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Important Considerations Before Buying a House on the Big Island of Hawaii

November 7, 2023

Important Considerations Before Buying a House on the Big Island of Hawaii

Hannah Campbell

Salt water Real Estate Realtor

Buying a house on the Big Island of Hawaii can be a dream come true, offering the chance to live in a tropical paradise with stunning natural beauty and a unique culture. However, before you make this significant investment, there are several important factors to consider. In this guide, we’ll explore key things you should know and consider before purchasing a home on the Big Island.

  1. Location, Location, Location: The Big Island is diverse, and each region offers a different lifestyle. Consider where you want to live based on factors like proximity to work, schools, beaches, and outdoor activities. Whether you prefer the sunny, dryer Kona coast, the lush Hilo side, the cooler/rainy Volcano side, or somewhere in between, choose a location that suits your needs and preferences. In some areas of the Big Island you can find off grid homes. An off grid property is  powered by solar panels and has a catchment tank or well. 
  2. Understand the Real Estate Market: Before diving into the process of buying a house, take the time to understand the local real estate market on the Big Island. Research current trends, property values, and neighborhoods. Seek guidance from a local real estate agent who can provide insights into market conditions and property options.
  3. Embrace the Local Culture: Remember that Hawaii has a unique culture and way of life. Embrace the spirit of aloha and respect the local customs and traditions. Building positive relationships with your new neighbors and community can enhance your experience of living on the Big Island. Events the Big Island is known for include – Merrie Monarch Festival and the free Ho’olaule’a Festival. Keep an eye out for Night Market Events.

    Night Markets:

    • Volcano Thursday Market, 3-6pm  at the Cooper Center, 19-4030 Wright Rd, Volcano, HI 96785
    • Hilo Friday Night Market 5-9pm at 69 Waianuenue Ave, Hilo, HI 96720. There is usually a live band, vendors and food trucks.
    • Kailua-Kona Food Truck Friday, 4-8pm at 74-5455 Makala Blvd., Kailua-Kona, HI (Target parking lot)
    • Kailua Kona Friday Night Market located at the Kona Commons, 74-5450 Makala Blvd., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740. This event happens on the 4th Friday of the month from 4–8pm.
    • Waimea  Food Truck Friday, 4-8pm W. M. Keck Observatory HQ, 65-1120 Mamalahoa Hwy., Waimea, HI
    • Waikōloa Plaza Night Market located at the Waikōloa Plaza, 68-1820 Waikoloa Rd., Waikoloa, HI 96738. This event happens on the   4th Friday of the month, 4–8 PM.
  4. Budget Realistically: Hawaii is known for its higher cost of living. Determine your budget carefully, factoring in not only the purchase price of the home but also property taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, potential homeowners’ association fees and closing fees.
  5. Property Inspections: Don’t skip the home inspection. A thorough inspection can uncover potential issues with the property, such as structural problems, pest infestations, or mold. Ensure you have a clear understanding of the property’s condition before finalizing the purchase.
  6. Legal Considerations: Hawaii has unique property laws, and it’s important to understand them. This includes regulations related to land ownership (leasehold vs. fee simple), zoning laws, and potential restrictions on property use.
  7. Mortgage and Financing: Explore your financing options and get pre-approved for a mortgage before house hunting. Hawaii has various lending programs and loans tailored to different buyers. If you are interested in purchasing a lot and building, consider a federal credit union. Asking your real estate agent for lender references can save you time. Lastly, shopping around for the best mortgage rates and terms is always recommended.
  8. Insurance and Hurricanes: Ensure your home insurance policy covers hurricanes. Currently in lava zone 1 and 2, the only insurance that is available is through the state insurance fund, Hawaii Property Insurance Association (HPIA) which can be costly. Properties in Lava zones 3 and higher can be covered by most insurance companies.
  9. Homeowners’ Association (HOA) Rules: If you’re considering a property in a community with an HOA, review the association’s rules. Check with your real estate agent to see if the neighborhood you are interested in has an association fee.

    Examples:

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