Who wouldn’t want to live in paradise? Moving to Hawaii is a dream for many people from the U.S. mainland, but it’s no secret that it’s a pricey place to live. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and buying a home in Hawaii or are lucky enough to already live here and are looking for a new home, the first step you should take is choosing an experienced local real estate agent who is knowledgeable about neighborhoods, the latest market trends and area attractions.

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

Fee Simple versus Leasehold. There are two types of home ownership in Hawaii – Fee Simple or Leasehold. Fee Simple is complete ownership of the property, including the land. For Leasehold properties, you own the structure or unit, but someone else owns the land and you pay a month lease rent to the landowner.

Prices vary widely depending on location. Location and view have a big impact on the price of properties. If you’re considering a high-rise condo, think about whether an oceanfront building facing a park would be better than a unit several blocks away offering ocean views. Sometimes the price will be similar, but oceanfront properties obviously attract more tourists and activity.

HOA/maintenance fees. If the house or townhouse has a homeowners’ association (HOA), make sure you know exactly what the fees cover, including common area, specifics about exterior maintenance and repairs, pool/spa and other amenities. Condominiums have an Association of Apartment Owners (AOAO) that charges maintenance fees, similar to an HOA, make sure you know what the fees cover, including water and sewer, maintenance and other amenities. Some homes may also have both HOA and maintenance fees.

Negotiate for furnishings. It’s no secret that shipping furniture to Hawaii is expensive and local furniture prices are high, so it’s not uncommon for buyers and sellers to negotiate for furniture to be included in the sales price.

Choose a local lender. After discussing your financing options with a local real estate agent, 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, so find out exactly 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 is included in the policy.

One thing it’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. That’s why finding a dedicated, knowledgeable agent is so important.

If you’re ready to begin the home-buying, process, contact a Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties affiliated agent today or visit ColdwellBankerHomes.com. A Coldwell Banker agent has the experience, resources and tools to effectively guide you through the process of finding and purchasing your dream home.