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Handyman Exemption Increases to $1,500

Handyman Exemption Increases to $1,500


After 27 years, we passed legislation increasing the  handyman exemption from $1,000 to $1,500.  The handyman exemption enables persons other than licensed contractors to perform tasks for which the aggregate contract price is less than $1,500.  However this does not apply to projects which require a building permit or electrical or plumbing work.

Also, the handyman exemption will only apply to labor and materials.  “Taxes and all other items” was removed, so the General Excise Tax will no longer be included as part of the $1,500 exemption.  The increased handyman exemption amount is effective as of July 10, 2019 and was enacted without the Governor’s signature.

Call for Action: Support No Increase to Residential Property Tax Rate – Resolution 17-70, CD1


It’s time to take a stand in support of the Honolulu City Council’s Resolution 17-70, CD1 to keep the Residential property tax rate at $3.50 and the two tier Residential A rate at $4.50 and $9.00. We all know that any increase in these rates will only add to the cost of housing for local families, whether they rent or buy.

This is your chance to submit testimony to your City Councilmember and have your voice heard. The Resolution will be heard by the Special Budget Committee on Tuesday, May 16.

We appreciate your participation in this Call For Action. If you have already shared your concerns with your Council member, we thank you.

CLICK HERE – Submit Testimony

Contact Nelson Higa at 792-7832 or email at, for questions and/or additional information.


FHA Lowers Premiums

JANUARY 12, 2017

On January 9, 2017, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced it would reduce FHA annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) by 25 basis points.  This reduction is a victory for the National Association of REALTORS® whose members have called for lower fees on FHA loans given the ongoing strength of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, which exceeded the required reserve ratio for the second year in a row.

The premium reduction will be effective for most new mortgages with a closing/disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017 (excluding Section 247 Loans, Hawaiian Home Lands). Full details of the premium changes are published in Mortgagee Letter 2017-01.

2017 NAR President William E. Brown issued the following statement on behalf of NAR:

“Every time we cut the cost of mortgage insurance it means more borrowers meet the debt-to-income ratio required to purchase a home. It follows that dropping mortgage insurance premiums today will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA. That puts more money in the fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American dream.”

Mortgagee Letter 2017-01(link is external)

HUD Press Release (link is external)

NAR Press Release 

NAR Letter on Insurance Premiums 

Remodeling Spending in 2016 By State


Washington, D.C., home owners must have caught a remodeling bug. The ZIP code 20854 – a close-in suburb of Washington, D.C. – tops the list of estimates homeowners will spend on remodeling projects this year.

Read more: New Roof Is Greatest Remodeling Value
Owners in this area are on track to spend more than $68 million on home improvements this year – the highest of any of the 25,000 ZIP codes analyzed by the National Association of Home Builders. Part of the reason for that ZIP code’s remodeling surge is that 53 percent of the homes there were built between 1960 and 1980, known as a “sweet spot” for remodeling.

Their analysis looked at total spending on home improvements, the number of owner-occupied homes, and the average spending per improvement for 2016, and found that on average, home owners will spend $5,800 on home improvements this year. However, a few pockets across the country will spend about triple that, up to $18,000.

Areas with the most remodeling expenditures tend to have the highest number of homes built between 1960 and 1980, but hot remodeling pockets have also been equated with high levels of highly educated and high-income residents.

For example, ZIP code 10007 – which is lower Manhattan and contains the World Trade Center – topped the list for highest spending per improvement at more than $22,000. In the area, 99 percent of home owners have a college degree and their average income is well over half a million dollars.

“On the other hand, in the fifth ZIP code on the list (94028, Portola Valley in California), the average remodel is a little over $17,000, and this is driven in part by the age of the owner-occupied housing stock (with a third of it built between 1960 and 1980), although home owners in Portola Valley are also relatively wealthy and well-educated,” NAHB researchers note on the builder tradegroup’s Eye on Housing blog.

Source: “NAHB Releases Remodeling by ZIP Code Estimates for 2016,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (May 25, 2016)

High Court Affirms Trash Pickup for Condos

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser
May 15, 2016

A Hawaii Supreme Court decision is forcing the city to continue trash collection for scores of apartments, condominiums and nonprofit buildings, a service city officials have been trying to put the brakes on for more than a year. Justices on Wednesday reaffirmed an earlier Circuit Court decision placing an injunction on the city’s plan to end front-loader pickup for about 180 sites.

The courts ruled, in essence, that the city’s decision to end the service was tantamount to “impermissible privatization,” in violation of constitutional merit principles and civil service laws. The injunction request was filed by United Public Workers, the union that represents Hawaii’s government refuse haulers.

Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina expressed disappointment with the high court’s decision, as did City Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi. City leaders have been pushing for a halt to front-loader trash collection for the condominiums and nonprofits, arguing that the free service benefits only a fraction of those communities. Most condominiums and nonprofits on Oahu pay for their front-loader refuse pickup.

Kahikina said she’s not sure how her department will be able to continue the service under current conditions.
The city has a fleet of seven front-loader vehicles, with each now operating beyond its seven-year, useful service period. The department is struggling to put four of them on duty each day, as required. A new truck would cost about $375,000.

“The trucks are dying and the Council keeps putting in the proviso language (in the budget) that I can’t spend any money to replace those trucks,” Kahi- kina said. Because of the Council’s consistent refusal to fund new trucks, the administration decided not to seek funding for them for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1.

