How the Coconut Wireless affects Kauai Real Estate

Although I grew up in small farming towns, we moved to Kauai from the city.  I have many embarassingly funny stories about my cultural adjustment, especially getting used to what we call the “Coconut Wireless”…

Enjoy the song and lyrics – Coconut Wireless, by Kepa Kruse, a Kauai musician

When you live as a small community on a rock in the middle of the ocean about 50 miles wide, it’s natural that we know what’s going on with each other.  There’s literally no place to hide 🙂  The good part is people learn to live and let live.  I’ve been to many gatherings where several “ex’s” and their new spouses were a welcome part of the extended ohana (family).  The spirit of aloha truly at work.

So what does that have to do with real estate?  Well, the coconut wireless is active about the history of houses, just like relationships.

Click for video walk through as short sale listing

This REO listing in Princeville is a prime example.  It went into escrow this week at a reduced price of $650,000 after initially being listed for $807,900. 

I previously had this property listed as a short sale, with 9 different offers ranging from $698,000 to $775,000. 

In the midst of the market activity and offers, a local roofer found a problem that became a part of the Princeville coconut wireless real estate updates.  In fact a buyer’s agent showed the house after having a “board meeting” about the roof while surfing that morning.  Mind you, the roof report was never in writing. 

Even though we documented the needed repairs, pushed the lender to accept the current offers vs. a lower REO price – they remained non-negotiable.  There were other properties in Princeville owned by the same lender where similar roof problems also led to a much lower final sales price.  However, the lender wouldn’t negotiate from the appraised value that didn’t factor in cost of repairs.

Just as with relationship news, the coconuts always get bigger with the telling.  Houses, just like people, get a reputation that’s hard to get rid of.  How do you effectively explain that to a lien holder based in New York??

Top 3 Tips to keep your home off the Kauai real estate coconut wireless; 

  1. Before listing, invest in a thorough home inspection report.   You’ll then know up-front what your buyers will find. 
  2. If you can afford to fix anything identified, fix it.
  3. If not, use the report as disclosure.  It’ll make for stronger negotiations and a better bottom-line result, with less risk.

If you haven’t already listened to the local song in this post, please turn up your speakers and give yourself a treat.  For more local ‘kine music visit

About Susanna "Susie" Kunkel, RA

With a belief that life is too short to not follow your dreams, Susie and her daughter became new Kauai residents in less than 4 months after visiting for the first time in 2000. She brings a wealth of information from her background in administrative, contract and paralegal work in a variety of industries including technology, investment banking, biotech and estate planning. As a Realtor, Susies's tenacious and technical approach have earned her a large group of extremely loyal clients. Susanna is a steadfast believer in "The Golden Rule", and applies it to her approach as a Realtor. "Each client and each property are unique, so it's important to me to listen intently to what my clients' goals are, and to make sure I go above and beyond to help meet them."
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2 Responses to How the Coconut Wireless affects Kauai Real Estate

  1. Daniel White says:

    Thanks Susanna,
    I am an independent home inspector on Kauai and I do pre-listing inspections for the reasons you have listed. Most brokers and agents do not promote this when in fact it does help. Most of my inspections are commissioned by agents or buyers not located on the island.
    There is a coconut good ole boy wireless here. Local agents arrange home inspections for their clients with inspectors that may issue soft reports so the home sells faster. Reason: Inspectors on Kauai are told to wait to be paid at closing from escrow. Totally unethical yet common practice. It sounds convenient to the buyer but in fact it promotes deferred maintenance. Brokers and agents may not aware of this. If they are, then they go along with it out of fear of the coconut wireless which also promotes rumors and innuendos.
    If you check the inspectors on the island you will find that most of them are not even members of home inspection associations. In fact, it is possible to be a home inspector in the state of Hawaii without certification or training. You might be hiring a dog groomer that is the friend of a broker. lol

    • Dan, sounds like personal bitterness. The good agents on Kauai recommend local, knowledgable inspectors and help by using the “coconut wireless” information that an outsider wouldn’t know. It’s important on Kauai to have local knowledge as it’s very, very different from the Mainland. I work with my buyers to do thorough investigations of zoning, permits and history – above and beyond the “building inspection.” I have also had buyers use their own contractors to come in and do an inspection. Knowledge is power, and it’s best to know as much as possible up front. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

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