How to Buy a House in Hawaii

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 15, 2020

Are you thinking about saying “Aloha!” to a property of your own in Hawaii? Use our quick and simple home buying guide today to learn more about the road to homeownership. 

Step 1: Consider Current Hawaii Mortgage Rates

Your mortgage interest rate is the annual percentage rate you’ll pay on the amount of money you borrow to buy your home. Mortgage interest rates change throughout the year. In some cases, they might even change on a day-to-day basis. Your local housing market, bond interest rates and even the overall state of the national economy can all influence what you pay for your loan.

Here’s a sample of what you might pay for a mortgage in Hawaii today. We update this table regularly to ensure that you have access to the most recent information available. 

Loan TypeRateAPR
30-year fixed N/A N/A
15-year fixed N/A N/A
7/1 ARM (adjustable rate) N/A N/A
5/1 ARM (adjustable rate) N/A N/A
Rates based on an average home price of $225,000 and a down payment of 20%.
See more mortgage rates on Zillow

Step 2: Pick a Mortgage Lender in Hawaii

There are many mortgage lenders that offer loans in Hawaii. If you aren’t sure where to begin your search, consider a few of our top choices below.  

Quicken Loans
Best For
  • Online Service

1. Best Overall: Quicken Loans®

Quicken Loans is one of the largest lenders in the United States. It offers a range of loan types and a variety of term customization options. 

Quicken Loans offers both conventional mortgage loans and government-backed mortgage loans, so it’s a popular lender for first-time buyers. Quicken Loans’ unique YOURgage® allows you to choose a custom term between 8 and 29 years, and 30-year loans are also available.

Quicken Loans boasts a quick online application. Just answer a few questions about your employment, income and credit from your computer, smartphone or tablet. Most buyers receive a decision instantly.

Veterans United
securely through Veterans United's website

2. Best for Veterans: Veterans United

VA loans are a special type of government-backed mortgage loan that can allow veterans and active-duty service members to buy a home with as little as $0 down.

Veterans United is the top VA mortgage lender in the United States. It has been consistently highly rated by veterans — buyers who work with Veterans United rate the lender 4.7 out of 5.0 stars.

Veterans United understands the mortgage process can be confusing for service members who need to prove service for a VA loan. Veterans United employs a full team of veterans from each branch of the military to give you personal advice to get your documentation in order. If you don’t qualify for a VA loan, Veterans United can also help you get a conventional loan that works with your income. 

3. Best for In-Person Service: Bank of Hawaii

Online mortgage loans can be convenient and easy but in-person service can be a comfort with your 1st loan. Bank of Hawaii is the largest bank in Hawaii with 62 offices in 31 cities. You can choose to complete your mortgage loan online or visit a local branch to learn more about the best mortgage type for you.

Bank of Hawaii offers a wide range of mortgage options. Mortgage products include government-backed FHA loans, 30-year jumbo loans, fixed-interest loans and adjustable-rate mortgages. 

Step 3: Find a House

Many first-time home buyers are surprised to learn that they should apply for a mortgage loan before they begin shopping for a home. This is a smart idea because your mortgage preapproval will tell you how much you can afford to take out in a loan. This gives you an excellent jumping-off point when it comes to setting a budget and comparing homes.

With your preapproval in hand, you can also consider hiring a real estate agent or realtor to make your home search easier. Real estate agents can help you narrow down your list of “wants” and “needs.” Your agent can also introduce you to properties that aren’t openly advertised on real estate databases and advise on what’s realistic for your budget.

Before you start shopping, make a list of characteristics you’re looking for in your ideal home. Neighborhoods, property taxes, school districts and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms your family needs are all factors you should consider before you begin your house hunt.

