homebuyer guide

Although exciting, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to purchasing a new home.

In this Homebuyer Guide, we go over the basics of purchasing a new home, including why buying a brand-new Castle & Cooke home is a good investment, the mortgage loan process, and a handy homebuyer glossary that translates common real estate jargon.

Click on the topics in the left menumenu below for detailed information.

homebuyer guide

Buying a home is probably the biggest investment most of us will make in our lives — so don’t feel alone if you and your family agonize long and hard over this decision.

There are tremendous financial advantages to homeownership, especially when you compare it to renting. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the pride, enjoyment, and improved quality of life that comes from owning your own home.

Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to buy a home. We hope this makes your decision a little easier.

  • Mortgage interest is tax-deductible. Rent is not.
  • Mortgage payments create equity for your future. Rent payments are gone forever.
  • You can borrow on your home equity for future expenses. Rent payments are your future expenses.
  • You can control the amount of your mortgage payments. Your rent payments are out of your control.
  • Owning your own single-family home means you can watch your children play in your own yard. Renting means your children are playing somewhere else.
  • You can decorate the interior of your own home however you want—no need to ask permission from the landlord to hang that special painting.
  • Single-family homeowners can discover your green thumb in your garden. It’s much more satisfying than that cactus in the window.

When you buy a home, you get a number of substantial tax breaks that have an immediate and long-term financial impact for you and your family.

You should always check with your tax advisor because every taxpayer’s situation is different. This way, you will be able to maximize your tax benefits and make homeownership both an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

The following tax benefits are prime examples of the savings available to you:

  • Mortgage Interest
    All the interest you pay each year on your mortgage loan is fully deductible from your income. The only restrictions are that the mortgage must be for a first or second home, and the mortgage amount must be within established guidelines. That’s a big chunk of income tax savings immediately.
  • Property Taxes
    The annual property taxes that you pay on your home are also deductible. Your mortgage company will send you a year-end statement that will detail both the property taxes and interest you paid. If you pay property tax separately from your mortgage, you must keep track of the payment yourself.
  • “Points” (Origination Fees)
    Points, or the origination fees that a lender charges to facilitate a home loan, are fully deductible in the year they are paid. In the future, if you secure an additional home equity loan with points on your home, these charges are also deductible, subject to some limitations.
  • Excluding Sales Profits
    You can receive a tax exclusion for profits from the sale of your home. This program was enacted by the U.S. government to encourage both owning a home and moving up to a bigger or better home without being penalized. Today, the exclusion includes $250,000 of profit (it goes up to $500,000 if filing a joint return) and is allowed each time you sell a home and as often as every two years. This gives you a chance to gain home appreciation without paying taxes on it.

There are substantial advantages to buying a new home instead of a previously occupied home, especially if you buy your new home from Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i. After looking over the following information, we think you’ll agree.

  • You can personalize a new home to fit your individual needs and personal tastes.
  • In a new home, everything is brand new.
  • If you purchase a new Castle & Cooke home, you get one of the most comprehensive home warranties in Hawai‘i.
  • Added features and upgrades can be added to your purchase price, so you don’t need to pay for them upfront.
  • New Castle & Cooke homes come with the newest energy-saving features that will save you money over time.
  • As Hawai‘i’s premier home developer, you can depend on the quality craftsmanship of a Castle & Cooke home.
  • Castle & Cooke helps provide flexible financing options that make sure you get the best loan terms available on the market.

To give you an idea of the mortgage loan you might qualify for, please reach out to one of our designated Koa Ridge Lenders.

Step 1 - Prequalification

This is an optional preliminary step before looking for a home. We help establish the maximum home you can afford and find the type of loan that would best suit you. We estimate your down payment and closing costs and determine what your monthly mortgage payments would be.

  • Answer all questions honestly – it is the only way we can give you accurate information.
  • Be as prepared as possible – we will need to discuss your gross monthly income, savings, monthly debts, and credit history. Information you disclose will be kept confidential.
  • If you have had a bankruptcy or other credit problems (i.e. collection accounts, judgments, liens, etc.), please let us know. We may be able to work with these problems.
  • Be aware that a prequalification is not a loan commitment.

