Kevin E. Lewis, REALTOR®  (808) 895-4956  Hiloagent @ Yahoo.com  Clark Realty Corporation - Hilo Orchid Isle  (808) 969-7853 x130

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Big Island Hawaii Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Big Island of Hawaii

Hilo - Hamakua - Puna - Kona - Kohala - Kau

How Much Do Homes Cost on the Big Island?

Puna

$166,000

South Hilo

$290,000

South Kohala

$412,500

North Kona

$445,000

Hawaii County

$295,000

Dec 2013 YTD Median Sales Price

Hawaii Information Service Inc.

 

Search for properties anywhere on the Big Island through my new website: www.BigIslandAgent.com

 

 

1)  How is the Big Island Real Estate Market?  It's still a Buyer's Market opportunity, but inventory is declining and prices are increasing in 2013 as Buyers and Investors return to our local market.   Hawaii Real Estate Market Report   My Real Estate Listings

 

2)  Volcanoes, Lava, and VOG:  We actually have very few properties for sale in the remote areas near the active lava flow, which border the east side of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Since 1983, the lava flow has covered about 70 square miles (less than 2% of our island) and destroyed approximately 200 structures in the Kalapana area.

Vog is more common to our Kau, Kona and South Kohala districts, and on occasions affects the Hilo, Puna and Hamakua districts of the Island.  Vog generally is carried to the South-West by the trade winds from the volcanic vents in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and can sometimes even affect our neighbor islands.  A "Voggy" day looks like a smoggy day, and creates brilliant red sunsets which awe the tourists.  People with respiratory ailments are more prone to the adverse effects of Vog, which can include headaches, breathing difficulties, watery eyes, and sore throat.  If Vog is a concern, we can focus our real estate search for properties on the east and north coast of the Big Island.   Big Island Vog Conditions   UH Vog Projection Map

It is true that Hawaii Volcanic Lava Zones 1 and 2 are more difficult to get mortgage loans on homes, while most everyone can get insurance on homes up to $350,000 through the HPIA program, (Hawaii Property Insurance Association.)  Above that amount there is insurance available through Lloyds of London at a somewhat higher premium.  Yet, many residents love these areas in Puna, Kau, and South Kona because of the weather and scenic beauty.  There are ways to reduce risk by keeping your real estate search to volcanic zones 3 or higher in these areas.  If "being as far away from the lava as possible" is important, then we have areas in the Hilo, Hamakua, and Kohala districts to search for property.   Big Island Lava Hazard Zones

Living near an active volcano is also a matter of perspective.  Some people see "risk" to be a few miles from a volcano vent, while others see "opportunity" to have a business that caters to the many visitors who come to see the lava flow.  No matter where you live there is risk of some kind of natural disaster:  Earthquake, Tornado, Hurricane, Blizzard, Flood, Lightning, Landslide, Sand Storm, Fire, Volcano...  It's a matter of which risks you are willing to live with.  Most people who live over here don't really think much about it.  Our volcanoes tend to ooze out a lava creek and do not explode like they can in other parts of the world.  When the lava flows, we literally get thousands of people who visit the public viewing areas to come see!   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

3)  Koki Frogs, Coqui Frogs or Caribbean Tree Frogs:  These small tree frogs are said to have found their way into Hawaii several years ago in tropical plant shipments from Florida or Puerto Rico.  I estimate about 25% of the clients I work with HATE them, about 25% LOVE them, and the other half tell me "we have louder things that than where we are from!"   Koki Frog Information

4)  Rainwater Catchment Systems:  Catchment Water is fairly common in parts of our rural Big Island, where piped county or well water is limited.  Typically you have a metal roof on your house, and use the rain gutters to catch the water where it goes into a large steel or plastic water tank.  There is a filter system and water pump to bring the water into the house.   Catchment Water   Hawaii Island Weather

 

5)  Big Island Hawaii Flood Zones:  All of Hawaii County is mapped with a flood zone code.  However, unless you are near a stream or low elevation shoreline area, chances are your Hawaii property will be located in Flood Zone "X", which is the lowest level of risk area (less than 1% annual risk from surface flooding).  Some properties may have localized ponding during a heavy rain, which is not reflected in the flood zone designation.   Big Island Flood Zones

 

6)  What is SSPP?  Special Subdivision Project Provision.  This is a cost share between HELCO (Hawaiian Electric Light Company) and land owners to bring electricity to some of the rural subdivisions.  When you hook up to the electric lines you pay a share of the cost of the power poles.  I've seen SSPP range from about $500 to over $5000.  Depending on the amount, you may be able to qualify for a payment plan with Helco.  For specific details you will need a tax map key number of a particular property, then contact HELCO Engineering (808) 969-0311

