How to Sell a House By Owner in Hawaii (2021 Update)

By 

Jamie Ayers

Updated 

December 28th, 2020

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Selling a house For Sale by Owner (FSBO) in Hawaii can save you 2.4% to 5.5% in realtor commissions. But prepare for a lot of work, including filing the required paperwork and learning about your local market to make the most from your sale.

In Hawaii, the average commission rate is 4.7% to 5.5%. If you sell a house worth $655,000 — the median home value in Hawaii — that’s up to $36,000, which is a huge chunk of your potential profits.

Selling without a real estate agent, known as listing For Sale By Owner (FSBO), is a viable option for experienced home sellers who are willing to put in the time and effort.

Key Benefits of Selling FSBO
  • Direct control over how your home is sold, including the pricing strategy, showing schedule, and negotiation process.
  • No listing commission, which could save you 2.6%, based on the Hawaii average.
  • FSBO sellers who find a buyer without an agent, save an additional 2.5%, the average buyer's agent commission rate in Hawaii.

However, selling FSBO has risks. Research shows that FSBO homes typically sell for about 6% less than those listed with agents. In addition, FSBO homes often take longer to sell, and are more likely to fall out of contract after accepting an offer — unless the homeowner is experienced and knowledgeable about the process.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to successfully sell your house without a realtor: the ins and outs of Hawaii realtor fees, paperwork, and tips to walk away with more from your sale.

What FSBO Sellers in Hawaii Need to Know

Real estate laws, processes, and trends vary greatly across the country. Understanding the details of your market and getting accurate information can make a FSBO sale complicated.

We'll go into more details about what you need to do in Hawaii, but here's an overview of the state's laws and regulations.

Hawaii FSBO Overview

Real estate attorney required?
No
Required state disclosures? (learn more)
  • Seller's Real Property Disclosure Statement
  • Flood Zone Statement
  • Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
FSBO yard sign allowed?
Yes
Competitive Buyer's Agent Commission (learn more)
2.3% to 2.7%

How to List Your Hawaii Home for Sale by Owner

Once you've decided on a price, it's time to write a listing description that speaks to local buyers. Understanding their priorities will help you identify what features of your property to highlight in your listing and attract more interest.

Top Buyer Priorities in Hawaii

Hawaii Buyer Priorities
Advice for FSBO Sellers
1. Listing Price
Be honest about your list price. Look at recent sales data in your area on Zillow or other real estate sites to find an accurate price point for homes of comparable size and condition to yours. Many real estate companies will also conduct an analysis for little to no charge.
2. Architectural Style of Home
In your listing description, talk about any unique architectural features that could set your home apart. If your home was built by a known architect, has original flooring or doors, or has any historical value, be sure to mention it. Also, point out what takes your house to the next level. For example, older homes can be beautiful, but energy inefficient. Highlight upgrades you made like new windows that will save buyers hundreds in heating costs.
3. Proximity to Restaurants, Shops, Entertainment
Use your listing description to note some of the popular attractions nearby like restaurants, parks, museums, theaters, and more. You can add a personal touch by listing some of your favorite local places to visit.
Based on a 2020 Clever survey of 500+ real estate agents

When it comes to advertising and posting your listing, you have several options as a FSBO seller. Each choice has its own pros and cons as well as costs:

  • For Sale By Owner yard sign: You can buy a sign from most hardware stores or online for $20-$50. Be sure to choose one that allows you to add your phone numbers so interested buyers can contact you for property information and showings.
  • Craigslist: Posting your home on Craigslist is free and simple. Just go to the Hawaii page, find your city, and create a "real estate — by owner" listing.
  • FSBO websites: There are multiple FSBO listing websites that allow you to post your home for free or a few hundred dollars. But each differs in how many photos you can include, how long the listing is live, and the changes you can make — do your research before choosing a for sale by owner site.
  • Flat-Fee MLS companies: Flat-fee MLS services will list your house on your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for significantly less than a realtor. However, they provide few additional services unless you opt for their most expensive packages, which often cost more than using a discount brokerage.

If you choose to use a flat-fee MLS company, you'll have to offer a buyer's agent commission. The MLS is how real estate agents find homes for their clients, and typically a buyer's agent commission is included to incentivize these realtors to show the house to their clients.

List with a top agent for just $3,000 or 1%.

Sell your home for top dollar and save on commission.

How Realtor Commissions Work In Hawaii

Traditionally, both the buyer's agent and the listing agent are paid a commission by the homeowner. When sellers work with a realtor, they negotiate a commission as part of the listing agreement.

Based on the average commission rates in Hawaii, this typically ranges from 2.4% to 2.8% of the sale price.

In a typical sale, the seller also agrees to a commission rate for the realtor who brings the buyer to the table, which runs between 2.3% to 2.7%.


