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.
“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!”
“Adrienne and her team helped us find our condo in Makakilo, HI. We were very happy with all of their on going help after purchase like referrals and yearly associate parties. Go 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 Lally and the team are absolutely wonderful. Adrienne exudes excellence and knowledge in the real estate field. Customer service and great communication skills are just a few of the qualities that Adrienne and the team take pride in. She looks out for the best interest of her clients and makes sure that the buying and selling process is easy and pain free! I would strongly recommend Adrienne and the team for the purchase or sale of your Hawaii home or condo.”
“We interviewed three different Realtors and we Team Lally were incredibly organized and impressive. We hired them to help us find a home in Hawaii. They had such great local knowledge and incredibly responsive. True Professionals!! Unfortunately, my job situation changed and we ended up not buying a home, but if we are coming back we know who we would work with. Team Lally is #1 in our book!”
“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.”
“I purchased my first home with Team Lally. Cathy was an absolutely fantastic agent and I would recommend her to anyone! We had very specific needs for our home, and Cathy helped us meet every single one of them. We also were in the need of moving in within 45 days of moving to the island. Cathy made that happen! Team Lally is fantastic. Buy a house!”
“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 …
“Adrienne and her team were immediately responsive to my inquiry about their services and very thorough from the beginning. They applied their expertise through the listing, sale and close of my home at a high level of satisfaction for me. The sale of my home closed in just under 3 months. I moved out of state and felt they did an excellent job of communicating with me as an absentee seller.”
“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!!!”