Welcome to the Maui Home Blog

This is where we post news about homes, market trends, information about Maui and tips for home buyers and sellers.

July 30, 2017

Day Trips on Maui

When was the last time you took a day trip?  Whether you're visiting Maui or are a longtime resident, it's refreshing to take time to enjoy what Maui has to offer.  With all the fun activities to do it can be hard to enjoy it all unless you make a point of it.  Before making plans, it's helpful to figure out what you'd like to experience.  If you're looking to experience laid back island style, Upcountry may be the place to go.   

This includes the towns of Makawao and Kula.  These areas are mostly pastoral land of orchid, protea and lavender farms, wineries, charming shops, artist studios, galleries, cafes and restaurants with majestic Haleakala Crater in the backdrop.

Here are a few popular places to consider while visiting the Upcountry area:


Ali'i Kula Lavender- this 13.5 acre lavender farm with over 55,000 lavender plants is a great place to spend the morning or afternoon with the whole family.  They offer walking tours, seasonal workshops and an array of botanicals made from the lavender grown on site.  Try the tea and scones and pick out a gift of high quality bath and body or culinary seasoning.  You'll want to call in advance to reserve your spot 808-878-3004.

Kula Lodge & Restaurant- If you're planning an early morning to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater, this is a must for breakfast on the way back.  The expansive views and delicious food is a great way to relax and warm up after a cool visit at the summit.  The rich pastures, eucalyptus, jacaranda and stunning views of the ocean make this an enchanting stop.  There's a marketplace which offers over 150 local vendors from Hawaii.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Maui Wine- The incomparable beauty of 'Ulupalakua surrounds this vineyard situated on the 150-year-old, 23,000 acre 'Ulupalakua Ranch.  Not only are you able to sip on delicious wine, but also learn a bit of history.  There is a guided tour of the grounds and winery and a history room with information about the long tradition of cattle ranching.  Across the road you may run into a paniolo (cowboy) while savoring on a homegrown elk burger.

Komoda Bakery- No trip to Upcountry is complete without a stop at this world famous bakery.  They open early with a line out the door so be sure to get there early enough before they sell out.   The stick donuts, long johns and cream puffs are probably the most popular.  The butter rolls also are a local favorite.  It's a family run business that's been around for a hundred years.

Boutique shops- Makawao town is known for the quaint boutique shopping.  You can find everything from women's unique clothing, maui made gifts, custom jewelry, local art galleries and much more.  

You can spend a few hours just browsing the shops in town then stop for a bite to eat at one of many eateries such as Polli's Mexican Restaurant or Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli.  If you're there in the evening stop by Makawao Steak House for appetizers and drinks.   

Upcountry Maui encompasses the laid back island lifestyle of Maui.  The cooler weather allows for a pleasant change from the shorelines of South and West Maui.  Even if for just a day trip, these areas are well worth the trip!

June 20, 2017

Renovation Tips

If you have owned a home and used a contractor, you will appreciate the challenge of coming in on the budget for any renovation. We hope this article (part 1) will be of help in coming in on a budget.

Buying a house that needs some remodeling can be a great way to turn an inexpensive house into your dream home. However, if you’re not careful, the remodeling job can burn through more money than you expected and take longer than you thought, leaving you scrambling to find somewhere to live while it is being completed. The first part of coming in on budget and on time is choosing the right contractor.

Tip 1: Review multiple estimates

Start by getting at least three estimates for your remodeling job. Remember, though, that the cheapest isn’t always the best. A low price might mean that the contractor is planning to cut corners, and costs could go up once you correct the mistakes or clarify what you really want. If one estimate is significantly less expensive than the others, ask that contractor what exactly is covered in that estimate to ensure it will complete that project to your satisfaction.

Tip 2: Get references and read reviews

Don’t base your entire decision off what the contractor tells you, but do your homework to find out what others are saying. A personal reference is the best way to find out about the contractor’s past work, so ask around to see if anyone in your networks has used that contractor, and find out whether the work was completed on budget and on time. You can also read reviews online, especially on sites like Angie’s List that offer lots of honest, unbiased reviews.

 Tip 3: Take note of what’s not included in the contract

Some estimates don’t include the costs of permits that may be needed to complete work. Others leave off appliances, assuming you will purchase them on your own. Make sure you account for these costs to come in on a budget.

Posted in Maui Real Estate
May 26, 2017

More On Renovation Tips

Renovations can be a great way to improve the value of your home before selling.  We've discussed the benefits of hiring a licensed contractor for the bigger projects but you can also do some things yourself and save money. Here are a few of both that you may want to consider before listing your property.

