You think you know what house you want. You know you want 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a nice kitchen, but is that as far as it goes? Here are a few things that you may not think about when looking at homes to buy.

#1. The neighborhood.

The neighborhood is more than simply looking at the community ones that you drive by and then making an offer. Looking that means taking a walk around the area, talking to people out in their front yards about the quality of the neighborhood, listening for any annoyances such as highway noise or incessant dogs barking. Are you okay with the wild chickens or maybe even wild pigs that could wreak havoc on your yard? Hawaii has Coqui Frogs that can create quite a racket at night.  If the neighborhood close to amenities that you’d like to visit such as a restaurant or a certain grocery store?

#2. The roads to and from the house.

These are probably things you don’t think about until after you move in but if you’re community only has one entrance and there are hundreds of homes in the community, it can get backed up during rush-hour times. Or, if the home has limited access to public transportation or different routes to and from work, it could be a challenge getting home on time. What about a gravel road? Are you worried about your cars getting dusty, dirty or dinged up by the gravel of the road? Does the community have a homeowners association that takes care of landscaping and road maintenance?

#3. Energy costs.

Ask the neighbors what type of utilities are used in this neighborhood. Will you be dealing with propane, electricity, or oil? (the Big Island only has propane) Maybe the home will have solar panels or geothermal heating. It’s important to understand all of your energy costs before moving in as well so there’s no sticker shock later on.

Related: What Buyers Should Look for in a Hawaiian Home

#4. Will this work for any four-legged family members?

Do you have a dog or cat or any other pets? Is there space enough for them as in a backyard, litter box area, or space for other types of pets perhaps chickens, rabbits, or goats. Consider your four-legged family members and if you plan on adding anymore later time because I could make a difference as to which home you choose.

#5. The Waste System

The island does have a county sewer system but not every home benefits from this. So you’re most likely to have a cesspool (which most properties have), a septic system, or, if you’re lucky, a neighborhood sewer but this is rare. Make sure you know what you have.

More: 5 Unique Benefits to Buying Luxury Hawaiian Real Estate

#6. Landscaping

Are you planning on doing all the landscaping yourself? With our climate, vegetation grows fast and professional landscaping maintenance can cost several hundred dollars for as little as two times a month. Make sure you want to tackle the landscaping of your home.

#7. Water

Ask if the water is private or County. If the home has private water, ask the seller what they pay per month as this can be a huge expense. Because most homes with catchment systems in Hawai’i have the tanks situated away from the house, some systems are designed so that the downspouts meet and cross from the house to the tank, on or under the ground, then go up and into the tank.

Taking the extra steps to check out these external variables to buying a house could either break or make the sale. Make sure you are comfortable not only with the house itself but the surrounding community. Ready to dive into Big Island real estate? Call me today!

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