Buying your First Home in Hawaii

Owning a home is a dream and lifelong goal of many. For a lucky few, this means owning a home on one of the beautiful Hawaiian islands. With interest rates still low, and real estate prices beginning to climb again, now is a great time to think about purchasing a home here. If you are buying your first home in Hawaii there are a few important factors to consider.

Get your paperwork in order.

Buying your first home, especially if it’s in Hawaii, is a huge undertaking that involves mountains of paperwork and a clear-cut understanding of exactly where you stand, financially. Start the process right and reduce stress by getting all of your finances and paperwork in order. Gather all of your pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements and have them at the ready

Consider a local lender first.

When it comes to purchasing a home in Hawaii, you are best off dealing with local professionals, and this includes lenders. Mainland lenders simply do not understand Hawaii underwriting and valuation as well as Hawaii-based lenders do. There’s another benefit of going local too: sticking with local underwriting can greatly reduce your chances of closing late on a home.

Know what you can afford.

You may be eager to get shopping for your first home in Hawaii, but you can’t start looking seriously until you know exactly how much you can afford. Take the time to do your research, find the loan program that best serves your needs, and get pre-approved  — otherwise, you may lose out on the home you want in Hawaii’s fast-moving market.

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Hire a local realtor.

Buying your first home in Hawaii may be the most expensive purchase in your lifetime, and you’ll want to hire a professional to help guide you through the process. Like local lenders, local realtors are going to be the most qualified and best connected option when it comes to buying Hawaii real estate. Interview several before making your decision.

Identify your needs.

Before you can start serious house hunting, you need to identify what exactly you want in a home, including where it’s located. Do you want to live mauka (up the mountain) where it’s cooler and less populated, or makai (toward the ocean) where you have easy access to the beach? There are so many lovely neighborhoods and communities on this island — work with your realtor to find the ones that best suit you. Other options to consider are stand-alone houses vs. condos, rural vs. city living, and the size and amenities of the house you want.

Start shopping (but be realistic).

Now comes the fun part. If you’re coming from the mainland, keep in mind that Hawaii real estate is driven by limited space, high development costs and very high demand. You’ll likely find that options are more limited here and that a home here may feel like downsizing. Be prepared for this reality — and understand that the benefits of Hawaii life far outweigh the costs — and you will set yourself up for success.

Photo by NickiMM