Buying a House in Hawaii from the Mainland

If you are considering buying a house in Hawaii from the mainland, there are a few things you need to know first.

Keep reading for 5 things you need to be aware of before buying a property in Hawaii from the mainland.

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buying a house in hawaii from the mainland

1. Fee Simple vs. Leasehold

There are two types of property ownership: fee simple and leasehold. If you currently own property on the mainland, it is almost certain that you were a fee simple buyer. Fee simple ownership means you own the property, including the land it is on. When you are given the title for the property, it includes the structure, the land, and any improvements made to the land or structure in perpetuity. You as the owner have the right to use, possess, and dispose of the land in any way you wish (within the bounds of a local HOA and local laws).

In Hawaii, there are some properties that are sold as leasehold. Much of the land on the islands is owned by either the State of Hawaii or the Federal Government. Some of this land is leased out to homeowners, called a leasehold. In this scenario, residents own the structure (house), but lease the land from the government. Buying property with a leasehold requires a full understanding of the conditions, as they are totally different from fee simple ownership.

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The conditions of the lease will likely include stipulations about how the land can be used and for how long. If the homeowner would like to sell before that period of time is over, the new owner will be subject to the current land lease agreement. At the end of the predetermined period, the land will be returned to the lessor (the government), and in some cases this includes the buildings and improvements on the land.

When buying a house in Hawaii from the mainland, be aware of prices that are far below market value as they may indicate a lease that is about to end and will need to be renegotiated.

2. Mortgage Funding from Mainland Banks vs. Local Banks

Hawaii is a Good Funds State, which means all funds have to be in the hands of the title company before closing on the sale. Mainland banks often have the policy of not wiring funds until closing day, which can cause delays because a Hawaii bank will have to wait up to five business days to receive the funds.

Working with a local bank will allow the process to be streamlined, with funds in the title company's account at least two days before closing to ensure a seamless process.

3. Lava Zones

Something you likely haven't taken into consideration when shopping for real estate on the mainland is lava. When buying a house in Hawaii, however, you need to find out whether the property is in a lava zone. Check out the Lava Zones Table to find out if the area you are considering is at risk, and determine what level of risk you are comfortable with.

4. Square Footage Expectations

Moving from the mainland to Hawaii, many people overestimate the amount of square footage they need, or want. With a climate as perfect as ours, locals live outside. We dine and entertain on our lanais, we spend our weekends at the beach or on a hike, and all year round we have the whole island to enjoy.

You are not likely to find a large home within your price range, unless you have a substantial budget, but this doesn't mean you won't be able to have the lifestyle you want with a smaller house. As you think about buying a house in Hawaii from the mainland, keep in mind that your lifestyle will likely shift to include way more time outside than it does right now.

5. How Elevation Affects Energy Costs

One of the major differences between vacationing in Hawaii and living here is energy costs. That hotel air conditioning didn't factor into your vacation budget at all, but energy costs as a resident are substantial. Buying a house with the right airflow will allow you maximize on the tropical breeze and minimize your energy costs, but this requires the right elevation and orientation of doors and windows.

Keep these factors in mind when buying a house in Hawaii from the mainland, especially if you are considering buying something sight unseen. Ask your agent to tell you about the airflow and elevation of the home. Homes at a higher elevation in Hawaii are often priced higher, but this cost is generally balanced by the decrease in energy costs to cool the home.

To learn more about buying a house in Hawaii from the mainland, contact us anytime. We have the team you need to make your plans a reality.

