HIH looks to benefit Kaua’i

Another real estate agency. Just what Kauai needs, right?

Hawaiian Island Homes (HIH) Ltd. leaders are hoping to distinguish themselves from other players through their community involvement that benefits local charities, they said.

HIH leaders officially opened their first venue on Kaua’i Thursday, complete with a blessing and grand opening of a real-estate-sales and property-management office in the Coconut Marketplace.

The blessing was officiated by Kelvin Ho.

HIH President Peter Savio said he hoped to bring some of the firm’s well-documented philanthropy to its newest venue.

Savio is bringing one of his O’ahu programs to Kaua’i. Members of the Kaua’i team will be introducing the company’s Charitable Gifting Program, in which company leaders donate a portion of the selling price of property represented by company officials, either on the buying or selling side, to the participant’s church, charity, or other nonprofit organization of his or her choice.

According to HIH leaders, it is a win-win for officials of the charity receiving the funds, the donor, and for HIH leaders as a way of giving back to the community.

“The way the gifting program works is we develop the relationship with nonprofit (or) charitable organizations such as churches, community charities and other fundraisers,” Savio said.

“We see the gifting program as something the local buyers and sellers will respect and appreciate, and accordingly call upon us over others because we are giving back to the community. The magic is that the cost of the gift comes from HIH’s commissions, while the donation is made in the name of the seller (or) buyer.

It will be a self-contained program run by members of the Kaua’i staff and for the island’s residents, said Bob Lendahl, sales manager for Kaua’i.

Savio said this program is aimed at Kaua’i residents and others, with transactions in any price range, with the 1-to-2-percent (donation) applicable across-the-board. Payments to charities are made out of escrow accounts, and backed by very formal documents signed by all parties, with donations going to the named charity.

“We have already approached the Kaua’i branch of the American Red Cross and the Boy Scouts of America, and are beginning dialogue with them,” Savio said

Savio founded HIH 25 years ago. The firm is well known for its philanthropy on O’ahu, which has taken form in such programs as giving buyers sales-price reductions on thousands of properties, saving them collectively over $100 million over the years, he explained.

One of Savio’s recent initiatives, taken in conjunction with leaders at First Hawaiian Bank, is the purchase of a central-O’ahu, 90-acre parcel, the former Poamoho Camp, formerly owned in trust and farmed by officials at Del Monte.

Del Monte leaders had given camp residents, who are employees, retirees and their families, 120-day notices to vacate their plantation homes, which Del Monte leaders said they needed to raze before returning the property to the trust.

Days before the eviction deadline, Savio announced he had acquired the lease for the camp pending his purchase of the land. Savio believes he will be able to sell the homes to the residents for between $25,000 and $50,000, depending on city requirements for the homes and infrastructure.

He has agreed to limit his total profit as a developer to 5 percent of the selling prices.

Savio said this philosophy will translate to Kaua’i as well.

“We have always been looking for opportunities where local buyers can purchase properties at affordable prices. We will consider projects on Kaua’i using our cost-plus approach to development,” Savio said.

“As an example, if the county gave us zoning that changed an agricultural parcel to a residential zoning so homes could be built, the increase in land value does not go to the developer, but would go to the buyer in the form of a lower price on the home.”

Savio said it is his hope this might make it easier for buyers to qualify.

Others participating in Thursday’s ceremony included Barry Kaplan, broker-in charge, and his local staff Caelica Covel, Chris Krysler, Bob Lendahl, Joani Lendahl, Max Bancroft and Michael Sieradzki.

It seems Savio has a special affinity for Kaua’i, as when Grove Farm Company leaders were having financial difficulties and looking to sell the company, Savio was publicly positioning himself as a potential buyer, with plans for residential and farming communities across the 20,000 acres.

The company was eventually sold to Steve Case, a Honolulu native and founder of America Online.

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