Big Island

Homebuyer Tips: Things To Consider When Buying a Condo in Hawaii

We talk a lot about buying houses on this blog. However, we are ultimately talking about helping you find a home in Hawaii, not just a place to lay your head. Condominiums are a great option for many people who move to Hawaii. There’s less homeowner maintenance. You have easy access to great amenities like a pool and fitness center. Neighbors can quickly become friends. But there are many things to consider when buying a condo in Hawaii.

This top floor condo at Keauhou Kai near Keauhou Bay in Kona has a large wrap-around lanai and an open floor plan, which is great for relaxing and entertaining (MLS# 284093)

Keep in Mind…

Monthly fees. Nearly every condo will have some form of fees attached. Association dues may cover maintenance and landscaping, but typically do not include all utilities. Be sure you know what is and is not covered in your monthly fees…and if there are any major increases planned for the near future.

Health of the condo association. If you can, talk with current condo owners and ask them about the board leadership and how finances are handled. Does the association have healthy financial reserves? What is expected of members? Are people happy with the association? These things will help you know if that condo environment is a good fit for you.

Location. Many condos are located right along the beach while others are further away. Depending on your goals for moving to Hawaii, the location is probably a major factor in your decision. Condos closer to commercial areas draw owners who want to be close to restaurants, shops, and nightlife while other condos are in quieter areas. Is it important for you to be within walking distance to amenities?

Storage areas. Are you a surfer or biker who will need a place to store large items? Some condos offer storage closets or garages while others have limited space. Be sure your potential condo in Hawaii can store the bulky items that won’t fit in your home.

Are vacation rentals allowed? If you’re buying a condo as an investment, you should make sure the condo association allows vacation rentals. Some require a 30-day minimum. Many people who live in Hawaii year-round do not want to be surrounded by neighbors that change weekly.

Are pets allowed? Fido will need a place to lay his head, and if you want him to do so in your home, be sure the condo you’re interested in allows pets. In Kona, condo associations are more accommodating to cats than dogs, but there are a few who accept both. Often, there is a weight restriction.

Is there an on-site manager? While some condo associations run very independently, others are largely dependent on hired staff to maintain common spaces, handle noise complaints, and more. An on-site manager can help condo owners and assist in maintaining rules and regulations for the association.

Amenities. Most condo associations offer similar amenities in order to compete with one another. Be sure you walk around the facilities and determine their condition. Do people take good care of the on-site fitness room? Is the pool area tidy and well-maintained? You want beneficial amenities that are maintained well.

House rules. This goes back to my earlier point about location. If you’re a person who prefers peace and quiet, you will probably appreciate a condo association with well-enforced quiet hours. If you don’t like a lot of restrictions, choose a condo where there are fewer rules. Just be aware that you may not have the right to ask your neighbor to keep the noise down at 10:05 on a Thursday night.

Leasehold or fee simple? A more affordable option for some is a leasehold condominium, where you buy the right to lease the property for a specified length of time. While the purchase price is typically lower, you have to consider that the lease may not renew when it expires…or you may have to pay an additional amount to convert the unit to fee simple if that’s an option. This is a unique home buying option and can get confusing, but in certain situations, it may be a good way to buy a condo in Hawaii.

Need Some Help?

I’m happy to help you navigate the waters of condo buying in Hawaii. My wife, Kristi, and I have found condos to be a great fit for some of our clients and look forward to helping you find your home.

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Lillian Schaeffer

April 28, 2017

I like how you mentioned keeping track of monthly fees when buying a condo. My husband and I have been thinking about finding a place that’s a bit nicer than our apartment, so we’ve been talking about buying a condo. We’re trying to figure out a good budget we can stick to, so we’ll definitely keep monthly fees in mind while we’re figuring that out.

Gloria Durst

July 21, 2017

I like how you say that you need to understand the house rules when you are choosing a condo. It would make sense to find out if there are any specific rules about a quiet hour or anything like that. My sister is looking for a condo, so she’ll have to find out about the rules first.


November 6, 2017

Condos in Hawaii really are a dream. It’s like living in paradise but instead of dreaming about it is as real as you could get it. Though here in the Philippines, condos near beaches are not yet highly monetized and living in the city is still at the hype. If you wanted to live in the city be sure to check out and have home within your very own community.

Gloria Durst

December 4, 2017

I agree that you need to consider the condo’s policy on pets first. Finding out what kind of weight restrictions there are is another good tip. My sister wants to move into a condo, so she’ll have to consider their pet policy first.

Kiffer Ward

February 14, 2018

Thanks for sharing your tips, this is very helpful for everyone. i like your post. I’m now inspired to write an blogs about condo and what to know before buying condo. Check my website;

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