Category: Real Estate

Your Home’s Equity: How To Use It

Maui real estate
Over the last five years, a surge in home prices has created substantial wealth for the middle class. According to the latest Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic, the average homeowner’s equity has grown by $64,000 just over the last 12 months alone. Since there’s an ongoing imbalance between the number of homes available for sale and the number of buyers looking to make a purchase, home prices are still on the rise.

Down Payment On A New House

When you sell your current house, the equity you built up comes back to you in the sale. In a market where homeowners are gaining so much equity, it may be just what you need to cover a large portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home.

Cash-out Refinance

One way to get money from your home’s increase in value is to refinance. You’ll refinance your home with a larger mortgage than you previously had to get the difference back in cash. In some instances you’re able to refinance at a lower rate or reduce your monthly payments. It may not be the best option for homeowners right now, however. That’s because interest rates are rapidly rising, and with them, mortgage rates. You’ll also need to consider the extra closing cost fees to refinance.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan gives you access to some of your house’s appreciated value. It’s a loan that you take out against the value of your home and pay off over a set period, generally 10 to 30 years. These loans do include closing costs and can also include fees. In addition, you’re required to take out a lump sum, say $100,000, and pay off the entire amount plus interest. Usually, the interest rate is fixed, however, which can help you when budgeting long-term. According to Bankrate, home equity loan rates generally range from 3.5% to 12%, depending on the borrower.

Home Equity Line Of Credit

A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a type of home equity loan that allows you to draw funds as you need them and repay the money at a variable interest rate. Because of this, HELOCs are generally best for people who need funds for ongoing home improvement projects or who need more time to pay down existing debt. HELOCs typically have lower interest rates than home equity loans and personal loans; to get the best rates, you’ll have to have a high credit score, a low debt-to-income ratio and a lot of tappable equity in your home.

Is It Worth Painting Your House Before Selling It?

Maui home improvement

Refreshing the main interior walls with a coat of paint can make your home look fresh, new, and more attractive for showings and open houses. The right neutral color on the walls can also give the home a cohesive look and the appearance of more square footage.

It May Be Needed

If your walls haven’t seen a paintbrush in the last six years, it’s likely time to freshen things up. Through the years, walls can absorb moisture, grease stains, and can fade from the sun shining in. Not to mention, the current color palette of your home could be unappealing, distracting and out-dated.

It is also important to note that small signs of peeling, staining, or fading can indicate that your house hasn’t been properly maintained, which can discourage potential buyers. The good news is that these problems can be resolved fairly easily and without a lot of expenditure, depending on the size of your home. Painting the walls in a neutral white, beige, gray, or earth tone, the home will look more spacious and inviting––and provide a blank canvas for buyers.

Increases Home Value

Important areas to paint include trim, kitchen walls, cabinets, behind the toilet, and your main living space. Because painting is a reasonably budget-friendly change, it provides a high return on investment. Repainting interior walls increases home value by an average of 5% and nets a return on investment of 107%. That means a home valued at $400,000 would increase in value by $20,000. That’s a fairly significant increase for a task you can likely complete in a weekend or two.

Hire A Pro or Do It Yourself

Hiring a professional to paint a room in a house can range anywhere from $115 for a small bathroom to $2,800 for a large room. A 300 square foot living room will run around $1,200. But if you decide to repaint the entire house it could cost between $7,500 to $16,000. Labor costs will run between $2.00 and $6.00 per square foot.
Painting the interior yourself will cost considerably less, ranging between $1 and $3 per square foot for paint. If you choose to DIY this project, keep it neat and watch a few instructional videos beforehand.

So, is it worth it to repaint your house before selling it? If you have the time and money for it and your exterior or interior is worse for the wear, go for it. Painting is one of the easiest projects you can take on before you sell.

Find Out About Your Neighborhood Before Moving There

Maui real estate

Before committing to living in a neighborhood that you’re unfamiliar with, it is a good idea to research it thoroughly. Keeping that in mind, here are six ways you can research a neighborhood before you move in.


To find out how walkable and convenient a neighborhood is, use a tool like Walk Score. If you live in an area with a low walkability score, you’ll probably need a car to get anywhere you want to go, whereas a high walkability score means you can get around just fine on foot.

If you’d rather spend your time getting around, use a tool like Bike Score. It gives you a sense of a neighborhood’s bike-friendliness from the extent of its bike lanes and trails.

