North Shore Maui Real Estate

Rhonda Smith-Sanchez R(B) 22953, REALTOR®

North Shore Maui Real Estate | What are Buyers Looking For?

If you’re interviewing real estate agents to prepare and present your home on Maui’s Multiple Listing Service, you will more than likely ask advice on items that will help your home sell to the tastes and budget of today’s buyers. The buyers of today are not the buyers they were when you bought your home. The buyers of today watch trends through sophisticated mediums; they have access to style magazines, luxury dialogue, and are constantly watching the internet or TV shows that present remodeled or new homes with updated styles. These buyers are always looking for what they want, not what is presented. As a real estate professional, our job is to find a property that fits the opinions, views, and styles of the modern day buyer. TV, Internet, and periodicals have played a big part in pre-educating our buyers.

So what are Buyers looking for, and how can you prepare your home on Maui to appeal to today’s buyers? The luxury market can be defined as homes that are updated with fixtures, tile, and flooring that is current. The topic of conversation, and the presentation in all media is available. Having an ocean view is just not enough for a luxury home buyer, or even sometimes a single family residence buyer.

20 Kapuaimilia Place, Haiku (Active Listing)

The supply of luxury home and single-family homes on Maui may be exceeding the demand. The oversupply could quite possibly be because the property does not hold- and perhaps be lacking the updates and items popular with today’s buyers.

When sellers begin to consider putting their home on the market, they should first talk to a professional real estate agent. Specifically, they would be best suited to connect with an agent who consistently sells in their desired price range, with a portfolio of homes with similar amenities and features. Experienced real estate agents know- they have seen it all, and even have an intuition on what sells fast, and what creates hindrances to selling in an appreciated timeline.

Homes get passed up for a few reasons. Buyers don’t see the value at the price level or the home is simply overpriced. Buyers are being more demanding. To understand, and to choose and attract buyers, sellers must listen and adapt to the minds of the buyers. Below is a list of ideas for remodels and additions that may help to seal a deal, and sell your home quicker.

70 Pono Road, Peahi- Maui (Active Listing)

Top 10 Home Improvement Items for New Sellers

1. Retractable Glass Walls- big windows, lots of light, lots of windows, and glass are very desirable home features. When interviewing buyers, “bright” and airy spaces are always requested. This means nothing more than lots of windows, skylights, and sliding glass doors that open up our North Shore spaces to allow natural beauty to permeate. If sellers can afford it, eliminate French doors and put in solid glass doors- the bigger the better. French doors are seen as ‘very 1980’s.’

2. High Ceilings- You just cannot get a better response from a client than, ‘Wow, look at these high ceilings!” Buyers love them, and sometimes, high ceilings are the one feature that seals a deal, even if the household fixtures are dated. Dated can be changed. High ceilings may be the number one questions, comment, and request when I interview my buying clients.

3. Granite & Marble- Just say no to granite and marble. These two materials lasted decades in our kitchens, and some can still look very pleasing and modern, yet the buyer buzzword is now ‘Quartzite.’ It’s the new cool natural stone; it’s less prone to staining than marble, and less busy than granite. Buyers are looking for cool colors: greys, whites, and ‘greiges’ (tan and grey blends). If you’re going to change anything in the kitchen, consider a quartzite in a light and neutral color. Feel free to use marble as a backsplash. A touch of marble is still classy.

430 Manawai Place, Peahi-Haiku (Active Listing)

4. Kitchen Design- Homeowners are staying at home more now. They spend more time cooking and even eating take-out in their kitchens. The kitchen needs to have it all- all the quick grab appliances, and fixtures that make spending time in the kitchen a long term affair. Yet, all these appliances can hide in the pantry. Try to create a very organize shelving system because buyers love organization. If you have the space, create more storage to hold appliances. This design features will help keep items off the countertops, and bring a sense of order, peace, and luxury to the overall feel of your kitchen. Some luxury homes are even outfitted with pantry spaces that store refrigerators and dishwashers. This move gives you a more spacious atmosphere with lower cabinets.

5. Barn & Ohana- Luckily for us in Hawaii, we have agricultural land that allows for a barn or cottage (ohana) to be built alongside a main home. Having a barn and/or ohana is extremely valuable. Buyers like more options to create, and earn more money from home. It’s an excellent idea to build a barn and cottage because it shows ‘income potential’ to buyers. 

