Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to some of the most common questions we get from buyers. If you have additional questions, please contact the appropriate department or individual, using our Contact Us page.

Questions

  1. What do Leasehold and Fee Simple mean?
  2. Where can I find Hawaii County crime rate statistics?
  3. What does CPR mean?
  4. How do Big Island utility costs compare with the Mainland?
  5. What is the property tax rate?
  6. How do I handle pet quarantine?
  7. What about schools for my children?
  8. Where are medical facilities located?
  9. The temperature on the Big Island is 74 degrees all year, right? And what about rainfall?
  10. Where are the major shopping areas?
  11. How should I take title?
  12. What's the rental market like on the Big Island?
  13. How much does it cost to buy an average home on the Big Island?
  14. How much should I budget to ship my personal belongings?
  15. Which are the major lending institutions in Hawaii?

Answers

  1. What do Leasehold and Fee Simple mean?

    Many buyers are confused by these terms. If you purchase a fee simple property, you own the land and the improvements upon it. Pretty standard.

    If you purchase a leasehold property, however, you are buying a lease for the land and, usually, you own the improvements. A residential leasehold might have been set for 55 years but if the ground lease is 30 years old, there would be 25 years left on the lease. Most banks require a minimum number of years remaining on the lease before they will agree to lend on the property. Some require that the lease be renegotiated with the ground lessor, often a family trust or large landholding estate. This can take more time than you expect and, in fact, lessors are not obliged to extend or renegotiate the lease.

    With all this, why would anyone buy a leasehold property? Because it is often less expensive to purchase and the lease is depreciable, which may have some tax advantages for you.

    As always, before purchasing any property, you should consult with your tax advisor and your attorney about how to protect your tax position and your estate.

  2. Where can I find Hawaii County crime rate statistics?

    Crime rate information can be found from Hawaii Law Enforcement.

  3. What does CPR mean?

    In Hawaii real estate, CPR stands for "condominium property regime" and is most commonly heard when referring to a number, the "CPR number", which identifies one condominium property from another for tax and sales purposes.

    A single-family residence, for example, has a five number Tax Map Key (TMK) such as 3-7-3-10-10, which refers to a specific piece of land and everything on it. Because condominium ownership includes a percentage interest in the land with other owners, the Tax May Key has a sixth number, the CPR number. This identifies a specific apartment in a high rise or a portion of a lot when land is "condominiumized." Thus a condo TMK number looks like this: 3-7-2-15-15:103.

  4. How do Big Island utility costs compare with the Mainland?

    Electricity for residential use is currently 26.1 cents per kilowatt hour. Cost varies monthly depending on petroleum fuel costs.

    A single residential phone line costs approximately $25.95 per month, no frills.

    See Hawaii Department of Water Supply Water Rates downloadable PDF brochure for residential water costs.

  5. What is the property tax rate?

    The residential property tax rate is $10.05 per $1,000 of valuation.

     

    PROPERTY CLASS

    Tax Rate Per

    $1,000 Net

    Taxable Building

    Tax Rate Per

    $1,000 Net

    Taxable Land

    0

    Affordable Rental Housing

    $6.15

    $6.15

    1

    Residential

    $10.05

    $10.05

    2

    Apartment

    $10.85

    $10.85

    3

    Commercial

    $10.05

    $10.05

    4

    Industrial

    $10.05

    $10.05

    5

    Agricultural or Native Forests

    $9.25

    $9.25

    6

    Conservation

    $10.85

    $10.85

    7

    Hotel and Resort

    $10.85

    $10.85

    9

    Homeowner

    $6.15

    $6.15

    Source: Hawaii County Real Property Tax Office, real property tax rates fiscal year - beginning July 1 to June 30 of the next year. http://www.qpublic.net/hi/hawaii/

  6. How do I handle pet quarantine?

    We recommend you go directly to the source for this information. Here's the link to use: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/animal-quarantine-information-page/.

