Buying Hawaii Real Estate – Common Concerns for the Typical Worry Wart
Buying property in paradise would seem to be a no brainer, right? After all, what’s to worry about? All things being equal, there are probably fewer issues of serious concern than on the mainland, but the list can be overwhelming nonetheless.
Photo courtesy Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net
Common Concerns with Hawaii Homes
1. Nature. Let’s see, there are lava tubes that often don’t present themselves until a bulldozer exposes them; lava zones that can affect insurance rates and loan programs; flood zones that could require an elevation certificate to avoid potentially unaffordable flood insurance; coqui frogs that sometimes make TV watching a challenge; and catchment concerns that prompt a quick “Catchment 101” lesson. This is just the beginning of a long list that “visits” each property with you and your Hawaii REALTOR®.
2. Insurance Choices. Oceanfront and homes within 1,000 ft. of the ocean have fewer insurance choices, and backyard gardeners who wish to grow their own food need a quick but important lesson from our local cooperative extension agents (there’s a great read about rat lungworm).
3. Lead Paint. Homes built prior to 1978 are potentially impacted by lead paint. The age of the home prompts a federal requirement to provide buyers with specific information about how lead paint could impact families.
4. Mold. While “black” and dangerous molds are often related to recirculated air, leaky drains and poor caulking that allows water to collect between walls can quickly create a serious problem. REALTORS® go in and out of so many homes that they often detect the musty smell of mold where a buyer may not. Dangerous mold might look “hairy” or even slimy. Mold testing is not part of the normal home inspection, but should be done.
5. Pests. Then there’s ye ol’ LFAs…those little fire ants that are so small that they aren’t always visible to the naked eye. Before coqui frogs were common, I used to tell concerned buyers that “if you don’t have them already, you will.” Ditto LFAs. These nasty critters can cause painful stings and have been known to get in the eyes of pets causing blindness…or worse. There’s no way to know if a property is infested with LFAs unless a seller makes the disclosure. Sometimes just walking the property makes the problem apparent. They are controllable, but require on-going treatment.
Termites love it here just like we do! There are basically 2 types; hungry Formosan (ground) and dry wood termites. We normally associate ground termites with damp soil and low elevations, but even up-slope properties with rocky soil can host both. It’s termite season. I’ve always learned that swarming does not necessarily indicate that a home has active termites. Treatment for each type is different. Your agent will normally ask for a termite inspection prior to closing.
Other Non-Contractual Concerns
Septic pumping, soils issues, power pole payments, flight paths, community associations, CCRs, title issues, proper access, asbestos, pesticides, geothermal, and even sex offender information are non-contractual issues your REALTOR® may need to focus on while walking through your future dream home.
While not experts in all these areas, an experienced, geographically qualified agent can provide important guidance specific to the property and a buyer’s property requirements. It’s just all in a day’s work for your personal worry wart!
If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to speak to a knowledgeable Hawaii Realtor that cares about the aforementioned as much as you do, please don’t hesitate to contact me.