Hawaii real estate competition stiffens as prices rise, what you can do to stand out

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The competition to buy a home in Hawaii has gotten worse.

From bidding wars to prices sometimes surging hundreds of thousands of dollars above the asking price, it has become difficult for families to buy their own homes.

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Local realtors say it has gotten so competitive on the housing market that just one house can get between 20 to 30 offers.

“I’ve never seen a market like this before,” said Shannon Heaven, current Honolulu Board of Realtors president. “Anything that’s in the price point of under a million, you’re pretty much guaranteed a large bulk of offers, because so many people can afford that right now. And then once you get into the town area, and there are over a million, you’re still gonna see 20 to 30 offers on some properties that are very desirable.”

It is not just the number of offers that is jaw-dropping, but how much money people are willing to pay.

“We’ve seen 100, 200, 300,000 over-asking for single-family homes, you know, in the Kailua, Kaneohe area,” said Bernie Tong, Locations Hawaii realtor and partner.

Realtors say they are struggling to find homes to sell.

“We have a lot of people that are wanting to buy the interest rates are the best we’ve ever seen in our history, and there’s nothing to buy, I mean, our inventory is just so low, especially in single family homes.”

Shannon Heaven, Honolulu Board of Realtors President

Realtors say there is hope for those looking to buy, however. They say people should work with a realtor to have their pre-approval letters ready, as well as evidence of cash funds to show they can put a down payment and close. They should also decide beforehand the price limit they are willing to pay for a home.

Tong said, buyers should check to see what they can do to accommodate a seller when it comes to drafting up a contract.

“Finding out what the seller’s needs are, are really important because sometimes our sellers might need to rent back for a month or two, or a couple of weeks just to help them make their move. So, finding out things like that, and including them in your contract does help you,” said Tong.

Tong said, most realtors write cover letters, but they also recommend that people searching for a home write them as well.

“A heart warming letter telling the seller who you are, why you want their house so badly. It always helps,” said Tong. “We have sellers that are very attached to their homes, and they would like the home to go to a nice family. So I have, I have gotten contracts accepted because the seller was emotionally attached to the home, and wanted it to go to a family.”

She said new, ready-to-move-in houses are really popular, so people may want to consider buying an older house and renovating it. Buying a house with a tenant may also be easier since there is currently a moratorium on evictions.

“So why not consider taking a tenant for two months, that might get you a house that you would otherwise not get,” said Tong.

Those who really want a certain house can also ask for an “escalation clause.” Under the clause, buyers will escalate their price to a certain amount over the highest offer that is submitted.

Realtors say it may take some time to finally get a house in the current market, but people should keep trying.

“You have to put your best foot forward. What are you willing to give out for that house? What are you willing to bid on that house? What are you willing to take upon yourself to in order to get that contract?,” said Heaven.

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