Beginning the search for a new home can be incredibly fun and exciting. The process will usually begin with your realtor asking you what type of home you are looking for, the neighborhoods you are considering, number of bedrooms, etc. Your realtor will then take these requirements into account and compile a list of homes to show you. Viewing homes and dreaming of the life you will build in them can be a really fun and hopeful time. This article covers the fifth step in the ‘How To Buy a House’ series. If you haven’t read the previous articles in the series, you might want to check those out first.
Once you are ready to purchase a new home, you will already have a budget in mind that you will have worked out with your mortgage lender. Now that you have found a real estate agent that you can trust, they can serve as a guide throughout the remainder of the home buying process. They will be a good resource for any questions that come up or they will be able to point you in the direction you need to find the right answers.
You will likely end up viewing many houses before you find the one. Take your time with this process. Once you find one that fits your needs, it’s time to make an offer. You and your agent will negotiate a fair offer based on recent comparable homes sales in your neighborhood. If your offer is accepted by the homeowner, the house will go into escrow, which can take about a month to complete. During this process it’s important to get a home inspection and an appraisal to be sure that the home is a safe investment. If any unforeseen issues come up during this time, you can ask the seller to make repairs or ask to renegotiate the price to cover these repairs.
If you haven’t lived in Hawaii before, it’s important to understand that living in Hawaii is very different than vacationing in Hawaii. Be sure that moving to Hawaii is right for you before you buy a home.
The weather can vary dramatically from one neighborhood to another. Homes at sea level can be much hotter than homes just a few hundred feet higher in elevation. Hawaii locals are habituated to the small temperature variations and after living here for a few months you will notice the temperature changes at different elevations very acutely. Rainfall also increases dramatically with elevation in Hawaii and prevailing wind direction. If you are planning to buy on the windward side, be sure that you like the amount of rain that you’ll get in your new neighborhood during the wet winter months.
If you’re looking at coastal properties, be sure that the home isn’t at risk of flooding. Flooding during storm surges and high tides is becoming more common. Flooding is also a risk to any properties adjacent to streams or built in depressions. Homes built in depressions also don’t benefit from our lovely breezes, so they may cost more to keep cool. Flooding during the hurricane season is also becoming more common.
When buying a home on the Big Island, you will also learn about lava zones. Be aware that mortgage loans and home-owners insurance are difficult to get in lava zones 1 and 2- meaning you may need to pay cash for a property in these areas. Most homes are in lava zones 3 and above and much of the Hamakua coast and North to Kohala are in lava zones 7-9, meaning the probability of experiencing an eruption is very small.
In a highly competitive real estate market, don’t be discouraged if your first offer doesn’t get accepted. Just remember there are lots of fish in the real estate sea. New homes enter the market every day and there are plenty of options out there. If you are personally and financially ready to buy a home, don’t let a few disappointments keep you out of the homeowner’s club.
Best of luck in your search for a new home!