1. Kitchen Upgrades- There's nothing like walking into a kitchen with new appliances. Spending a few thousand dollars will pay back when the buyers happily walk into a kitchen with a clean, up to date oven, stove and refrigerator. 

2.  Small Things- Grab a few gallons of paint and give your front door a fresh coat. While you're at it, place a few potted plants next to the front door.  You can also stop by your local garden shop and pick out some plants and flowers to add to the front yard.

3.  Market Trends- Watch for clues with homebuyers. What is popular in home design? Open kitchens, modern bathrooms, tiled floors? Keep an eye out for what's in demand and apply and/or enhance those areas.

4.  Stay Neutral- Some people enjoy bright colors in their living space but this can be done with accents.  If you're looking to freshen up the walls, stick to white, beige and sand tones.  Don't overdo it with brightly painted rooms and accent walls. The new owner can take care of that after escrow.  You're better off appealing to a wider group of people by staying with neutral colors.

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Posted in Maui Real Estate
April 14, 2017

Maui Real Estate Development, The Early Origins

If you are a buyer, seller or investor looking at the Maui real estate market today and where it could be going in the future, getting an in-depth historical perspective into how the Maui and Hawaii real estate market developed can be both interesting and very helpful.


When examining the early origins of the Hawaii and Maui real estate industries, the first thing to acknowledge is that their evolution, development, and growth are inextricably tied to the late 19th and early 20th Century development of Industry and Tourism.

Early Visitors and The Beginnings of Tourism in Hawaii

Hawaii was first discovered by Europeans in 1778 when James Cook and his crew came across the islands. The unique location of this grouping of islands, located fairly centrally in the Pacific Ocean between the east and west, made it a logical and perfect strategic stop along the way of several key trade routes.  

Travel to the Hawaiian Islands began to rise in popularity as a destination when steamships made faster travel possible. Prior to the steamship, the only viable means to get to Hawaii was by Sailboat and a 2,000-mile crossing was neither appealing nor viable for a family vacation!  Beginning in 1875, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company allowed passengers to book travel to Honolulu on board the ships that stopped there between the United States and Australia.

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The Hawaiian Promotion Committee, founded in 1903, was one of the key early forces and seeds that laid the foundation of Maui real estate development. Funded in part by government monies, the Committee was the first bonafide organization to put Maui on the International map as a Tourist Destination. It even hired an advertising agency on Madison Avenue, to help with this effort. The Committee went over and above the mere promotion of Hawaii, getting behind necessary beautification and infrastructure projects such as the Mala Wharf and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. If Maui were to become a choice destination, it would need first class facilities to attract people to its shores.

The opening of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in February 1927 was met with great praise by the newspapers. It was seen as a magnificent world class resort in the heart of paradise and a landmark moment that would put Hawaii on the world map. In retrospect, historians consider it's opening a pivotal event in the development, promotion, and awareness of Hawaii as a destination resort.

In addition to resort life, the sheer natural beauty of the islands also drew tourists to its shores. Maui’s leaders understood the necessity to preserve these for visitors and residents alike into the future and for their own potential profit. Lorrin Thurston, for example, worked tirelessly from 1906 to 1916 with Congress to establish the Hawaii National Park. He also, along with several others started the Volcano House Company in 1891 acquiring and renovating the existing hotel structure, right at the edge of the Kilauea Volcano. Thurston was credited by Robert Allen (a highly respected Hawaii tourism executive) as having “created the foundation for Hawaii tourism.”

In due course, the advent of commercial aviation made the islands more accessible and was a powerful catalyst in the ongoing promotion and development of Hawaii. On November 22, 1935, Pan American Airways offered the first regular commercial flight from the US mainland to Hawaii.

Hollywood also helped to build the mystique of the Islands featuring the Islands in a number of movies in the 1930’s such as “Waikiki Wedding” starring Bing Crosby and Martha Raye which won the Oscar for best song in 1937. 

By the end of the 1930s, tourism was the third largest industry in the islands, behind sugar and pineapples.

Industry & the Emergence of the Maui Real Estate Market

Hawaii’s Sugar and Pineapple industries would play a significant part in the development of the real estate market on Maui and Hawaii. As each industry witnessed its heyday and then gradual decline, plantations and companies consolidated and executives looked for the next “big” thing to invest their profits into. Real Estate and Tourism was a good bet to target. For example, the Maui Land & Pineapple Company which was formed in 1969 would play a major role in resort development and the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) was instrumental in conceiving and building the dream city of Kahului.


