Selling Your Home: A Step-By-Step Approach

by Kenady Swan

 

Whether you’re starting a family, moving for your job, getting ready to retire or embarking on a new chapter in your life, when your home no longer suits your current situation, it’s time to think about selling it. Although this can be a bit complicated, with the help of your agent, you can minimize the hassles, get the best possible price, and shorten the distance between “For Sale” and “Sold”.

 

Price it right

If you want to get the best possible price for your home and minimize the time it stays on market, you need to price it correctly from the beginning. Your agent can give you a clear picture of your particular market and can provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA contains detailed information on comparable homes in your area, including square footage, date built, number of bedrooms, lot size and more. It lists pending sales and houses sold in your area in the past six months, along with their actual sale prices.

By comparing your home to similar homes in your neighborhood and reviewing their list prices and actual selling prices, your agent can help you arrive at a fact-based assessment of your home’s market price.

 

Prepping your house for sale

You want to make a positive first impression when you list your home for sale. Here are some tips on how to enhance your home’s best features:

Work on your curb appeal

Get rid of moss on your roof. Power wash your front walk, porch, deck and patio. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, weed the flowerbeds and add spots of color with container plants. Clean all the windows inside and out and repair them if they don’t open and close easily.

Refresh, repair and repaint

This goes for interiors and exteriors. If you see peeling paint, add a fresh coat. If your living room is bright lime green, consider painting it a more neutral shade. Make necessary repairs. You don’t want to turn off a buyer with a dripping faucet, a broken doorbell, a clogged downspout or a cracked windowpane.

Deep-clean, from floor to ceiling

Clean rugs, drapes and blinds and steam-clean carpeting. Get rid of any stains or odors. Make sure kitchen appliances, cupboards and counters are spotless and that bathrooms shine.

Declutter and depersonalize

Clean, light-filled, expansive rooms sell houses. So be sure to downsize clutter everywhere in your home, including cupboards, closets and counters. You might also consider storing some furniture or personal items to make rooms look more spacious. Take advantage of views and natural light by keeping drapes and blinds open.

 

Make an impact on the market

If you want to sell your home, you need to go where the buyers are, and today they’re on the Internet. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2012 90 percent of homebuyers used the Internet as an information source, and for 41 percent of homebuyers it was the first step in the home-buying process.

By working with your agent, you can list your home on Windermere.com and other relevant websites. He or she will put together a listing with attractive photos, an appealing description and all the information a potential buyer needs. Your agent will also market your house, which may include advertising, direct mail and open houses.

 

Show your house

After you’ve taken care of all the repairs and cleaning tasks outlined above, your home is ready for its close-up: an open house. It’s actually best for you and your family to leave when potential buyers are present so they can ask your agent questions. But before you go, you might want to:

·         Take your pets with you

·         Open the shades and turn on the lights

·         Light a fire in the gas fireplace

·         Bake cookies

·         Keep money, valuables and prescription drugs out of sight

 

Be flexible in negotiating

If you get offers below your asking price, there are a number of strategies you can try in your counteroffer. You could ask for full price and throw in major appliances that were not originally included in the asking price, offer to pay some of the buyer’s fees, or pay for the inspection. You could also counter with a lower price and not include the appliances. If you receive multiple offers, you can simply make a full-price counter.

Your agent can suggest other strategies as well and help you negotiate the final price.

If your house doesn’t sell or you’ve received only lowball offers, ask your agent to find out what these prospective buyers are saying about your house. It might reveal something you can consider changing to make your house more appealing in the future.

 

Breeze through your inspection

When a buyer makes an offer on your home, it’s usually contingent on a professional inspection. A standard inspection includes heating and cooling, interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; and the foundation, basement and visible structure. The inspector will be looking for cracks in cement walls, water stains and wood rot.

You can always opt for having an inspection done prior to putting your house on the market, so you can address any potential problems in advance. Your agent can give you several recommendations for qualified inspectors in your area.

 

Close with confidence

Whether this is your first time or your tenth, your agent can help guide you though the complex process of selling a home. Moreover, he or she can answer any questions you may have about legal documents, settlement costs and the status of your sale.

Your agent’s expertise, resources and extensive network also work for you when you’re buying your next house. Even if you’re moving out of the area, your agent can refer you to a professional agent in your new community.


Posted on March 1, 2018 at 12:46 am
Tania Harmon | Posted in Selling Your Home, Staging |

Affordable Tips To Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal

by Kenady Swan

You’ll never have a second chance at a first impression, so let’s make it count! When it comes to upping your home’s curb appeal, there are plenty of small changes you can make that have a big impact. And best of all, you don’t need to call in the pros or spend a fortune to get beautiful results. Below are some helpful and affordable tips.

A Well-Maintained Yard

Mowing: The first step to a well-manicured lawn is to mow it regularly. The experts recommending mowing high because mowing it too short can damage the grass and allow weeds to set root.