Average Range in Hawaii*
Average Amount⁺
Listing Commission
2.4% to 2.8%
$15,720 to $18,340
Buyer Agent's Commission
2.3% to 2.7%
$15,065 to $17,685
*Based on the average commission rates from a 2020 Clever survey of 500+ real estate agents
⁺Based on typical home value in Hawaii (Zillow Data Center, October 2020)

As a FSBO seller, you automatically avoid paying a listing commission. However, there is a solid argument for offering a buyer's agent commission.

A buyer’s agent's commission is an incentive for realtors to show your house to their clients. If you don't offer a commission that is competitive compared to similar homes in your area, then your home could be shown less. Agents may prioritize taking buyers to homes with a commission.

The best way to avoid paying any commission fees is to sell to an unrepresented buyer. However, know that nearly 87% of buyers work with a realtor. If you decide not to offer a buyer's agent commission, you may severely restrict your pool of buyers.

>> LEARN how real estate commissions work

How Commission Costs Break Down in Hawaii


FSBO w/ a Represented Buyer
FSBO w/ an Unrepresented Buyer
Listing w/ an Agent
Listing w/ a Discount Agent
Sale Price*
$615,700
$615,700
$598,000
$598,000
Listing Commission⁺
$0
$0
$17,030
$3,000
Buyer Commission⁺ 
$15,393
$0
$16,375
$16,375
Total Profit
$600,308
$615,700
$621,595
$635,625
*Based on median home value in Hawaii  (Zillow Data Center, October 2020) and that FSBO homes sell for 6% less (Collateral Analytics, 2017)
Based on the average commission rates in Hawaii (2020 Clever survey of 500+ real estate agents)

Paperwork to Sell a House by Owner In Hawaii

Once you find a buyer for your house, it's time to start the closing process. In a typical real estate transaction, your agent will make sure you fill out all the necessary documents and forms. As a FSBO seller, you'll have to navigate the paperwork by yourself.

This process varies by state — here’s a quick breakdown of Hawaii’s requirements.

Required for All Hawaii Real Estate Sales

2 Forms of ID
In most cases, a valid passport, driver's license, or other form of Hawaii-issued ID.
Copy of Purchase Agreement and Any Addendums
Copy of the original, signed sales agreement as well as any agreed upon changes.
Closing Statement
A detailed list of all the costs associated with the sale and who pays them. This is often prepared by your escrow agent or title company.
Signed Deed
To legally transfer your property, you'll need the deed that proves you're the rightful owner. At closing, you'll sign the deed over to the buyer.
Bill of Sale
This is basically a receipt that includes both your information and the buyer's. It will also list the final price of the home and what was included in the sale.
Affidavit of Title
A notarized document that states you own the home, that there are no liens on the property, that you are not simultaneously selling the home to someone else, etc.
Loan Payoff Information
If you have a mortgage on your home, you'll need documentation of exactly how much you still owe and any payoff fees. If you've already paid your mortgage in full, you'll need documentation proving that.
HOA Forms and Guidelines
If your home is part of an HOA, you'll need to give the buyer documentation on the HOA's Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions, financial history, required fees, approval process, etc.
Survey Results or Survey Affidavits
A survey (or an affidavit verifying a previous survey) proves exactly where the property lines are.
Home Inspection Results
If you had a pre-sale inspection, you'll want the results to compare to the buyer's inspection. If having a buyer inspection was part of the sales agreement, you should receive a copy of the results before closing.
Proof of Repairs or Renovations
Documentation proving any major repairs or changes to the house help verify its value. These receipts also provide the buyer with information about who to contact if they discover issues with the repairs in the future.
Home Warranty Information
The home warranty service agreement will explain what is covered, for how long, and any costs associated with the policy.
Copies of Relevant Wills, Trusts, or Power of Attorney Letters
If you are selling an inherited property, you'll need copies of all legal documents that passed ownership to you.
Relevant Affidavits (Name Affidavits, Non-Foreign Affidavit Under IRC 1445, etc.)
You may need additional affidavits like a name affidavit (which lists all of your or the buyer's previous names) or an affidavit proving you are not a foreign citizen and therefore exempt from certain property sales taxes.
Closing Disclosure 
If your buyer is taking out a mortgage and you agreed to certain seller's concessions, you may need a copy of their closing disclosure to verify the lender approved your concessions.
Correction Statement and Agreement
In the event forms are lost or errors are discovered in the future, a correction statement and agreement requires you, the buyer, or their lender, to replace or fix those documents if need be.
Seller's Real Property Disclosure Statement
The seller disclosure statement details any known issues with your home and its major appliances and systems.
Flood Zone Statement
With some mortgages (like federally backed ones), your buyer's lender might require information of the property's flood risk.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
Federal law requires that if your home was built before 1978, you disclose information about the dangers of lead-based paint to your buyer.

2. Price Your Hawaii Home Competitively

Pricing your home competitively is a complicated process. You might think you can just look at the assessment that Uncle Sam gave you for your property taxes and price your home based on that. However, you'd be making a big mistake.

Assessing a home's value and pricing it for sale are two very different things. Sale prices are based on what buyers will pay. A huge variety of factors affect the market vale at any given point in time. These include the weather, school schedules, the political environment, job outlook, the economy of the area, and the list goes on.