Changing Landscapes in World War II

The Hawaii Islands - Pearl Harbor - were at the epicenter of the event that brought America into the second-world war. It was the catalyst that brought put everyone to work and brought America out of recession, sparking one of the greatest periods of innovation and prosperity that America and the world had ever seen.  

The impact of the second-world war on Hawaii was far reaching. Due to the position of the islands, they were a key strategic point for the United States military forces during World War II. As a result, vast new infrastructure was added across the islands inclusive of harbors, roads, and airports for use during the war.

This infrastructure was an essential and key part of the foundation for the development of both Tourism and the Hawaii and Maui real estate industry. Demand for real estate increased when World War II was over. The passing of the GI Bill helped veterans buy homes at unprecedented low-interest rates, and many who had spent time in Hawaii during the war wanted to live there when it ended.

The growing mechanization of sugar and pineapple production that happened after the war decreased the number of workers needed on these plantations, forcing many workers out of the plantation camps where they were living, to look for new housing. Planned communities, such as "Dream City" of Kahului in Central Maui, sprung up as places where former plantation workers moved.

Real Estate Boom During the 1960s

Commercial jet travel brought many visitors to Hawaii during the 1950s, but not necessarily to Maui, which actually declined in population as mechanization of the plantations led to layoffs and workers left looking for work on the main Hawaii Island. The answer to stem the outbound flow of labor and invigorate the Maui economy was outlined in a land use report prepared in 1959 that analyzed what could be done differently.

The report identified the massive under-utilization of Maui’s spectacular natural beauty and beaches. A key recommendation was to build upon the existing infrastructure and develop some fine destination resorts.

The report led to the birth and rise of the resorts in Kaanapali, Kapalua, and Wailea which were fueled by mainland and foreign leisure companies and the wealth of the local Pineapple and Sugar corporations.  Tourism brought money into the economy, fueling new jobs, the need for housing and real estate speculation!

In our next article, we will take a closer look at the factors impacting real estate development from 1950 through the 1990’s on Maui.


March 25, 2017

Surveys Protect your Property Interest

If you are planning buying, selling or making any improvements to your home, the below is a brief refresher on Property Surveys.

What a Survey Does

A property survey defines exactly what land and structures are part of a specific piece of property. Your lender and title insurance company often require a property survey when you are purchasing a home, but even if they don’t, it can be a smart move to get one. A survey typically cost varies depending on your location and the size of your property.

When creating a property survey, an independent surveyor will use a combination of archived land records and current measurements. The survey will lay out the lot size and dimensions, and then mark the location and size of the home on the lot. In addition, the survey should indicate the presence and location of other structures, like a garage, driveway, retaining wall, or fence. It may also mark right-of-way privileges for utility companies or other quirks of your property.

In Hawaii, the legal description the of land and real property originates from the survey. Our survey system is a Metes and Bounds System, which means the surveyor relies on monuments, angles, and measures to determine the boundary of the parcel. Typically the survey will be a map showing the boundaries and all of the structures that lie within.  Also included in the survey are things like utility easements, drainage easements or other areas where the land is set aside for a use other than that of the land owner.  If there are structures on the parcel, the survey will also show if there are any issues with setbacks.  Depending on the property and its zoning, there may be setbacks from the boundary of the parcel in which nothing can be built.  A survey will highlight any encroachments on setbacks.  The other thing a survey will show is whether there are any encroachments involving neighboring parcels.  These can be things like fences, rock walls, driveways, etc. that may cross the boundary with the adjacent property.

 De Minimus Laws

Improvements in technology have made surveys incredibly accurate.  Unfortunately with many properties here in Hawaii, that accuracy can be very different from the boundaries originally established by historical surveys.  In order to address this issue, the Hawaii Legislature enacted De Minimus rules.  De Minimus means "minimal impact" and guidelines were established in which certain variances between modern and historical surveys would be tolerated.  For residential properties the variance is 6" or .5 feet.  Agricultural or Rural land is 9" or .75feet.  Other types of property have different allowances.  As an example, a fence built on a residential property that is 5" on the next lot is determined to be within the de minimus and therefore not an encroachment.


If that fence is 7" over on the next parcel, one option is to remove it and rebuild it within the boundaries.  For some encroachments that may be very difficult and cost prohibitive.  In that case an encroachment agreement may be the best course of action. In an encroachment agreement, the two neighbors settle and agree in writing to allow the encroachment, describe it, memorialize who is to make repairs, rebuild in case of such a need and it is recorded as a perpetual easement that "runs with the land" meaning it carries over to subsequent owners. It is best to have this agreement prepared by an attorney and recorded as part of the deed the property.