Weeds: To prevent weeds like crabgrass use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring. These herbicides manage the weeds by stopping the seeds from sprouting in your lawn. Broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be stopped by applying granular weed control products.

Feeding: Lawns consume mostly nitrogen, so look for mixes of fast and slow release fertilizers; they will feed your lawn over time while keeping it lush and green.

Watering: Nighttime watering can result in long spans of moisture on the blades, potentially exposing your grass to disease. Consider watering your lawn in the morning – the sun helps dry out the blades throughout the day.

Flowers: You can quickly and affordably dress up your yard with colorful pre-made flower pots and containers. When placing your flower pots and containers remember that asymmetrical arrangements and staggering plants will provided the liveliest setting.

Dress up the Front Door and Porch

Paint: A fresh coat of paint in a pop color can give your home a well-deserved facelift. If you are hesitant to add a bright color to your front door, check out our article Energize Your Home This Winter With Bright Hues.

Replace Old Hardware: Clean off any dirty spots around the door knob, and use a metal polish on the fixtures. Change out house numbers for an updated feel, put up a wall-mounted mailbox, or add an overhead light fixture. Keep in mind that well thought through elements, instead of mix-and-match pieces, will add the most curb appeal.

Create Perfect Symmetry: Symmetry is one of the simplest design techniques to master and is the most pleasing to the eye. Maintain symmetry by flanking your front door with two sidelights (just make sure that your hardware matches); find two urn planters or a unique visual detail to put on either side of your door.


Posted on February 2, 2018 at 9:40 am
Tania Harmon | Posted in Selling Your Home, Staging |

What Can We Expect From The 2018 Housing Market?

by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

 

It’s the time of the year when I look deep into my crystal ball to see what’s on the horizon for the upcoming year. As we are all aware, 2017 has been a stellar year for housing across the country, but can we expect that to continue in 2018?

Here are my thoughts:

 

Millennial Home Buyers

Last year, I predicted that the big story for 2017 would be millennial home buyers and it appears I was a little too bullish. To date, first-time buyers have made up 34% of all home purchases this year – still below the 40% that is expected in a normalized market.  Although they are buying, it is not across all regions of the country, but rather in less expensive markets such as North Dakota, Ohio, and Maryland.

For the coming year, I believe the number of millennial buyers will expand further and be one of the biggest influencers in the U.S. housing market. I also believe that they will begin buying in more expensive markets. That’s because millennials are getting older and further into their careers, enabling them to save more money and raise their credit profiles.

 

Existing Home Sales

As far as existing home sales are concerned, in 2018 we should expect a reasonable increase of 3.7% – or 5.62 million housing units. In many areas, demand will continue to exceed supply, but a slight increase in inventory will help take some heat off the market. Because of this, home prices are likely to rise but by a more modest 4.4%.

 

New Home Sales

New home sales in 2018 should rise by around 8% to 655,000 units, with prices increasing by 4.1%. While housing starts – and therefore sales – will rise next year, they will still remain well below the long-term average due to escalating land, labor, materials, and regulatory costs. I do hold out hope that home builders will be able to help meet the high demand we’re expecting from first-time buyers, but in many markets it’s very difficult for them to do so due to rising construction costs.

 

Interest Rates

Interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The anticipated rise that many of us have been predicting for several years has yet to materialize. As it stands right now, my forecast for 2018 is for interest rates to rise modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage – still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

 

Tax Reform

Something that has the potential to have a major impact on housing are the current proposals relative to tax reform. As I write this, we know that both the House and Senate propose doubling the standard deduction, and the House plans to lower the mortgage interest deduction from $1,000,000 to $500,000. If passed, the mortgage deduction would no longer have value for home owners who would likely opt to take the standard deduction.

If either of the current proposals is adopted into law, the potential reduction in mortgage-related tax savings means the after-tax cost of home ownership will increase for most home owners. Additionally, both the House and Senate bills also end tax benefits for interest on second homes, and this could have a devastating effect in areas with higher concentrations of second homes.

The capping of the deduction for state and local property taxes (SALT) at $10,000 will also negatively impact states with high property taxes, such as California, Connecticut, and New York. Furthermore, proposed changes to the capital gains exemption on profits from the sale of a home (requiring five years of continuous residence as compared to the current two) could impact approximately 750,000 home sellers a year and slow the growth of home ownership.

Something else to consider is that all of the aforementioned changes will only affect new home purchases, which I fear might become a deterrent for current home owners to sell. Given the severe shortage of homes for sale in a number of markets across the country, this could serve to exacerbate an already-persistent problem.

 

Housing Bubble

I continue to be concerned about housing affordability. Home prices have been rising across much of the country at unsustainable rates, and although I still contend that we are not in “bubble” territory, it does represent a substantial impediment to the long-term health of the housing market. But if home price growth begins to taper, as I predict it will in 2018, that should provide some relief in many markets where there are concerns about a housing bubble.

