Finding the perfect house where you live can be challenging, but picking out your next dream home from thousands of miles away is tremendously more complicated.
Long-distance house hunting can be tough, but sometimes it's necessary - especially in a state as isolated as Hawaii. Yet although it has its unique challenges, modern technology has made the remote-home buying process easier than ever.
"Purchasing from afar can be a daunting and stressful experience, it can be much easier when working with a Realtor who uses technology smartly," said Island Sotheby's International Realty agent Alex Cortez R(B). "Delivery of documents, execution of contracts, sharing of video and photo files are all tools a tech-savvy agent has at their disposal."
There are still, however, some things you should keep in mind while shopping for homes on Maui from afar. Here are a few of our tips:
Know exactly what you want
Condo or single-family home? If you're looking for the resort lifestyle, living in a condominium like this one in Kapalua is ideal.
Before you take the plunge to buy a plane ticket or choose an agent, know exactly what you want in a home. Keep a running list of must-haves, whether that be living close to schools, being 10 minutes away from a beach or ample storage space.
Once you know exactly what you’re looking for and what your non-negotiable needs are, your agent will be able to select potential homes more easily. Everyone involved will be able to make the best of their time.
And for those interested in a condominium, Cortez recommends that people who plan on financing their purchase should talk to a Hawaii-based lender ahead of time.
"Hawaii has many unique intricacies that can make financing challenging, particularly for condotels and non-warrantable condos," said Cortez.
Make a travel budget
Traveling is expensive, period - especially when you have to fly across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. So before you get wrapped into the home buying process, make sure you have a travel budget to accommodate unexpected appointments.
Additionally, give yourself time - plan trips that are a few days long so you can go back to a home and view it for a second time. And if you can’t find anything you like, remember there’s always an option to build depending on where you choose to live.
Do Your Research
Need to live close to Maui's finest schools? Then a home Upcountry like this one in Kula might be suitable.
The internet is your friend when it comes to long-distance house hunting. Because you may not be there to experience what it’s like commuting to work or taking your kids to school, look up things like commute times, school rankings and amenities that are close to the home or neighborhood in question.
On Maui, different parts of the island offer vastly different lifestyles. For example, do you want to live in lush - and sometimes rainy - Haiku, or live in Kihei to be right next to the beach? Do you want to live in a condominium with no yard maintenance or have a home with a garden?
And perhaps most importantly, it’s critical that you find a real estate agent that you can trust. Having an agent that can communicate for you and seek out the best home for you can make or break the transaction. Happy house hunting!