177 Properties
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Open 1/29
1777 Ala Moana Boulevard #728 Honolulu,  HI 96815
1
Beds
1
Baths
500
Sq.Ft.
1965
Year Built
1
Day on Site
202301216
MLS
Beautifully renovated unit with breathtaking ocean and lagoon views located in the iconic Ilikai. This pristine unit is fully furnished, ready to move in, and is perfect for both investment and owner...
$375,000
Condo: Island Colony
1
Baths
313
Sq.Ft.
1979
Year Built
1
Day on Site
202301544
MLS
Legal short term vacation rental in the heart of Waikiki. Legal short term rentals are increasingly rare in Waikiki due to local ordinance changes! This studio unit has a gracious lanai on the cooler...
1
Baths
362
Sq.Ft.
1971
Year Built
1
Day on Site
202301549
MLS
Rarely available, legal vacation rental in a boutique hotel at the entrance to the heart of Waikiki! This studio unit has one of the largest lanais in the entire hotel! Enjoy the huge 583 sq ft lanai...
2
Beds
1
Baths
812
Sq.Ft.
1973
Year Built
1
Day on Site
202301554
MLS
Groundfloor Corner / End Two Bedroom, 1 Bath Townhouse Unit with One Open Parking Stall.
Washer and Dryer in Unit. Nearby Shopping, Dining Bus Stop.
Open 1/29
91-1092 Kaimalie Street #2L2 Ewa Beach,  HI 96706
$699,000
Condo: Ke Aina Kai Townhomes 6
3
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,156
Sq.Ft.
2000
Year Built
1
Day on Site
202301545
MLS
Calling all chefs! Check out this Amazing kitchen with all the space you could want! Talk about a custom home. There are so many amazing built ins to add plenty of storage to this home. Too many...
Open 1/29
98-719 Iho Place #5-1102 Aiea,  HI 96701
$470,000
Condo: Colonnade On The Greens
2
Beds
2
Baths
805
Sq.Ft.
1976
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202301350
MLS
Enjoy the sweeping views in this wonderful, high level home in Colonnade on the Greens. Surrounded by the Pearl Country Club golf course, this community sits at the end of the street and boasts views...
$725,000
Condo: Waikiki Windsor
2
Beds
2
Baths
941
Sq.Ft.
1986
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202301402
MLS
Situated in the beginning of Waikiki we have the Windsor. Tucked away from the busy streets and traffic but within walking distance to the beach, restaurants and the mall. Across the way you can find...
Open 1/29
2333 Kapiolani Boulevard #408 Honolulu,  HI 96826
2
Beds
2
Baths
930
Sq.Ft.
1971
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202301265
MLS
MARCO POLO - 2020 Building of the Year Award! This well priced, spacious 2bed/2bath/ 1pkg, corner end unit with a large wraparound lanai where you can enjoy peaceful treetop, Ala Wai park and canal...
Open 1/29
95-969 Ukuwai Street #3407 Mililani,  HI 96789
$718,000
Condo: Nohona II @Mililani Mauka 3
3
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,195
Sq.Ft.
2007
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202301454
MLS
Don't miss out on this rare opportunity to own in highly desiarble "Nohona II at Mililani Mauka. This newer built 3/2.5 split-level ground floor unit is well maintained and move in ready with all the...
1
Beds
1
Baths
555
Sq.Ft.
1974
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202301395
MLS
Live in the heart of Waikiki !Short stroll to Waikiki beach, luxury shopping, fabulous dining, and the famous International Market Place . Highly desirable residential building ! Wonderful renovated...
1
Baths
364
Sq.Ft.
1974
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202301398
MLS
BEST studio POSITION IN BLDG !Carefree convenient Living in the heart of Waikiki ! A short stroll to Waikiki beach, luxury shopping, fabulous dining, and the International Market Place ! Highly...
Open 1/29
91-1001 Keaunui Drive #154 Ewa Beach,  HI 96706
$855,000
Neighborhood: Ewa Gen Laulani-Tides
4
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,344
Sq.Ft.
2011
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202301478
MLS
Welcome home to your cozy desirable CUL-DE-SAC corner home! This 4 bedroom, 3 bath home has a lot of 4,032 sq ft., twice as large as most of the homes in the Laulani-Tides! It is one of the few homes...

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