In summary, along with slowing home price growth, there should be a modest improvement in the number of homes for sale in 2018, and the total home sales will be higher than 2017. First-time buyers will continue to play a substantial role in the nation’s housing market, but their influence may be limited depending on where the government lands on tax reform.


Posted on December 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm
Tania Harmon | Posted in Buying, Real Estate Trends, Selling Your Home | Tagged , ,

Homeowners Insurance: Protecting Your Home

by Kenady Swan

 

 

In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset. And it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowners insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80% of his or her house.

 

What a standard homeowners policy covers

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.

The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as fire or lighting. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies.

Other coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy typically includes the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.

If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.

 

How much insurance do you need?

Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:

·      Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?

·      Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?

·      Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?

Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.

 

Protect your assets

Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.

 

Rebuild your home

You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property. In pricey markets such as San Francisco, land costs account for over 75 percent of a home’s value.

The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pay the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes.

Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.

Remember that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.

 

Replacing your valuables

If something happens to your home, chances are the things inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.

There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectables. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.

To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.

 

Create a home inventory file

It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. The little bit of extra preparation can also keep your mind at ease.  The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room of your home and individually record the items of significant value. Simple inventory lists are available online. You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following items:

·      Item description and quantity

·      Manufacturer or brand name

·      Serial number or model number

·      Where the item was purchased

·      Receipt or other proof of purchase \Photocopies of any appraisals, along with the name and address of the appraiser

·      Date of purchase (or age)

·      Current value

·      Replacement cost

Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles.

 

Storing your home inventory list

Make sure your inventory list and images will be safe incase your home is damaged or destroyed. Store them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online Web storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged). Once you have an inventory file set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.

We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard it against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster.


Posted on October 18, 2017 at 4:00 am
Tania Harmon | Posted in Buying |

Getting Organized Is Good for Your Home and Your Health

by Marilou Ubungen

 

For the last nine years, the HomeGain National Home Improvement Survey has been asking real estate professionals across the country the same question: What are the top 10 things a homeowner can do to get their home ready to sell?

 

And every year, the number one answer is: clean and de-clutter. In the latest survey, 99 percent of the real estate professionals queried ranked this task the most important. What’s more, they estimated that, for every dollar spent on the task, the homeowner would receive a whopping 403 percent return on their investment.

 

De-cluttering delivers big benefits to those who are not selling their homes, too. Studies show that living in a cluttered house is mentally stressful for the occupants and often leads to weight gain and other health problems.

 

So why do so many of us put off this important task? It’s hard work. It takes time. It’s physical. It’s emotional. And there are lots of decisions to make about what goes where, what gets tossed, and more. Worst of all, thinking about it makes it seem like an even bigger project than it really is—which is why experts say the best way to get started is to simply jump in.

 

The easy way to get started

The toughest part of getting organized is getting started. It’s too easy to say, “I’ll go through that closet later.” “I’ll get rid of those boxes later.” “I’ll donate those clothes later.”

 

Instead, replace “later” with “now.”

 

Grab a couple cardboard boxes and spend 90 minutes right now organizing one part of one room (a desk in your study, for example). Once you see that it’s not nearly as tough as you imagine, and actually feels satisfying and freeing, you’ll become energized and ready to take on even bigger organizing tasks tomorrow.

 

Here are some tips to keep you on track:

 

  • Tackle one room at a time.

 

  • Start with the easy stuff. Rounding up the things you know you want to toss, recycle, sell, or store.

 

  • Finish the task you start. Don’t pull everything out of a closet, for example, and then stop for the day, leaving the mess for later. Finish organizing the closet.

 

  • Get the whole family involved (these are important life lessons to pass along to your children).

 

  • Let phone calls and other disruptions wait until you’re done for the day.

 

Deciding what to keep

Once you make your way through the things you know you don’t want any more (broken appliances, unused gifts, outdated electronics, store returns, etc.), then it’s time to focus on the items that are useful, but don’t get used very often. Experts suggest two strategies. Choose the one that works best for you, or try using them in combination:

 

  • The 12-month test – If you haven’t used the item in the last year, get rid of it.

 

  • The cardboard box drill – Put items you’re not sure about in a cardboard box and set it aside. Whatever gets pulled out and used over the next two months can stay. The things that don’t get rescued should be sent packing.

 

How to handle keepsakes

Now for the toughest decision of all: What to do with those trophies, mementos, greeting cards, photos, kids’ art projects—and all the other things that trigger strong memories and emotional reactions.

 

First, go through these things and make sure they’re still things you want to keep. Some items may now remind you of a time—or a person—you want to forget.

 

Spend no more than 30 seconds reviewing each item. If you allow yourself to start wandering down memory lane, your organizing work will come to a screeching halt.

 

Take photos of items that are bulky or hard to store—especially the kids’ artwork, which tends to fall apart over time, anyway. Once you’ve captured the item in a photo, let the original go.

