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Buying Maui Real Estate Tips
Below we’ve listed the top 10 Maui Real Estate Tips to help you when buying land, a home, or Maui investment property.
#1 Find A Realtor
Finding a good realtor is incredibly important. Personally, so of us at the Maui Information Guide have had varying degrees of success and failure when dealing with realtors. The 1st time some of us bought, we used a friend’s friend, and it was a nightmare. The second time, we interviewed 8 Realtors and found the one that we felt had the most experience and success in dealing with our very specific situation. It went well that time. Ideally, you want to find a reliable, well-connected Realtor that has had many successes in helping to buy property in your desired area. For North, Central, or Upcountry, go with the Maui Real Estate Team. They always seem to find the early deals (along with an impressive reach.)
#2 Save Some Money
Have some money to put down as a down payment. In our opinion, the more the better. These days, most financing requires a certain percentage down, but the more you put down, the less you’ll have to pay in the long run. But don’t put every dime you have into a down payment. It’s a good idea to have at least a small safety cushion left over, and you may need more money for moving, lowering your interest rate by buying points, etc… See #4 for more info on designing your budget.
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#3 Craft Wants/Needs
It’s a really good idea to write down 2 lists, side by side, that show what you absolutely can’t live without when it comes to your future land, home, or investment property along with what you’d really like to have but can live without. If you’re buying a home with another person (partner, spouse, friend), you may find that this is a heated exercise in compromise. And after you finally come to a well-composed list, it may change when you look at places. So be flexible, but have a strong understanding of what you both need. Everything else is secondary.
#4 Design A Budget
“Design a budget? Don’t you mean establish how much you can afford?” Yes, that’s where you start. The first thing you need to do is find out how much you can comfortably afford to pay each month for your mortgage, potential association dues, and other normal expenses. The next part is dividing how much you can spend each month, along with what you’ve saved up, into pieces that fit into particular categories. You need to factor in moving expenses, possibly overlapping payments of both your new property and the current property you own or rent, needed house repairs and desired upgrades, unforeseen costs that pop up, building permits, paying down the interest rate by buying points, new furniture and fixtures you may want/need, and anything else that comes up. Also, factor in your regular monthly living expenses. Will you be driving further to work (needing more gas), are schools more expensive, are groceries more expensive, clubs and activities nearby with price differences, etc…
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#5 Research Locations
If you have the luxury, renting beforehand in an area that you want to buy in, is a great idea. That way you know for certain that you’re going to be happy for a longer period (especially if the market turns bad for a long time.) Beyond living in your desired area, it’s a good idea to do research on nearby schools, work, healthcare professionals, amenities, beaches, attractions, and the general vibe of the area. Also, once you’ve found the perfect home, make sure you like your new neighbors before putting in a final offer. It doesn’t matter how nice your house or neighborhood is if you have a horrible neighbor.
#6 Don’t Buy, Instead Invest
Don’t buy property for the sake of buying. You need to look at your home/land purchase as an investment for your future. The biggest mistake people make when buying real estate is to be overly emotional. When your heart controls your purchase, you’ll likely get massacred on the price and get pressured into a bidding war for something you’re not able to afford. Yes, it’s important to really like where you’ll be living, but keep in mind that your end goal should be purchasing a property that you can make money or save money on in the future. Otherwise, you might as well keep renting. Do everything in your power to buy when prices and interest rates are low.
#7 Review History
Do yourself a favor and look into the history of the neighborhood, land, building, association, and local real estate market. You should also be aware of what temperature and weather changes you can expect year round. You may find that a favorite property is 50% more humid and rainy than a neighborhood a mile away. Hawaii is weird like that. Other factors contribute to desirable areas like sugarcane burning areas, water quality, ocean quality, flood zones, animal life, party-animal life, quality of association and other normally ignored/forgotten factors.
#8 Consider Timing
Pay attention to the market. Just because you can afford a home, doesn’t mean you should buy one at the height of the market. Your heart might be pushing you to buy a place to settle down in, but a few more years may allow you to save more and buy more home in the future. Also, keep in mind how long you plan on being in your future home. Can you wait through the down-turns in the market if you’re considering upgrading in a few years? Can you get out of your current lease in time to not overlap much when buying? If buying a piece of land, can you accurately predict how long it’ll take to get your home permitted and built? If you’re buying an investment property, can you afford the mortgage when you’re not getting full occupancy off-season? Timing is a very important factor in so many ways.
#9 Don’t Settle
If your Realtor has 3 homes to show you, don’t stop there. If nothing else is available, consider waiting or getting out of your comfort zone and looking in different areas. You may be surprised to find a perfect home only a few neighborhoods away that is far better than what you’d originally expected. That’s where it’s good to have an experienced Realtor that knows the area well. They can read your needs/wants list and find you homes in areas that you might not have considered. Or, if you aren’t 100% on what’s available, take a deep breath and wait till a few more options pop up.
#10 Don’t Break Your Budget
Again, it’s very easy to miscalculate your financing needs. It’s also very easy to get caught up in a bidding war for your dream home. It’s worth losing your dream home if it means buying a lesser property later that will keep you within your means. There’s nothing worse than buying the perfect house you can’t afford, stressing for as long as you can to keep up with payments, then losing that home. Back to square one.
Disclaimer: We are not real estate professionals/experts. These tips are from our own personal experiences, and we feel they are accurate in helping the majority of those looking to buy real estate on Maui. We are not responsible for any damage or loss you may experience.