6. Bathrooms- Bathrooms are getting a lot of attention for prospective buyers, and hold a lot of weight in the decision making process. I recommend that sellers direct attention to their bathrooms, and try to create a ‘spa bathroom.’ Outside of the kitchen, the bathroom has become the true test of interest. If the bathrooms are unattractive, dated, or dirty, the prospect tends to run. Items we’re seeing that really lift the eyebrows of our buyers, and make them want to stay, are Japanese steam showers. For lavatory features, bidet toilets, and Toto Neorest dual-flush models are desired. The most powerful item in the bathroom is a stand-alone tub. It should be light in color, and surrounded by beautiful walls, and windows with peaceful views This area should invoke serenity and  privacy. Above all else, it needs to be squeaky clean.

7. Subtleties- The days of bright accent walls, heavy curtains, heavy antique furniture (unless it’s Hawaiian Koa), are long behind us. Lighten everything up from room-to-room. If you’re not a designer, don’t try to be. You cannot go wrong with white, and light grey tones. Buyers want to see the home in its natural light, so remove heavy curtains, dated blinds, and leave the windows undressed.   The truth of the issue is heavy furnishings and dark drapery turn off buyers. Throughout the home, create a muted palette; pick colors from the same white, grey, or beige paint strip. Apply fresh paint, and pull down all window dressings. This new fresh appearance will truly create a positive experience for the buyer. In this way, they can begin to see how to create the home in their own essence.

106 La’a Kea Place (Sold Listing)

8. SMART Homes- It’s very easy to become a SMART home. Even the slightest attempt to add APPS (voice activation) or timed actions into the home will really please a buyer. Today, buyers are smart, and they hope and expect SMART home systems no matter how big or small. Add SMART home applications that can be accessed from a cellphone for controlling lights, playing music, turning on AC, and even for accessing security. The beginning steps can be easily and affordably installed through your existing WiFi home system.

9. Garages- Buyers love garages, especially in Hawaii. They desire organization and clean spaces. In order to create serene spaces of control, peace, and elegance, a garage will definitely contribute to balancing this out. Not only are they used for the traditional use of holding cars, but buyers also need to have space for bikes, water sports equipment, and electric car hookups. To take it a step further, a prospective buyer may have a car enthusiast in the family. They may want to to store an additional car, or perhaps a classic car. As we all know, the tropical weather can put a beating on cars parked outdoors. 

10. Generator- Tried and true, a big, strong, and long lasting generator is such a secure and impressive item to have on a Maui property. With our weather pushing hard rains, high winds, and at times flooding, our electricity can go out. It’s also a great idea to add a small generator for back up. This will help to protect valuable wine, food, and keep appliances going and phones charged during a power outage. This brings a sense of security to buyers.

2374 Baldwin Avenue, Paia-Makawao (Sold Listing)

In addition to the Top 10 Home Improvement Items listed above, there are many more items to consider when you’re prepping your home to arrive on Maui’s real estate market. Many sellers think that it’s not necessary to update their homes to sell, and this may be acceptable if your property is not dated. The most important advice any real estate professional can share, and the seller must take this to heart, is to professionally clean the interior of your home from floor corners to ceilings.Then, take a look at your exterior areas and clear the home of overgrowth, trim walkways, driveways, and create an entrance way decorated by flowers. Even a nice entry rug invokes a feeling of pride. Attention to detail should be applied to the entire home and property.

Last, and bottom line, the two things that sell a home are price and condition. An experienced real estate professional can advise you on making specific and critical improvements, plus provide current location and neighborhood data to help you price your home correctly. Every location is different, and every neighborhood calls for a market analysis that is specific to its area, future developments, and the history that affects the property. Especially in the Hawaiian Islands. When considering selling your home, be sure to reach out to a professional who can advise you, and help you create an environment that will attract qualified buyers.

Mahalo for reading the North Shore Maui Real Estate Blog! For more information about buying and selling property in Maui, Contact Rhonda

2 Comments

  1. David Deisinger

    October 11, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    Great post and so true. Buyers in San Diego are trending towards the same features and looks. Enjoy your post!

  2. Aloha Dave,
    Thanks for commenting. Look forward to seeing your new home someday!

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