OK, That Was Fast

for-rentAfter putting up a post on Thursday morning about the difficulties we expected to encounter in finding a new rental here on the island, things took a dramatic turnaround on Friday.

Late Thursday morning an ad appeared on Craigslist for a new 2-bedroom, 2-bath house over near the high school. There must have been something in it that caught my attention because even though there were no pictures I replied to the ad and also called the number. My call was returned in less than 30 minutes and I chatted with a very nice man for a few minutes about the place. Would we like to come and see it on Friday morning? Sure, I though, why not?

The house was small (only around 900 square feet, but had two bedrooms and two bathrooms). We Googled the address, but all that Google Maps showed was a construction site. OK, the house was not just “new” to Craigslist, it was actually NEW. The location looked very nice though, with the address located in a very lovely residential neighborhood that was only a few minutes drive from the girls’ high school.

We met the owner in front of the house a little after 10:00 a.m yesterday morning. He and Brett hit it right off as it turned out he was a retired Marine! They were swapping service stories in no time at all, and then it also turned out he was born and raised just a short distance away from where I was in Southern California! We were soon swapping stories as well about places in the area we both knew. Brett and I were starting to get a good feeling about things.

We fell in love with the place the second we stepped through the front gate. The front yard is enclosed and private, and there is a broad, covered lanai/porch leading up to the front door. We loved the color the house had been painted. And then we stepped inside . . .

I think both Brett and must have walked around with our mouths hanging open. The inside was GORGEOUS! The house is small, but everything in the house was done to perfection. Every feature was absolutely top quality, from the finishes to the fixtures to the window coverings to the appliances. And it really was NEW. For a small house, the floor plan was well laid out, there was ample storage, and we could see where all our things would easily fit. The house has an attached 2-car garage, the laundry is located inside the house, and there is a large, private yard. The rent includes weekly yard service, and there are avocado, guava and lemon trees on the property. The owner apologized for the amount of rent he was asking (less than we’re paying here, but tenant is responsible for their own utilities), but said the new property taxes that were levied last year caused him to ask as much as he did. We felt that for the location and the condition of the house that the monthly rent was more than reasonable.

We put down a deposit on the spot, and as of tomorrow we officially have a new rental! We had just paid for November in our current location, so will use this next month to gradually get our stuff moved out and over to our new place. Brett called and left our landlord a message yesterday evening that we were giving our notice. Technically we are breaking the lease and could be stuck owing the remaining six months’ rent. However, in Hawai’i a landlord is required to actively seek a new tenant if a current tenant under lease moves out. They can’t just sit around and then take you to court for missed rent; they are required to place ads, interview potential renters, etc. We have no doubts about him being able to rent this place quickly, even if it is being sold, and have offered to show the house to prospective renters.

Just to make the day more interesting though, after we got home and Brett had headed out to set up the utilities in our name, I received a call from the real estate agent that we had signed with to help us find a home. It turns out that the owners of the condo we had planned to buy wanted to know if we would be interested in a long-term lease on the condo with an option to buy in the future! Unbelievable! I told the agent that if they had called a day earlier we might have had a deal, but that we had just signed the lease for a new rental and were very happy with it.

This turned out to be w-a-y easier, and happened much faster than we ever expected, but we couldn’t be more thrilled. We will finally have a home all to ourselves – no more sharing anything, no more loud neighbors downstairs. There will be no more climbing up and down the stairs to do the laundry or to bring groceries into the house. The girls will be closer to their school, and we will be closer to town. We still won’t have a dishwasher, and we’ll miss the beautiful mountain views we have now, but for what we’re getting we can live without them.

But, now comes the real work, the getting us out of this house and settled into our new one. We should have everything in place before Meiling comes home, and before our son and family arrive in December, and are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in our new house!

 

Edging Back Into the Kaua’i Rental Market

for-rentRight now Brett and I are really only semi-seriously looking for a new place to rent, but I have been looking at Craigslist every day now to get an idea of what’s available in the current rental market and what prices are like (everyone here, including all property management companies, advertise on Craigslist). With our son and family visiting for Christmas, and Meiling also home for the holidays, we’d like to stay where we are though until after the first of the year.

However, the week before last a house showed up on Craigslist that we thought might be a good fit for us. It was a little bigger than the house we’re in now, in a great location, and the rent was a little less than we pay here. It had open beam ceilings in the living room, and a stunning ocean view from the back lanai. There were things we didn’t like about the house though: it had wall-to-wall carpeting; it was another upstairs unit with an apartment on the ground level; the laundry facilities were downstairs in the garage and shared with the other tenant; and again there was no dishwasher.

Still, we thought it was worth a try and we responded to the ad. We were actually the first people to call and request an application, but it took the owner a few days and a reminder to send one to us. We filled the application out and sent it right back, but after three days of hearing nothing I finally emailed her day before yesterday and asked her to let us know what was happening. I got an email back yesterday morning informing me that she had had 26 applicants (!) for the house, and had chosen someone else.

Her response was a sharp reminder of what we are going to be up against in our search for a new rental, that we’ll most likely be competing with a potential 20+ other applicants each time we find something that might work for us. The rental market is very tight on the island, especially for families, and nice, affordable rentals are snapped up quickly (in fact, if a rental lingers on Craigslist it typically means there is something seriously wrong with either the property or the owner). We have sufficient income, excellent credit scores, good references, and everything else that’s needed, but each time we apply we’ll be compared with who knows how many others with equal or maybe better qualifications. It’s going to be crazy.

We were very lucky to get the house we live in now and we know it. It’s been a great place to start off our life on Kaua’i. Our landlord’s real estate agent asked us again yesterday if we would consider staying here in this house after it’s sold – we’re an asset as we’re solid renters and do a good job of maintaining the property. But, both Brett and I would like to move on and try a different area on the island for a while if we can find a good place.

We’ll start seriously looking after the first of the year, but are prepared to jump before that if something suitable pops up. We see now though that we are really going to have to up our game if we want to come out on top in the rental market here.