It’s a question that seems to be top of mind for every potential home-buyer, whether they’re looking in a high-rise or even a walk-up:

How is the value of a condominium affected if it doesn’t have sprinklers?

“That’s the question that we’re getting a lot, especially since recent events at Marco Polo. That’s what everybody’s asking about,” said Chad Takesue, realtor and senior vice president of sales for Locations.

Takesue says it’s too early to tell if the Marco Polo fire will affecting the pricing of homes being listed and sold, or the number days a property remains on the market.

But he says it most definitely has already affected the way buyers, and even sellers, are approaching transactions.

“Anytime you have an event like this, there’s more attention drawn to specific features of a condo building, so this brought it to light again,” Takesue explained. “It’s always something that realtors need to express. This building does not have sprinkler system, so you have to understand what that means.”

Bottom line, Takesue says, do your research.

“The questions you need to ask are what my insurance costs going to look like, what are some of the other things that I can do as an owner to protect me from an event like that,” he said.

One wild card when it comes to these older buildings without sprinklers is what lawmakers might do. A bill before the Honolulu City Council would mandate older buildings to install sprinkler systems.

“There are costs associated with that, and it’s not just the cost to your unit to retrofit, but to the common areas as well, and you as an owner will have to share in the cost,” Takesue said.

If you’re not an owner and you rent an apartment, you should know those costs could be passed on to you. Your rent may go up or the apartment owner could decide to sell the unit rather than pay for the sprinkler system.

Takesue says one good piece of advice for everyone is to check with your insurance company, as some provide discounts if you have fire extinguishers and other safety features in your home.