A Military Family and their Hawaii Home


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CPT Michelle Sukardi Kania with husband Rafal and daughter Liliana

I had the opportunity recently to chat with a military family about their home purchase this past February, and thought their story was worth sharing. I spoke with CPT Michelle Sukardi Kania about her decision to buy, and the motivating factors behind it.

Frances: What made you want to buy in Hawaii?

Michelle: We had always been against renting whenever possible, and hated the idea of paying someone else’s mortgage. Things really got put in perspective when we broke down the numbers of what we would pay for a rental here in Hawaii. We needed a four-bedroom house for our family which includes my husband and I, a new baby and my parents as well as a 97-pound dog. We only found three houses that remotely fit our criteria, and these were in very poor condition. Doing some quick math on rentals, at $4000 a month for one of these houses, that would mean after three years of being stationed in Hawaii, we would have paid $144,000 to someone else’s mortgage.

Frances: So at that point you decided, let’s buy?

Michelle: Well it wasn’t quite so simple, but, yes, we started seeing if purchasing was something we could swing in the expensive real-estate market in Hawaii. The military offers VA loans to veterans, active duty, guard and reserve, and to qualify for the loan, we have to live in the house for at least a year. We decided that, as I would be stationed here for three years, this was the time to use this opportunity. Most VA loans require no money down, but, as we qualified for a “jumbo loan” of $750,000, we had to put down $8,000, so barely 1 percent.

Frances: What factors did you take into consideration when deciding on where to purchase?

Michelle: For us, one of the deciding factors was resale or rental value after we move in three years. Where would most people want to live, what schools and neighborhoods are good sellers, that kind of thing.

Frances: Do you think you will rent or sell in three years?

Michelle: That really depends on the market, but as I’ve heard home prices are on the rise, we will likely sell if we move. Hopefully we will make a profit, but even if we just broke even with our purchase price, at least we didn’t pay almost $150,000 in rent to live in a place we didn’t like! That in and of itself makes this purchase worth it.

Frances: What advice do you have for other military families stationed on Oahu?

Michelle: It’s definitely scary to buy! If you do decide to purchase, you have to be prepared that the military can move you at any time, and you will have to have enough money saved up to cover your mortgage for at least a few months. Buy in a neighborhood with a good school district, as that is what most families are looking for. 

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