Debunking the VA Home Loan Appraisal Process


Solid Rock Home Loans helps Veterans by using the VA Home Loan to help Veterans purchase and finance their homes.  The appraisal process plays an important role in the mortgage process to determine the market value of the property.

While there are differences in Conventional (non-government) and VA Home Loan appraisal processes, there are similarities and in some cases the VA appraisal process can be a better experience.

  1. VA appraisers are licensed appraisers who can also complete conventional appraisals.  The qualifications for a VA appraiser are equal or better than a Conventional appraiser, as VA appraiser must know additional government lending guidelines.
  2. VA and Conventional appraisals completion times are similar.  In Hawaii, VA and Conventional appraisal completion times is approximately two to three weeks or depending on how busy the housing market is. 
  3. The cost for VA appraisal in Hawaii is better or comparable to Conventional appraisals.  The cost for a VA Home Loan appraisal in Hawaii is $650 for residential single-family homes, not including additional fees for extension travel.
  4. VA appraisals allow lenders and mortgage brokers to communicate directly with the VA appraiser.  In contrast, loan officers and mortgage brokers are not allowed to communicate with Conventional appraisers. The advantage to communicating to the appraiser is the free flow of communication and information from the Loan Officer to the appraiser and vice versa.
  5. VA appraisals provide the opportunity for the borrower or realtor to assist the appraiser if the appraisal value is less than the purchase price.  Prior to the completion of the appraisal report the VA appraiser will contact the lender or mortgage broker to request additional information that can help with the final property valuation such as sales comparables or current market data. 

As home prices continue to increase and homes become less affordable to homebuyers the VA Home Loan will be a good option for Veterans.  The VA loan provides 100% financing, competitive interest rates, and flexible underwriting guidelines.  VA Loans can be used to purchase and refinance homes.

Honoring Our Veterans


We celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, and it is with great honor I am in a profession that enables me to help veterans through the VA Loan Program. 

Our team at Solid Rock Home Loans has supported veterans in Hawai’i for the past 12 years.  In honor of our veterans, we will be posting the mighty warriors who served or are currently serving in our great US Armed Forces.

Our team was privileged to help Retired Army Veteran 1st SG Samuela become a first time home owner this year!  Thank you Mr. Samuela for your service to our country! 


Pictured with Mr. Samuela is his family and the team at Realty Dynamics.

Quarter 3 Housing Market Update


Home prices rose both in most metropolitan areas and nationally in quarter 3 of 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The median price of a single-family home nationally was $254,000, which is a 5.3 percent increase from the same time last year. In urban Honolulu the median price is nearly triple that of the national price at $760,200. In fact, this median price makes urban Honolulu the fourth most expensive housing market of Quarter 3. The following are the top 5 areas with the highest prices:

1. San Jose, CA $1,165,000,

2. San Francisco $900,000

3. Anaheim-Santa Ana, CA $790,000 

4. Urban Honolulu $760,200 

5. San Diego, CA  $607,000

In Quarter 3 housing markets were competitive as a result of strong economic growth in jobs and in the stock market, as well as low mortgage rates under 4 percent. Quick sales created little inventory, forcing home buyers to outbid others with the limited homes available. Affordability of homes went down.

For more information on buying or refinancing a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

Data via

Oahu Property Tax Exemption due THIS FRIDAY!


As a reminder, for the island of Oahu, the Property Tax exemption filing deadline is Friday, September 29.  In order for you to qualify for the standard $80,000 tax exemption for primary residence you can either complete the attached form or go to to complete an online form.

The tax exemption will enable you to save money and pay less property taxes!

Click the button below to access the form.

What To Do After the Equifax Data Breach


On September 7, major credit card reporting agency Equifax announced a data breach affecting over 143 million Americans. Sensitive information such as Social security numbers and birth dates were exposed to hackers from mid-May to July of this year.

Anyone with a credit report from Equifax could be affected.

What should consumers do to recover from this data breach, as well as protect themselves in the future?

Read here for suggestions on how to move forward after this potentially devastating financial breach.

Why Refinancing May Be Right for You


Refinancing can be beneficial for consumers! Below is a list of some of reasons why refinancing may be the right option for you.

Refinancing gives the opportunity to:

1. Save Money by reducing your interest rate and reducing your monthly mortgage payment.  If you are going to live in your home 5-7 years refinancing may be a good  option to lower your monthly payments.  However, if you are planning to move and sell your home in the near future refinancing may not be a good option.  You may not be able to recovered your closing fees from the refinance.

2. Reduce the term of your mortgage from 30 years to 15 years.  Shortening the mortgage term can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars by accelerating the payoff of your loan and reducing your mortgage interest cost.  However, your mortgage payments will be larger.

