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  • Writer's pictureShaila Campbell

Thinking of Buying in Hawaii?

Updated: May 6, 2019

5 Things all Out-of-State Buyers need to know before purchasing a home in Hawaii

1.) Fee Simple VS. Leasehold

Fee Simple Ownership:

Fee simple, is the most familiar form of property ownership to buyers of residential property. A fee simple buyer acquires ownership of the entire property, both the land and buildings. The fee simple owner has the right to possess, use the land, and dispose of the land as one sees fit.

Leasehold Ownership:

A leasehold interest is created when a fee simple landowner enters into an agreement or contract called a ground lease with a lessee. It's important to note that the buyer of leasehold property does not own the land and must pay ground rent. In addition to this, the use of the land is limited to the remaining years covered by the lease. Thereafter, the land returns to the lessor, and is called reversion or surrender clause. The buildings and other improvements on the land may also revert back to the lessor.

Leasehold ownership may or may not be able to be converted from leasehold to fee simple. This mainly depends if the lessor offers to sell their leased fee interest to the lessee.

It is extremely important to understand fee simple vs leasehold because it affects your decision to buy, affects your ability to obtain a loan, and it affects your ability to sell.

2.) Animal Quarantine

Moving to Hawaii with your Pet? Be sure to check out Hawaii's Animal Quarantine rules and regulations in advance of your move. Hawaii is a rabies-free state. To prevent rabies from entering the state, households with pets may be asked to complete either a 120-day or a 5 Day or Less "fast track" quarantine program. Check to see how to get your pet qualified for the fast track to avoid a lengthy quarantine.

3.) Commute Times

There are many things to love about Hawaii, but traffic is not one of them. Your commute can range from 5 minutes to 2 hours depending on where and when you're commuting to.

4.) Home Sizes and Expectations

A typical single family home on our islands can range from 1,500 sqft to 2,500 sqft. A larger home is considered to be 3,000+sqft of interior space. Land size can vary, but a typical lot size might range from 5,000-8,000 sqft, whereas a larger land area might be over 10,000 sqft. Much of Oahu's housing boom happened in the 1970s, many of the homes in more established neighborhoods maybe single-wall construction typical of this. You'll have some older homes, like those located in charming neighborhoods of Kaimuki or Manoa built in the 1930s. On the other hand, there's a large variety of new construction, simply inquire within and we're happy to send you the latest in project developments.

5.) A Note about Flood Zones

You'll want to know if your home is located in a flood zone. Flood insurance is not covered by your homeowners insurance policy, so if you're in a flood zone, your lender may require you to purchase flood insurance in connection with your property purchase. To check the location of flood zones in Hawaii, simply check the Flood Hazard Assessment Tool.


Questions? For more info, call Shaila at 808-741-7155 or email Hawaii Homes & Estates LLC. License No: RB-20456.


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