Kevin Lewis, Clark Realty Corporation Real Estate Agent

Kevin E. LewisRealtor® Hawaii RB-18141


Clark Realty Corporation - Hilo Hawaii

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Big Island of Hawaii

Hilo - Hamakua - Puna - Kona - Kohala - Kau

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Median Sales Price – Sep 2017 YTD

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1)  How is the Big Island Real Estate Market?  It's still a Buyer's Market opportunity, but prices have been slowly increasing as Buyers return to our local market.  Big Island Real Estate Listings


2)  Volcanoes and Lava zones:  We actually have very few properties for sale in the areas near the active lava flow. Since 1983, the lava flow has covered somewhere around 150 square miles, and we lost approximately 200 structures, almost all in the Kalapana area near the eastern border of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In 2014, a lava stream flowed in the direction of Pahoa town. An abandoned house and part of an old cemetery were lost, and there was a real concern if the lava would cross Highway 130. The County took quick preventative measures by constructing three road detours, should they be needed, as well as hosted information meetings to keep residents informed. Although there was a fair amount of "imminent all-out disaster" speculation spread on the internet, the Hawaii County Civil Defense regularly advised that there was "no immediate threat to local residents." After a few weeks, the lava stream ceased to be a threat. The doom-and-gloom rumors, however, continue to be found online.   Hawaii County Civil Defense   USGS Volcano Information   Questions and Answers about Hawaii Lava Flows


The danger associated with living near an active volcano is a matter of perspective. No matter where you live there is risk of some kind of natural disaster: Earthquake, Tornado, Hurricane, Blizzard, Flood, Landslide, Sand Storm, Sink holes, Fire, Volcano...  It's a matter of which risks you are willing to live with. Our volcanoes tend to ooze out a stream of lava and not explode quite like you see in other parts of the world. When the lava is flowing, we literally get hundreds, or even thousands, of people who want to come see the flow and to visit our national park.   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

It is true that Hawaii Volcanic Lava Zones 1 and 2 can be more difficult to get mortgage loans on homes, while most permitted homes can get insurance through the HPIA program (Hawaii Property Insurance Association) or Lloyds of London. Many residents love these areas in Puna, Kau, and South Kona because of the weather and scenic beauty. If "being as far away from the lava as possible" is an issue to you, then we have areas in our North Hilo, Hamakua, and Kohala districts to search for property.   Big Island Lava Hazard Zones

3)  Vog is more common to our Kona side of the Island, and on occasions affects the Hilo and Puna districts of the Island. Vog generally is carried towards the southwest of the Island by the trade winds from the volcanic vents in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  It can sometimes even affect our neighbor islands. A "Voggy" day looks like a smoggy day, and creates colorful sunsets. 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 your real estate search for properties on the east and north sides of the Big Island.   Big Island Vog Conditions   UH Vog Projection Map

4)  Coqui Frogs (Koki 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, likely 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!"   Coqui Frog Information

5)  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


6)  Big Island Hawaii Flood Zones: All of Hawaii County is mapped with a flood zone code. (The County has recently revised flood zone maps.) 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


7)  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


8)  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


9)  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


10)  HARPTA - FIRPTA.  Hawaii Real Property Tax Law (HARPTA) allows for income tax withholding from the proceeds of a sale. The State of Hawaii Department of Taxation generally requires that 5% of the sale price be withheld for taxes from an out of state Seller, unless you 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 the sale is reported on their Federal and/or Hawaii non-resident income tax return.   HARPTA   FIRPTA


11)  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.


12)  Can I use a Mainland lender to buy property in Hawaii? Yes - BUT! Off-Island mortgage agents may not familiar with some unique details in making loans in our local market, such as volcanic zones, agriculture zoning, catchment water systems, or which type of loans work in the various districts and subdivisions. I'm glad to work with whomever lender you choose, but I would like to encourage you to check out the recommended local lenders and mortgage brokers on my website, if just to compare loan options.   Referral Resources


13)  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 sunny Southern California like weather of our Kona coast on the west side of Hawaii Island, with  nearby golf and beach resorts, condos and timeshares, tourist shops and restaurants, sandy beaches of South Kohala and green 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" small town atmosphere, scenic but rockier coastline with parks along Hilo Bay, or the developing Puna district from eclectic 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 a little over 4000 square miles and is 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   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 WeatherKailua Kona WeatherWaimea (Kamuela) Weather



Hawaii Maps


Big Island Hawaii Highway Map

Big Island Hawaii Lava Zones

Tax Map Key Guide

Big Island Hawaii Rainfall map

Hilo Puna Hawaii Map

Hawaii Island Map

Hawaii Drive Times

Hawaii Lava Zones

Hawaii Tax Map Key

Hawaii Weather

Puna Maps



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Need A Realtor® on the Big Island of Hawaii?  I'm Glad to Help!  Kevin E. Lewis

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