How to prepare to sell your house on Maui

How to prepare to sell your house on Maui


Aloha! My name is Greg Gaudet and I’m from Maui Home Buyers. Today I’m going to talk to you about the steps you’ll need to take to prepare to sell your house on Maui, or sell your house or condo in Hawaii on any other island. I’ll help you decide whether a traditional sale on the MLS is best, or if a fast as is cash home sell is the best choice for you. I’ll also help you understand how much work you need to do to sell your house in Hawaii, and what you can expect from your listing agent, what they’ll expect from you, and what you can expect if you choose to sell your house fast for cash in Hawaii. Let’s dive into it!

Choose Whether To List With A Realtor Or Sell Directly To A Cash Buyer

The first thing you need to decide is: are you going to list your property with a realtor or are you going to sell your Maui house off market directly to Maui Home Buyers. If you’re going to list your property with a realtor, this article will help you understand some of the things that you need to do in order to prepare to sell and some of the steps that you’ll need to take before a realtor can convince a retail buyer to choose your house or condo over all of the other options. So the very first step is you want to find the best realtor on Maui, or again, if you’re on Oahu or Kauai, you want to make sure you find the best realtor in Hawaii for your location, property type, and other unique factors about your home.

I can’t just tell you which realtor you should call because there’s not just one realtor that is the best for all of Hawaii. There are best realtors on each island, and there are different realtors that would be best for each different type of property in every different city or sub-market within Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Big Island. In fact most of the time, the best realtor for a vacation rental or airbnb condotel style condo in 96753 is not the best realtor to sell a single family home in 96732, or even 96793! So you want to do a TON of research because this decision could make a huge difference; like tens of thousands of dollars! Feel free to call Maui Home Buyers if you need some help with that. If we can help you find the best realtor for your type of home and location, we would be happy to. We are here to serve our community in any way that we can. Yes, of course we hope that we are the best option to buy your house on Maui for cash, but sometimes we’re not, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We are still happy to help you no matter who you choose.

House in Haiku Hawaii trying to sell while tenants live there leaving a messy kitchen and repairs needed
This Haiku house didn’t sell on MLS because it was tenant occupied, so the house was always a mess and repairs never got done. As a result, the house didn’t look good during the showings, so no one made an offer.

Again, you want to do a LOT of research to find the best realtor in your market to sell your specific property type, and give them a call and start discussing what the appropriate listing price would be in order to attract a lot of attention but not be too low. You want to list it high, of course, you want to get the most money for your property, but you don’t want to list it too high, otherwise buyers just won’t really look at it and they’ll think it’s overpriced.


Once you’ve found the best realtor in your market in Maui or another island, you want to prepare the property to sell, right? The first step in preparing the property is cleaning. This one is skipped over all too often, and we see the consequences with the price that it sells for. You should have a very, very thorough deep cleaning done. You want to have all your personal items either removed or put away, out of sight. You want to take down pictures and personal items like that so that when the buyer comes to see the house, they can envision it being their family’s home. So, the cleaning is a huge step that is critical to getting the best price for your house.

It’s probably easiest to just hire a cleaner depending on how dirty the house is. In terms of doing a deep clean, it could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. We recently had a deep clean done on a 2,000-square-foot house in Kahului that was pretty dirty and needed a really deep clean, and it was about $2,300, I believe. But on the other side, we also just had a small rental cleaned and had a deep cleaning done. It wasn’t very dirty, but because it was also a much smaller unit, that one only cost, I think, $350. That’s just to give you an idea of what the cleaning might cost if you are considering whether you should hire a cleaner or do it yourself.

House in Haiku Hawaiii that is clean and ready to list for sale
House in Haiku almost ready for sale

Painting And Repairs

Next step once you have the property cleaned, you want to paint and make some repairs. Sometimes this step might come before the cleaning, depending on how much repairs and how much work is needed around the house. But if you have to do some renovations like put new floors in, then you probably want to do the cleaning afterwards. Anyway you want to make the house look clean, fresh, new. Hopefully, you don’t have to invest too much money into making it look presentable and look new. If it’s in pretty decent condition, hopefully you can just get away with painting. That’s a pretty cheap, quick, and easy way to just bring some life into the property, make it look a lot cleaner and newer and not break the bank at the same time, usually. It has gotten way more expensive, of course, along with everything else in today’s market, but relatively, it is still the most bang for your buck in terms of making your house attract a lot of buyers.