3. Cash out to consolidate your bills, payoff your HELOC, home improvement, or fund college tuition.  Under the current tax code mortgage interest for owner occupants are tax deductible.  Taking advantage of the tax deduction on mortgage interest for consolidating credit cards or other bills may be a great way to save.   

Refinancing is not a one size fit all benefit.  Each benefit needs to be analyze to assure the cost savings and benefit. 

For more information on buying or refinancing a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

Consider Buying a Condo in Hawaiʻi


Condominium sales are increasing across Hawai’i. On the Big Island, sales are up 60% and on Oahu, sales are up 7% compared with the same time last year. 

Why are condominiums becoming more and more popular in Hawai’i? Much of it has to do with the affordability of condos compared to single-family homes.

“Condos are especially popular in places with high property values - vacation hotspots and urban settings are both places where you can expect to find them on the market,” writes Jonas Elmerraji of Investopedia.

As Hawai’i is one of the most expensive real estate markets in America, buying a condominium is a way for many to not only own a home but to be able to invest and get into the market.

In addition to costing less, condos are also attractive for the lifestyle they provide. Those living in condos generally pay maintenance fees thus aren’t responsible for a yard or the upkeep of the building as they would be as a single-family home owner. They also provide added convenience, with some condos featuring amenities such as a dog park, pool, and fitness center.

If you’re interested in buying a condo, here are some things to look for:

·       Management of Building- Is the condominium well-run? Do the rules allow you to live the lifestyle you’re seeking (do they allow pets? If so, how many?) Is the building/complex experiencing any problems that could hurt its value in the future?

·       Maintenance fees- What are the monthly maintenance fees? What are the fees specifically used for? How much do they increase on average each year?

·       Location- Is the location desirable to your work vicinity and easily accessible to schools, shopping, and your places your frequent?

If you are interested in purchasing a home in Hawai’i, feel free to contact Ed Smith at Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or

Newer Homes at Lower Costs in Kapolei!

With the medium price of a single-family home selling for $795,000, it seems impossible to find an affordable home with great value in Hawai’i. Yet, many homebuyers are turning to the West Side of O’ahu for brand-new homes and condos that are selling for far less than older counterparts in Urban Honolulu.

Housing in Kapolei is rapidly increasing, with an expected growth from 35,000 to over 57,000 in the next 25 years. Latest data shows there is a 70% home ownership rate in Kapolei.

Kapolei is attractive to homebuyers due to the quality and size of homes available with lower prices than areas closer to “town” (Urban Honolulu). Brand new condominiums in Kapolei begin at $327k such as in Manawa at Mehana, one of several developments by DR Horton. In addition, many retailers and dining options are opening to accommodate the new communities.

Buying a home in Kapolei is a great option for those looking to live in a newer home within a family-friendly neighborhood. While the location is further from town and traffic is always a concern, over time new businesses will grow to keep up with the developing community, creating more jobs on the West side. The trade-off to a shorter commute time is a much more modern home at lower cost with the potential. In addition, buying a home in Hawai’i always has the benefit of potential high return of investment due to ever-rising housing prices in Hawai’i.

If you are interested in buying a home and looking for more affordable options such as the new housing developments in Kapolei, please feel free to contact us at Solid Rock Home Loans.



Options for Millennial Homebuyers


In recent news, Urban Honolulu made #2 for the area with the lowest percentage of millennials owning a home, where only 18.3% of homeowners are mid-30’s and younger. With rising housing prices in Hawai’i, many 20 and 30-year-olds feel owning a home is a far-off dream. Despite these statistics, there are options for those young adults for whom putting the usual 20% down payment on a home purchase is currently unfeasible.


  • FHA Program

The Federal Housing Administration offers more attainable loans than a typical mortgage lender. The down payment with the FHA is 3.5%, and allows for those with lower credit scores to obtain a home loan. All borrowers are required to have upfront insurance at 1.75% and annual mortgage insurance starting at 0.8%.

  • USDA loans

The United States Department of Agriculture offers home loans for “low to moderate income” households for properties in rural areas. These loans require buyers to be owner-occupant and meet income and credit eligibility. In addition, there is a 1% upfront fee that may be included in the loan, as well as an annual fee of 0.35% on the loan balance.

  • VA loans

The Department of Veteran Affairs backs loans for veterans and spouses that make buying a home extremely accessible. VA loans have the benefits of no down payment, limited closing costs, and reduced interest rates. Credit and income qualifications are also more flexible than standard mortgages. VA loans require a funding fee that starts at 1.5%, however this can be included in the loan.

If you or someone you know would like more information about buying a home with little to no down payment, please do not hesitate to contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or

10 Tips for a Smoother Closing

After going through the process of obtaining a home loan, the last thing home buyers want is any unnecessary holds that may extend the closing process. The following is a checklist created to save customers time and help make the home loan experience successful.

