Whether you are coming from or going to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Kaneohe Bay, Schofield Barracks or Fort Shafter (or anywhere else on the island), this is not just another move. The Hawaiian island of Oahu offers a unique lifestyle and experience which many military personnel find so desirable that it has resulted in permanent roots for many families. The county of Honolulu encompasses the most populated island of Oahu, with a total population of about one million people. Approximately ten percent of this population is active duty military and dependents, with an additional ten percent veterans.
Buying vs. Renting for Military Personnel and Veterans
Rent is generally expensive all over the island. Purchasing a home with your VA benefits might just be more affordable than throwing away money on rent while you’re stationed here.
Many people purchase condominiums and rent them to tenants while they follow their careers stateside or elsewhere; if you choose to do that, you’ll have a condo waiting for you the day you retire and join the other 20,000 military retirees who have made Honolulu their home.
The cost of housing in Honolulu can be high. Offsetting increased acquisition costs are real estate property taxes that are substantially less than much of the mainland, as well as insurance premiums for auto and homeowners insurance that can be significantly less than on the mainland. One of the most powerful weapons in the fight for affordability are Government mortgages such as FHA insured, or a Veterans Administration guaranteed VA home loan for active duty military and veterans. Both types of Government mortgages have low or no down payment requirements, with maximum loan limits much higher than on the mainland at $721,050, increasing up to $1,386,650 for two to four family.
Condominiums present an affordable alternative in the Honolulu real estate market. Conventional lenders have financing requirements for condos that differ from single family homes, which may include down payment requirements of 30% or more. If you think that you might finance a potential condo purchase with a government mortgage to take advantage of the low down payment requirements, the condo building must be approved by the VA or FHA. Click here to see if your condo building is VA or FHA approved.
How to Use Your VA Loan to Buy a Home in Hawaii
Private lenders fund VA loans, but the Veterans Administration guarantees a portion of these loans; that enables the bank to give you better terms, such as no down payment.
You can use your VA loan while you’re in the military or once you’ve left the service. (Check your eligibility.)
Make sure you get your Certificate of Eligibility by providing either your DD-214 or your statement of service. You can also provide an NGB Form 22 or NGB Form 23. Surviving spouses must submit VA Form 26-1817 or VA Form 21-534. Your lender can help you determine which forms to turn in to the VA so they can issue your Certificate of Eligibility.
You can apply for your Certificate of Eligibility on eBenefits, the VA’s portal for access to all of your veteran benefits (even active-duty service members apply for a CoE through eBenefits). From there, your lender will process the paperwork for you.
We work with military and veteran homebuyers, so we understand the ins and outs of purchasing as they relate to your military contracts and other needs. We moved here under military orders ourselves, so we know from personal experience what it takes to move to Honolulu and the island of Oahu, such as shipping cars, reducing household goods to fit into the typically smaller homes in Honolulu, and getting pets through the import and quarantine process.
Because we know that purchasing a home is a huge decision, we’ve put together a wealth of information for Hawaii homebuyers. Whether this will be your first purchase or your last, we’re here to help.