 

If there are keepsakes you inherited from your parents or relatives that hold no sentimental value for you, it’s time to say goodbye.

 

Stop saving so many things for your children. No matter what they say now, your kids will most likely only be interested in a few key mementos when they’re older. Designate a single memento box for each child.

 

Other people’s belongings

You should not be storing anything that doesn’t belong to you and/or the other current members of your household. Give back things you’ve borrowed. Get rid of the belongings of ex-spouses, ex-boyfriends, and ex-roommates. Get tough with your adult children; your days of providing a roof for their belongings are over.

 

Working with a professional

A professional organizer can teach you the tricks of the trade, help you make tough decisions about what to keep and what to let go, and consult with you about the best storage systems. Hiring a professional is also a good idea if you’re having trouble getting started or sticking with it. Expect to pay around $50 to $90 per hour for this kind of help.

 

Some final words of advice

While you’re getting organized, do not allow yourself to buy any non-necessities. Groceries, yes. But say no to clothes, toys, electronics, sporting goods, and other feel-good purchases.

 

When you’re done organizing, a good rule of thumb is that for every new item brought into the house, an old one has to leave.


Posted on September 28, 2017 at 1:25 am
Tania Harmon | Posted in Selling Your Home | Tagged , , ,

Seven Trends That Will Define the Home of the Future

by Tara Sharp

 

As sophisticated as homes are today, experts predict they’ll be far more so in the not-too-distant future— especially when it comes to their use of technology. Included are seven evolutionary trends that many expect to define the home of the future.

 

#1: Faster home-construction

Today, it takes somewhere between 18 months and two years to design and build your custom dream home. In the foreseeable future, experts predict that timeline will be slashed to six to nine months.

Architects will use immersion technology to not only develop plans faster, but also enable you to “walk” through a three-dimensional representation of the house and experience what it will be like to live there. Changes to the layout could be incorporated with a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse.

And, instead of delivering raw materials to the construction site and having workers cut and assemble them to match the plans, about 70 percent of the cutting and assembling work will take place in a precision-controlled factory environment. Once the foundation is ready, the pre-constructed walls, floors and roof will be delivered in “folded” sections, complete with windows, doors, fixtures, and even appliances, already installed.

 

#2: Alternative building materials and techniques

One of the big breakthroughs in home construction coming in the near future will be the use of steel framing in place of lumber.

Steel is not only stronger (able to withstand a 100-pound snow load, 110 mile per hour winds and significant earthquakes), it’s also far more eco-friendly than most people think (manufactured from up to 77 percent recycled materials) and much less wasteful (typical lumber framing generates 20 percent waste, while steel framing generates just two percent).

Other innovative home-building materials moving towards the mainstream include:

  • Wall insulation made of mushroom roots (it grows inside the air cavity, forming an air-tight seal).
  • Panels made of hemp and lime.
  • Windows made from recycled wood fiber and glass.
  • Recycled-glass floor and counter tiles.
  • Reclaimed wood (beams and flooring re-milled and repurposed).

 

#3: Smaller homes with inventive layouts

The optimum home size for many Americans has been shrinking, and experts predict it will shrink more in the future. But it will feel bigger than it is because the layout will be so practical.

The driving forces behind the small-house movement (millennials purchasing their first home and baby boomers looking to downsize) aren’t interested in formal dining rooms, home offices, guest quarters and other spaces that have only one use and are only occasionally occupied. And they certainly aren’t interested in formal entries, high ceilings and three-car garages. They want an informal house layout, with flexible, adaptable spaces that can be used every day in one way or another.

Many of these homes will also feature a second master bedroom, so parents, children and grandparents can all comfortably live under one roof.

 

#4: Walkable neighborhoods

Even today, homebuyers are willing to give up some of their wants for a new house in order to get a location that’s within walking distance to stores, restaurants and other amenities. In the future, that trend is expected to only grow stronger.

 

#5: The net-zero house

For some time now, homeowners and homebuilders have both been striving to make the structures where we live more energy-efficient (green housing projects accounted for 20% of all newly built homes in 2012). But in the future, the new goal with be a net-zero home: A home that uses between 60 to 70 percent less energy than a conventional home, with the balance of its energy needs supplied by renewable technologies (solar, wind, etc.).

Essentially, these are homes that sustain themselves. While they do consume energy produced by the local utility, they also produce energy of their own, which can be sold back to the utility through a “net metering” program, offsetting the energy purchased.

 

#6 High-tech features

The technology revolution that’s transformed our phones, computers and TVs is going to push further into our homes in the not-too-distant future.

