Thinking of buying a home on O’ahu? Whether you’re relocating for work or military, looking for a vacation home, or simply thinking of purchasing luxury property in Hawaii, there are some things to consider before you start shopping. Here’s what you need to know about buying a home on O’ahu.
Yes, the Prices Tend to Be Higher—So Budget Carefully
Whether you’re looking for affordable or luxury, you’ll find plenty of options. But set some realistic expectations. Affordable homes likely won’t be beachfront or high-rise condos in downtown Honolulu. More affordable living can be found outside the city, in places like Ewa, Waipahu, or Mililani.
The Real Estate Market is a Little Different
There are two types of property ownership. Fee simple is your “standard” buyer owns the home and the land. Most sales are fee simple. But some homes are Leasehold, which means the buyer “rents” the land for a predetermined amount of time, after which the land is returned to the Lessor. If you’re buying a Leasehold property with a shorter lease term, you may not qualify for a 30-year mortgage.
Beware Financing Major Purchases
If you just relocated to O’ahu, you may have left some of your larger belongings—like your car or furniture—behind. But beware going car shopping before you buy a home. Car payments can push you over the limit for qualifying for a good mortgage.
Find a Local Lender & Get Prequalified
In Hawaii, it’s especially important to work with local lenders, agents, and attorneys. The market is different around here, and so are the homes. You’ll want a lender who knows your financing options and the available local programs who is familiar with the unique Hawaii underwriting and valuation of unique properties. Because there’s not a lot of tract housing here—they’re all a little different.
Consider Your Needs, Then Your Wants
First, consider the essentials. How much space do you need? Where will you be working? What kind of amenities do you require, like stores, schools, or healthcare? What can you really afford? Next, think about your lifestyle and the things you’d like to have, like access to the beach or hiking, shopping and dining, nightlife and entertainment areas, etc.
Narrow Down Your Location
Taking into consideration the amenities you’ll require (like work), find areas that offer you close proximity to the things you need, as well as the things you want. On O’ahu, you can choose from locations that place you near beaches, golf courses, mountains, military bases, schools, cities, or rural areas. It’s important to know you’re in the right spot. Ultimately, you’ll want to strike a balance between being close to the things you need and the things you want.
Consider Your Home Style
Condo, townhouse, or single-family home? Weigh the costs and benefits of each—for example, with a condo, you’ll pay for landscaping, maintenance, and amenities, whereas for a house you’ll pay for privacy and space. You’ll also want to consider whether you’re looking for a more contemporary (mainland) home style or a style unique to the island.
Always Work with a Local Realtor
Just as it’s important to work with a local lender, it’s just as important to work with an experienced local Realtor. O’ahu is a competitive, low-inventory market, which means homes sell fast. So make sure you’re working with the best—consider their specializations (like VA loans or luxury properties), their experience, their communication skills, and whether you’re a good fit with them.
Thinking of Buying a Home on O’ahu?
Then it’s time to contact RE/MAX Honolulu! As your local O’ahu lifestyle and real estate experts, we’re here to show you around the area, help you explore the cities of the island, teach your more about buying a home on O’ahu, and help you find the perfect home for sale.