As temperatures drop and winter sets in across much of the mainland U.S., it’s a great time to look for a vacation property in Hawaii. If you’re considering doing so, the first thing you should do is choose an experienced and knowledgeable local real estate agent who can help chart a course to finding your dream vacation home in Hawaii.

In addition to Hawaii being a competitive, low-inventory housing market, it also has some unique variables when it comes to home buying. Here are a few factors to consider.

Location, location, location. Generally, the farther a home is from the ocean, the less expensive it will be. If you’re considering a high-rise condo, think about whether an oceanfront building facing the garage would be better than a unit several blocks away offering ocean views. Sometimes the price will be similar, but oceanfront properties are sure to attract more tourists and activity.

The neighborhood. The neighborhood or community you choose is just as important as the home you buy. Weigh such factors as aesthetics, safety, local traffic, and access to shopping, restaurants, activities, and entertainment.

HOA fees. If the house or condo has a homeowners’ association, make sure you know exactly what the HOA fees cover, including electric, water/sewer, specifics about outdoor maintenance and repairs, pool/spa and other amenities.

Negotiate for furnishings. Because shipping furniture to Hawaii is expensive and local furniture prices are high, it’s not uncommon for buyers and sellers to negotiate for furniture to be included in the sales price.

Choose a local lender. It’s important to select a Hawaii-based company that is familiar with the state’s underwriting and valuation, as many mainland lenders and underwriters lack knowledge of Hawaii’s unique properties. This can help prevent issues or delays in closing.

Insuring your home. As beautiful as Hawaii is, there is always the risk of a natural disaster, such as tsunamis and floods, so find out what homeowners’ policies will and won’t cover. Also, make sure you ask whether the property is in a flash flood or tsunami zone and water damage or flooding is included in the policy.

One thing that’s important to remember is that Hawaii has a limited number of homes for sale, and there might be only a handful in the area you like that are in your budget.

You can get started by visiting to view all available properties in your area of interest, and then contact a Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties independent agent who has the experience, resources, and tools to effectively guide you through the process of finding your dream vacation home.