Surveys for Property Improvements

A property survey is very useful to have if you are planning to make improvements to your home after you buy it. That way, you know exactly where your property line is so you can properly install a fence on your side of the line. A survey also indicates how much space is available for building an extension onto your home. You also may need a survey for completing landscaping projects or adding features like a deck or swimming pool.

Posted in Maui Real Estate
Feb. 18, 2017

Bidding Wars

The Maui market is still going strong and prices continue to rise.  When properties of value hit the market, it is not uncommon for there to be multiple offers.  The listing agent will typically then go back to all potential buyers and ask for their highest and best offer.  Then the race is on and the bidding war begins!  I just went through this with a client and I thought you would appreciate some tips on how to get the edge in a bidding war. 

What Creates a Bidding War

Bidding wars are created when a property goes for sale that is a great price, a great value, in a highly desirable area or a combination of all three.  Price and value go hand in hand.  This is where comparable come in to play.  A low price may not mean a great value but a low price compared to other similar properties creates value.  Homes in foreclosure can be good buys because the price point is usually lower than homes sold in the more traditional way.  Bidding wars can also be all about geography.  Some areas here on Maui are highly desirable - it may be the proximity to a great beach or the best weather.  When properties in those areas rarely come for sale it can create quite a stir with many potential buyers interested just for the location.  Whatever the case, in a bidding war, you need to be able and ready to put your best offer forward if you really want to end up in the home. That best offer, though, is not necessarily all about the money.

Know The Seller

Find out, as best you can, what the seller is looking for in the offer they are going to accept. Your real estate agent can ask the listing agent whether the seller has a specific closing date in mind, wants an offer without certain contingencies, or has any other preferences you can cater to in your offer.  Price is always important but sometimes the small things can give you the edge.  Put yourself in the seller's position.  What would you like to see in an offer?

Make it Personal

Make your offer stand out by including a letter that briefly describes who you are and what you love about the home. Sellers have an emotional attachment to their home, and if you appeal to their emotions while putting in a competitive bid, you may win over similar offers.

Clean it Up

Other than price, sellers are looking for no hassles.  Give the seller a clean offer that assures them of a smooth transaction with no snags. You can do that by increasing the amount of your down payment or earnest money and getting pre-approved for a mortgage.  Better yet, offer all cash if you can.  Cash buyers are very desirable as it means no one has to wait for bank approval and/or delays.  Cash offers do not require an appraisal as financing offers do.  All of this can mean the turnaround time with a cash buyer from acceptance to closing is dramatically cut.  There are also ways to clean up your offer by removing contingencies.  Every contract contingency can be looked at as another hurdle to overcome to get to closing.  By removing contingencies, you are eliminating obstacles.  Your real estate agent can help you with which contingencies make sense to eliminate and which may be required.

Know When to Say When

A multiple offer situation can be very tricky.  It can be easy to get carried away by your emotional attachment to the home or your desire to win, but in the end, make sure you are willing to pay the price for the house. Be willing to walk away if the bids go beyond the amount you are willing to pay for the home.  

Posted in Maui Real Estate
Jan. 30, 2017

Is a Second Home Right For You?

Owning a second home is a dream for many and can be a reality for some. It's wonderful to imagine a place to vacation, retire to place you love or perhaps a place to generate income.  There are many reasons to want to buy a second home but also considerations to make beforehand. If you already enjoy time away from home in another place you'd love to one day spend more time or possibly retire, owning a second home may be a wise decision. 

To help you look at the issues of second home ownership, here are a few highlights to consider:

Some Benefits:

Prepare for Retirement- Besides creating wonderful vacation opportunities, the second home in a place you love allows you to create community ties before retirement. It will help you decide if this truly is the place you want to spend your golden years.  It's a trial run to create friendships get involved in local events and get to know the place first hand. You may decide it's not what you thought and look elsewhere.

Home Away From Home- You're already going on vacation, why not invest in a place of your own? Does your family enjoy taking family trips together to the same area? Purchasing is probably a smart choice.  By establishing a place to create family memories and traditions, you are creating lifetime memories for generations to come.  Finding an enjoyable area where the family looks forward to coming to, helps to create a family retreat.


