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.

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.

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.

253 Properties
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$230,000
Condo: Island Colony
1
Baths
302
Sq.Ft.
1979
Year Built
1
Day on Site
202209644
MLS
Fee available on this legal short term vacation rental lodging unit in the Skyline at Island Colony hotel rental pool program. Keep it in the hotel rental pool to enjoy equal distribution of income...
2
Beds
1F11/2
Baths
753
Sq.Ft.
1976
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202208716
MLS
PAKALANA - secure condominium, conveniently located in the Makiki area. Enjoy sunrise over DH every morning and picturesque views from the east facing lanai. Covered parking is located in the secure...
$1,300,000
Neighborhood: Ala Moana
12
Beds
6
Baths
3,456
Sq.Ft.
1956
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202209485
MLS
Prime metro central location near Piikoi Street and Wal-Mart and across the street from Sheridan Community Park. This six-unit building is situated on a fenced corner lot and close to shops,...
2
Beds
2
Baths
909
Sq.Ft.
2016
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202209567
MLS
Stunning views of Diamond Head, ocean, mountain, coastal, Ala Moana Beach Park from every room of this beautiful unit in the highly desirable The Collection. Unit features two side by side parking...
$1,499,000
Neighborhood: Coconut Grove
3
Beds
4
Baths
2,382
Sq.Ft.
1950
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202205749
MLS
GREAT NEW LISTING! Well maintained, spacious 3 bdrm/4 bath home located in the cozy Coconut Grove neighborhood in Kailua. Relax & entertain on the covered deck overlooking a beautiful, tiled pool....
Open 5/22
94-555 Alapoai Street #152 Mililani, HI 96789
3
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,256
Sq.Ft.
1976
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202207385
MLS
Beautifully renovated townhome available close to Schofield and Wheeler! This home has all new floors, renovated bathrooms with custom tile work, updated kitchen with butcher block countertops, a...
Open 5/22
91-1125 Kaileonui Street Ewa Beach, HI 96706
$880,000
Neighborhood: Ocean Pointe
3
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,288
Sq.Ft.
2003
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202203930
MLS
Talk about amazing yard space!!! Come enjoy your own personal oasis in the heart of Ocean Pointe! In addition to the stunning yard this 3 bed 2.5 bath single family home has a highly sought after...
$718,000
Condo: Mariners Place Townhomes 2
3
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,050
Sq.Ft.
2002
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202209384
MLS
WELCOME HOME! This is the home you have been waiting for! Highly desirable corner unit. Conveniently located closed to entrance and alongside shopping center. Be the first to live in this...
$1,200,000
Condo: Hawaiki Tower
2
Beds
2
Baths
1,039
Sq.Ft.
1999
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202208993
MLS
Must see! Amazing location and views! This 2 bedroom/2 bath/2 covered assigned parking has been very well-maintained. The low maintenance fees covers many amenities such as a gorgeous infinity pool,...
$975,000
Neighborhood: Makakilo-Lower
6
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
2,170
Sq.Ft.
1965
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202209410
MLS
PRICED TO SELL UNDER ASSESSED VALUE!!! The astute buyer will know how to unlock the potential in this property. This single family home in Lower Makakilo is a fixer upper with 6 bedrooms and 2.5...
1
Beds
1
Baths
664
Sq.Ft.
1979
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202209521
MLS
Newly renovated spacious 1 bedroom, 1 bath unit with over 600 sq. ft. of living area, and 1 covered parking stall. Secured entry and gated parking garage. Newly installed vinyl flooring, new kitchen...
2
Beds
2
Baths
1,892
Sq.Ft.
1990
Year Built
2
Days on Site
202209415
MLS
HUGE Penthouse-level unit at the luxurious Nauru Tower (almost 2,200sf total)! Incredible ocean, mountain, and sunset views. This unit features a vestibule, a large living room, dining area and...

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