Examples include:

  • Compact robots (similar to the Roomba vacuum) that will clean windows and more.
  • Video feeds inside the oven that will allow you to use your phone to check on what’s cooking.
  • Faucet sensors that detect bacteria in food.
  • Blinds that will automatically open and close depending on the time of day, your habits and the amount of sun streaming through the windows.
  • Refrigerators that will monitor quantities, track expiration dates, provide recipes, display family photos, access the Web, play music, and more.
  • Washers and dryers that can be operated remotely.
  • Appliances that will recognize your spoken commands.
  • Heating and cooling systems that automatically adapt to your movements and can predict your wants.

 

#7: A higher level of security

In the future, home will continue to be a place where we want to feel safe and secure. To accomplish that, you can expect:

  • Sensors that can alert you to water and gas leaks.
  • Facial recognition technology that can automatically determine whether someone on your property is a friend or foe.
  • A smart recognition system that will open the garage door, turn off the security system, unlock the doors and turn on the interior lights when it senses your car approaching.
  • The capability to create the illusion that you’re home and moving about the property when you’re actually someplace else.

 

This is no pipe dream

Many of these products, processes and strategies are already in use. Some are still being tested. And others are only in the incubator stage. But in the not-too-distant future, experts believe they’ll all be available to homeowners across the country.

 


Posted on August 16, 2017 at 11:35 pm
Tania Harmon | Posted in Buying, Real Estate Trends, Selling Your Home | Tagged

Where to Eat on Maui – South Maui’s New Gathering Place

by Tania Harmon

 

One of my favorite new spots to eat and drink in South Maui is Shearwater Tavern. Located in the Azeka Shopping Center Mauka Side, Shearwater occupies the back corner spot where the right half of Stella Blues used to sit.

For years, Stella Blues was my favorite spot for a Pau Hana and pupus. They had a great casual atmosphere, but you could go in there after an event dressed to the nines (the nines on Maui that is) and not feel out of place. They had a huge selection of pupus – emphasis on selection – and the best bar staff around. I was sad to see Stella’s close and have been anxiously waiting for 3 long years for a place to fill the void. Not any place would do.

Enter Shearwater Tavern. When I heard that Chef and Restaurateur DK Kodama (of Sansei fame) was opening a new gastro pub in the old Stella’s location I jumped on their Instagram feed and stalked their posts daily as they prepared to open. In fact I think I may have been their first follower. The concept promised to be a ‘fun, casual neighborhood gathering place to share great food and drinks’, sourced form local Maui farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Local first, organic and sustainable when possible, this place would be right up my alley.

Since they opened in December last year, it has become my new favorite place to grab a cocktail and pupu (or four). I’m a big pupu girl. I could make a meal of pupus and often do. I prefer to order a large selection for the table and graze family style. They offer daily Happy Hour specials from 5 to 6 pm and late night Fridays and Saturdays from 10 pm to midnight with $2 off draft beers and signature craft cocktails, plus 50% off appetizers and veggies. Veggies you ask skeptically? Yes, veggies! These are not the veggies you grew up eating. Their veggie dishes are my favorite dishes on the menu.

My Favorite Eats

CRISPY BRUSSEL SPROUTS – Pickled Jalapenos, Konbu Aioli, Parmesan Cheese, Diced Granny Smith Apples – This is the dish that we always have order multiples of because it is everyone’s favorite.

ROASTED MOROCCAN SPICED BABY CARROTS & BEETS – Cumin Infused Aioli, Pine Nuts, Goat Cheese, Pickled Radishes – Another crowd favorite, but it was gone before I could take a picture.

 

GRILLED ASPARAGUS MILANESE – Sunny-Side Up Egg, Parmesan Cheese, White Truffle Oil, Toasted Breadcrumbs

And from their ‘Starters’ menu:

CALAMARI – with a Pepperoncini Balsalmic Aioli

 

ROASTED PORK BELLY BUN – Slow Roasted, Kimchee Pickles, Pork Belly, Hoisin

 

KING’S NATURAL NEW YORK STRIP STEAK – with Organic Tatsoi Leaves, Roasted Tomatoes, Fingerling Potatoes, Demi Sauce.

I am a rare steak kinda gal. And most restaurants cook rare a little too much for my liking, but this one was perfectly rare. So ono!

And the drinks. . .

THE MELTING POT – Cazadores Reposado Tequila, Gran Classico, Passion Fruit Puree, House Made Sweet and Sour, Clementine, Cilantro and a Hawaiian Chili Pepper Sea Salt Rim

The Hawaiian Chili Pepper Sea Salt was the best part. I wanted a side of it to keep dipping my finger in, but I resisted asking.

And no pub experience would be complete without a flight of beer. They offer a great selection of local and mainland craft beers with a 4-beer flight for just $10.

 

Shearwater Tavern is located at 1279 South Kīhei Rd (Azeka Mauka Shopping Center), Kīhei. To learn more, call 808-793-2324 or visit the Shearwater’s website.

