Buying a House in Hawaii

Selecting Your Realtor

Buying a house in Hawaii is a serious proposition.  With some of the highest single family & condo prices in the nation you will want to be sure you are well represented by a qualified real estate agent who has the education, experience, and modern technical skills to ensure are well represented.  Selecting your real estate agent will probably be the most important decision you make and could save you thousands of dollars and unnecessary stress.

Remember, not all agents possess the same skills (such as use of technology), market knowledge, and not all are Realtors. 

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Advice For Selecting A Buyers Agent

A good real estate buyers agent should:

  • Be an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR).
  • Experienced and knowledgable in the neighborhoods you are interested in.
  • Be a skilled negotiator with strong inter-personal skills.
  • Have a wide network of qualified experts to advise you as needed.
  • Use modern real estate technology efficiently.
  • Personally represent you and not pass you off to an assistant in their office/team.
  • Have a strong educational background with focus on continuing real estate education.

Prequalify Before You Buy

It is highly advised that you pre-qualify for a mortgage before you start looking at property. This will benefit you by:

  • Establishing your price range.
  • Understanding the various types of loans available to you.
  • Determine your down payment and anticipated closing costs.
  • Estimate what your total monthly payments will be.

A good Buyer Representative will assist you in selecting a mortgage broker who can offer you a variety of loan products and options.  Be careful about using specific financial institutions for your mortgage as they may not show you loan products offered by their competitors.  Insist on speaking with a mortgage broker who works with all lenders.  Ask your Buyer Representative if they or their company will benefit financially from pairing you with a particular lender.  Although they are required to disclose this they will often hide it in the fine print and not mention it unless you ask.  Once you have selected the right mortgage broker a traditional application process will involve:

  • Application:  You will complete all the necessary documents and provide your proof of income.  The lender will provide you with a Good Faith Estimate and Truth-in-Lending statement, detailing your interest rates and other closing costs.
  • Loan Submission:  Once all the documents are prepared then the application is submitted for approval.
  • Underwriting:  Underwriting, or loan approval, normally takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.  You will be notified of the approval and any additional conditions that must be met before they can fund your loan.
  • Closing: After you have signed all the loan documents they are sent to the lender.  If all the forms are approved the lender will release the funds to the title/escrow company which will then disburse the funds to the seller. This is the moment when you finish the loan process and buy the property. 

Looking For The Right Property

Before you start looking at property it is essential that your Buyer Representative determine what you want in a home, what your hobbies and interests are, what type of lifestyle you live (for example, do you want to be walking distance to shops and restaurants or close to the beach, etc.), what type of future needs you may have such as a growing family, etc.  A good Buyer Representative will use the criteria you specify to identify only those properties that will interest you, saving you many hours of fruitless searching.  

Sometimes during the course of your search you may, however, decide that some of your original requirements have changed.  If this happens you should alert your Buyer Representative as soon as possible.  You can also team up with your Buyer Representative by conducting your own independent searches online and visiting Open Houses.  If you do this let your Buyer Representative know so that they can arrange a showing for you and ensure that your interests are protected.  Remember, the seller's agent works for the seller and not for you, so you should never disclose any information to them without consulting your Buyer Representative.

Submitting An Offer

After you've identified the property you want to buy, your Buyer Representative will conduct all the necessary research to structure a suitable offer.  This is the moment when having a skilled negotiator on your side could really pay off.  A seller will be able to accept your offer, reject your offer, or most commonly, counter your offer.  A good Buyer Representative will negotiate the most favorable terms for you.

Your Buyer Representative should advise you of all the contingencies and deadlines in the offer, customary practices and applicable laws and regulations.  Title, home inspection, land survey, termite inspection, and much more will be covered in your offer.  It is the responsibility of your Buyer Representative to review and advise you on all the terms, however the decisions will be yours alone.

Transaction Management

Your Buyer Representative will be responsible to open escrow for you and deposit your earnest money once your offer has been accepted.  The title company or "escrow" is a neutral third party that holds and distributes all funds in a real estate transaction.  They also conduct title searches and draft the conveyance documents and deeds.  One you are "in escrow" your Buyer Representative should:

  • Communicate with all parties in a timely manner.
  • Advise you of your options if any conflicts occur.
  • Monitor all contingencies and ensure you are in compliance.
  • Monitor your loan process to ensure you will close on time.
  • Review Seller's Real Property Disclosure Statement with you.
  • Review the preliminary title report with you and identify any "red flags".
  • Review the property appraisal with you.
  • Review the termite inspection report and land survey with you, again identifying any "red flags".

Hawaii Sands Realty will take the time to answer you requisitions and explain the entire process of buying a home in Hawaii.  To reduce confusion and ensure that you are always updated, we leverage the latests transaction management technology so you are kept informed at each step of the home buying process. 

Closing & Key Exchange

Once all the conditions of the purchase contract have been met your Buyer Representative will schedule for you to sign the closing papers and final loan documents.  The balance of your down payment, if any, will be deposited into escrow and the lender will deposit the remainder of the funds.  Within a few days the deeds will be recorded by the state of Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances and your Buyer Representative will get the call that title has transferred to your name...congratulations you are now a home owner!  Your Buyer Representative will meet you at the property and hand you your keys.

NOTE: Prior to the closing and key exchange, you will want to call and arrange for all the utilities to be activated in your name.  We've assembled a thorough and handy Resource Directory with all the information you could possibly need.