Trends in the Real Estate Market of Hawaii

by JRO on November 19, 2013

  • Sumo

Real estate values throughout the United States have been plummeting for years; but now housing prices are starting to climb. In Hawaii, prices are climbing even faster than average. Sellers find themselves receiving multiple offers for their homes thanks to high demand for homes in Hawaii. On top of high demand, there are fewer homes for sale. In 2012, the Hawaii Data Book stated that 10,746 Oahu homes went up for sale; this was down from 17,030 just five years earlier. Fewer homes and higher demand makes for a competitive market.

One thing that has helped the housing market in Hawaii is the $325,000 granted to Hawaii as part of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program. The money from this grant is going towards educational programs designed to end housing discrimination in the housing market. It’s also going towards improvements in Hawaii’s public housing, so people of all ages, races, religions, and statuses (children or no children) will be able to find suitable housing.

Where to Look for Homes in Hawaii

When searching for a new home, people tend to look for housing near their work, friends, and family members. This leads to the majority of home buyers looking in the larger cities like Honolulu and Maui. The prices in the cities are going to be higher, so home buyers must decide if the longer commute is worth the savings or not.

Even though prices are higher in the bigger cities, homeowners can make up for the price by cutting their vehicle expenses. You can walk to groceries and farmer’s markets to get your food items without having to drive. As of November 2013, fuel prices range from $3.86 per gallon for regular gas to $4.79 for diesel. In addition, if you need to travel from a less populated island to one of the bigger islands for medical care, boat and air travel will be your only options. Being closer to the city and the city amenities ends up being the better choice.

A Look at Building Permits in Hawaii

If you prefer building your own home, building permits are on the rise in Honolulu. According to the 2012 Hawaii Databook, the number of building permits issued in Honolulu rose from 21,248 in 2007 to 35,136 in 2012. In all of Hawaii, the number of residential building permits in 2012 was more than 837,000. This was a big increase from 2011, when just under 689,000 residential building permits were issued.

What to Expect in Terms of Prices

The 2012 Hawaii Data Book also lists home values. In Oahu, the majority of homes are in the $800,000 to $900,000 range. There are some real estate listings in Oahu for less than that, but they may need extensive remodeling or repairs. Condominiums are a more affordable option in Oahu, with a large number of condos selling for $125,000 to $400,000. In Maui, the median home price actually decreased over the last five years. In 2007, a single-family home in Maui was just over $630,000, but five years later it was $470,000. In Honolulu, the Honolulu Board of Realtors puts the median price for a condo at $355,000 in 2012. For a single-family home, the median price rises to $625,000.

The good news about Hawaii real estate is that even though prices may be higher than the national average, interest rates are incredibly low. You end up saving money in interest, and that makes your dream home in Hawaii more affordable than ever.


Richie Clayton is a freelance writer focusing on real estate, travel, foreign cultures, international excursions and other related topics; those who’d like to explore these ideas further should visit

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