 

7)  Hawaii Land Tenure: Fee Simple or Leasehold.  Fee Simple is when you buy the land, with the package of legal rights that come with it.  Leasehold is when you rent the land, usually on a long term lease.  For most people, fee simple better fits their long term goals, while for income investors, leasehold is an option worth looking at.   Hawaii County Tax Map Key

 

8)  What is a Cesspool?  Basically, a cesspool is just a well in the ground.  It differs from a Septic System in that there is no tank that needs to be pumped every so often.   Hawaii Cesspools   Septic Systems

 

9)  HARPTA - FIRPTA.  Hawaii Real Property Tax Law (HARPTA) allows for income tax withholding from the proceeds of a sale, similar to how an employer withholds income tax from your paycheck.  The State of Hawaii requires that 5% of the sale price be withheld for taxes from an out of state Seller, unless you can qualify for an exemption.  Likewise, the US Government has the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) which requires that 10% of the sale price to be withheld for federal income tax from non-US residents.  The Seller will get credit for the amount withheld towards any income tax owed on capital gain when it is reported on their Federal and/or Hawaii non-resident income tax return.   HARPTA   FIRPTA

 

10)  How many square feet are in an acre?  43,560 feet are in one acre.  For most people, an acre of land is plenty to take care of.  12,000 sq ft is enough to give you a nice front yard and a back yard, while 8,000 sq ft gives you one or the other.

 

11)  Can I use a Mainland lender to buy property in Hawaii?  Yes - BUT!  If the off-island lender does not have experience with processing loans for properties on the Big Island, I suggest to add a week or two weeks additional escrow time.  Off-Island loan agents are often not familiar with volcanic zones, agriculture zoning, catchment water, or which type of loans work in the various districts and subdivisions.  I'm glad to work with whomever lender you choose, but I highly encourage you to check out the recommended local lenders and mortgage brokers on my Hiloagent.com website, if just to compare loan options.   Referral Resources

 

12)  Where is the best place to live on the Big Island of Hawaii?  Well... it all depends on YOU.  What I have found is people generally like where they live, and for that reason, recommend that area or subdivision, and they do not always recommend where someone else lives.  Some people like the warm dry sun-drenched Southern California like weather of our Kona coast on the west side of Hawaii Island, with the nearby golf and beach resorts, condos and timeshares, tourist shops and restaurants, sandy beaches in South Kohala and pasture landscape around Waimea.  Others prefer the cooler, more tropical and greener Hilo side of Hawaii Island, with its sunny mornings, partly cloudy afternoons, and rain most evenings as the clouds pass high around the mountains.  Hilo has a "local Hawaii" quiet small town atmosphere, scenic but rockier coastline with parks along Hilo Bay, while the developing Puna district is eclectic from funky Pahoa to artsy Volcano, rural and farmish by nature, with relative privacy in the Ohia forest.  I have worked with clients who have moved from one side of the Big Island to the other saying "it was so different than what everyone told us!"   Recommended Books

 

The County of Hawaii districts include Kona, Kohala, Hilo, Hamakua, Puna and Kau.  Hawaii Island (as many of the local residents call our Island) is just over 4000 square miles and quite diverse.  Our Island is a wonderful place to live - we like to think that we have something for just about everyone!   Big Island Drive Times   East Hawaii Photos   Hawaii County Population

 

 

More Questions and Answers Coming Soon!  Meanwhile, check out these website links on my Big Island Information webpage.

 

 

Big Island Hawaii Island Weather

Hilo Weather   Kailua Kona Weather   Waimea (Kamuela) Weather

 

 

Big Island Hawaii Highway Map

Big Island Hawaii Lava Zones Big Island Hawaii Rainfall Map Big Island Hawaii District Map Puna Hawaii Map

Hawaii Drive Times

Hawaii Island Map

Hawaii Lava Zones

Hawaii Weather

Hawaii Tax Map Key

Puna District Map

 

 

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Mahalo for visiting my Big Island Hawaii Real Estate Website! Kevin E. Lewis, REALTOR® Clark Realty Corporation - Hilo Orchid Isle NOBODY Knows the Big Island Like We Do!™
The information contained on this website is from various sources that are considered reliable but cannot be guaranteed. Disclosure: I may receive a small commission from products purchased thru links on this website.