If you’re not from Hawaii, just the thought of buying a home in paradise could be quite intimidating. Even if you do already live here, there is still a mountain of unknowns that might be stopping you… until you do a little digging. Asking yourself these 4 simple questions will help you decide if it’s time for you to make the move into homeownership in Hawaii:
1. What do I qualify to buy?
The first and most important thing to find out is how much house you can shop for based on your current financial situation. This question can be easily answered with a quick trip to your local bank, credit union or mortgage broker. Gather up your latest tax return and current paystubs and make an appointment with the loan officer of your choice. They’ll ask you several questions to get a picture of your money situation as well as your plans for the future. Be honest – it only hurts you in the long run if things change after you’ve found the home of your dreams and can’t really afford it. If the initial numbers look good to the loan officer, you can move along and take the next step.
2. Can I get pre-approved?
At first glance these might look like the same question, but this is one step further on the list! Getting pre-qualified merely takes a conversation with a loan officer, who will you the rough range you fall into for home prices. Getting pre-approved entails filling out the loan application, submitting all the required current documents, and loan officer checking all the facts on the application. In just a day or two he/she can usually tell you exactly how much you can buy, and how much you will pay each month. However, pre-approval puts you in a very strong positon to buy and make an offer on a home. It tells the seller “I have done my homework and I am qualified to buy your home”. That’s huge when you are in negotiations.
3. What can I get for my money?
Once you have the bank letter that pre-approves you to purchase a home in a certain range, you need to figure out how much home that will buy you. This is where your Realtor comes in to help. We need to know where you want to live, how much space you need, what amenities you can’t live without, which ones you can. When we plug all that information into our magic computers with your approved number it spits out, hopefully, a long list of options. Based on what you’ve shared with us, we will sift through all these options for you and put in front of you the best ones we know will make you happy.
4. Is this right for me?
When you’ve taken a look at all the possible homes that you are qualified to buy, it’s time to ask the hard question of “Is this right for me?” Is the amount of home you can afford (the location, the size, the attributes) enough for you to live comfortably? Hawaii is an expensive place to own a home for a reason; it’s simply beautiful here all year round. If it were cheap, everyone would be here and then it wouldn’t be as beautiful, would it? The final question requires you to put all the facts on the scales and see how it balances out. A small home in a beautiful neighborhood might be just fine or a larger home in a simple neighborhood could suit your needs better. The final decision has to come from you.
Tina Kitchens came to real estate sales with a background in custom home construction and remodels. She partnered in a design firm business as an Interior Designer & Materials Specifier with her husband, an architect, and still enjoys a heavy hand in the design aspect of homes to this day.