Editor’s Page: House Rules

Why I’m still apologizing to my real estate agent.
Christi Young
photo: karen db photography

It was about three weeks before the closing date on our new house when it happened. My husband and I walked into our mortgage broker’s office and broke the news: We couldn’t afford it.


Our finances said otherwise. But fueled by sleepless weeks of late-night number crunching, stockpiling instant saimin for future meals and, the most damaging, hours of watching HGTV as families bid $200,000 for five-bedroom homes on 2 acres of Idaho land—we had panicked.

Fortunately, our mortgage broker and real estate agent didn’t. Each patiently walked us through our budget, put the payments in perspective and essentially calmed us down so we could purchase the place our two daughters now call home. And even though I forced our agent to take me through the house five times before we put in an offer, he still calls us every year to check in. Good man.


“There is no doubt buying a house is one of the most financially frightening things we will ever do. On O‘ahu, median prices have soared 190 percent since 2000.”


There is no doubt buying a house is one of the most financially frightening things we will ever do. On O‘ahu, median prices have soared 190 percent since 2000. When we talk about the market in the HONOLULU offices, many of our younger colleagues say they don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford their own place in Hawai‘i. So, real estate agents often have to be more than real estate experts. They become our informal therapists or life coaches, talking us through major changes in our lives—and out of panic mode. That is why in 2013 HONOLULU Magazine decided to create a list of Hawai‘i’s top real estate experts for our readers. The list features agents, mortgage brokers and insurance reps selected by homebuyers for offering excellent service during what can be a stressful time.


If you had any doubts about the challenges of working in the Islands’ real estate industry, turn to “This Is Real(tor) Life.” We sent staff writer Jayna Omaye to find out some of our local real estate agents’ most memorable stories. Read about the not-so-pious partying monks and the renter who drew the attention of The Washington Post.


What makes a home great? Is it architecture? The site? The personal story? Often it’s all three. Editor at large Robbie Dingeman tackled that question with a look inside nine Hawai‘i homes you won’t forget. Envy away.


Our own resident author, Don Wallace, tackled another great list—Hawai‘i’s 50 essential books. It started with an in-office brainstorm that stretched into library shelves, university classes and the personal favorites of local writers, critics and passionate readers. The result is a list of the local titles you should add to your must-read, or in my case, should-read-again, list. And look for our companion piece, great Hawai‘i books for young adults and children, in our family publication, HONOLULU Family, available mid-May.


A great way to get started is with the Hawai‘i State Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, which offers free talks, workshops and prizes for readers of all ages. It’s a favorite summer activity for my young girls and this year, I’ll be using our lists to find new reads so I can take a few moments for myself, on a hammock in my backyard, with a great book.


Got a good story? Reach me at christiy@honolulumagazine.com