For more information on buying or refinancing a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

5 Ways to Protect and Increase Your Credit Score


Having a high credit score enables you to not only secure a loan, but to obtain a lower interest rate on it, saving potentially thousands over time. The following are five simple ways to protect and increase your credit score:

1. Pay your creditors on time. 

A significant portion of your credit score is weighted on your payment history.  Mortgage credit history is weighted the highest due to the size of the loan.

2. Keep credit card balances below 50% of the credit card limit. 

As an example, if your credit card limit is $1000 your credit card balance will be below $500 or less.  The lower the balances the better.

3. Limit the amount of charge cards and loans.    

Excessive open credit cards with balances and large amounts of installment debt (ie auto loans) will reduce or limit your credit score from increasing.

4. Limit the amount of credit inquiries made if applying for a loan. 

Every time you apply for a loan, the bank or lender will complete a credit inquiry. Too many credit inquiries in a short period of time may reduce your credit score.

 5. Avoid co-signing for loans.

Co-signing for a loan means you take on an added risk that is unwanted by a lender.  This is due to the fact that the nature of co-signing a loan is because the person who has applied for a loan does not qualify and needs additional support from a co-signer.  When you co-sign for a loan you become equally responsible for the loan repayment and your credit score will be impacted as mentioned in above #1-4. 


Maintaining your credit score is similar to having children. Your credit score will be with you until you die (so will your children) and an effort must be made to make sure your credit score is protected and conditioned.  Neglecting your credit can cost you thousands of dollars when and if you decide to obtain a mortgage loan.

For more information on increasing your credit score to buy or refinance a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

Single-Family Home & Condo Neighborhood Stats on Oahu

Image via

Image via

The Oahu real estate market continues to strengthen in 2017, with steady demand exceeding the available inventory, driving prices above asking and reducing Days on Market to record lows. Sellers will likely continue to see steady growth, as the market is keeping selling prices within reasonable margins.

* Statistics via    

For more information on buying or refinancing a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

Relearn, Release, and Receive

In this blog I would like to share some things I am doing to remain competitive in our mortgage business and position ourselves for growth.

Relearn professional skills.  Relearning professional skills such as focusing on our vision“Making Dreams Come True” enables us to stay focused and use our resources wisely.  We provide great customer service and very good interest rates while developing a relationship with our clients.

Release responsibilities to others in order to focus on our vision, marketing strategy and things we excel in will enable our business to position ourselves for success and align our business closer to our customer base and realtors.

Receive the fruit from our labor.  Through hard work, intentional changes, and staying the course in our plans will result in fruit from happy customers, increase revenue and a stronger company. 

“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.”

-Charles Swindoll-

For  information on the variety of mortgage products in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans by phone at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

Positioning Yourself for Success

I recently completed a loan interview with a couple desiring to purchase a home, however, they did not know how to prepare to be qualified borrowers.  This made me realize how postioning ourselves now will result in reaching our goals and being successful.

The homebuyers wanted to position themselves now to be able to successfully purchase a home.  How can this be accomplished?  I suggested setting up short term goals such having consistent income and employment history, paying their credit cards down, and paying off any loans as well as preparing for a down payment by saving money and not taking unnecessary deductions.

Although this may take time and work, the couple will have a plan and a goal which will enable themselves to position themselves for success.

By the way, this is my second blog and I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Ed Smith and I am currently a mortgage broker (NMLS 327781) at Solid Rock Home Loans, in Honolulu, HI (NMLS 327781).  I have been in the mortgage business for approximately 20 years and hope my blogs help you in the ever changing world of mortgage lending.



For more information on how to qualify for a home loan, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans by phone at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

Educate yourself on Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)

In the past  year there have been an increased popularity of Home Equity Lines of Credit or HELOC.  The primary reasons why the HELOC has gained popularity are:

1)increased revenue for banks as HELOC terms can be tied to Adjustable Rate Mortgages,

2) improved home values and stringent loan underwriting have enabled HELOC to become a “safer” product for banks,

3) the improved economy has enabled consumers to look at alternative financing for home improvement, student loans, and large consumer purchases.

HELOCs are essentially large credit cards with a credit limit  which can be charged or drawn upon and paid back within the loan terms.  Each time the HELOC is drawn upon interest is charged.  Some HELOCs are advertised with a very low interest rate which can increase or adjust to a higher normalized interest rate.

Educating yourself with any loan will enable you to know the benefits and costs.  The HELOC can be a complex loan program as some features include multiple draws and repayment plans, fix rate option, interest only option, early termination fee, and the index and margin the interest rate will be tied to determine your Annual Percentage Rate.

For more information on obtaining a HELOC in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans by phone at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at