Thousands of homes are for sale in Hawaii. But how will you know which house is right for you?
Clearing your thoughts about what you want in your future home before you go through the possibly emotionally charged process of searching for a home can assist in making a smart decision that you will appreciate for years to come.
- Calm your emotions and stick to your rational plan.
- Be sure the offer is within your budget – with wiggle room.
- Don’t be afraid to keep searching; other properties may be available that better suit your needs.
- Overestimating your ability to fix-up the place or downplaying flaws could lead to added financial or emotional stress.
Here are the top topics to consider when searching for a home online, attending open houses, or touring potential homes with your real estate agent.
Size and storage.
While square footage in Hawaii comes at a higher price than most Mainland markets, decide your “must-haves” for your future home.
Bedrooms and bathrooms. If you’re a couple with two children, will a two-bedroom home suffice, or will you need three bedrooms or more? How many bathrooms do you need to keep the peace? Are you expecting future growth in your family?
Furniture fitting. Often a lot of the furniture is removed by the sellers when putting their home on the market to make the house seem neat and clean. Think about the size of that custom-made couch, antic armoire, or top-of-the-line TV and decide if it fits in the space.
More storage. Besides furniture, think about all your other stuff that you will move. Will you have space to store it?
Kitchen cabinets. Determine if there is enough space for your pots and pans, plates and glasses, and all the kitchen gadgets – especially if you are someone who likes spending time cooking in the kitchen.
Laundry. Is there a washer and dryer included in the purchase or the potential to hook-up new appliances? If so, where is the laundry located? Decide your personal laundering tolerance.
Parking. Do you have a car? A boat? Parking is precious in Hawaii, and it is important to consider if you have enough space for your vehicles and potential visitors. If you are opting for public transportation or biking, think about where the bus stops or bike paths are located.
It doesn’t hurt to dream, right? While your “must-haves” are essential, wishlist items – within reason – can also be considered while searching for your dream home.
Entertaining space. What indoor and outdoor areas do you need for visitors? Would you like a lanai, a big rumpus room, or an open kitchen with a lot of counter space? What about a pool or a gym?
Bathrooms. Double sinks can be a welcomed wish-list item for a couple who gets ready at the same time in the morning. If you have multiple children, you may need more than one bathroom. And if you have toddlers, you may be on the look-out for a bathtub.
High-end finishes and décor. Granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, smart lights, rainforest shower heads – these are all nice items to have. If they come with the home – excellent! – but also realize that these items can be installed.
Also, remember that a lot of the décor may not be included in the home purchase. Those silk draperies or rad surfboards are considered personal property, and unless specified in the purchase contract, they will not be included in the home purchase.
Location, location, location.
You can renovate a home, but you cannot change where it is located. It is important to consider which neighborhood and street your potential home is located, as the home’s exact location may cause long-term nuisances, hurt re-sale value, or cause lifestyle issues.
Amenities and proximity. Is the home near all your favorite spots to work, play, and shop? Where is the grocery store, gas station, place of worship? How far will your commute be each day? If you have children, where and how are the schools? Do you desire a country or urban feel?
Surroundings. How are other homes in the neighborhood? It is often advised to buy a “bad” house in a good neighborhood and then improve it to generate more equity. If many homes are for sale or most houses are not kept-up, the neighborhood may be on the decline.
People. Before buying, spend some time in the neighborhood to see if it is a good fit. Talk to the neighbors. Will you be comfortable living next to them? How is the privacy? Listen for parties, barking dogs, or traffic. Try to envision if the home location and community fits your lifestyle.
When viewing a home, it will most-likely look clean and tidy, even sometimes with trendy furnishings and fresh paint. But it is important to look beyond the surface to the home’s structure.
Insect damage. Have termites left their “piles” around and caused the wood framing to become soft? While a termite inspection is required before closing on a Hawaii property sale, an initial check for possible damage can save a lot of time and effort.
Poor construction. Is a window permanently open? Are there cracks in the walls? Do doors gap? These could be possible signs of poor construction.
Wet spots. Do the ceiling or walls have murky wet spots? Condensation can lead to health-hazardous mold, wood decay, leaks, and even home collapses.
Foundation cracks. Some small cracks can be harmless, but large cracks down or across the foundation could mean the home is shifting. If the floor is slanted, this could also mean the foundation is settling, which could lead to significant structural damage over time.
If the home still fits your needs despite these structural issues, talk to your real estate agent and a qualified inspector to get more professional advice.
Happy Hawaii house hunting!