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.
“Aloha! I have worked with Adrienne for several years. She is the hardest worker and the most knowledgeable realtor I know. And there is nobody better than Team Lally when it comes to Short Sales! That’s why I used her! Her Team sold my home! And they make it easy with their outstanding team! And their marketing is 2nd to none! I highly recommend Adrienne and Team Lally!!”
“When it comes to Team Work, Team Lally is the best!. Great communication and customer service. Adrianne and Attilio kept us updated during the entire process of selling our home. The entire helped us through the process and gave us great advice. Thank you Team Lally!!!”
“Aloha, I am in the Coast Guard and my husband is a self employed landscaper, together we are very hard workers, but we aren’t the only ones. Team Lally is a hardworking real estate team who deliver exception customer service, care about their customers needs, remain patient and cater to customers ultimate desire. We purchased a beautiful home in Makakilo August 2012. When Team Lally showed us the house for the first time, we said “this is the one we want and we will wait a year if we have to.” Team Lally understood our end desire, accommodated us, and didn’t try to detour us into another purchase. They remained patient and informative through the short sale process and in the end, six months later, we got the house we wanted and felt relieved that we had an outstanding team who assisted us in making our dreams come true. Thank you Team Lally, I will always refer your team and I hope others will trust in your team as we did. Mahalo Crystal & Sandro”
“Adrienne and her team helped tremendously with the sale of our home. I had relocated to the mainland on short notice due to a job and my wife was left with the daunting task to prep and sell our home before she could follow. Adrienne helped her get the property ready and advised her along the way. The sale closed pretty close to the schedule that Adrienne estimated and soon after my wife was able to join me on the mainland. Thanks Adrienne and Team Lally.”
“As first-time home buyers, I couldn’t have asked for a better realty than Team-Lally!Three months prior to moving to Hawaii from the mainland, we began our search online by looking at pictures and viewing videos of current listings in Kaneohe and Kailua. We were so fortunate to have Team Lally as our agent. Team Lally was knowledgeable, patient, and honest; they even went out of their way to record videos of a few homes. Via e-mail and over the phone, they addressed all my questions and concerns. By the time we arrived, we were so well prepared and closed on the house we wanted in no time! If we buy or sell again, we are definitely calling Team Lally”
“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!”
“Awesome experience with TEAM LALLY! We sold the home faster than expected with professional service from TEAM LALLY. I’d recommend their services to anyone coming or going to Hawaii! The team concept was what sold us on the service they could provide. It’s nice to know that every aspect of the process is covered by people who specialize in that area. Buying Agents just focus on the buyers, Listing Agents just focus on selling your home and understanding the market at the time, processing agents become your main contact after you are “under contract” for specialized customer service. Howard was very responsive with all our questions, it was as if he never left the office! Thanks TEAM LALLY!”
“Team Lally definitely earned our business. They took pictures of our house and gave us a detailed pictorial guide of what we could do to get our house ready for the market. Everything they recommended was doable, concrete, and incredibly helpful. They are consistent, very professional and we’d highly recommend them!”
“When my husband and I began working with Team Lally, we thought we were in an impossible situation. We had been working with our then current realtor for more than a year and to no avail. The short sale on our condo proved to be too much for her. Three failed contracts later, we were finally referred to Team Lally. At this point in the process, we were very disappointed and a skeptical.To our surprise we were greeted with smiling faces and reassuring words by Adrienne Lally and Attilio Leonardi, however, I still remained skeptical. Then we were introduced to Howard, an Agent with Team Lally. From the start he was professional and extremely efficient and patient. He worked day and night and made me feel we were Team Lally’s only clients. I would honestly have so much anxiety with our short sale and yet every time I spoke with Howard I was put at ease. It took six months to close, but it was to no fault of our Realtors but due to our Mortgage Company (GreenTree) dragging their feet and playing hardball. The entire process was made easy with Team Lally steering us. Howard’s communication and explanations in all of this is what made it straightforward. Whether via email or telephone, I felt informed of the whole process. Again, I honestly at one point thought we were his only clients. Thank you Howard. Team Lally is EXCELLENT! They used every avenue to promote our property, from the internet like Zillow and Trulia to mailings to magazines. They took a disappointing …
“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.”