Buying Real Estate on Hawaii Island


Every place has unique real estate qualities, and the Big Island is no different. In fact, real estate on Hawaii Island is like nowhere else on earth. Some things to keep in mind when buying on this island paradise include:

Fee Simple vs. Lease

Hawaii is one of only a few leasehold ownership states, and it’s important to understand how it differs from fee simple, the more common form of real estate tenure that everyone’s familiar with. Unlike fee simple, leasehold is a long-term agreement between the property owner (lessor) and the buyer (lessee). Unlike fee simple, a leasehold agreement is not a complete transfer of ownership; instead, the lessee buys the right to use the property for a period of time (usually 50 years or more). This type of transaction hails from Hawaii’s unique past, when the state was still the independent Kingdom of Hawaii.


Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983, spewing tons of volcanic gases every day. These gases are then swept across the island by prevailing winds, causing a smog-like haze known as “vog.” Due to wind patterns, there are regions and neighborhoods that are more vog-free than others. If you have asthma or are sensitive to air pollution, it’s best to speak with a realtor like Lailan who is familiar with the Big Island and knows which areas are most affected by vog.

While it may cast a haze over parts of the island, it’s worth mentioning that vog also makes for some amazing rosy-hued sunsets!

Coqui Frogs

Since the 1990s, a new arrival has been invading the quiet forests of the Big Island. Known as the coqui, this little nocturnal frog is only the size of a quarter, but it has a surprisingly loud voice. Some people don’t mind the coqui’s nighttime song, but others find the noise disruptive. For this reason, coqui frogs are required in real estate disclosures as “recurring excessive noise.”

Buying real estate on Hawaii Island is a complex process with special factors to consider. Born and raised on the Big Island, Lailan Bento has decades of experience in Hawaii’s laws and regulations, and she can help make the transition much easier and more enjoyable. Contact her today and experience the local realtor difference.