batman and Batgirl or Batman and Robin?

Tim: Batman and Mary Ann.

Joel: Oh, there you go.

Melina: Oh, I like it. I like it. It's awesome.

Tim: So like I was just sitting here, just realizing the power that is, you know...that there's some power in this room, first of all, but also, like, I'm excited to see what can happen in Hawaii. I'm excited to see what New Wealth Club members in Hawaii are gonna be able to do with somebody like Joel and Mary Ann on their team, you know, because like I would feel comfortable going and just talking to, you know...I would feel comfortable in Hawaii knowing that all I have to do is talk to a homeowner and I can come to Joel, and he's gonna tell me, "You need to talk about the AOAO." What was it?

Joel: AOAO.

Tim: "You need to be aware of this or you need to be aware of that." And I don't need to know all that. I just need to talk to a homeowner.

Melina: Absolutely. It's perfect.

Frank: You know, and that's actually materialized already, right, what you just described, with Ian.

Tim: Right, right.

Frank: Went out, did things, started door knocking, enrolled Joel. And Joel had had to do and undo, right, [crosstalk 00:29:58] navigate through that. And then Ian hadn't even been out here yet. He didn't come yet to beat through some of the training and all the other things that we do. So Joel got the opportunity to share with him, "Hey, by the way, this is where we are with that. It's now in the pipeline, and it's being worked because I did this, this, and that."

Melina: That's exciting.

Frank: That's all taking place. So I agree with you. So the folks that are listening to this should be like in awe at this point, saying, "Wait, so what you're telling me is I have to focus on this little slice of the world of real estate and then join up and be a part of it?"

Joel: And that little slice is literally the homeowner in front of you. That's it.

Melina: That's it. It's just a conversation, isn't it? That's exciting. That's kind of what I was hoping for. I was hoping we'd get there because the truth is, there's nothing new under the sun.

Tim: Right.

Joel: Exactly.

Melina: Or anywhere in real estate. And so we do do the exact same things. And so I'm very excited. I am thrilled at the opportunity to come out and check out the market in Hawaii. Like, I was just talking to Joel and I was like, "Oh, my gosh. I wanna come and check out your market. I wanna learn it. I wanna drive it. I wanna feel it. I wanna see it." And I am very, very excited about that. So we look forward to meeting you in Hawaii. And by the way, if you're in California and you're thinking about moving to Hawaii, fine. Wait, and if you're in Texas and you wanna have an NWAC in Texas, I'm just gonna throw this out there, I'm gonna throw a little lob, wherever you see a chapter of NWAC being created, all you have to do is speak it and watch it happen. We're thrilled to be with you. For now, this is NWAC. We are flipping out.

I'm Melina Boswell, your host of the "Flippin' Off" podcast. I really hope you enjoyed it. If you did, we'd love for you to subscribe. Give us a five-star rating and tell your friends all about us. You can find more episodes of the "Flippin' Off" podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever else you like to listen to awesome podcasts like this. If you like what you've heard, we'd really appreciate it if you'd follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tell us the stories that you'd like to hear.

Tim Jackson is our senior producer. Luke Jackson is our editor. Brothers. Josh Maudin is our producer. Sound design by Frequency Factory. Our executive producer is Mind & Mill. This was all created by Dave Boswell for New Wealth Advisors Club.