Priced out of Paradise: Think home prices are high now? Experts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Priced out of Paradise: Think home prices are high now? Experts say it's not going to get cheaper

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Housing prices in Hawaii hit a record-high this year -- and while many people may say it's harder to buy a home here than ever before, experts say that might not be the case.

No one is saying housing is cheap -- but local economists, Realtors and mortgage lenders are saying a number of factors actually make this a good time to purchase a home in Hawaii.

"I know that prices seem to be at a larger price than most people can even fathom -- but out of the 30 years that I've been a Realtor, I've looked at the market and I know that it's not going to get cheaper," explained Kay Mukaigawa, the president and primary broker for Primary Properties.

Mukaigawa specializes in selling single family homes in the median price range -- right now that's $730,000.

"We're not saying that prices are affordable but we're saying that if you're going to buy, buy now," said Mukaigawa.

Mortgage lenders agree. They say interest rates aren't at historic lows, but they're only slightly higher -- though they're expected to rise as the economy strengthens.

"Now would be the time" to buy, said Nelson Oyadomari, the branch manager for Primary Residential Mortgage.

Economist Paul Brewbaker says if you can't afford to buy in Hawaii right now, you likely never will.

"It's never been cheap. Trust me when I tell you, it's never been better," Brewbaker said.

Brewbaker says he's crunched the numbers and found home prices have leveled off and are now rising at about five percent each year. He says incomes are rising at a similar rate -- about 4 percent. Those figures, coupled with current inflation and low mortgage rates, have created what he describes as an "ideal opportunity" for homeownership.

"You can't afford to?! You can't afford not to. Historically, it's never been cheaper for the median household to acquire the median-priced home," said Brewbaker.

Realtors say they understand that the average prospective home-buyer doesn't have $146,000 for a 20 percent down payment on a median-priced single family home, but they say compromising on size and location can make the dream of no longer renting a reality.

"Maybe you got to start with a studio. Start with a condo. