What to Look for in Big Island Real Estate

Ready to dive into a search of breathtaking Big Island real estate?

At any given time, there are thousands of homes for sale on the Big Island. To avoid real estate burnout, I recommend you begin the home-buying process with a sense of the features that are most important to you. This helps whittle down your options to a more manageable list of potential winners.

Here are several aspects of Big Island real estate I always encourage my clients to consider right off the bat.

Location, Location, Location

This phrase is a real estate cliché for a reason. A lot of aspects of a home can be changed, but unless your home has wheels, its location is permanent!

The Big Island encompasses several regions with varying climates, natural and geologic features, and neighborhoods, which makes the decision of where to buy Big Island real estate even more important. Here on Hawaii, locations just several miles apart can vary dramatically in climate, geology and “feel.”

Check out this page I put together for a detailed breakdown of each of the Big Island’s 9 distinct regions and their unique characteristics.

Some other important factors to consider when choosing a location include: school district, distance to your workplace, and distance to amenities like grocery stores, shopping centers, hospitals and entertainment.

Fee Simple vs. Leasehold Property

On the Big Island, you will likely come across both “leasehold” and “fee simple” real estate transactions.

Fee simple is the standard transaction most homebuyers are familiar with. A fee simple buyer owns the land, and is able to resell it, lease it, improve upon it, pass it on to heirs, etc. without restriction.

With a leasehold transaction, the land does not belong to the buyer but to a third party landowner. The buyer leases the land from the landowner for a period of time pre-defined by a contract, and pays a monthly or yearly fee for the use and enjoyment of the land.

So, that does this mean for you?

Essentially, there is less freedom with a leasehold property. Once the leasing period expires, the leasing fee can be increased, and/or rights to the land (including all the buildings are structures on the land) can revert back to the landowner. There may also be clauses dictating what you can and can’t do on the land.

Eco-Friendly Features & Utilities


Photo by ShellVacationsHospitality on Flickr.

Green building and eco-conscious living is making a huge impact on Big Island real estate, and life on the Big Island in general. Because we live in one of the world’s most magnificent places, we’re more concerned than ever about preserving that beauty well into the future.

When choosing your home, consider whether eco-friendly features like solar electricity, solar-heated water, and other sustainable options are important to you. Likely, you’ll be able to find a green home to suit your needs (and if not, there’s always the opportunity to create your own green home down the line).

Also, when searching, keep an eye out for the type of insulation (foam, fiberglass, cellulose) used—which can help mitigate cooling costs—and other utility issues like whether the home has a septic tank or a sewer system hookup.

The “Big Three” Features to Look For

  1. Don’t overlook these unsexy but absolutely essential features of a home: the plumbing, the roof, and the structure. If any of these are outdated or lacking in integrity, a headache awaits. And an expensive headache at that!
  2. Don’t be wooed by granite countertops and hardwood floors at the expense of the Big Three. This happens all the time! It’s easy to fall in love with a snazzy space without thinking about what lurks underneath the sparkle.
  3. Always ask about the age of the plumbing, the roof, and the structure of the home and compare the age to the average lifespan of the materials used. For example, typical asphalt tile roofs will last 15 to 20 years in Hawaii. If a home’s asphalt tile roof is 17-years-old, you will likely need to replace it very soon.

Feeling overwhelmed by Big Island real estate?

Get in touch with me, Annette Mejia, an experienced real estate agent with a deep love of the Big Island. I can help you find the Big Island home that’s just right for you!

Annette Mejia, Realtor Broker
Annette Mejia, Realtor Broker

"Everything Annette did for me was from the heart"

As someone that has spent her whole life feeling lucky to work with people in customer service, I vowed then and there to help people like you and me have the experience they deserved when moving to The Big Island. Because let’s face it, this should be the start of the happiest, proudest, and most peaceful period in your life!

For 15 years I have been helping people make the most out of life and real estate on The Big Island and I would be honored to do that for you too. I look forward to meeting you!

Warmest Aloha,
Annette Mejia

Live On The Big Island