Step 2 - Select a Home

Step 3 - Applying for Your Loan

Once your offer has been accepted, we will make an appointment to complete your loan application. You may arrange for your sales agent to attend. All buyers should be present.

Information You’ll Need

It may be helpful for you to have the following information and documentation handy when filling out your application:

  • Two Years Residence History:
    Landlord’s name and address or 12 months canceled rent checks (front and back).
  • Checking and Savings Accounts:
    Account Number:
    Current Balance:
    Monthly Payment:
  • Current Mortgage Loan:
    Previous information, and the past 12 months canceled checks (if this is a VA loan, you will need your Certificate of Eligibility and DD214’s).
  • Other Real Estate:
    Address and Loan information.
  • Employment Information:
    Employer's name and address.
    Previous employers' (if less than two years) name and address.
  • If you are salaried:
    Your pay stubs for the most recent 30-day period.
    Last two years’ W-2 forms.
  • If you are self-employed:
    Copies of your last two years’ Federal tax returns, signed and dated.
    Most recent year-to-date Profit & Loss Statement, and Balance Sheet, prepared and signed by your accountant.
    Copies of your last two years’ Federal corporate/partnership tax returns, signed and dated. IRS Form 4506.
  • If you intend to rely on other income to qualify for a loan:
    Employer's name and address.
    Copies of your last two years’ Federal tax returns, signed and dated.
    Rental agreements and signed dated copies of your last two years’ Federal tax returns.
    Social Security award letter and/or copies of your Social Security income checks.
    Retirement award letter and/or copies of the checks.
    Divorce decree and six months of canceled checks for spouse or child support.
  • If you are applying for a loan to purchase property:
    Please include a copy of your escrow instructions or sales contract.
    We’ll also need evidence of the source of your down payment – for example, copies of savings account statements, stock certificates, broker’s statements, or a gift letter with a copy of the donor’s bank statement.
  • If you are selling property to obtain the down payment:
    We’ll need a copy of the escrow instructions or sales contract and an estimated HUD closing statement prepared by the settlement agent.
    In some cases, we may need other information. Your Loan Officer will notify you from time to time during the processing of your loan if anything further is necessary.

Step 4 - Loan Estimate

Shortly after you submit your loan application, we will send you a Loan Estimate. In this document, we will estimate your settlement (or “closing”) costs for the transaction to the best of our knowledge. Federal law requires that we estimate all the costs for your transaction – even services we do not perform ourselves, such as settlement and title costs. Since we only estimate costs for these other parties, we suggest you contact them directly for precise charges. We do not place any restrictions on your selection or recommend a provider of any services in connection with the closing of your loan.

Step 5 - Processing Your Loan

During this time period, we will collect documentation to verify your employment, income, savings, assets, and liabilities. The appraisal, title, and credit report will be ordered. After all required documentation is received, your loan package will be submitted to our Underwriting Department for a loan decision based on credit history, income stability, assets, and property value.

During this time:

  • You may be required to supply additional documentation.
  • You should not purchase any items that must be paid for on time payments or would substantially reduce your savings or bank account balances.
  • If any credit problems are discovered, we may request a letter explaining the circumstances or that a debt is paid off.
  • If you are going out of town during the work week, please let us know.
  • You will want to shop for your homeowner's insurance. You must obtain hazard insurance for at least the replacement value. Payment for your first year’s policy, plus two months, will be part of your final closing costs.

Step 6 - Submission of Your Loan Approval

Your sales agent will be notified when your package is being submitted for approval. If your loan is approved, we will contact you with the terms of your approval.

When you receive approval:

  • Make arrangements with your sales agent for your walk-through.
  • Arrange for the utilities to be changed to your name. Arrange for moving your household.
  • Be sure you have applied for your homeowner’s insurance and that escrow has the necessary documents and payments.

Step 7 - Loan Closing

Approximately 48 hours are required to prepare your loan documents which detail the terms of the loan to which we have agreed. When you are ready to close, loan documents will be drawn and sent to your escrow agent for your signature.

  • Make an appointment with your escrow agent as soon as you are notified. These documents are dated and costly. You must pay to have them redrawn if they are not signed before their expiration date.
  • Read them carefully, and be sure you understand all of the terms.
  • Your escrow agent will give you the final dollar amount needed to close escrow. You must pay for these costs with a cashier’s check.