 

 

 


Posted on July 22, 2017 at 12:20 am
Tania Harmon | Posted in Food & Drinks, Maui Lifestyle, Where to Eat on Maui | Tagged , ,

Selling Your Home: The Impact of Staging

by Tara Sharp

 

How can you make your home more attractive to potential buyers? The answer is with some “home staging”. According to the Wall Street Journal, implementing some basic interior design techniques can not only speed up the sale of your home but also increase your final selling price.

It all comes down to highlighting your home’s strengths, downplaying its weaknesses, and making it more appealing to the largest pool of prospective buyers. Staging an empty house is also important to help buyers visualize how the spaces would be used, and to give the home warmth and character.

 

Cohesiveness Is Key

Make the inside match the outside. For example, if the exterior architectural style of your house is Victorian or Craftsman Bungalow, the interior should be primarily outfitted with furniture styles from essentially the same era. Prospective buyers who like the exterior style of your home are going to expect something similar when they step inside. If the two styles don’t agree or at least complement each other, there is likely going to be an immediate disconnect for the buyer. Contact your agent to help determine the architectural style of your home and what makes it unique.

There is always room for flexibility. Not all your furnishings need to match, and even the primary furnishings do not need to be an exact match to the architectural style of your home. To create cohesion, you simply need to reflect the overall look-and-feel of the exterior.

 

The Role of Personal Expression

Every home is a personal expression of its owner. But when you become a seller, you’ll want to deemphasize much of the décor that makes a place uniquely yours and instead look for ways to make it appeal to your target market. Keep in mind, your target market is made up of the group of people most likely to be interested in a home like yours—which is something your agent can help you determine.

 

Your Goal: Neutralize and Brighten

Since personal style differs from person to person, a good strategy to sell your home is to “neutralize” the design of your interior. A truly neutral interior design allows people touring the house to easily imagine their own belongings in the space—and to envision how some simple changes would make it uniquely their own.

In short, you want to downplay your own personal expression, while making it easy for others to mentally project their own sense of style on the space. Ideas include:

  • Paint over any bold wall colors with something more neutral, like a light beige, a warm gray, or a soft brown. The old advice used to be, “paint everything white,” but often that creates too sterile of an environment, while dark colors can make a room look small, even a bit dirty. Muted tones and soft colors work best.
  • Consider removing wallpaper if it’s a bold or busy design.
  • Replace heavy, dark curtains with neutral-colored shear versions; this will soften the hard edges around windows while letting in lots of natural light.
  • Turn on lamps, and if necessary, install lighting fixtures to brighten any dark spaces—especially the entry area.
  • Make sure everything is extremely clean. You may even want to hire professionals to give your home a thorough deep clean. Remember, the kitchen and bathrooms are by far the two most important rooms in a house when selling, so ongoing maintenance is important.

 

The Importance of De-Cluttering

Above all, make sure every room—including closets and the garage—is clutter-free. Family photos, personal memorabilia, and collectibles should be boxed up. Closets, shelves, and other storage areas should be mostly empty. Work benches should be free of tools and projects. Clear the kitchen counters, store non-necessary cookware, and remove all those magnets from the refrigerator door.

The same goes for furniture. If removing a chair, a lamp, a table, or other furnishings will make a particular space look larger or more inviting, then by all means do it.

You don’t want your home to appear cold, un-loved, or unlived-in, but you do want to remove distractions and provide prospective buyers with a blank canvas of sorts. Plus, de-cluttering your home now will make it that much easier to pack when it comes time to move.

 

Where to Start

Contact your agent for advice on how to most effectively stage your home or for a recommendation on a professional stager. While the simple interior design techniques outlined above may seem more like common sense than marketing magic, you’d be surprised at how many homeowners routinely overlook them. And the results are clear: staging your house to make it more appealing to your target buyer is often all it takes to speed the sale and boost the price.

 


Posted on July 11, 2017 at 10:16 am
Tania Harmon | Posted in Selling Your Home, Staging |

Flower Power on Maui – Sunflowers Energize Maui Community

by Tania Harmon

 

Photo Credit: Pacific Biodiesel

Earlier this year I recall seeing a picture of State Representative Kaniela Ing posing in a newly planted field come across my Facebook feed. The post mentioned hemp and sunflowers as a possible agricultural alternative for renewable energy. I thought to myself, hey that would be cool if they could make it work on a large scale. I moved on to the next post without giving it much more thought.

“We just planted the first regenerative crops, sunflowers (with hemp coming soon), on old Maui sugarcane land! The end of the sugar era was met with a lot of fear, but Kelly King and Pacific Biodiesel saw an opportunity for positive change and unity. Uncle Alika Atay, Elle Cochran, and I are proud to share this vision of sustainable, natural agriculture, and a 100% renewable future for Hawai’i.  #forMauisFuture” (Photo Credit : Kaniela Ing’s Facebook Page)

 

That is until 2 months later when my Instagram feed turned bright yellow with images of anybody and everybody galloping through gorgeous fields of sunflowers. As the realization that the mountain scape in the background was the Wailuku hillside, it all came together. And for the first time I actually considered, perhaps this could be our future in Maui. Visions of yellow fields blanketing the Maui landscape as I peer out an airplane window upon landing came to mind – and it made me smile.