The court’s decision means Kahikina and her top lieutenants will need to huddle up to figure out their next move, which may involve asking the Council for funding for one or two new trucks in the coming year. Unless new trucks are purchased, “once those trucks die, completely, I will have to contract out” for private haulers, she said. “I won’t have a choice.”

Kobayashi said she’s puzzled by the court’s ruling. She maintains that it’s unfair that some nonprofits and condominiums get the service for free from the city while most others pay private haulers. In addition, she said, the service requires city trucks and city employees to go onto private property to conduct the service, which touches off possible liability and safety issues for the city, its employees and the public.

Kobayashi’s Budget Committee approved its final drafts of the 2017 budget bills on Tuesday, but changes could be made when the full Council takes its final votes on June 1.
UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua could not be reached for comment. Kahikina said about 10 refuse workers operate the front-loaders and, if the service is discontinued, all would retain their jobs by working as manual truck collectors.

In 2014, the administration proposed charging single-family homeowners, condominium associations and private businesses monthly trash pickup fees. The plan was quickly scrapped by Council members.

FTC Consumer Blog addresses Mortgage Phishing Scam

MARCH 18, 2016

On March 18 the FTC Consumer Blog issued a post focused on hackers who have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again.

FTC Consumer Blog: “Scammers Phish for Mortgage Closing Costs(link is external)

NAR : Urgent Alert: Sophisticated Email Scams Targeting the Real Estate Industry



Cadmus Properties has proudly served Hawaii for over 30 years. Our management expertise can help any Association navigate troubled waters. For more information on our Association Management Services please contact our office at (808) 531-6847 or via email at

The Hawaii PUC Net Metering Ruling and How It Affects You


Hawaii’s new solar deal is here and in summary form here – and the good news is Maui County still has one of the best home solar programs in the US!.

You are not affected by the ruling if:

  • You already own an installed net metered system.
  • You already have net energy metering (NEM) conditional pre-approval (CPA) but haven’t installed your system yet.
  • Your NEM application was submitted to the utility postmarked 10/12/15 or earlier.

In cases 2 and 3 you will be grandfathered into the old deal and benefit from full retail export credit. You must now make sure you purchase and install your system before your NEM CPA expires. You can find your CPA expiration date on your original CPA letter from the utility.

If you are unsure if your NEM CPA application was received in time to be grandfathered, and when it expires, please contact your respective utility on:

Maui: 808-871-8461 ext. 2445
Molokai, Lanai: 1-877-871-8461

Big Island: 808-969-0358
Oahu: 808-543-4760


The Public Utilities Commission issued Decision & Order 33258 on Monday 10/12/2015 ending the net energy meeting (NEM) program for new Hawaii solar customers.

If your NEM PA application was not submitted with a postmark dated 10/12/15 or earlier you now have 2 immediate options for home solar. The new rules should make it easier and quicker for new customers to get approved for interconnection. All new home solar customers will face a minimum utility bill of $25. Commercial customers will face a minimum bill of $50.


This option is for customers that expect to consume all of the energy produced by their solar system onsite at their home or business, and do not need to export excess energy to the grid. These systems will typically be designed to use energy management and energy storage systems to balance onsite generation with usage. With these advanced features, self-supply systems will have less impact on the grid and will receive fast-track interconnection review. At this time, there is no cap on the number of Self-Supply systems that may be installed.


The grid-supply option will allow customers to export excess energy to the grid as needed, and customers will receive energy credits on their monthly bills, similar to the old NEM program. The Grid-Supply option reduces the credit rate for energy exported to the grid for participating customers. The lower credit rate for energy exported to the grid reflects the Public Utility Commission’s commitment to achieve an affordable, cost- effective energy supply for all customers. There is a cap of 5MW (equivalent of about 1,000 single family homes) on the total capacity of Grid-Supply systems in Maui County and the same in Hawaii County. City and County of Honolulu has a new grid supply cap of 25MW.

Maui and Hawaii County grid supply export credits (c/kWh)

  • Maui – 17c
  • Molokai – 24c
  • Lanai – 28c
  • Big Island – 15c

It is our understanding that MECO will be able to provide application forms for the new interconnection options within 10 days of the ruling (10/22/2015).

There is a third option, currently in development, that residential customers will be able to opt-into when it becomes available:


“Time-of-Use” tariff – The Commission has also directed the HECO Companies to develop a new, expanded time-of-use tariff that allows all customers to save money by shifting energy usage to the middle of the day to take advantage of lower-cost solar energy. Solar customers would be encouraged to consume grid power at a low cost and store solar power in a battery, to be fed into the grid at a higher rate during periods of highest demand (5pm-9pm). Initially, this tariff will be available for any residential customers that opt-in to the program. This new tariff will encourage PV system owners in invest in home energy storage (batteries) to benefit from the new TOU rate structure.


New applications to expand existing NEM systems received after 10/12/2015 will probably not be grandfathered. If you apply for pre-approval to expand your system beyond the size originally approved, the expansion of an existing NEM system may void your previous NEM agreement and you will automatically be required to transfer both the original system and the expansion to either the grid-supply or self-supply option. Please contact Rising Sun immediately if you are hoping to expand your existing NEM system and we will explain your options to you.


The PUC ruling states that grandfathered NEM customers are allowed to remainunder the existing NEM tariff through an ownership transfer, tenant change or account name change events. That means if you sell your NEM solar home or change tenants in a NEM solar rental property, the new owner, tenant or utility bill account holder will benefit from the old NEM program.


Cadmus Properties has proudly served Hawaii for over 30 years. Our management expertise can help any Association navigate troubled waters. For more information on our Association Management Services please contact our office at (808) 531-6847 or via email at