Step 8 - Loan Funding

  • Funds for your new loan are sent to your escrow agent.
  • We will supply escrow with a check for your loan amount.
  • You will be informed of the expected closing date a few days in advance, but you need not be present.
  • You will receive a call from your escrow company or sales agent telling you that the home is now in your name.

A number of factors always enter into choosing a community to live in. These include the location and quality of schools, shopping opportunities, the availability of nearby highways or convenient public transportation, the availability of healthcare services; overall home quality and investment values; even the compatibility of your new neighborhood. Live in a Castle & Cooke community, and you will enjoy:

  • Quality schools for all ages
  • Major shopping centers
  • A variety of top quality restaurants for every taste
  • Major professional services
  • Banking
  • Major healthcare facilities, including clinics and physicians
  • Public services such as fire stations, public libraries, and post offices
  • Parks and recreation facilities
  • Wide streets with lush, well-tended landscaping

There’s an overwhelming spirit of togetherness in a carefully planned community and pride of homeownership and upkeep that makes it a place that others naturally want to live in too.

Start the search for your ideal home by prioritizing your needs and desires. This will allow you to keep track of your goals and evaluate the progress of your search. As you are home shopping, make sure to ask the following questions. This will help to make sure you get everything you want and deserve in your new home.

Quality Homes

What materials are used for the doors, floors, roof, countertops, and windows?
What brand are the appliances? You will want to check the reputation of the manufacturers and the quality of the materials used in the home from roof-to-floor, wall-to-wall, and beyond. Make sure everything meets your expectations.

Also, check the quality of the actual home construction. Does everything look finished and operate properly?

*Every Castle & Cooke home is built by the best for the best – cutting edge designs, the finest in quality construction, including custom steel framing for strength and durability, top-of-the-line amenities, and the widest possible range of new home options.


Are the sales representatives knowledgeable and helpful? Will they continue to assist you after you move in? What type of warranty does the homebuilder offer? Is the procedure for requesting warranty service clear and easy? What is the developer’s reputation for service?

Make sure that the developer provides quality service to back up its products. It will be very important to know that the developer will continue to offer a high level of service even after you purchase a home from them.

*All Castle & Cooke homes come with the most extensive home warranty program available in today’s real estate market. When you buy a new home from Castle & Cooke, you’ll find our Homeowner’s Service Center Representatives by your side every step of the way, including 24-hour emergency service.

Design & Layout

Does the floor plan meet the needs of your family?
Are there enough bedrooms? Are they large enough?
Are there enough bathrooms? Are they large enough?
Does the kitchen meet your needs?

Your new home should match the immediate needs of your household as well as allow for future changes and growth. Check which type of floor plan options are available with each home model and select a home that is the right fit for you.

*Castle & Cooke is a consistent winner in the annual Parade of Homes competition, demonstrating our commitment to providing high-quality homes that meet the needs of new homebuyers.


How long has the builder/developer been in business? Do they have a reputation for quality in the community?

*Castle & Cooke has been building top-quality homes in all price ranges for O‘ahu families for more than 40 years. No other major developer on the island comes close.

At Castle & Cooke, we are confident that we can provide you with a high-quality home that will meet your needs. We encourage you to visit other homebuilders and see how our homes stack up against the rest.

Please click here for a Home Shopping Checklist. It will help you compare our home offerings to other builders. Print this checklist and take it with you when you visit other communities. We think you will find that Castle & Cooke offers quality and value like no one else in Hawai‘i.

Reading ads and visiting new homes means that you will be inundated with a “new” language — the names and definitions that make up the real estate and financing processes. Here’s a chance to learn what some of those terms mean.

The Homebuyer’s Glossary has been divided into two sections. The first section focuses on terms related to mortgages and the financing of a new home purchase. The second section covers the real estate and homebuilding terms you may encounter when shopping for a new home.