Financial Benefits- It's common knowledge that real estate is a sound investment over time.  When you purchase property for the long term, the trend is that value increases especially if you buy in a resort area that is likely to retain its popularity.  Even if you don't have a huge jump in value over a shorter period of time, a second home has many tax benefits.  You also have the option to rent it out when you're not using it to increase the benefit even more.  There will be some tax write-off whether it's for personal use or used as an investment property.  If you rent out the property for fewer than 15 days during the taxable year, it qualifies as personal property. Rental income is not reportable for income tax purposes.


Things to Consider:

Financing- Some second home buyers pay cash, but there's a good chance you'll need to finance the purchase.  In that case, you'll need a larger down payment, often 35 percent, more than a loan form a primary residence.  You'll need a higher credit score and more income to qualify.  With stricter loan requirements, you'll probably not be able to use anticipated rental income as qualifying income for the loan. 

The Unexpected- As with all things in life, things change and circumstances may affect your financial situation.  With changing variables in work and family such as job loss and divorce, you may need to change your living situation.  It helps to have the reserves to be prepared for the unexpected but oftentimes, we don't have the means to do so.  Being flexible and reaching out to friends, family and trusted professionals can help in times of uncertainty.

Maintenance- Second homes require upkeep.  You'll need to keep in mind yard maintenance, repairs, and things like periodic painting.  If it's located in an area of extreme weather conditions of heat or cold, you'll have to consider the weathering conditions such as frozen pipes or broken air conditioners and peeling paint.  Also, prepare for property taxes increasing and condo or homeowners association fees.

Before taking the plunge into becoming a second home owner, really consider your financial situation. Oftentimes, purchasing cash is the best route if possible.  Speak with your tax accountant regarding the implications. Some people may really benefit, yet others it is a burden not worth pursuing.



Posted in Maui Real Estate
Dec. 18, 2016

All About Home Equity Loans

All About Home Equity Loans – Some key things you need to know

Some Key Things You Need to Know About Home Equity Loans

1. Your home equity is the difference between your home's fair market value and the amount you currently owe on the mortgage. It's the amount of the home's value that you actually hold, and so does not include the bank's partial ownership of the value through your mortgage.

2. Lenders typically like for the sum of your mortgage balance and your home equity loan balance to be no more than 80 - 85% of your home's value. Therefore, you need to have more than 20% equity to be eligible for a home equity loan. This equity could be from your initial down payment, your monthly payments since buying your home, or an increase in your home's value.

3. There are actually two major types of home equity loans. A traditional home equity loan also called a second mortgage, is a lump sum loan that you get all at once and repay in equal payments over several years.  Just like a traditional, or first mortgage, this loan may have points, loan fees and other costs associated with it.  The good news is that there are many different lenders who will do second mortgages.  It pays to talk to different banks, credit unions and/or mortgage brokers.  Also, just like a first mortgage, if you fail to repay the loan, you can be subject to foreclosure.


4. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is more like a credit card, and your payment is based on how much you're currently borrowing.  There are many different types of home equity lines of credit and it will make sense to check it out to determine what works best for your personal needs.  Unlike a home equity loan, the APR for a home equity line of credit does not take points and financing charges into consideration. There may be, however, specific fees and restrictions on how much of your equity you can take out.  Other factors to take into account are opening fees, variable or fixed interest rates, repayment terms and any other safeguards built into the loan.

5. You can use money from a home equity loan for any purpose, whether related to your home or not. Some of the most common purposes are making home improvements, consolidating other debt, purchasing a vehicle, paying for a vacation, or financing education.

6. For many people, the interest you pay on your home equity loan is tax deductible. If you deduct interest on your primary mortgage, you will probably be able to claim home equity interest as a tax deduction as well.  It is best to consult with your tax accountant for more specific information on any tax ramifications.

7. There is a three-day cancellation clause if you are using your primary residence for the equity loan.  

Nov. 26, 2016

Which Hawaiian Island is Best for You?

If you are thinking of making the move to the islands or even buying a second or vacation home, one of the big questions is which island?  Every island has its own personality and charm.


Oahu, the gathering place, is the most populated island.  Honolulu is the major city and it is home to over 1.1 million people.  It is really the hub of activity for the entire state.  Skyscrapers stand in beautiful contrast to the ocean and the famous Waikiki Beach.  One of the greatest sites is walking down Kalakaua Avenue and passing businessmen with briefcases navigating the crowded sidewalks alongside folks in surf shorts with boards headed to the beach. There are businesses, shops, restaurants, museums - all of the things you would associate with a large city.  And yes, there is traffic.  A lot of it.  But the island of Oahu is much more than the city of Honolulu.  There are several towns and residential communities that provide a more suburban or even rural feel.  Towns like Kaneohe, Haleiwa, Manoa, Hawaii Kai and many more allow you to enjoy a more relaxed environment while still being in close proximity to the city.  While there are many thriving businesses and industries on Oahu, tourism is a major economic driver.  Annually the state sees over 8 million visitors and well over half of them spend at least a portion of their stay on Oahu.