If you find a home you want to purchase, you’ll typically get an inspection before you go through with the sale. Some potential red flags you’ll want to look out for during a viewing include:

  • Plumbing and electrical issues
  • Appliances, gas furnaces or chimneys in disrepair
  • Full or broken gutters
  • A musty mold smell in the attic or basement of the home
  • Trees positioned in a dangerous location or trees that appear diseased

You should also be sure to ask the seller if the home has tested positive for radon, lead paint or carbon monoxide. These can be expensive problems to correct. If the home hasn’t had these tests, be 100% sure you include an inspection contingency in your offer. 

Step 4: Make an Offer

When you find a home you want to buy, you’ll tell the seller by submitting an offer letter. An offer letter is an official document that tells the seller of the home who you are, what you want to offer for the home and any contingencies you expect from the seller before the sale can go through.

Most buyers enlist the assistance of an agent to write their offer letter. Though there is nothing stopping you from writing your own offer letter, allowing your agent to handle it on your behalf comes with a number of benefits. Your agent understands what is and isn’t reasonable to ask for in your letter, which can help increase your chances of receiving an acceptance. Agents also know how to write a legally binding offer with language that protects you and your financial interests.

After you submit your offer letter, the ball is in the seller’s court. A seller can respond to your offer letter in 1 of 3 ways:

  • Accept the offer. A seller can accept your offer in full. If this is the case, you can move onto closing.
  • Reject the offer. The seller can also reject the offer outright. If this happens, you can choose to submit another offer or to move onto another home.
  • Make a counteroffer. A counteroffer is a new offer letter with an adjusted set of terms. If you receive a counteroffer, you can accept it, reject it or create another counteroffer.

It’s normal for home sales to go through multiple rounds of counteroffers before the seller and buyer come to an agreement. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent’s opinion on each counteroffer you receive. 

Step 5: Closing Time

Once your seller accepts an offer, it’s time to close on your loan. Most mortgage closing processes involve 3 steps:

  • Appraisal: During the appraisal, a home value expert will visit your property and look at recent sales data to estimate how much your property is worth. Mortgage lenders require appraisals before they issue loans because they can’t issue you more money than your home is worth. If your appraisal comes back low, you might need to adjust your offer or bring more money to closing.
  • Inspection: In most cases, an inspection isn’t required by the lender. However, you should still get an appraisal so you understand the true condition of your home before you buy it. An inspection will give you a more in-depth look at your home’s systems and appliances and will assure you that you won’t face a major repair immediately after you move in.  
  • Underwriting: During underwriting, your lender will go through your financial information with a fine-toothed comb to make sure you qualify for your loan. Your lender will check your credit report, examine your bank statements and take a look at your profit and loss statement if you’re self-employed. Though this might sound very intimidating, the vast majority of underwriting processes close entirely behind the scenes and without incident.

How long does closing usually take? All closing steps take about 30 days on average. This process can vary by lender. Your closing might be significantly shorter or longer depending on where you live, the loan type you’ve chosen and your lender.

The final step of the home buying process is the closing meeting. During the closing meeting, you’ll sign on your mortgage loan, pay your down payment and closing costs and walk away with the keys to your new home. 

Move-in Day in Hawaii

When you walk away from the closing table, you can officially call yourself Hawaii’s newest homeowner! Buying a home might be a stressful and intimidating process but it can also be an exciting achievement in your life. 

Don’t be afraid to take plenty of time to explore lenders and loan options before you decide to buy. Knowing what you’re getting into beforehand can help you buy with more confidence.  

Get Ready for Take Off

Rocket Mortgage® is an online mortgage experience developed by the firm formerly known as Quicken Loans®, America’s largest mortgage lender. Rocket Mortgage® makes it easy to get a mortgage — you just tell the company about yourself, your home, your finances and Rocket Mortgage® gives you real interest rates and numbers. You can use Rocket Mortgage® to get approved, ask questions about your mortgage, manage your payments and more.

You can work at your own pace and someone is always there to answer your questions — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Want a fast, convenient way to get a mortgage? Give Rocket Mortgage® a try.