Mortgage and Financing

  • Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
    A mortgage in which the interest rate and, ultimately, your monthly payment can go up or down over the life of the loan. Loan payment adjustments are usually made on an annual or semiannual basis, depending on the type of loan. Generally, the initial interest rate for an adjustable rate mortgage is lower than a regular fixed-rate mortgage during the first few years of the loan. This translates to lower mortgage payments for the early period of the loan. Adjustable rate mortgages can be advantageous for people who do not expect to own the home for more than a few years, anticipate their income to increase during this time, or anticipate loan rates to fall in the near future.
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
    The annual percentage rate is the total cost of the mortgage as represented by a percentage of the overall loan amount. The base interest of a mortgage loan includes only the loan rate or interest paid for the loan. The annual percentage rate includes all loan costs, including interest and other factors like points paid and various origination fees. The annual percentage rate is a good test to measure the cost of a loan because lenders charge different fees that affect the total.
  • Buy-Down
    A buy-down is a mortgage subsidy offered by some developers under certain circumstances or during specific economic periods to help buyers purchase a home. This literally means that a developer may pay a portion of the interest payments for a limited prior of time, effectively lowering the monthly payment for the buyer.
  • Close of Escrow
    Close of escrow is the end of the escrow period (the time during which all transaction paperwork is completed and processed) and becomes the actual date that a new homebuyer takes actual possession of the home. At this time, both the buyer and developer sign papers completing the transaction. The mortgage company makes all final payments to the builder, and the keys are yours!
  • Closing Costs
    Closing costs include all the fees and charges for the home purchase, less the down payment made to hold the property. Closing costs generally include things like points and origination fees, any pre-paid interest payments, and pro-rated property taxes. Closing costs are normally paid by the buyer at the close of escrow.
  • Credit Report
    A credit report is required when applying for a loan. An independent credit rating service researches and lists all your current obligations to various creditors, including credit card companies, gasoline companies, retailers, car payments, student loans, other mortgages, etc. It shows how much you owe and if your payments are normally prompt and complete. This information is used to determine how much additional debt (new mortgage) you can assume and the overall price of the home that you can afford.
  • Deed of Trust
    The document that binds the new property as collateral for the mortgage loan you are assuming. Pay off the loan and the deed and property are yours, free and clear of claims.
  • Deposit
    The money paid by every buyer to hold the property and show that they are earnest in completing the homebuying process and contract.
  • Down Payment
    This is amount of money that a new buyer is required to pay before being able to move in. The down payment is a percentage of the total purchase price for the home and usually ranges from 3% to 20%. For most new homebuyers, the down payment comes from savings, your 401K program at work, or perhaps a family gift or personal loan. If you’re selling a home you already own, the down payment can come from the equity or value you have built up in it. The down payment is always in addition to closing costs.
  • Equity
    Equity is the amount of real ownership you have in your home. To find out what your current equity is, take the current value of your home on the real estate market and subtract the amount of the mortgage loan that you still own. The difference is your equity.
  • Escrow
    This is the time it takes after you have signed the contract to purchase a home to the time you can actually take possession. During this time, as the buyer, you pay a series of payments to an escrow company to cover such things as the down payment and closing costs. At the end of the escrow period (or the time it takes to complete all phases of the transaction), the escrow company gives payments to the builder, and the builder gives you access to the home. The escrow period varies based on the process time but normally takes a few weeks to two months.
  • Loan to Value Ratio
    This is the amount of money owed on a home as it relates to the overall home value. The difference is the amount of down payment required.
  • Mortgage
    A mortgage is the name of the loan used to purchase a home. Castle & Cooke Mortgage can assist you with the loan process. A number of other local financial firms, including banks, savings and loans, and credit unions, also provide new home loans.
  • Mortgage Analysis
    This is a calculation of the value of a home that you can afford to buy based on your income and current outstanding debts. Contact Castle & Cooke Mortgage to help you determine the value of a home that you can “pre-qualify” for.
  • Mortgage Insurance
    Some lenders purchase mortgage insurance to protect themselves in case the buyer defaults on the mortgage loan. This is paid for by the borrower and is part of their mortgage payment. Mortgage insurance can be avoided by making a large enough down payment (usually in the range of 20%).
  • Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance
    Together, these make up the value of your monthly loan payment. The payment on the principal loan amount you owe plus the loan interest is due each month on every loan. Taxes and insurance are also included if your mortgage company requires impound balances. That means the mortgage company pays your taxes and insurance from a balance that you add to your regular loan payment each month. If impound accounts are not required, it's up to you to make those payments separately.
  • Principal
    The principal is the amount of the mortgage loan less the interest. The bulk of your monthly mortgage payment during the first years of a loan goes toward the interest due or the cost to you of borrowing the loan. Over time, more and more of the payment goes to reduce the loan amount.
  • Points
    These are upfront costs or fees charged by a lender to process a mortgage loan. Each point paid represents 1% of the total loan cost (for example, one point on a $100,000 loan is $1,000). Points are generally due and payable at the close of escrow.
  • Title Company
    A title company is a firm that ensures that the title, or the legal document of property ownership, is free and clear of previous encumbrances.