As for real estate, Oahu remains at the top for single family home prices.  


Almost on the other end of the spectrum is Kauai.  While it is just a slightly smaller island, the population is a fraction of that found on Oahu.  This island remains very rural and it probably the least developed of any of the main Hawaiian islands.  That, however, is slowly changing and residents are feeling the growing pains.  There is increased traffic on the one main road that services the island along with other infrastructure challenges.  Kauai is home to one of the wettest spots on the planet and weather always plays a key factor in daily life here.  

Real estate sales can be a bit misleading here because the population is so small.  A large percentage of sales is from vacation rental properties or second/investment homes.  

 Hawaii Island

The island of Hawaii or The Big Island is just that.  It is the last formed and largest in the island chain and is home to the world's longest active volcano.  With only two major towns on the entire island, it boast wide open spaces and largely unspoiled landscapes.  Agriculture is a big industry here producing the majority of the state's macadamia nuts, coffee, tropical flowers, and fruits.  As with all of the islands, tourism plays a big part in the local economy and many people are employed in the hospitality industry.

Hawaii island consistently has the lowest real estate prices.  


I may be a bit partial, but I think Maui is the best of all Hawaiian worlds.  Maui is not as populated as Oahu but is much more diverse than Kauai or the Big Island.  There is a good mix of industry, culture, tourism and development.  Many larger towns on Maui such as Kihei and Lahaina are in top tourist destinations.  The towns of Wailuku and Kahului are located in Central Maui and are typically more local although several new developments are changing the mix a bit.  The prospects for employment is better here than on the other more rural islands and that has attracted more folks and more growth.

The price of real estate reflects the popularity of Maui for both permanent and part time residents. 

Posted in Maui Real Estate
Sept. 2, 2016

Maui Hurricane Insurance

There are always a lot of stories this time of year about updating your insurance and making sure you have adequate coverage.  So what about Hurricane Insurance?

Let me start by saying that if you have a loan on a Maui home, you are required by your lender to carry hurricane insurance as part of your overall coverage.  It is relatively expensive so it is definitely worth the time and trouble to shop around for the best price.

What does Hurricane Insurance cover?

Hurricane insurance can be tricky.  Generally, the scope of hurricane insurance is limited to damage caused by the winds and rain of the hurricane.  So for example, if your roof blows off during a hurricane, the roof and any damage caused by the subsequent rain getting into your home would be covered.  If your house becomes flooded by a tidal surge or rising water from a hurricane, that is not covered.  You need flood insurance for that.   Or if your roof blows off in high winds but not a hurricane, hurricane insurance will not cover you.


Hawaii's Hurricane History

A basic homeowner's policy would cover you for wind damage except if you are in a hurricane prone area.  FEMA has designated the entire state of Hawaii as hurricane prone.  However, historically, the only island to have received any major damage in the last 65 years or so was Kauai.  That was in 1992 and that was Hurricane Iniki.  Iniki caused major damage to the island of Kauai killing six people and causing over $1.8 billion in damage.  This was the worst hurricane ever to hit the state.


Establishing the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund

Rebuilding after Iniki was problematic as many people were not insured or severely underinsured.  Many did not have hurricane insurance although it was available through private insurance.  Those who did have it had a hard time collecting as the private insurance companies were overwhelmed with claims.  After Iniki, private insurance companies stopped offering hurricane insurance.  This prompted the state to create the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund (HHFR) in 1993.  The state required homeowners to contribute to the fund and in return, these homeowners were insured.  

As the fund grew and private insurers came back to the Hawaii market, the state stopped issuing insurance and collecting funds.  In 2011, the state decided to use this fund to balance the state budget.  This was a very controversial move and many considered it "raiding" the fund.  Some of that money has now been repaid into the fund.

A popular misconception about HHFR is that it is a fund used for disaster relief in the aftermath of a hurricane.  That is not the case.  HHFR is strictly a backup insurance fund.  It currently lies dormant and will only be reinstated if there again comes a time where homeowners cannot get private hurricane insurance.