As far as repairs, you want to make sure that any of the major things that are going to come up during the home inspection, because if you list with a realtor on the MLS, the buyer is almost always going to have a home inspector come and go through everything in the house from every single outlet and light switch to the oven, checking the roof for missing shingles, and everything between plumbing leaks underneath the foundation, everything. So any of those things that are broken, you want to get ahead of and have them fixed before you list. That way the buyer doesn’t come to you and find these problems and asking you to fix them later, or even worse, find them once they’ve made a deal with you and then decide, “Oh, you know what? Nevermind, we don’t want this house,” and then they cancel. To avoid this potential headache you want to have those repairs done before the home inspection.


Next step you want to do is you want to have the house staged if you don’t already have nice furniture that makes the home flow well and where the buyer can come in and just see what room is going to serve what purpose. If you have a den or an office, that’s a really great example of a room that a buyer might come in and see, well this isn’t a bedroom, but should it be an office? But when you stage it and you put the furniture in there for them to see, just instinctively they know they don’t have to think or wonder.

Another thing would be, a lot of times in Hawaii we have enclosed porches or Florida rooms, sun rooms, and similar type of setups where a buyer might come in and think, “Oh, it’s nice to have this space but I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do with it because the living room is over there. What is this room?” If you have it staged, then they can naturally see, maybe have it set up as a gaming room or a man cave or a kid’s room. That way the buyer can come in and just naturally it just clicks, and they know, they don’t have to think “this is kind of awkward I don’t know what to do with this room”. That’s why the staging is so important.

Professional Home Listing Photographer

The next step is once everything, the house is already cleaned, you want to have all your pictures put away, staging, everything painted and repaired, then you’re going to have a professional photographer come in and take excellent pictures of the house. This is also critical. The things I’m talking about are really the most important things. There are many, many more things you can do, but these are the things that make a huge difference in whether or not your house sells and how much it will actually sell for when it’s listed on the MLS with a realtor.

As you can see, professional pictures are absolutely critical. Do not skip this step. Your realtor should be telling you the same thing. If your realtor is not suggesting professional pictures, then you probably want to make sure that they are qualified to be your realtor because any realtor that doesn’t do that, to me, I just don’t agree with it. I think there’s no reason to not do it. It’s very clear. There’s a lot of evidence that shows that professional pictures make all the difference in the world and more than make up for the cost of getting the pictures taken.

Listing Your House For Sale And Having Open Houses

The next step is going to be your realtor’s going to list the house on the MLS for you, and they’re going to have open houses and showings. At that time, you want to make sure you are not present. You do not want to be home when those buyers come to see your home. Anytime there’s an open house, you want to make sure you leave the house, might be two or three hours, and just go out, go to the beach, go somewhere, go to Costco, but do not be at the house. Maybe some people will have a different opinion on this, but I feel like it’s pretty clear and we have enough evidence to show that when a buyer comes to see a home and the seller is there, they just feel kind of awkward. They don’t really want to be going into your bathroom while you’re sitting there watching them. You’re much better off not being there during the open houses or any of the showings.

And after that, you should hopefully be receiving some offers. If your house is priced right and attractive and looks clean and new, you should have buyers that are willing to make you an offer, especially today’s market’s a little slower, so it’s not a guaranteed thing where you can just put a house up for sale and get offers. In 2021, that was the case. It was a great time for anybody to sell, even a house that needed repairs. But now that interest rates have more than doubled, that is no longer the case, and buyers are much more particular. They don’t want a house that needs work. They want a house that’s turnkey, ready to go. That’s kind of the challenge with today’s market.

Understanding The Hawaii Association Of Realtors Purchase Contract

By now hopefully you will have received an offer and you’ll negotiate with the buyers. You’ll have some back and forth and you’ll have to go through any offers individually. When you’re working with a realtor in Hawaii, the offer is going to come on a document called the Hawaii Association of Realtor’s Standard Form Purchase Contract. That’s a standard form that all realtors use, I believe they are required to use this form under their licensing. It is 14 pages for the base form, the foundation part of the purchase contract, and then there’s usually anywhere between 6-10 additional pages that will be added into there that are called addenda.