The endless, majestic green waves of sugarcane that once covered the island had started to disappear last year. With each return flight the sight of the expansive green that had become symbolic of a welcome home hug had slowly started to brown. And the wider the brown fields grew, the heavier my heart became. There is no doubt that the end of the sugarcane era was inevitable, but the uncertainty of what would replace the green blanket had been weighing heavy on many minds on this island. Perhaps sunflowers, synonymous with happy feelings of hope and renewal, are the perfect symbol for the next generation of crops on Maui. For a few weeks in April, Maui residents and tourists became euphoric with the sight of the sunflower field. So enamored at the sight in fact, the county had to post ‘No Parking’ signs along the sides of the road.  Sightseers were so distracted by the beauty they seemed to forget the fact that the parcel sits on the corner of two busy highways.

Hawaii’s Largest Biofuel Crop Project

It turns out that Pacific Biodiesel had planted just 14 acres, a small portion of the 115-acre sight reserved for this new project. The crop was perfectly timed to bloom in time for an Earth Day community celebration and the plan was PR gold. It’s all anyone talked about for weeks, but as it turns out, the date was actually selected to commemorate the one year anniversary of Pacific Biodiesel received the incredible honor of being named ‘The World’s First Biodiesel Producer Certified by the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance for Sustainable Production and Distribution Practices’. With a public commitment to research and utilize alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to use non-GMO crops, local compost to replace fertilizer and crop rotation to reduce pests Pacific Biodiesel has quickly become a community favorite company.

Most people on Maui know Pacific Biodiesel is headquartered in Kahului and converts used cooking oil from restaurants into biodiesel which powers boats and cars in Maui. Some may even know the company was one of the first commercial biodiesel plants in the US and actually had the first retail biodiesel pump anywhere in the US. What people might be surprised to learn is that according to the company’s press release, the bulk of Pacific Biodiesel’s fuel is currently used for utility power generation – all while diverting 270 tons of trap grease from the Maui landfill each month. I had no idea!

Hawaii’s Green Energy Goals

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership created in 2008 between the State of Hawaii and the US Department of Energy, set out to chart a path to energy independence in the Aloha state by 2045. In 2015, Hawaii generated more than 23% of our energy from renewable resources. With alternative options for the grid including solar and wind, biodiesel may be able to move into a ‘back up’ position (i.e. to be used to stabilize the grid when wind and solar outputs drop off). Pacific Biodiesel foresees the most valuable use of biodiesel in the future will be in heavy-duty transportation. And because biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine or turbine, the impact it can have on Maui as we aim for energy independence and less reliance on importing our food is enormous.

I think what excites me the most about this initiative is the company’s ‘Zero Waste Agriculture and Energy Model’. The crops can be used not only for fuel, but for food, fertilizer and as a chemical-free environment for honey bees to thrive and pollinate (vital to our local farms and flora). Additionally the company’s expansion plan to build new facilities on neighbor islands is forward thinking, reducing inter-island shipping, as well as expanding jobs throughout the state – better for our land, better for our ocean, better for our community.

Photo Credit: Pacific Biodiesel Facebook Page

The next crop is expected to bloom later this month. I look forward to seeing my social media feeds light up with bright beautiful yellow sunflowers.

For more information and to keep up-to-date with the company’s progress visit http://www.biodiesel.com/

 

Biodiesel is available at retail pumps on Oahu, the Big Island and on Maui at:

Pacific Biodiesel Pump located at 40 Hobron Ave. in Kahului and

Minit Stop Lahaina – Ohana Fuels located at 10 Kupuohi St. in Lahaina.

 

 

 

 


Posted on June 8, 2017 at 8:53 am
Tania Harmon | Posted in Community, Maui Lifestyle, Nature, Things To Do On Maui | Tagged ,

MAUI CRAFT TOURS – Maui’s Guide to All Things Craft

by Tania Harmon

 

Maui Craft Tour HeaderPhoto Credit: Maui Craft Tours

Craft Beverages. Craft Beer. Craft Spirits. Have you ever wondered what makes a beverage ‘craft’? Often, when we hear the word craft we think in terms of what it is not: large, mass-produced, corporate. Yet some define craft in terms of what it is: independent, small production, using time-honored and traditional methods.  However you define it, there is no mistaking the fact that the craft beverage category is what’s hot and has created not only a following, but a culture of it’s own. Maui is no stranger to this growing phenomenon. Home to multiple breweries, distilleries and a winery, Maui’s craft beverage culture is one of its best kept secrets.

