I’m currently renting out my home, is it still possible to put it in the market?

Yes, you will need notify your tenants (through your property manager if any) your intent first.  Also discuss showing rules and what they can expect.  The leasing contract is between you and your tenants.  You must abide by it before you sign a listing contract with your real estate agent.

Keep in mind, making your property marketable and accommodating potential buyers’ showing requests requires your tenant’s cooperation. Also, if your tenant needs to stay after the ownership change, you need to look for an investor/buyer who is willing to take over. This will make your buyer pool much smaller and your property difficult to sell.

My property is currently occupied. Is it still possible to sell?

Yes, however, it normally takes more time to sell if your property is competing with vacant one. For example, occupied properties cannot accommodate the same flexibility in time to prospective buyers. Also, occupied properties normally won’t show the same “freshness,” as a vacant model-room-like unit. Proper marketing, de-cluttering and de-personalizing will help to move your property.

How are prices determined?

I can help you understand market trends, and what similar properties (comps) were sold for in specific areas.  We also take other factors (i.e. condition, view, etc.) into consideration when we make a final price decision.

We are thinking of moving up to a larger house. What is the best way to do this?

Understanding your goals can help us to keep focused.  If you have a specific timeline to move to new area, finding the right home would be the first focus.  If you don’t have a specific timeline, focusing more on selling your home can give you a better financial picture.  Unfortunately, the real estate market is changing all the time and the best plan is to work with your real estate professional closely, and look into every opportunity to see what is suitable for you.

Do all co-owners have to be available (in person) to sell a property?

No, however, all owners have to be in agreement to sell the property.  In most instances, power-of-attorney can be utilized if co-owners are not available to sign documents.

Are there any upfront costs when selling a property?

If the property is in ready-to-sell condition, there are no upfront costs. Once you begin the transaction with a buyer, there may be costs associated with  providing the buyer with disclosure documents. And there will be an expense, if you agree to the buyer’s repair requests.

What costs can I expect when I sell my property?

Seven to eight percent of the total sold price should cover most of your expenses, including real estate brokerage compensation and all other necessary expenses for transferring title.  Note: Most costs are handled through the escrow company.

Do I need to be in Hawaii during the entire transaction process?

No, you do not need to be present for the entire transaction, however it is highly recommended for you to be available on Island while the optional home inspection is performed. Also, please note that there will be multiple correspondences between buyer, seller and escrow where facsimile transmission or scanned documentation are acceptable for most contract items. However, the original recordation/loan paper will need to be signed, notarized, and the original document sent. If you plan to travel abroad, please check local listings or American Embassies for acceptable notary public services.

How long does it take for a typical transaction (from start to close)?

A typical transaction takes approximately 45 days for a conventional loan purchase. If the purchase does not involve any financing, it could take a little as a few weeks.

What is the real estate transaction process (what do I need to do to purchase a home)?

The transaction begins with Step 1: Consultation with your real estate professional (me). This is where we meet to discuss your real estate goals, review the transaction process, and begin formulating a game plan to reach your goals.

Step 2: Meet with Mortgage Broker
If you are planning to purchase a property through financing, it is imperative that you meet with a mortgage broker and receive a “prequalification” letter. This is important because 1, it will tell you what you will be able to afford, and 2. many sellers will not allow you to view their properties (private showings) without this document or other proof of funding.

Step 3: Market Education
Based on what you can afford, and what you’re willing to spend we will undergo a thorough market study. This will involve my researching of properties that fit your profile, then I will schedule showings for you to visit them.

Step 4: Select Home to Buy/Submit Offer to Purchase
Once you have selected a property for purchase, we will submit an offer. This will involve some strategy based on research – based on market trends, and a comparative market analysis (study of comparable units recently sold in the same neighborhood). This process may also involve negotiation of the selling price if the seller counters the offering price (or other terms).

Step 5: Acceptance of Contract
When the seller accepts the offer, the offer turns into a binding contract.

Step 6: Open Escrow/Deposit Earnest Money
I will open an escrow account on behalf of the buyer (you) with your initial deposit (earnest money). At the same time, you will be responsible for submitting your mortgage application, and reviewing the disclosures.

Step 7: Receive Escrow Instructions
The escrow will collect your information. The mortgage company will begin processing your loan. And you will be asked to review the inspection reports and to submit requests for repairs.

Step 8: Title Search
The escrow company will conduct a title search (to determine if the property is clear of any outstanding liens). Upon loan approval and as the transaction moves forward, we will work to remove loan and other contingencies.

Step 9: Arrange Homeowner’s Insurance
This step is sometimes required by the mortgage company.

Step 10: Final Walk-Through
The final walk-through is normally a few days before the scheduled closing day and usually takes 15 – 30 minutes. The walk-through is to ensure that the condition of the property meets the agreed upon terms. This is also when the buyer begins the transfer of utilities into their name (scheduled to take effect on the day of closing).

Step 11: Deposit Balance of Down-Payment and Closing Costs
Deposit the balance of payment into escrow.

Step 12: Sign Closing Documents and Loan Papers

Step 13: Loan Funding

Step 14: Close Escrow – Get Keys!

What is the difference between Fee Simple and Leasehold properties?

A fee simple buyer acquires ownership of the entire property, including both the land and buildings. A leasehold buyer owns the home or structure but only a “leasehold interest” in the land beneath it. A leasehold interest is created when a fee simple landowner enters into an agreement or contract called a ground lease with the lessee, or the buyer (homeowner).

Most importantly, the buyer of residential leasehold property does not own the land and must pay ground rent. The rent is usually fixed for anywhere from 10-55 years; from there, the rent has to be renegotiated based on terms of the lease and may increase. (The ground rent is in addition to the monthly mortgage payments for the home.)

At the end of the term, the landowner may opt to take the property back. Depending on the provisions of any surrender clause in the lease, the buildings and other improvements on the land may also revert to the lessor.

In addition, the use, maintenance, and alteration of the leased premises may be restricted by terms contained in the lease.

Conversion of leasehold property to fee simple ownership involves purchasing the landowner’s remaining interest, called the leased fee interest. The lessors of many leasehold properties in Hawaii are currently offering to sell their leased fee interests to their lessees or prospective buyers of a leasehold property.