According to the National Association or Realtors, the first step of the home buying process for forty-seven percent of home buyers was to search online. With Maui’s significant number of off island buyers, that number is substantially higher locally. Quirks of our MLS, a limited number of Post Offices on Maui and the relatively unique types of ownership in Hawaii can make the information displayed in online Maui real estate listings confusing or incomplete. Here are 4 things you should look out for when searching online for Maui Real Estate.
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Figuring out the Exact Location of the Property Isn’t Always Easy
Our website and almost all real estate websites use what is called an Internet Data Exchange or IDX to display MLS listings. We use an underlying company called an IDX provider to package property data and photos into the listings you see displayed on our site. The IDX provider doesn’t just service Maui, they provide a similar service to real estate companies throughout the country. IDX providers use Zip codes as the primary means to identify the location of a listing. That works great in most areas where a town or city may have one or more zipcodes. It doesn’t work as well on Maui where zip codes can span across a large geographic area and cover multiple communities.
It’s easy to see how this can cause some confusion. This is especially the case in West Maui after the Lahaina fire. A significant portion of Lahaina Town’s residences burned. Those that were listed, but did not burn were subsequently withdrawn from the market. That said, a number of properties with a Lahaina address can be found listed for sale currently. The reason is that the Lahaina Zip code expands well beyond the fire area. West Maui runs from the small village of Olowalu down South all the way to Kapalua up to the North. All of this area falls under the Lahaina zipcode.
This challenge isn’t unique just to our site or other Maui Realtor sties. It is also true for bigger national real estate portals like Zillow and Redfin. It is evident with the screen captures that show a Lahaina address for a Kapalua Property on Zillow. You need to scroll deep within Zillow’s listing information or look at the associated map to find the Kapalua Location.
Again, West Maui isn’t the only part of the island with a Zip code that spans a big area. In South Maui, Makena and Wailea resort fall under the Kihei zipcode. Looking Upcountry, Makawao and Pukalani also share the same zipcode. All of East Maui including Hana, Nahiku, Kipahulu and Kaupo share a single zipcode. The coastal community of Ma’alaea and rural community of Kahakuloa fall under the Wailuku zipcode.
To help alleviate confusion in your search, look for the district on an IDX site or the specific location information within a portal site like Zillow. When using our site, you should note that we have community level searches available along the footer of our page. Of course, you are always welcome to send us a message if you remain unsure of a property’s exact location or need assistance honing in on a specific community.
How Much Land Area Does That Listing Really Have?
Land area is something else to keep an eye on when searching online for Maui real estate listings. There are a number of Maui listings where the area of land included with a property is less than what shows on the online listing. This stems from the growing frequency of Condominium Property Regimes (CPRs) also known as residential condominium listings.
A CPR is a type of ownership where portions of a single parcel of land may be sold off as separate units. The units have their own deed and tax map key. Each unit of a CPR can be mortgaged. In essence, this type of ownership applies the same principles of how an apartment building is turned into condos, and applies them to any piece of land that can have more than one structure. Since Residential Condo ownership isn’t common nationally, IDX providers and Real Estate Portals show the land area of the whole parcel of land and not the individual CPR unit.
For example, let’s take a two acre lot with a house and a cottage that goes through the CPR process. Unit A consists of the house and 1.5 acres of land. Unit B consists of the cottage and .5 acres of land. The underlying area of land with each unit is frequently called the limited common element. If unit B is listed for sale, most real estate sites will show the listing as having a full 2 acres rather than .5 acres of land. It doesn’t become readily apparent that it is really .5 acres until one reads about it in the detailed description of the listing.
Keep your eyes peeled for words like CPR, residential condo or limited common element in the listing description for lots and homes. That’s a pretty good clue that the land area is smaller than what is listed. A good listing description for a CPR property will specifically mention the limited common element or area of land associated with the listing. When in doubt, contact us and we would be happy to help you determine if the property is a CPR and how much land is included.
Listings Don’t Always Show All Monthly and Quarterly Fees
It goes without saying that determining the cost of ownership plays a big part in the typical search for real estate. That includes both the purchase price and any monthly fees associated with a property. There are a few types of properties on island where all monthly fees aren’t clearly spelled out in IDX and other online listings.
Leasehold condos are at the top of the list of properties that don’t show all monthly fees in their online listings. The monthly condo association fee is clearly listed, but the monthly and quarterly lease payments seldom make it on IDX sites. IDX providers use standardized display fields so they can work across markets across the country. With leasehold ownership less common, that field is omitted from most idx providers.
The monthly lease payment does show on Zillow, but good luck finding it and figuring out what it means. Deep in the bowels of the listing detail is a field called total actual rent. The way it is presented looks more like income than a fee.
Two other expenses that don’t always make it into an IDX feed are homeowner’s association fees and resort fees. There are a couple of fields in the MLS that cover homeowner association fees for single family homes. Depending on what field the listing agent uses, it may or may not show up on the IDX search results. Some of the resort areas also have quarterly resort fees. Those help to maintain landscaping in the resort as a whole. Since it isn’t a required field to list a property, some agents omit those fees when listing resort properties.
When inquiring about a condo, lot or a home located within a subdivision, it is worth asking if all fees are included on the MLS listing. Contact us if you have any questions.
Not All Condos Allow Vacation Rentals
A significant portion of people searching online for Maui condos for sale are looking for potential vacation rentals. Be aware that not all condos on island allow vacation rentals. Whether a condo allows vacation rentals isn’t always clear when looking at Maui listings online. There are no specific fields for vacation rentals on most IDX sites, and Zillow does not display whether a condo development allows vacations rentals.
If confused about whether a Maui condo that you are looking at can be vacation rented, here are a few things to look for. Focus on the remarks. Listing agents may mention the ability to vacation rent in the listing remarks. It is an attribute that agents will try to highlight.
Amenities and maintenance fee may also offer another clue. If there is no pool and the maintenance fees are comparatively lower, chances are that the development does not allow short term rentals. Most but not all condos that have more amenities and higher maintenance fees allow vacation rentals. There are some high end condos with numerous amenities that prohibit vacation rentals.
Last but not least, look at price. With the exception of a few leasehold condos, vacation rentals currently start over $600,000. Most condos below this price point, prohibit rentals. Again, It is also worth noting that not all high end condos allow vacation rentals.
When in doubt, ask us! We are happy to let you know what you can and can’t rent short term. Our Kihei, Wailea, Ka’anapali and Kapalua Condo listing pages also list which developments allow vacation rentals and which prohibit vacation rentals.
The points above should improve your experience when searching online for Maui Real Estate. MauiRealEstate.com offers the option to review inventory at a more granular level. We have listing pages at the community, condo development and neighborhood level. As mentioned above, we also welcome any chance to be of assistance and answer questions as they arise.