You want to review all those pages very carefully. You want to make sure you understand everything that’s written in there because all of those, usually about 20 to 22 pages, they’re almost completely focused on protecting the buyer during the sale. So you want to make sure you understand everything that the buyer has put in there because the buyer is the one that’s actually writing this contract out. And if you don’t understand everything in there, you could be agreeing to something that puts you in a very difficult situation. It can be easy to just look at the price and think, “Okay, I’m happy with that,” but you might find out the closing timeframe is six months or something crazy like that. Hopefully, it’s not that long.

In any case, you want to make sure you understand everything. They could have something hidden in the contract that says that they’re going to take possession of the house before closing, and that could be a big deal. You want to make sure you know about that before you agree to it. They might have a term in there that says they can cancel the day before closing if they choose to, and that’s also a really big deal. You might waste two or three, four or five months with this buyer and then they just cancel right at the last minute and you’re supposed to be moving out the next day, half your stuff’s gone, and you’re back to square one and have to start showing the property again. That is a bad situation and just one example of why you want to make sure you fully understand every single term in that purchase contract. Your realtor should walk you through everything, but if they don’t, ask them to. And again, make sure that you have one of the best realtors in your market to make sure that you don’t have to worry about these surprises coming up.

Avoid Giving The Buyer Any Reason to Cancel And Close The Sale Of Your House

The next step is going to be try to close the sale. You’re going to work with the buyer and the escrow company and the realtors through the closing process. They’re going to have their home inspections, land surveys, termite inspections. They might need you to tent the house. They might ask for some more repairs to be done. They’ll ask for a seller’s disclosure form. That’s a five-page document that you have to fill out that says, “Is there excessive noise? Has anybody died in the house? Is there termite damage? Is there damage from tree roots,” and all these other things that a buyer wouldn’t know but the person that owns the house and lives in it in Hawaii should know and be able to disclose. You are legally responsible to disclose anything that you know about that is a material fact that affects the property. It’s a really big deal if you don’t. So make sure you disclose everything that you’re legally required to share.

Hopefully everything goes smooth and the buyer, if they have a financing contingency, make sure you understand that, also. The financing contingency is a big deal. Most buyers do need to get a mortgage and they might not always qualify. They may think that they qualify, but they could get a month into the sale, and right when they think the loan is going to be coming through, they get an email from their lender that says, “Oh sorry. You haven’t been at your job for two years, and you don’t qualify,” or, “You have too much credit card debt,” or, “Your car payment’s too high,” or any other reason that they can’t qualify because the lenders are really strict nowadays on who they’ll give a mortgage to.

You have to have really high income and really low debt, basically, and you have to have been at your job for, in almost every case, two years or more. But lot of buyers don’t know that and they think because they make a lot of money and don’t have a lot of debt, they should have no problem getting a mortgage. They may even have a pre-qualification or preapproval from the mortgage lender, but those are usually just based on a few basic questions and are not a reliable indicator of whether the buyer will be approved for the mortgage. So the buyer might be surprised later on to find out they’re denied. This is why you want to make sure you fully understand when the buyer can cancel, under what terms they can cancel, because it happens all the time. And in today’s market, again, we just talked about how interest rates have shot up, home sales are grinding to a halt, and the market is really shifting fast.

A lot of us are really worried about what’s going to happen to home prices. We think that we could see prices definitely take a dip. That’s certainly very possible, and hopefully it’s not much worse than just a little dip, but nobody knows at this point. The point of all that is that you want to make sure you understand when your buyer can and cannot cancel because there is a huge amount of cancellations. You’ve probably been seeing in the news, the buyers are canceling purchases at historically higher rates right now. That’s something to make sure you really, really understand.

That’s should give you a pretty good idea of what your sales process is going to be like when you’re listing your house for sale in with a realtor on Maui.

