Friday, March 25, 2005

House Hunting in Hawaii

We made it to Hawaii with the desire to buy a house. 2+ years of renting with nothing to show for it was aggravating for both of us. We knew the market in Hawaii was ridiculous, but it was impossible to imagine how horrible it really was. We did our research online with ADRHI, hicentral, and ihic

Our first hurdle was to find a good realtor. I tried to go through USAA but I contacted them late and they were too slow so we called a local realtor to check out the first house. She was nice, but like most realtors they know they can sell the property and do not like their "valuable" time wasted. Rikki told me about another military wife that was laughed at and hung up on by a realtor after she told her she wanted a 3 bedroom home around 300k.

That brings us to the pricing. Luckily our VA loan was recently increased to 530k or we would not have even considered buying in Hawaii. We wanted a single family home under 450k with 2 bedrooms, at least 900 sq ft, and a yard for the dog (this is much more difficult to find than you can imagine).

House #1:
This house really isn't even worth mentioning. Known termites (a termite truck pulled up next door while we waited), water damage, neighbors with several cars on cinder blocks, chickens in the road and a neighborhood that made Rikki cringe.

After this we contacted another realtor who was actually helpful and willing to work for us. She and her boyfriend actually recently started their own realty business after being fed up with their past boss. Hawaii Realty Association was who we worked with for the rest of our house hunting.

House #2
We really liked this house. We went to look at it last minute since the seller was reviewing offers that night and we were told they had "two low offers." This was the best overall house we would ever see for sale. It was built in 65 but well maintained and the backyard faced a mountainside that was government owned so no one would build there (but we could plant/use the land as we saw fit) there were banana trees and several other nice plants all up the mountain. It was a 3 bedroom 1 and 1/2 bath, 836 sq ft (yes a 3 bdr in <900 sq ft) and they were asking 369k. Since the realtor told us they had "2 low offers" we put in asking price. Went back to the office, did the paperwork, and faxed it 15 minutes prior to the closing and no one else had put in a bid. Rikki, myself, Sandy and Rob (our realtors) were confident we got the place. The next day we find out we didn't! We were the backup offer. So how did someone bidding lower than us get it? no idea. I thought about filing a complaint, but we didn't have the time. We moved on only to never find a comparable deal.

House #3, 4, 5
These three were over extremely overpriced. One was actually unfinished with hole in the side roof were you could see daylight from inside the living room. It was also about an hour drive up towards the north shore. Nice area, but I didn't want the long drive and if Rikki got a job in honolulu her drive could be up to 2 hours. They were asking 480k, we offered 380k and they asked if it was a typo! I notice the listing has been updated and they changed their asking to 380k sold for 384k. They must have finally come back to reality. We made bids on all three that were low. None accepted though the one in Kaneohe did ask for another higher bid a few weeks later when they couldn't sell. It was a nice new home but the land was horrendous (ocean view for that one was a 2 ft section between 2 neighboring houses where you could see water).

House #'s 6-12
I'll let Rikki get into the details about the rest. I don't have the time or patience right now. House hunting was a waste of our time. We made 8 offers total. Several over asking and we went into escrow only once. This lasted until after we paid 400$ to an inspector so he could tell us the roof had significant termite damage and needed to be replaced. It then took about 3 weeks to get our 4k deposit back.

We were relieved to find out that Pearl Harbor had housing available. Of course k-bay housing didn't tell us this, we had to find out on our own. As we were approaching the end of our 60 day temporary lodging allowance we decided to move into housing at Pearl. It was base housing or rent until we found a place. Base housing just needed a 30 day notice if we wanted to move (this move would be at our expense though). We did the paperwork in one day and were unpacked and moved in three days later.

Base housing was old but far better than anything else we had seen. Cinder block walls (instead of single slab, yes a single sheet of drywall) 1100+ sq ft and a 700+ sq ft fenced in yard. The location is excellent in Honolulu by the airport so H-3 to work and I never hit the traffic. We were happy so we sat down and decided to give up the house hunting. The biggest reason being that we didn't want to lower our living standards by buying an old, over priced, delapitated, piece of crap that would cost us a 30 yr mortgage with payments over 3k per month. The housing market here disgusts me along with the majority of the customer service. Yes, I am bitter.