Crime Rates

When you need crime statistics, there are a few places to go. Several tools are available that aggregate crime data, including CityProtect, AreaVibes, and Neighborhood Scout. In the meantime, you can check if there are any registered sexual offenders in the area on a site such as Family Watchdog. You can also do some general Google research on your own.

Find out how safe it would be to walk outside your home by entering your address into My Local Crime. You can see exactly where those crimes were committed by clicking on the map function.

Neighborhood Valuation

It’s more valuable to know these trends than you might think. How a neighborhood’s housing prices have changed over time can tell you a lot about its history and potential. A neighborhood’s schools and parks may also be well-funded based on property tax rates in the area.

The value of a property doesn’t always tell the whole story, and a low value doesn’t necessarily mean that the place isn’t a good place to live. It’s still worth looking into them as you research a neighborhood—especially if you’re planning to invest long-term.

Ask People Who Live There

It’s often helpful to ask people who live there since they know the area best. Those who live in the area should be able to tell you what they like and dislike about residing there. You can also reach out to some residents through an app like Nextdoor or a public Facebook group if you don’t know anyone who resides in the neighborhood. Yelp can find restaurants near you, and Moviefone shows you nearby theaters.

You can use all of the steps above to research a neighborhood effectively, but only you know what matters most to you. Keep your most pressing concerns and preferences in mind, and remember that every neighborhood will have its advantages and disadvantages. If you have a reasonable foundation of information, you should be able to determine whether you want to take up residency.

Things To Bring For Your First Week In Your New Home

Maui home improvement

The process of moving into your first home can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Put aside these items before packing all your belongings into boxes so you will have everything you need the moment you arrive at your new home.

Dishes and Utensils

You will most likely wrap the breakable tableware into a moving box but you will still need something to eat with those first few days. Camping dishes and cutlery are suitable for short-term use because they tend to be lightweight and durable. Not a camper? Get a supply of disposable or compostable dining essentials from the store before you move in so you’re prepared for the first meal.

Tool Kit

The moment you walk through the front door of your new home, your home projects begin. There might be a loose hinge, an out-of-place nail, or something else that needs immediate attention. By having a basic tool kit on hand, you’ll be able to fix small problems before you get your power tools. You may also need to assemble newly delivered furniture.

Snacks and Frozen Meals

Some people can move into a house and immediately cook in the kitchen the first night. But for most people, this is very ambitious. The focus for post-move meals should be on easy and fast food, unless you’re going to rely on takeout.

Plan for very basic meals and stock up on ready-to-eat snacks like fresh fruit and granola bars. Whether you’re eating toast for breakfast, a microwaved lunch, or pasta for dinner, be sure to pack the pots and utensils you need in your essential kitchen box. And don’t forget to plan out your four-legged friends’ meals.

Charging Supplies

How many people in your home use smartphones or tablets? There can be some tension when devices run out of battery and there is no way to charge them. If you and a family member need juice at the same time, keep at least two chargers close by.

When you move, you realize how many things you own require batteries. A small supply of common battery sizes is a necessity when moving, because you’ll need your smoke alarm, garage door opener, and other key devices to function right away.

Shower Curtain

You will know what type of shower you have if you toured your new house before moving in. If it’s enclosed by glass, you can bypass this list item. However, if you do need one and your old one is in good condition, you can use it. Throw in a few extra towels too. They can be used as bath mats in a pinch.

Useful Home Features For Pet Owners

Maui real estate

When looking for a new home, pets play a very important role in the decision making process. During the pandemic, more Americans have become pet owners, and they’re prioritizing their pets’ needs when looking for a home or rental. Now, more and more, pet owners say that they’d be willing to move to accommodate their pet.

Consumers say they’re spending more time with their pets and now have an increased desire for more pet-friendly conveniences in and around the home. The following are the most useful features that pet owners say they’re looking for:

  • Fenced-in backyards are good for closing off places you don’t want your pet to access. These are a great addition to your home because you can customize it to your home’s design.
  • Food and water features have a few convenient features to include your pet’s eating and drinking habits. Built-in food storage can ensure that your food will be safe from your cat or dog, and built-in water bowls make it less likely to trip over the bowls.
  • Durable flooring can minimize the effects your pet’s claws will have on your flooring. When looking for the right flooring, opt for a more durable option like luxury vinyl plank.
  • Pet bathing stations are easier and less messy to wash your dog in than having to wash the dog in the tub. They allow for dogs of all sizes to fit inside the tub.
  • Pet doors have come a long way in recent years. They let your dogs go in and out without having to get up and put them outside. Plus, homeowners now have a lot more options when designing your home.
  • Outdoor play areas and ramps are perfect for older dogs, since it’s harder for them to go up and down stairs. The ramp also reduces the risk of joint damage or other injuries in younger dogs.