The Alternative: A Guaranteed Fast Sale To A Cash Buyer With No Surprises

The other option, of course, is to sell to a cash home buyer, a professional cash home buyer that will buy your house as-is. Maui Home Buyers is a great example of that. We’re a local company based on Maui, but we operate on Maui, Oahu, and Kauai, and we also do some work on Big Island. We are just super passionate about helping our community, giving back to the residents of Hawaii, and we use our business as a way to serve our community.

Hopefully that means that you are going to call us to get an offer, you’re going to love our offer and we’re going to buy your house. But that’s not always the case. And again, like I said before, that is totally fine. We don’t want you to feel any pressure. I would hate to think that somebody might not call us and get some great feedback and referrals and information from us just because they don’t want to feel like we’re going to pressure them into selling to us or we’re going to hit them with a really low offer and try to force them to take it. That is not how we operate. I do not want to force you to take an offer from us. I want you to make the best decision for you and your family. Of course I do hope that it is with us, but there are no hard feelings whatsoever if that’s not the case. Like I said, there’s no reason not to at least see what we can do for you before you put your Maui house on the market.

I believe that everybody should call a cash buyer first when preparing to sell your house in Hawaii because there’s nothing to lose. You just call us, it takes a few minutes, and I’ll do an hour or so of research, most of the time, on my computer, and then I’ll send you a text or give you a call and let you know, “Hey, it looks like we could probably pay right around this much.” If that’s something that sounds like it’s in your range, I’ll send you an email with a simple little one-page offer that just lays out the price and the closing date and who’s going to handle the title and the initial deposit, as well. Those are pretty much all the terms. We try to keep it real simple. Instead of doing a 14 or 20 page contract, we don’t really need all that because we buy enough houses that we fully understand the risks and what things are going to need repairs and what aren’t. We’re comfortable enough with all of those things that we don’t need to have excuses to cancel the sale because of them. We also don’t need you to clean the house, do any painting or staging, or any of the things needed to sell on the MLS. In fact most of the time we don’t even need to get a survey of the property.

We just use a simple one-page Word document that says “Maui Home Buyers is making you this offer for this much money. If you accept it, you can sign and we’ll start the process with the escrow and title company.” They’ll actually draw up the official sale documents for you to sign later. There’s no obligations. It doesn’t take much time from you, and you can say yes or no, no hard feelings. If you say no, then I’ll do everything I can to help you find the best possible option for you to sell your house or condo here in Hawaii. Again, don’t hesitate to call or text us anytime. I can’t stress enough how much we love to give back to our community. Personally, I’ve been working in the real estate industry for over 15 years now. My business partner, also, has even longer, about 20 years in the real estate industry.

We love to use our professional real estate experience to help our neighbors and our community and our Hawaiian islands to make the best decision for how to sell their property. If you do sell your house to us, like I said, you’ll usually get an offer within the same day, sometimes within just an hour, sometimes the next day, depending on how complicated the property is. You just let us know what you need from the sale and we’ll make it happen. For example if you want us to close in 10 days, we’ll make that happen for you. If you need to close the sale of your Maui condo in 40 days, then we can do that to.

If you need help moving your things, we’ll help you with that. If you need help to find a new home, whatever it is, we pride ourselves in providing a service to help our neighbors. If you inherited a hoarder house, maybe it was in foreclosure or whatever the case is, and it’s full of junk, or maybe it’s full of important things, but if there are things that you don’t want to deal with, you just let us know and we’ll handle it. We just closed on a house in O‘ahu where the seller has a whole lot of junk in his house that he doesn’t want. So we told him he can leave whatever he doesn’t want in the house, and we will take care of getting a dumpster out there and having everything disposed of and donated just to make his life easier.

Conclusion: The Easier Option For Many Hawaii Home Sellers

As you can see, selling your Hawaii real estate property to Maui Home Buyers is a much simpler, quicker, easier, and more convenient way to sell your house or condo anywhere in Hawaii. It’s not the best option for everyone, but it’s a significantly better option for many home sellers. The only way to know if we are the best choice for you is to give us a call or text, tell us the address of the house you want to sell and you’re asking price and we’ll let you know within 24 hours if we can do it, or if not we will let you know what we can offer. You say yes or no, there’s absolutely no catch and no obligations! We look forward to hearing from you and helping you!

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