Real Estate

  • Easement
    An easement is the right of a third person or party to use a portion of your land for certain purposes. These are usually for the placement of power lines or water mains. However, in some cases, they can be for travel across your property. Always check with your realtor for the existence of easements.
  • Elevation
    That’s what the outside of your house looks like structurally, including the materials used. Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i usually provides various options that prevent your house from looking like the one owned by your next-door neighbor. Not only does that personalize your choice, it makes for a more interesting neighborhood also.
  • Framing
    Framing is the kind of materials that make up the framework or skeleton of your home. All Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i homes are framed in steel for durability, strength, and termite resistance.
  • Floor Plan
    The floorplan is an architectural drawing that shows the room-by-room layout of a home. This includes the placement of windows and doors, all room sizes, and any options that might be available to you.
  • Homeowners Association
    The administration of Castle & Cooke’s master-planned communities includes associations made up of all homeowners. They are responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations of each community as well as maintaining all “common” areas that benefit all homeowners, including recreation centers and general landscaping. A reasonable monthly fee is charged to all homeowners who automatically become members when they purchase their home.
  • Lot
    Lots are the individual parcels of land that make up a community. Depending on their location (views, placement within a neighborhood, size, etc.), certain lots are priced higher than others.
  • Master-Planned Community
    A community that is built on a master development plan that allows for smooth flowing traffic, recreation centers, parks and greenbelts, shopping centers, public services, churches, and conveniently located schools. Homes are built for a wide range of prices to meet individual family needs. Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i is acknowledged as one of Hawai‘i’s finest builders and developers of master-planned communities, a concept it started more than 40 years ago.
  • Options
    Options are features or structural alterations that are not part of the standard features found in each home. Options are special opportunities to customize or personalize a new home.
  • Phase
    Phases comprise groups of homes that are developed within a community. These neighborhoods generally include the same model series of homes and are often set apart from other neighborhoods by names, signage, or entrance features.
  • Punch List
    A series of items in a new home that need to be fixed, repaired, or replaced prior to the buyer’s final walk-through.
  • Reservation
    A reservation is a non-binding agreement between a prospective buyer and the developer to purchase a home at a future date. Reservations often are made on upcoming developments or phases prior to construction and give an interested buyer the chance for the first opportunity to buy a predetermined lot and home. Reservations often require a deposit to be held by the developer.
  • Standard Feature
    Standard features are items that are automatically included in a home upon purchase. These generally include but aren’t limited to, specific styles, types, and grades of cabinets, fixtures, carpets, window coverings, appliances, and countertops.
  • Upgrades
    Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i homes come with a number of upgrades for standard features. These mainly include upgrades of quality, color, design, or added features that change your new home from the basic model. Upgrades, like options, are added to the overall price of the home and paid off over the life of the mortgage loan.
  • Walk-Through
    This is the buyer’s last chance to inspect a new home prior to actual move-in. At Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i, the walk-through also includes information about how to maintain and care for the new home as well as an in-depth review of the Homeowners’ Warranty.
  • Warranty
    Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i provides one of the most comprehensive new home warranty programs available in the state today. In addition to a one-year commitment to fix or repair certain items in the home, the Homeowners’ Warranty includes extended manufacturers’ warranties that come with appliances and other features.

You’ll know the final move-in date for your new home well in advance – but it’s still a major undertaking to pack and unpack while remembering all the little things that invariably slip through the cracks. The following timeline and checklist are intended to provide you with a head start on the moving process and help make sure you touch all your “moving” bases!

