Buying Advice

How To Buy a House in This Market!

sold home for full price on big island hawaii

I have been as busy as I have ever been selling real estate, and I have been doing this since 2003! When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, I truly thought business would slow down to a crawl. But within the first few months of 2020, the market was on fire and moving faster than ever. The Big Island of Hawaii, as well as the entire state of Hawaii, is experiencing a huge demand for homes with very little inventory to choose from. For now we are seeing a Seller’s market, making things difficult for the number of Buyers we have. For this reason, it is very important for you to be prepared so that you will be in the best position possible when presenting an offer to purchase. Here are my top tips for Buyers to be ready to go in this highly competitive market we are currently in.

buying a home in hawaii

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

Knowing how much you can afford and the amount of down payment that will be necessary for you to move forward with your Purchase Contract has always been a good idea, but now it is essential! Ask your Realtor for recommendations of a local lender. I prefer to use mortgage brokers as they have so many more financing options than just using a bank. And do use a local mortgage broker that knows our market and the many quirks of Big Island properties. We have lava zones, unpermitted structures, many zoning requirements, and more that can confuse and slow down an out-of-state lender. So have your pre-approval letter in hand to present with your offer and be above the competition of those that do not.

woman with horse

2. Get a Great Real Estate Agent

In this case me! I have been selling real estate on the Big Island since 2003 in every District! I know the market, including luxury homes, resort properties, condominiums, single family homes and vacant land. I had 24 successful closings last year, from luxury homes to vacant land. I make sure to be by my Buyer’s side throughout the process ensuring a smooth transaction from start to finish. When it comes time to make your offer, I can move quickly for you. I know what is happening in our market and use that knowledge to make sure your offer is as competitive as it needs to be.

buyer purchased this home with an all cash offer

3. Make an Offer in Cash if You Can in a Seller’s Market

As the saying goes, “Cash is King”! All cash offers are very appealing to Sellers and most likely leads to a higher likelihood of having your offer accepted. If no lender is necessary, then there is no financing contingency for a Seller to be concerned with. For this reason cash deals are quicker and easier. Of course most of us do not have enough cash on hand and will need to use a lender. In this case, one must rely on other tactics to make your offer as strong as possible.

buyer purchased with all cash and $50000 earnest money deposit

4. Put More Earnest Money Down

Earnest money is the amount of money you initially put down and shows the Seller just how serious you are in purchasing. It is also known as good faith money in other states. Once your offer is accepted and an escrow account is opened, then your earnest money deposit as stated in the contract will be due to escrow usually within business days after acceptance. I recommend to my Buyers put both an initial earnest money deposit, then an additional one after all inspections have been completed which is usually in the first 14 days of escrow. If your purchase price is $500,000, I recommend an initial deposit of minimum $5000 with an additional $5000 after 14 days. The more the better however because Sellers tend to favor Buyers who put down larger earnest money deposits as it shows the seriousness of the Buyer and gives Buyer a leg up on the competition. The deposits in escrow go towards your down payment.

buyers won this property with an escalation clause in purchase contract

5. Add an Escalation Clause

In this ever so competitive market we are seeing multiple offers. To make sure you have the chance to be the highest offer amongst the multiple offers, it is a great idea to include an escalation clause into the Purchase Contract. Basically this clause states that if the Seller receives a higher offer than yours, you are willing to increase your offer to a higher price. This can be in increments of say $1000 over the competing offer up to a predetermined amount. If your offer is accepted and the escalation clause has been used, then the Seller is required to provide you a copy of the bonafide offer that your offer beat within 2 days of acceptance. This protects you and ensures that the Seller has dealt fairly with all.

buyers in escrow after waiving home inspection

6. Waive Extra Contingencies

As a Buyer you have the option of waiving certain contingencies in the Purchase Contract. You may consider paying for the termite inspection yourself rather than putting that on the Seller. You may consider purchasing the property using an “As Is” addendum and insure the Seller that you will not be asking for repairs to be completed or money left behind from Seller’s proceeds for repairs at close of escrow. You may use a “Staking Survey Waiver” so Seller will not have to pay for a Surveyor to mark the boundary corners of the property. And of course, the ultimate contingency to waive is the financing contingency and coming in with an all cash offer!  Let your agent guide you as to which, if any, contingencies you may waive as it depends on the property you are considering for a purchase.

sign says home sweet home

 7. Stay Positive!

In this extremely competitive market, it is highly likely you will be competing with a lot of potential Buyers with multiple offers. You may lose on several properties before you succeed in getting an offer accepted. This can be very disheartening, but if you want to succeed it is essential that you remain positive and upbeat. Having an experienced and patient agent is a must! I will use any and all tactics to make your offer as competitive as possible in this very busy market we are in! “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” There will always be another house that becomes available that you will love just as much and sometimes more than the one you may have missed out on.

About the Author

Lisa Heaviside

Lisa Heaviside is a REALTOR Salesperson with Hawai'i Life. I have over 18 years of experience as a licensed Realtor in the state of Hawaii since 2003. When you choose me to help you Sell or Buy your Big Island Property, you can be confident you are dealing with a knowledgeable and experienced professional who consistently delivers an exemplary level of service. Throughout my career, I have refined my skills as a savvy negotiator and strive to deliver maximum value for my clients. I seek to create lasting relationships with each client I meet with and advise. Consequently, I have turned many satisfied clients into great friends. Please keep me in mind if you should ever decide to sell your Big Island property or looking to purchase. I offer excellent communication skills with a commitment to personal excellence and client satisfaction. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 987-3791.

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