These amenities make owning a pet way easier. With more people with pets wanting to accommodate them, it’s easy to see why they would search for a home with these features.

Get The Most Out Of Your House Tour

Maui real estate

The process of buying your first home can be exciting. Once you’ve found a home you’re interested in online, schedule a tour as soon as possible but don’t get caught up in the excitement or you may miss some important details about the house.

Do some research and take notes

Most of the time you’ll view a handful of homes, so taking notes will help you remember your thoughts and the details of each home. Look for things like the number, location, and size of bedrooms and bathrooms; closet and storage space; the age and condition of appliances; the roof and gutters; cracks in the foundation and driveway; signs of water damage; and uneven flooring. Make sure to walk around the entire home and property with your agent, he or she will be able to point out potential problems and answer your questions. You should not get discouraged by minor cosmetic details, since not every house will be flawless.

Be prepared to make multiple offers before you find the ideal home at the right price. By the time most buyers realize a home with a low list price is likely to sell for a lot more, they are often already invested and willing to bid up to buy the home. Don’t overlook any flaws just because your heart is set on the home and are in a rush to put in an offer. Take some time with this. You may not think that it is a big issue now, but it could lead to future problems later on.

Winning A Bidding War

Maui real estate

Knowing everything about real estate bidding wars can help you make an offer that sellers won’t refuse when the housing market is aggressive. Start with a real estate agent who specializes in your local market and puts finding you a home at the top of their list. Your agent can help you understand the differences in your area, so your bids are competitive without being too expensive. You can learn how to better your odds while making an offer on your future home with these following tips.

Offer your highest price

You should come in with your highest and final offer if you’re in a bidding war for real estate. If there are other offers on the table, it’s unlikely that a seller will negotiate. Make sure your bid is the highest you can make, and be prepared to lose if the house sells for a dollar more than your offer. While you will not know the costs of the other bids, you will know the sale price once the deal closes.

The list price isn’t always the selling price

Just because the list price is within your budget does not mean the selling price will be. On average, buyers pay up to 3% more than the list price. These numbers can change as the market rises and falls.

Prepare to waive contingencies

In a competitive market, you are likely to have to enter into a deal with very few or no contingencies. This may be because there are clauses enabling you to back out without breaching the contract. A competitive offer might eliminate things like a home inspection, a house sale contingency, and more. A new home is less likely to have problems, but an older home may need some fixing that a home inspection would normally reveal. Knowing the possibilities before waiving contingencies will help you to be more mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared before making an offer.

A high bid does not always win

It’s critical to make a good offer, but sellers might want more than just a high number. Fast closing and possession, few contingencies, a free leaseback term, a short option period, or even a personal letter to the seller (the last of which may or may not be read) can make a buyer stand out. As long as you offer a competitive amount, these extras might seal the deal.

Research is crucial

The home you are bidding on probably isn’t worth spending money on if it seems unreal. If you’ve been paying attention to local real estate, you’ve probably recognized how square footage, age, dwelling type, and others affect listing prices. Listings that don’t match market values are usually due to various reasons: cosmetic fixes, suspect histories, or additions that aren’t up to code. Make sure the house you bid on is safe and meets your needs, no matter how much you want it.

Buying A House With Solar Panels

Maui real estate

Is buying a home with solar panels the right choice for you? Currently, solar power accounts for just 3.9 percent of total U.S. electricity generation, but that number is rapidly growing. Ultimately, there are a few things to consider when determining if the house you are shopping for should be equipped with solar panels or not.

Resale value

According to Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for 1.4 percent more than homes without them. They’re also viewed similarly to upgraded kitchens or remodeled bathrooms, because they increase a home’s value.

Solar panels save money

The amount of money you’ll be saving will depend on the amount of solar power you generate, local utility rates, and how much energy the utility pays you for when you return it to the power grid. If your solar panels are leased, how much you save will also be dependent on the lease terms.

When buying a house with solar panels, you can check what you could save on monthly utility bills with The National Utility Rate Database. This database allows you to look up current electricity rates in areas around the country.

Lease or own the solar panels

If you’re considering buying a house with solar panels, you’ll want to ask if they are leased or owned. Owning the solar panels on your house is the best financial decision since solar panel lessees save less than those who purchase them outright.