Two Months

  • Remove unnecessary items from storage areas
  • Designate items to keep, discard and/or donate
  • Get estimates from moving companies
  • Check that move is covered by insurance
  • Use up items such as cleaning supplies, frozen foods, etc.
  • Organize important documentation, create new a file for moving paperwork
  • Arrange for the transfer of children’s school records
  • Collect moving materials: sturdy boxes, plastic bags, newspapers, packing tape, markers, bubble wrap, Styrofoam

Six Weeks

  • Investigate doctors, banks, and other services in your new community
  • Complete change of address cards for banks, credit cards, doctors, dentists, friends and relatives, insurance, lawyer, CPA, stockbroker, magazines, etc.
  • Hold a garage sale or donate unwanted items
  • Select a mover and confirm insurance coverage

One Month

  • Begin packing
  • Contact electric, water, telephone, cable TV, newspaper, and other services with disconnect dates and connect dates for new home
  • Notify gardener or other regular service providers
  • Gather and secure all important paperwork, including car registration and licensing, birth certificates, wills, deeds, and stock or loan papers
  • Request refunds for unused insurance and other pre-paid services at current home
  • Request security deposit refund (if renting)
  • Contact insurance companies (car, homeowner’s, medical, and life) to arrange coverage at the new address

Three Weeks

  • Notify post office of new address
  • Notify Department of Motor Vehicles of new address

Two Weeks

  • Review arrangements with moving company
  • Make moving arrangements for plants, pets, china, jewelry, etc.
  • Get a copy of pet records from veterinarian

One Week

  • Pick up dry cleaning and return library books and other rented items
  • Secure two-week supply of prescription medication
  • Provide moving company with detailed directions to the current and new home

A Few Days Before

  • Complete packing and label all boxes
  • Clean and defrost refrigerator and freezer
  • Disconnect major appliances not in use
  • Pack first night items: sheets, towels, toiletries, alarm clock, change of clothes, pet food, flashlight, etc.
  • Pack other necessary items: scissors, knife, masking/duct tape, basic tools, coffee, coffee maker, disposable cups, water, snacks, paper plates, picnic utensils, paper towels, soap, toilet paper, pen, notepad, important phone numbers, trash bags, sponges, cleaning clothes, aspirin, etc.

Moving Day

  • Be home to supervise the move and stay until finished
  • Review bill of lading and inventory
  • Provide movers with emergency numbers
  • Make a final sweep of the home to make sure everything is completed

At New Home

  • Be there to supervise movers
  • Unpack first night items and other necessities
  • Check inventory list
  • Check for damaged or missing items
  • Make sure important papers are safe and secure
  • Enjoy your new home!

Packing Tips

Before you begin packing, here are some important things to remember:

  • Label each box as you pack it with a description of the contents and the room where it should go in your new home.
  • Pack heavy items in smaller boxes.
  • Carefully wrap breakable items in newspaper, bubble wrap, or even towels or clothes.
  • Don’t overload boxes. Always leave some open room at the top.
  • Never pack prescriptions, jewelry, or important records or paperwork, among other items. They become very difficult to find.
  • Tape electric cords under appliances. This way, they don’t become lost or dangle dangerously.
  • Don’t tape furniture doors and drawers. This can seriously damage furniture finishes.

At Castle & Cooke, we are confident that we can provide you with a high-quality home that will meet your needs. We encourage you to visit other homebuilders and see how our homes stack up against the rest.

Print this checklist and take it with you when you visit other communities. It will help you compare our home offerings to other builders. We are sure you will find that Castle & Cooke offers quality and value like no one else in Hawai‘i.




Total Square Feet    
No. of bedrooms    
No. of bathrooms    
No. of stories    
Master Bedroom Sq. Ft. Sq. Ft.
Master Closet Sq. Ft. Sq. Ft.
Master Bath Sq. Ft. Sq. Ft.
Kitchen Appliances    
Enclosed Garage    
Steel Framing    
Price Per Sq. Foot    
Warranty Period    
Energy Saving Features    
Options and Upgrades    
Available Financing    
Financing Assistance    
Purchase Incentives    
Overall Community    
Features, Benefits