In Hawaii right now, the market is cold, which isn't great for sellers. There are more homes on the market than buyers. You'll have to be strategic if you want your house to stand out against the competition.

Dig deep into recent sales in your area to see which listing prices led to a quick sale and a decent final price. Be sure to look at houses that are similar to yours in size, age, and that have the same sorts of features.

>> LEARN 5 Tips on How to Sell a House Fast at Market Value

Bonus Tip: A pre-sale appraisal house gives you a more accurate starting point for pricing your home.

Based on our research, in Hawaii, appraisals average a couple hundred dollars, but help you walk away with thousands more once your home is sold.

3. Stage and Market Your Home

Once you settle on a price, the real work begins. It's time to get your home ready for sale and start attracting buyers.

If you really want to maximize that sale price, consider professionally staging your home and getting professional photos taken for the marketing materials.

You may have to do some research on that as well to figure out what features buyers are looking for in the current market in order to emphasize them in your marketing.

You'll also need to understand how to write an eye-catching listing description, and the features of your home you should highlight in it. Then you need to find places to list your home where buyers will be looking.

If you decide to run an open house, you'll have to be there yourself to talk to prospective buyers.

You'll also have to be available to take phone calls, answer questions, do individual showings at the buyer's convenience, and more.

Bonus Tip: Hiring a professional stager can help alleviate some of the stress FSBO sellers go through. They know your local market and ensure your home is ready to impress, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Shop around to find out which local stagers offer reasonable rates and have a proven record of getting homes ready for sale.

4. Prepare for Showings

Organization is key when showing your home to potential buyers. You'll need a good system for scheduling showings and saving buyers' and agents' contact information. You'll want to be flexible and try to show your house at buyers' convenience.

Keep the home clean and decluttered at all times. The last thing you want is to scramble around with a vacuum after a buyer calls for a last-minute showing.

Also, focus on creating a homey atmosphere for buyers. You want to make a great first impression on as many buyers as possible, so add little touches that speak to most people.

"Bake cookies or light scented candles before a showing," advises Mizes. "Smell plays a huge part in how buyers will perceive and remember your house. Use comforting scents to your advantage so they feel at home the moment they walk through the door."

5. Negotiate for the Best Possible Price

Negotiations are about deciding more than the final sale price. You and the buyer (or their agent) will also have to agree upon contract contingencies, how closing costs are divided, the timeline, and more.

To gain the upper hand, get creative with the seller concessions you offer a buyer. While they might cost you a little more at closing, concessions sweeten the deal for buyers and could lead to a higher final sale price.

The most popular concessions vary from market to market. Knowing what works with buyers in your area will help you strengthen your offer.

Most Common Seller Concessions in Hawaii

ConcessionBenefits of Offering Concession
Home WarrantyIf your home has major appliances or systems that are on their last leg, a home warranty can give buyers peace of mind. A warranty will cover possible issues and is typically less expensive than paying for the repairs (or accepting a lower offer from a wary buyer).
Repair CreditsRepair credits are win-wins for buyers and sellers. You'll credit the buyer a set amount to cover the cost of repairs. Once the deal closes, the buyer can personally oversee the project to their liking and you don't have to worry about repairs going over budget.
Appraisal CostsMost mortgage lenders require an appraisal before finalizing a buyer's financing. This can be a costly, upfront cost for the buyer, so offering a credit for the appraisal gives the buyer funds to cover other buying costs.

Conclusion: Is FSBO Right for You?

FSBO isn't a perfect fit for everyone. But now that you know what awaits, if you're feeling confident about all the steps and possible challenges, you might be ready to sell without a realtor.

Remember, to succeed at selling a house by owner you'll need to:

  • Make a plan: From getting photos of your property to lining up the correct paperwork, there'll be a lot on your FSBO to-do list. Work out a schedule for when you need to accomplish everything so you can find a buyer and close in a timeframe that works for you.
  • Get ready to hustle: Attracting qualified buyers is hard work. You'll need a great listing description and a killer marketing strategy to generate interest. Also, prepare to spend a considerable amount of your time fielding calls from prospective buyers, handling showings, hosting open houses, and more.
  • Make smart investments: Even though your main goal as a FSBO seller is saving money, spending some money on small upgrades or repairs can lead to higher offers and a faster sale. Also, consider paying for a flat-fee MLS service to list your home on the local MLS to reach more buyers.
  • Seek some professional advice: You don't have to sign a listing contract to talk to a realtor. Professional agents understand that smart sellers weigh their options; they'll be willing to meet for a free consultation. After seeing your home and looking at comps, they might notice issues or advantages you overlooked. Once you've heard their advice, if you still want to sell by owner, you can do so confidently because you thoroughly explored all your choices.

If you'd like some professional guidance with no strings attached, Clever can help. Fill out your basic info below to connect with a top, local realtor for a no-obligation consultation.

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Additional Resources for Hawaii Home Sellers

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