Aloha! I hope everyone has enjoyed a fun and safe Independence Day Weekend here in our beautiful Hawaii. As I sit here in a street cafe writing this post in Kapahulu, the afternoon sun is out, the winds are blowing through the trees and you can tell everyone’s having a great time. Sounds good to me! But while the the setting sun and fireworks may be a beautiful sight to see, there’s something in our midst that is anything but beautiful — ugly houses!
I’m sure you’ve seen them about, maybe even in your own neighborhood. Possibly even your next door neighbor! You know what I’m talking about — high grass, weeds, mail piling up, peeling paint, junked cars, rusted mailbox, etc. So what’s really going on behind the scenes of these ugly houses? Maybe the owners still live there, maybe there are bad tenants or maybe it’s been abandoned altogether.
While on the exterior it’s obvious there’s some form of distress — whether personal, family, medical, financial — the cause of this distress might be any of the following:
- Owners cannot keep up with the mortgage payments, possibly facing foreclosure, and abandoned the property
- Owners cannot afford to maintain the property
- Owners have some other type of family or personal distress that’s keeping them away from maintaining the house
- Bad tenants are neglecting to keep the house in proper condition
- Owners live outside of Hawaii and are not aware of the deteriorating condition of the house
- Owners have passed away and the surviving heirs are tasked with the maintenance
- Anything else where the payments or maintenance of the house are not given proper priority or attention
So what can you do if you have one of these ugly houses in your neighborhood?
Do you have to just take it and allow it to drag down your own property value? Not necessarily. There is some action you can take to figure out what the underlying situation is and to help fix the problem. Here are just a few choices:
- If you have a cordial relationship, ask if they need the name of a good handyman or general contractor. This is much more tactful than saying “What’s up with your head-high lawn?” They might respond with the true story of why the house is in poor shape.
- Talk to the next door neighbors. They might know more than you do.
- Talk with a local Hawaii real estate investor (such as myself!) who may be able to locate and speak with the owner, purchase the property outright (while helping the owner at the same time) and fix it up, thereby helping keep your neighborhood looking beautiful and keeping your property value from dropping unnecessarily. This can be as simple as calling them, giving them the address and letting them do what they do!
- If the owners can’t be found or are uncooperative in addressing their property’s effect on the neighborhood, then call the Honolulu County Department of Planning and Permitting’s Residential Code Enforcement Branch at (808) 768-8127.
Even the best neighborhoods in Hawaii have that one house that’s an eyesore, that makes all the other responsible homeowners wince every time they drive by. You don’t have to sit around hoping it will resolve itself. Somewhere there’s a problem that needs a solution, a situation that needs to be resolved, a homeowner that needs help. You can help by reaching out or anonymously speaking with an investor or the local authorities.