You need to tell your Hawaii agent enough to allow him or her to qualify you as to price and terms. Most of us believe we know how much we want to pay. But, unless you're in the business or quite sophisticated in terms of real estate finance, you may not actually know how much you can afford. It could turn out to be more, or less, than you think. You need to tell your agent enough so that he or she can come up with a price and the type of financing to suit you.


Our finances are very personal. Most of us feel uncom­fortable sharing them with anyone. We don't even like sharing them with our banker (but know that's often a necessity). And though we may be dealing with an agent whom we like and trust to find us a property, we may still not feel comfortable revealing the delicate intricacies of our money matters. That could be a problem.


How much can you afford to pay for a house? The answer is a combination of how much you can put down and how big a mortgage you can get. Do you know the correct answers? If not, then your agent can help you find them.


As an alternative, if you're a prime buyer (no bad credit, good job, money in the bank), you can simply go to a mortgage broker and get a letter stating how big a loan you can get. This will tell an agent how much mort­gage you can get and with the knowledge that you have 20 percent or 10 percent to put down, they can easily qualify you for a home. (The lender's letter is also very helpful when negotiating with a seller!)


On the other hand, if your credit isn't wonderful, you don't have much for a down payment, and/or your job prospects are less than certain, it could be a different story. Now you may need "creative financing" or help from the seller to buy. Usually it takes an agent to arrange this. However, the agent must know your financial situa­tion in order to do it.


In short, in many cases you'll need to explain your finan­cial circumstances, perhaps in great detail, to your agent so that he or she will know how to help you. In my experi­ence, I have found it extremely rare that clients who tell a licensed agent about their personal finance end up having a complaint. Remember, the only reason the agent wants to know how much money you have to put down, how big a monthly payment you can handle, and what your credit is like is (presumably) in order to "qualify" you, to determine which houses you can actually afford to buy.


On the other hand, many agents are hesitant to come right out and ask for personal financial information. Most won't ask a direct question such as, "What's your gross income?" or "What are your monthly expenses?" But nevertheless, they need to know that information, and you may need to tell them, even to volunteer it!


If you don't want to tell an agent about your personal finances, you have to ask yourself this question: If I trust an agent to negotiate what will probably be the biggest purchase of my lifetime, my house, why shouldn't I trust that agent with my personal financial information?