You might save some money up front with a lease, but you may lose that advantage when buying a home with existing leased panels. When leasing solar panels, homeowners can lose control of just how many panels are placed on their roof and where, since the leasing company will be focused on maximizing its own bottom line.

Furthermore, a lease term for solar panels is generally 20 years. That means if you’re buying a home that has years left on the solar lease, you, as the home buyer, become the lessee.

Amount of maintenance

Solar panels basically do their thing with little effort on your part. With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure to protect your investment. With proper solar panel care, they can last up to 30 years!

You’ll need to clean the panels to keep them going. That means scraping off dirt and debris a couple times per year and after storms that may leave them covered in debris. Cleaning will ensure the panels get plenty of sunlight to work efficiently. You may also want to hire a professional annually for an inspection to make sure the panels are functioning as they should.

Never Skip The Home Inspection

Maui real estate
When you’re buying a house, especially during a hot market, it may be tempting to forego certain steps to expedite the process. Waiving a home inspection, however, is never going to be a good idea. Here are some reasons why you should never skip the home inspection.

Weakened Negotiations

After a home inspection is completed, the buyer can reevaluate their offer, renegotiate the terms or even pull out. More than 80% of home prices are negotiated at least twice when they include a home inspection. If you forego this process, you also forfeit the opportunity to readjust the price of the home, which can greatly reflect both the condition of the home and any future repair costs.

Costly Repairs

A home inspection provides an overall report of the current condition of a home, including its systems, appliances, foundation and more, as well as letting a buyer know what repairs will be necessary. If you skip the the home inspection, you risk letting both minor and major issues go undetected, and any repair costs will come out of your pocket.


Without a report, your insurance company may not cover pre-existing issues discovered after purchase without a home inspection. This means you will likely have to pay out of pocket for any repairs.

Safety Hazards

Home inspectors note any health and safety hazards. Without this, you may not be aware of potentially dangerous conditions. Issues such as outdated electrical wiring, deteriorating pipes or structural damage, such as a cracked foundation, can put you at serious risk. An inspector will identify these issues and give you information on how to fix or replace items and areas as needed.

Peace of Mind

A completed home inspection paints a picture of not only the condition of a home, but also the overall value, which can help buyers when it comes to negotiation and costs. Without the details of a home’s condition, you may feel anxious and uncertain. Whether an inspection brings up a lot of issues and problems with a home, or if it yields only a few, you will have the opportunity to walk away or move forward knowing everything necessary about your new house.

Things To Look For When Buying Your First House

Maui real estate

Real estate newbies are so excited when purchasing their first home that they often overlook key aspects of the property before signing on the dotted line. Sometimes wearing those rose-colored glasses can have costly outcomes making the dream of owning their first house become more like a nightmare. To assure your story has a happy ending, here are some items to consider before it becomes an expensive mistake.

Possible structural, electrical and plumbing issues

An experienced home inspector should spot structural concerns, but to make sure the hired professional doesn’t neglect crawl spaces, chimneys, and other hard-to-access areas, the buyer should be present at the time of the inspection. Also, if the home has a chimney you may want a dedicated chimney cleaning company to take a look at what may be going on inside. During the inspection, make sure the electrical panel, water heater and HVAC system is in working order. Overlooking these necessary components of the house can be extremely costly if you are the one stuck with the repair bill.

Use of space and position of fixtures

Nothing can be more frustrating than realizing afteryou move into your new home that the light fixtures are off-centered and this “open-floor” concept may be a little too open. Slow down and scrutinize every room. Take careful notes of all fixture oddities. Imagine your furniture in this new space eliminating the possibility of your furniture being swallowed by the huge room and stealing the desired coziness.

Closet space

Don’t underestimate the space required to store all that you own now and could possibly in the near future. A good tip is to measure the closet space you currently have and see if it’s the same or more. Ultimately, if you buy a house that is lacking in this department, you may be left with no other option than stealing valuable space from somewhere else in the home or possibly adding onto or building a new closet later, which will not be cheap.

Noise levels of the neighborhood

Determining how picturesque your new neighborhood is can be easily seen but it’s very hard to know how peaceful the area sounds with just a few tours. Go visit the area during a week day and the weekend at different times of the day. Roll down those windows and observe. You’ll get a better sense of any traffic noise, loud neighbors and how many people park on the roads or pass by. There is no cheap fix to living behind a fire station or next to boisterous neighbors.

Buying a home is expensive! It’s in your best interest during the homebuying process to make sure these items are looked for and addressed prior to taking the plunge.