Category Archives: Tips for Homeowners

What Foreign Buyers or Sellers of Agricultural Land Must Know

Foreign Buyers and Sellers Must Report U.S. Agricultural Land Holdings with form FSA-153.

For more info, contact the USDA Farm Service Agency at 871-5500 ext. 2 or visit


Flood Zone Look Up Tool for Hawaii Properties

Do you want to know the flood zone of a property on Maui, or anywhere in the state of Hawaii? Well, check out the Hawaii Flood Hazard Assessment tool, which anyone can search.

If you are interested in buying a home on Maui, we can help you with that flood zone tool and any other real estate questions. Contact Delmore Realty, 808-242-1467.


Maui County Council Approves Property Tax Rate for Fiscal Year 2014 (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014)

The 2014 fiscal year real property tax rates were approved by the Maui County Council on May 22, 2013, and will go into effect on July 1, 2013 til June 30, 2014. Most tax rates will increase, except for the Residential category.

 Here are the new rates, which are per $1,000 of net taxable assessed value:
Residential remains at $5.75.
Apartment increasing from $6.20 to $6.40.
Commercial increasing from $6.90 to $7.05.
Industrial increasing from $7.10 to $7.30.
Agriculture increasing from $6.00 to $6.05.
Conservation increasing from $6.20 to $6.25.
Hotel & Resort increasing from $9.15 to $9.40.
Time Share increasing from $15.50 to $15.55.
Homeowner increasing from $2.75 to $2.87.
Commercial Residential increasing from $4.50 to $4.60.

Understanding Maui’s Property Taxes

As a homeowner or prospective homeowner, it’s very important to understand how Maui’s property taxes work.

The County of Maui has a brochure called “Understanding Property Taxes” that is very helpful. This brochure outlines important dates, such as Dec 31 deadline for filing exemption cliams, the due dates for taxes, deadlines for filing tax apeals, important #s to call, how properties are assessed/apprasied and more.  There is also a website,

Every year the County Council decides on the tax rates. The tax year runs from July 1-June 30th. August 20th is when the 1st half year taxes are due. Feb 20th are when the 2nd half taxes are due. The latest tax rates as of this blog, for the 2012-2013 year are as follows:

Residential $5.75, Apartment $6.20, Commercial $6.90, Industrial $7.10, Agricultural $6.00, Conservation $6.20, Hotel & Resort $9.15, Time Share $15.50, Homeowner $2.75, Commercialized Residential $4.50.

There are a few opportunities for exemptions which can reduce your taxes. The most common is the homeowner exemption. See a link to our blog about the homeowner exemption at

There is a minimum rate of $250 for properties that meet the county’s criteria.

The County of Maui’s tax division can be reached at 270-7297 for further questions about property taxes.


Homeowner Exemption Application Due by Dec 31, 2012

It’s that time of year again…homeowner exemption applications are due by the end of the year. If you have just bought a property in 2012 and are living in your home on Maui as a primary residence, or if you owned your primary residence and never knew about the homeowner exemption, then do complete the homeowner exemption application to start saving a lot of money. You will get taxed at the lowest rate and get the homeowner exemption. Here is the link to the application:

Per the flyer “Understanding Property Taxes” by the County of Maui, the version dated 7/9/12, “…if you own and occupy your property as your principal residence on January 1, you will be eligible for a single exemption of $200,000. This amount will be deducted from your property assessment before your net taxable value is calculated.”

The Real Property Tax brochure continues, “For example, if you own a house and lot valued at $550,000 and are eligible for a single home exemption of $200,000, your net taxable value will be $350,000. This figure is divided by 1,000 then multiplied by the applicable tax rate, which is set by the County Council, to determine the taxes owed.”

In this example ablove, $350,000 divided by 1,000 is 350. 350 multiplied by the Homeowner rate ($2.75 for 2012-2013 tax year) = $962.50 is your tax owed.

Be aware that the 2012-2013 tax rates (set by the County Council) as well as the homeowner exemption was recently changed. The previous year, the homeowner exemption was $300,000.

If your property is valued low enough, and you qualify for a homeowner’s exemption, you will only owe the minimum tax of $250 to the County. What a deal! Maui owners should appreciate how low their taxes are relative to many other places in the country.

You only have to file the homeowner exemption application once for your property and the homeowner rate and exemption will apply until there is a change in status. At that time, the owner has the responsiblity to inform the County of any change or may be subject to a penalty. If you are a new owner of a property, you must file the application, even if the old owner had a homeowner exemption.



Properties On or Near Oceanfront Come with High Insurance Costs

One compoment of owning a home is paying for property insurance. Many people dream of owning a home in Hawaii that is on or near the oceanfront. There can be a lot of pleasure in owning such a property. However, one must also take into consideration the much higher cost of property insurance when such a home is in a high rate flood zone.

I recently asked my friend at for a reference, and got to speak with Spencer Lau of Atlas Insurance Agency-Maui, located in Wailuku, for a quote on a modest home located near the ocean in Waiehu, Maui, a neighborhood within Wailuku, as someone had contacted me to find out more about this property. The home is located across the street from the ocean, and considered to be ina  high risk flood zone VE. The house, with less than 1500 s.f. of interior living area, would cost anywhere from $2,980 per year to $3,789 per year to insure, based on which deductible option a homeowner would choose (from a high of $5000 to a low of $1000 deductible). A similar house in a non high risk flood zone would only be approximately $365 for coverage…so it was around 10 times as high to be in this high risk flood zone, near the ocean.

Be aware that the federal government, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) sets the rates for flood insurance, and it is a big consideration when thinking of owning a property close to the ocean.

Here is a website,, that seems pretty accurate in allowing you to look up a property by address to determine which flood zone the property is in and if a lender is likely to require flood insurance.

This link to the county of Maui’s website also shows tsunami evacuation zones. This is not necessarily exactly the same as FEMA’s flood zones, but properties in one category or likely to also be in the other.




Obama’s Latest Proposal to Help Underwater Homeowner’s Refinance

Details of President Obama’s proposed plans to allow homeowner’s who are underwater to refinance have emerged. First mentioned at his Jan 24, 2012 State of the Union address, this plan is still subject to the approval of Congress. The propsed plan, with similarities to HARP, which we have previously blogged about, does have a  major difference with the HARP plan in that, if approved, it would be available to homeowner’s whose loans are not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Read on for more details of the proposal.


Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) update

Many homeowners who are “upside down” (owe more than the home is worth if sold or appraised today) on their primary residence and have a loan on their property may now be able to refinance into a loan with more attractive interest rates, thanks to changes in the government’s HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program), which were announced in October 2011 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

This is an exciting program that will benefit many homeowers who have been unable to refinance through traditional loan programs because their properties would not be able to appraise to meet normal requirements. This will allow many homeowners to take advantage of today’s low interest rates. If you are looking to refinance your home then read their guides for more info on Finances.

Homeowners will have to meet certain criteria, such as having a loan that is currently backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, and it must have been sold to either prior to May 31, 2009. For those that qualify, the existing loan to value ratio requirments will be removed under this program. Borrowers must also be current in the last 6 months on their loan and have no more than 1 late payment in the past 12 months on their loan. Online loan lenders is a good alternative, if you don’t consider Myinstantoffer rip off.

Many lenders are still working out the logistics and compliance in being able to offer the program to customers, with some expecting to roll out the program in March 2012. Talk to a trusted loan officer to find out more and see if you qualify.