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Selling a Property in Hawaii: Things You Should Know

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

We are in a sellers' market, and if you own a property, the chances are that you are considering selling it now while the market is still hot. If this thought crossed your mind, there are some things you should know before listing your house.

In this blog post, I put together some tips on how to get your home ready to sell if you're looking for top dollar that the market will bear.


Many of my clients ask me how much it will cost them to put their property on the market and sell it. The short answer is It depends, as no transaction is the same; however, here is a general breakdown of the costs you, as a seller, will have to cover.

Broker's commissions

Although commissions are not set in stone, it is common for brokers to charge 5-6% of the total listing fee. Out of that amount, half would go to the listing broker, and another half - to the buying broker.

Conveyance Tax

Unless an exemption applies, the State of Hawai'i imposes a tax on the conveyances or transfers of real property and interests in real property. It is a seller's responsibility to pay that. The amount of tax will depend on the property value.

Title Insurance

Title insurance is an insurance policy covering the title of the property you own or are about to purchase. It covers what I call "defects in the title." Those defects can vary from ownership claims to claims regarding easements or encroachments. The standard Hawaii Real Estate Sales Contract divides the cost of the "owner's policy" this way: the seller pays 60%, and the buyer pays 40%.

Besides the costs listed above, you should consider escrow fees which vary. Usually, they are about $900-1500, but the higher the sale price, the more they charge. In addition, the seller is also responsible for a termite inspection. Its cost depends on market price and runs on average about $350.


Even though we are in the hot seller's market and inventory flies off the shelves, so to speak, you should carefully consider how to price your property. I know it sounds tempting to jack up the price in an attempt to get the most value, but pricing it too high can backfire as well. You have to know what the current market can take and price accordingly. Valuing your property too high can make it sit on the market longer than it should and make potential buyers wonder if there is anything wrong with it. If you need a fair assessment of your property value and for how much it really can be sold, contact me for a free market analysis consultation.

Seller's Disclosure Statement

Sellers in real estate transactions often underestimate the importance of Seller's Disclosure Statement, yet, it is one of the most vital documents that you, as a seller, have to complete. In general, a disclosure document is supposed to provide details about a property's condition that might negatively affect its value. As I put it, this is where you confess all the sins of your property, and you have to be very careful and thorough while doing that. Sellers who willfully conceal information can be sued and potentially convicted of a crime, and there is no time limit statute for that.

And don't get confused by suggestions of selling a property "As Is," as it will usually not exempt a seller from disclosures. I will cover how to avoid these pitfalls below.

Preparing Your Property For Sale

Order a Pre-Inspection

Even though the buyer usually conducts a home inspection, it is good to be proactive and order it on your own. It will uncover everything that needs to be fixed, repaired, replaced, and disclosed, freeing you from any liabilities and having to pay more if you try to hide neglected maintenance from the purchaser.

Top-to-Bottom Cleaning

It may seem obvious, but many sellers don't put enough emphasis on cleanliness. Even vacant houses get dusty and dirty, so keep it up! Make sure to clean the windows, even if you don't have a view, and have your landscaping and exterior in order. Nothing short of gleaming perfection will impress buyers. If you're not a total clean freak, hire someone to help you out until you sell.

Cultivate a cohesive, neutral style

You don't have to paint everything off-white. Some subtle colors can help change the perception of spaces – for example, a soft yellow will help brighten up a dark kitchen, while a deep dark blue or green will help a bright bedroom to feel like a calm place to sleep (but be careful, dark colors will also make rooms feel small).

Spend the money to get high-quality paint and professional help. Subconsciously people will pay more money for a property with just the right colors and elegant lines – it makes the home feel better built, even though it's just paint.

And lastly, get rid of clutter. Again, less is more in this situation. Allow buyers to visualize their things in the house and how they can make it feel their own.

Make only necessary improvements

When getting their house ready to sell, the most significant mistake people make is over-improving. They often spend too much money on customized frills that can't be recovered in the sale.

It's important to know what improvements will produce a return on investment to avoid wasting money.

Get expert opinion

You should definitely find an experienced listing agent who can help you assess your property's value and advise how to prepare and price it to get the most out of a sale. But be honest with them about your property and your intentions. Great brokers are not easy to find, but they make more money for their clients than they earn.

Length of Escrow

Another thing to consider is the length of escrow once you accept an offer. On average, it takes about 45 days to close, but if there are any issues with disclosures, title, etc., it can take as long as it can take. It is just one more reason to have everything in order before you sell - it will also save you valuable time.

Knowledge is power in today's market, and if you consider selling your home, contact me for a free no-obligation market analysis consultation. I will help you determine exactly how much your home is worth and advise on necessary improvements. I specialize in the Kohala Coast area, and I live and breathe Big Island real estate!

Why work with me?

Experience. Knowledge. Connections.

Besides selling real estate for decades now, I have also built and designed several houses and have an eye for quality and flaws.

It all started when I became the Sales Manager at The Cloisters, a beautiful coastal community in Morro Bay, California. This position came with a lot of responsibility and interaction with the builders and subs, not for the meek and mild gal. You had to get in and make it happen. I learned how things had to be designed and built, not just what looked good. I also had the pleasure of selecting all the finishes, from floors to roofs, for 40 homes. This experience in construction and building houses gives me the ability to recognize good quality workmanship and has helped my clients and me in so many ways; it really laid the foundation for my success in real estate.

I have buyers

With over 40 years of experience in the real estate business and hundreds of satisfied clients, I have qualified buyers on standby waiting for the right opportunity. If you have thoughts about downsizing, rightsizing, or relocating to be closer to your grandchildren, now is the time to make your move. I can help you sell your property fast and at the right price and will walk you seamlessly through the whole process. I can also assist you in finding a new home if that is something you are looking for.

Ready to make your move? Let's talk! Contact me for a free no-obligation market analysis consultation.

Ta Da!



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