Maui Craft Tour Bus

 

Inspired by a desire to share the stories of local Maui purveyors and their relationships with agriculture, their craft and the local culinary culture, husband and wife team David and Carrie Adelmann, created Maui Craft Tours, the ultimate way to experience the craft food and beverage culture on Maui. Maui Craft Tours’ carefully curated day trips pair guests in small groups (no more than 13 guests per tour) with expert guides on a memorable journey through Maui’s craft culture scene. All-inclusive excursions include: behind-the-scenes, exclusive, brewery, distillery and winery tours; beer, wine and spirit tastings; farm-to-table, locally-crafted eats and the best part – someone else is driving!  Guests are offered a unique opportunity to meet a few of the local artisans who have pioneered Maui’s craft culture – Maui Wine, Maui Brewing Co., Hawaii Sea Spirits, Hali’imaile Distilling, The Mill House, Surfing Goat Dairy and Maui Gold Pineapple.

Maui Pineapple Tour

Photo Credit: Maui Pineapple Tours

All tours begin in Central Maui at Maui Tropical Plantation (as all days should) with a cup of The Mill House Roasting Café’s 100% Maui Grown Coffee fresh roasted by experienced hands. Also included with every tour: transportation to all destination sites; guided tours, tastings and gratuities for partner tour guides at each destination; a locally sourced, handcrafted lunch; Maui Craft Tours souvenir travel cup and tote bag. Maui Craft Tours currently offers 2 different tour options ranging from 6-7 hours in length with 2 more in the works scheduled to start late Spring 2017.

TASTE OF MAUI (6 hours) $189

MAUI BREWING CO.

A 30-minute tour providing an up-close glimpse of the Kihei brew house, cellar and packaging line, followed by a guided tasting of their flagship beers and souvenir gift to keep.

Beer on Maui - Maui Brewery

Photo Credit: Miles Kreisberg

SURFING GOAT DAIRY

A farm-to-table handmade lunch and tasting of their flagship goat cheeses

HAWAII SEA SPIRITS ORGANIC FARM AND DISTILLERY

An in-depth look at the company’s Lower Kula organic farm, sustainable farming and distilling practices, bottling center, a tasting in the adjacent Martini Garden plus a visit to the gift shop to pick up your souvenir shot glass!

MAUIWINE

An exclusive look at grape growing and winemaking in Upcountry Maui with a walk through the historical winery grounds and cellar followed by a taste of some of MauiWine’s lovingly crafted wines in their tasting room, located in the iconic King’s Cottage.

ISLAND CRAFT ADVENTURE (7 hours) $269

Expanding on THE TASTE OF MAUI Tour this tour also offers

THE MILLHOUSE COFFEE ROASTING CO.

A private coffee seminar and pour-over tutorial hosted by this innovative team of coffee connoisseurs at The Mill House Coffee Roasting Company

SURFING GOAT DAIRY

Following lunch, a private tour of the Kula dairy from one of the farm’s expert tour guides where guests will meet and feed the happy goats and experience a taste of what it takes to raise these adorable animals, collect the milk and produce these lovingly-crafted, artisanal cheeses.

MAUI WINE

After the tour, guests participate in an intimate and casual tasting in the historic “Old Jail” where they are expertly guided through a selection of MauiWine’s small-production, single-varietal Ulupalakua Vineyards Estate Wines; including unreleased or back vintages.

COMING SOON!

THE ULTIMATE CRAFT ADVENTURE (8 hours)

A culinary dream day! The day starts with an exclusive coffee tour and tasting followed by in depth behind-the-scenes production tours expertly guided tastings at MauiWine, Ocean Vodka (Sundays) or Hali’imaile Distilling (Tuesdays) and Maui Brewing Co. Midway through the day, pause for a private family-style farm-to-table lunch in the heart of the beautiful winery grounds. For the Grand Finale, return to Maui Tropical Plantation where the team at The Mill House treats you to hand-selected pairings that perfectly represent their passion for all things craft.

The Mill House

FIELD TO GLASS (8.5 hours)

An opportunity to learn about the pineapple: the quintessential island fruit, its history on Maui, and how three local purveyors are using its unique juice. Follow the pineapple’s journey from the Hali’imaile Pineapple fields to MauiWine, Hali’imaile Distilling, and Maui Brewing Co. Along the way, learn how each of these artisans is turning pineapple in to unique island-inspired craft beverages. Guests enjoy a midday locally sourced lunch at the famous Hali’imaile General Store. Finally, reminisce on the day’s adventures over handcrafted drinks and pupus by The Mill House—a truly innovative farm-to-table dining experience. Delicious craft food and beverages fill this unforgettable full-day craft adventure!

All guests must be 21+ years of age to participate in tours. Private tours and gift cards available. Tours may also be upgraded to door-to-door service for an additional fee.

For more information email info@mauicrafttours.com or call 808.633.1801. Reservations can be made at www.mauicrafttours.com.


Posted on May 8, 2017 at 11:27 pm
Tania Harmon | Posted in Maui Lifestyle, Things To Do On Maui, Where to Eat on Maui | Tagged