Buying a home or condo in Hawaii is an exciting undertaking. The state’s beautiful weather, community spirit, and picturesque locations are among the benefits of owning your own place in paradise. But to get the right information and take the right steps to meet your homebuying goals, you need to ask the right questions.
“A lot of people don’t know what questions to ask” when buying their first home, says Drew Read, a real estate agent with List Sotheby’s International Realty. “And many even experienced people forget to ask these questions.”
Whether you’re a prospective local or mainland buyer, read some FAQs shared as an introduction before meeting with your real estate agent.
What is the zoning for this property?
Many of Read’s clients want to know if a home or condo is in a tsunami or flood evacuation area. Local buyers also ask about changes in sea level rise and how that will affect their prospective homes in the future. “Am I going to be inundated at some point on this property that I want to pass down to my children for generations?” says Read. “I think it’s a good question.”
If I buy this property, can I offer it as a short term rental?
“Especially with mainland buyers, there are a lot of people who go on vacation every couple of years and want to do it more frequently,” Read explains. “So they want to own a property, but then subsidize it when they’re not using it and rent it out.” Locals are aware of the statutes that require a 30-day minimum for short-term rentals in residential areas of Oahu. A real estate agent can be helpful in researching whether the house or condo you’d like to buy is subject to zoning restrictions for rentals, and what the parameters would be if you still want to search.
Do you know of any good contractors, plumbers, electricians and landscapers?
Lee shares that many properties in Hawaii are older and need extra attention. Maybe you have termite damage or leaking pipes, or maybe your utilities, infrastructure, or landscaping need repair. “I have a Rolodex of people, from shades and shutters, to painters, to contractors, to handymen, to gardeners,” Read says.
Is there storage and parking?
This is a very common question for potential condo owners, as well as clients looking for densely populated areas, Read explains. “In Kaimukī”, for example, “a house has three families, so the entire parking lot of the house is occupied. Is there street parking?
Is the house or condo in a good neighborhood?
“When you buy property, whether it’s a house or condo, it’s a lifestyle as well as your home and haven,” Read says. “You’re part of a community and you want to make sure that community fits you.” Customers with children also often ask about schools in the area.
Do you have good lenders?
“Lots of people need financing, and many of them have a checking or bank account, but aren’t as familiar with mortgages, or their mortgage broker is on the mainland,” Read says. A local lender can be an asset when looking for a property that has multiple offers. Read also refers clients to mortgage brokers who can “shop prices and get the best deals for you.”
How old is the roof?
Prospective buyers ask about recent updates made to a home or condo, to get an idea of appraisal fees or maintenance projects that may need to be addressed in the future. For condo buyers, it’s important to also ask what the maintenance fees will cover. “Most of them include insurance, maybe the exterior, the railings and the roof, and things like that,” says Read, but what about the amenities?
Is this a good value?
“People don’t want to overpay, and you don’t want the customer to overpay,” says Read. Looking at the comparative costs of homes in the surrounding area helps clients gauge whether they are getting a fair price for their property. Read also checks his clients’ home buying histories; This helps you put together comparable price listings that will balance your budgets while ensuring you get what you want in a home.
Drew read, Realtor-Associate®, License HI RS-67769, (808) 782-3636, [email protected]. View your agent profilehere.