Gabe is a branch manager for the mortgage company HomeLoan Financial, www.Hawaiivaloans.com, which specializes in helping first-time homebuyers and veterans get VA loans.
Tell me a bit about your background and how long you’ve lived in Hawaii.
I was born and raised in Honolulu, but I left for a few years and returned 5 1/2 years ago.
What do you like most about living in Honolulu?
The central location. There’s minimal traffic compared to living in areas outside of Honolulu, referred to as ‘town.’ I have an easy commute, although traffic can be really bad for those who work in Honolulu and live on the west side of the island. WE have good access to stores and restaurants. Everything is in about a 5 to 10 mile radius in Honolulu. There are all kinds of groups of people of different nationalities in one location, which is great. Honolulu is the best location for lots of activities.
Can you elaborate on the different cultures?
There are people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Honolulu has a melting pot of different cultures. Locals, along with whites, Chinese, Filipinos and Asians are all here. You experience this diversity in the restaurants, foods and activities.
What types of activities are there in Honolulu?
There are parks. There’s Alamaona Beach Park with its events. The Aloha Tower Market Place, which has a nice shopping area, ship cruises, and lots of events. There’s the Shell with its concert pavilion area. There are lots of concerts. There’s also Kapiolani Park with its soccer games, rugby matches, and joggers. This park is located in Waikiki on the slope of Diamond Head.
What do you like the least about Honolulu?
Traffic is bad. The city is very crowded, especially if you want to be somewhere that’s a little more laid back and relaxing. It’s also very expensive. You pay a premium to live in town. If you buy a house in Mililani, for example, that same house can cost 50 to 100 percent more in town. A new home in Mililani for $600,000 could cost $1million in town. The closer to the beach you are, you’ll find the pricier homes.
What about traffic?
My advice for newcomers would be to work in town and consider the traffic implications if you live outside of town. Double check the traffic to determine how far you live from how far you work.
Where do you like to go eat?
Honolulu has an eclectic mix of cultures. As a result, there are diverse foods, such as Thai, American, Asian, and Filipino. There are lots of different foods that can satisfy just about anyone.
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
One is called Ono. They have great Hawaiian food. It’s a hole in the wall, but serves authentic Hawaiian food. For a party of two, you pay about $15 to $20. There’s also LaBamba. It has great Mexican food. It’s BYOB, so you bring your own booze, beer, or wine and invite your friends. You can have a party there. My favorite meal is steak and tortillas, with Spanish rice, refried beans, lettuce and tomatoes. You make your own burrito. They also have the best guacamole. This is one of the best guacamoles I’ve ever had.
What types of sporting events do you attend?
I don’t attend a lot of sporting events. The University of Hawaii has football games. But I don’t attend a lot of other events.
Are taxes high?
Property taxes are lowest in the country, but you pay more in groceries, housing, and gas. While the property taxes are low, most other expenses cost more in Hawaii. Gas costs about $3.50 to $3.80 per gallon.
How are the schools?
WE have good public schools. Most of the private schools are in Honolulu. There are about 10 to 12 private high schools. For example, Punahou High School, where Obama attended. There’s also Iolani, which ranks high near Punahou. And there’s Kamehameha – a school for children with native Hawaiian blood. There’s also St. Louis, an all-boys Catholic school, where I attended. Most schools have a student/teacher ratio of 1/20 or 25. There is 1 teacher for every 20-25 students.
We’re also experiencing problems with the public schools. WE have Furlough Fridays, which means every other week teachers are furloughed in the public schools. There are no such problems in the private schools.
“Team Lally are great. I have not had the chance to buy a house yet but I know that whenever we walk in the office we are considered not only a valued customer but as family. I am lucky to have them on my side.”
“My husband and I worked with Cherie Fikani. Amazing customer service. She was always available to answer questions in person, emails, texts and phonecalls. My husband and I never had to wait on a response or ask for an update. She was always well prepared.I like that she was patient… understanding even. She listens to the specifics and works with us on it without rushing us through. This experience could have been a scary ride but Cherie made sure nothing takes away the excitement of buying a home.Mahalo Nui Mrs. Fikani I would most definitely recommend TEAM LALLY to family and friends.”
“I purchased my home as a single woman nearly 10 years ago in what I call a “big girl moment”. I improved it over the years, and then decided to move home to the mainland to be closer to my family. I was referred to Team Lally, and much differently than other agents I was referred to, they called me immediately, providing a full scope of their services, which is impressive. I liked the fact that they had me meet them in their office, outside the potentially emotional environment of my home. This is business, after all! My home was first shown on June 10 and closed at a handsome price on August 30. Wow. These guys communicate regularly by phone, provide excellent service via email and while closing the sale I experienced the best possible service. Were I to contemplate moving back to Hawaii, Team Lally would be my first call!”
“Adrienne Lally and Attilio Leonardi of Team Lally are great! They take the time to get to know their clients needs, making the buying/selling process that much easier. I would definately refer my family, friends and clients to Team Lally and so should you!”
“When it was time to sell our family vacation property we interviewed many people. Team Lally has amazing marketing which draws buyers from all over the United States and even the world. They had the property sold for a great price in a reasonable timeframe plus they had fabulous staff who took the time to keep all of our family informed throughout the entire process. I can’t say enough good stuff. Call them!”
“The Agents at Team Lally are experts in their field. Whether you’re looking to sell your home or buy one, these guys have a great team to take care of you throughout the entire transaction. Even if you looking just to get more information – I’d suggest to give them a ring and they can point you in the right direction.”
“Working with Team Lally was fantastic! Celeste helped us to buy a new home and Adrienne and Atillio helped us to sell a home. Team Lally was responsive to all of our needs and questions. Team Lally exceeded our expectations!”
“When my husband and I got transferred here with the Coast Guard we were interested in purchasing our first home. We found Adrianne through other military members that she had helped. Adrianne and her team went above and beyond to help us find our first home. She took out all the stress and helped us every step of the way, from finding a home to finding a lender to get a loan. We found a short sell and she helped us get into our house and close within a month! Adrianne and her team has made us feel like family the way they take the time to call and check on us throughout the years and through their client appreciation events. Thanks again Adrianne and Team Lally!”
“Adrienne was extremely helpful!! We were first-time homebuyers and purchased a short sale on top of that. Adrienne helped us understand every step and the entire process was smooth from start to finish. We highly recommend her and her team!”
“Team-Lally Rocks! It’s great to be considered a part of the Team-Lally family! After 13 years away from Hawaii, and looking for a house on the Ewa plain, we hooked up with a Team Lally realtor who was showing a house that we visited. Throughout the buying process, the knowledgeable staff addressed any problems that we encountered and concerns that we raised. We left the process feeling that our interests were properly represented and protected. This is the very thing that we expect from my realtor and weren’t disappointed. Our relationship didn’t end there. Through customer appreciation events (great food and prizes), newsletters and other resources, we stay connected. Also, if we have a question about market trends or need a contact for everything from a mortgage broker for refinancing or a plumber, we send an email or pick up a phone for a quick response—in practice, this team is really a network of businesses that work well together to meet the many needs of the customer. This is what the relationship between customer and realtor should look like, but seldom does. If we buy or sell again, we know who we’re calling—Team Lally! Joe & Tammy Waligura.”