What to Know Before Buying a Honolulu Home

What to Know Before Buying a Honolulu Home

  • Sean Sonoda
  • 07/27/22

The Honolulu area is sunny and beautiful, but it’s not a cheap place to live. A typical Honolulu home costs about $1 million or more, while Honolulu condos for sale usually go for about half a million. That being said, it’s crucial to know what to expect before going through the process of purchasing a home in Honolulu. Here are some of the top things to know before looking at Honolulu real estate for sale.

Have your own representation

You might struggle to decide whether to hire the listing agent of the home or condo representing the seller or hire your own local real estate agent to represent you when looking at Honolulu real estate for sale. Many home buyers think that it’s easier to simply hire the listing agent, but it’s always a good idea to hire your own local real estate agent to represent you as they will put your interests first (and they are free to work with on the buyer’s side).

Establish the price of the home

Home prices can differ widely in some areas of Honolulu, particularly based on the home’s view and exact location. That’s why it’s a great idea to ask your real estate agent how home prices have fluctuated over the past decade or so in the neighborhood in which you’re looking at Honolulu real estate for sale. To get a better sense of whether the home prices have increased or decreased over the years, you can look at tax records from a title company. They don’t give you a full picture of the Honolulu real estate market, but you can at least determine whether or not the home prices have increased over time.

Negotiate furnishing and upgrades

Many home sellers offer to include furnishings or upgrades to the home, so when you are looking at Honolulu condos for sale, you should negotiate and figure out if the home seller is willing to include any upgrades. While many home sellers like to get back the full price of home improvements they’ve made over the years, that doesn’t necessarily happen in all cases. It’s up to you to negotiate the price, as well as any upgrades you want them to include.

In addition to upgrades, you can negotiate on appliances and furnishings, particularly if you are moving from the continental United States to Honolulu. You won’t be able to take large furniture, like a bed or couch, with you when you are flying to Honolulu. Shipping furniture to Honolulu from the mainland is also very expensive, and so are the local prices for furniture, since it typically needs to be imported. That’s why we recommend negotiating furniture, appliances and other household goods to be included in the price of the home.

Better understand the homeowner’s association

Many Honolulu condos for sale are part of a homeowner’s association, or HOA. If you have never lived in a home with an HOA, it’s essential that you gain a full understanding of how the homeowner’s association operates and use this understanding to inform your purchasing decision.

Most homeowner’s associations in the Honolulu area restrict what homeowners can do with their homes. For example, many of these associations have 30-day maximum restrictions on home rentals, so if you want to rent out your property for more than a month, you need to find a homeowner’s association that will let you do that. Many homeowner’s associations also have restrictions on what kinds of pets you can have, including the size, breed, and number of pets.

On the flip side, homeowner’s associations also offer a number of benefits to homeowners. For example, in many Honolulu condos, homeowner’s associations are responsible for maintaining the yard and outside of the building. They will likely also handle any maintenance problems that come up in your condo, but you should figure that out before you buy. If they don’t handle maintenance issues, you need to schedule regular maintenance services to maintain your condo, particularly if you don’t plan to live in Honolulu year-round.

Expect the unexpected

When you’re living in Hawaii, you’ll need to be more aware of natural disasters and risks than in many other places. If you’re new to the Honolulu area, then keep in mind that you might need to handle earthquakes and floods, as well as nearby tsunamis and volcanoes. Make sure to ask about the frequency of these natural disasters in your area and what insurance companies will cover. You will most likely have to buy flood insurance and earthquake insurance, as well as a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.

Place a competitive offer

Once you’ve found your dream Honolulu home, make sure you put in a competitive offer. Keep in mind that a competitive home offer is about more than simply the dollar amount. Many home sellers have wants and needs that can factor into your offer. Make sure your real estate agent reaches out to the listing agent to determine what matters to the seller, so you can put together a stellar offer.

For instance, if the seller doesn’t have a home to live in after selling their current home, you could offer to rent the condo or house back to them once you own it until they’ve bought their new home. This situation is also known as a rent-back agreement and it can be difficult to arrange, so make sure you work with a lawyer to put together the agreement if you choose to do this.

And if you feel a strong personal connection to a Honolulu home on the market, it’s a wonderful idea to write a letter to the home seller to introduce yourself and your family and explain why you want to buy the home. When you write a letter from the heart, you can set yourself apart from other possible home buyers, which makes a huge difference to many home sellers.

Ready to take the next step and start looking at Honolulu real estate for sale? Reach out to a local agent like Sean Sonada for expert guidance.

*Header photo courtesy of Sean Sonoda’s website

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