  7. What about schools for my children?

    As you would expect, there are public schools in or near each community. There are also many private schools. Because Hawaii's public schools have historically tested far lower than most Mainland public schools in academic achievement, many parents opt to enroll their children in private schools. Changes are being made in the public school system and you should allow time to investigate for yourself and decide which would be the better choice for your children. For local school information try the Hawaii Department of Education site and/or Education.com's School Finder.

  8. Where are medical facilities located?

    The Big Island has hospitals in Hilo, Kamuela, Kohala, Ka'u and Kona. Additionally, medical clinics and physicians' offices are located in most communities.

  9. The temperature on the Big Island is 74 degrees all year, right? And what about rainfall?

    The Big Island has everything from desert to rain forest. The following chart summarizes basic information regarding weather around the island.

    TEMPERATURES AND PRECIPITATION FOR SELECTED PLACES, HAWAII COUNTY
    (Through December 2008)

     

     

    Average

    temperature

    1/(F.)

     

    Extreme

    temperature of

    record(F.)

     

    Average

    annual

    precipitation

    (inches)

    Station

    Ground

    elevation

    (feet)

    Coolest

    month

    Warmest

    month

    Lowest

    Highest

     

    Hilo Airport

    38

    66.4

    81.2

    53

    94

    128.53

    Hawaii Volcanoes Nat'l Park Headquarters

    3,971

    52.7

    69.2

    34

    89

    109.06

    Naalehu

    800

    65.8

    79.4

    50

    93

    48.01

    Kailua-Kona

    700

    57.4

    76.3

    46

    88

    118.88

    Puako 2/

    5

    68.3

    83.8

    52

    92

    9.09

    Waimea

    (Kamuela)

    2,670

    NA

    NA

    34

    95

    49.77

    Honokaa

    1,080

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    79.57

    Mauna Kea

    Summit 3/

    13,796

    31.3

    42.5

    11

    66

    7.36

    NA = Not Available.
    1/ For some stations, data present 30-year normals.
    2/ Temperature data are for Mahukona.
    3/ Based on incomplete and non-continuous data for 1966-1972.
    Source: Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Commission on Water Resource Management, records; Hawaii State Climatology Office, Department of Meteorology, University of Hawaii, records; and Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

  10. Where are the major shopping areas?

    For general shopping of all sorts, Hilo offers the most choices. Prince Kuhio Plaza, a regional mall, and Kopiko Plaza are located in Hilo and are tenanted by both national chains and popular Hawaii retailers.

    Kailua-Kona, however, boasts some of the favorite shopping places for residents - the old standbys: Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe's and Costco.

    Many smaller communities are home to specialty boutiques and art galleries and discovering what's tucked away in each is an adventure well worth the effort.

    For major shopping on "shop till you drop" excursion, many Big Island residents trek to Honolulu where shopping has become a minor art form.

  11. How should I take title?

    Our company policy is to give you all the information you may request about the various ways in which title can be held but not to offer advice to you on this matter. Because of the implications for your estate and tax status, we urge you to discuss this question with your tax advisor, attorney or estate planner.

  12. What's the rental market like on the Big Island?

    Tight and likely to remain so for some time. For details, go to the Rentals section of this web site where you will find a brief description of market trends and a "Hot List" of available properties which is updated weekly.

  13. How much does it costs to buy an average home on the Big Island?

    Housing costs vary greatly from community to community on the Big Island, as they do on the Mainland. The best way to get an idea of current property costs is to browse through the Property Search section of this web site, exploring different locations as you go. You'll be able to see everything that's presently for sale through the Multiple Listing Service.

  14. How much should I budget to ship my personal belongings?

    Your best source of information is in your home community. Contact a reputable moving company for estimates and delivery dates. Many such companies now have their own web sites and you may be able to get some helpful tips for pre-moving preparation.

  15. Which are the major lending institutions in Hawaii?

    Bank of Hawaii and First Hawaiian Bank are the largest banks in the state. Other well-established institutions include American Savings Bank, Central Pacific Bank, City Bank, Hawaii National Bank, and Territorial Savings.


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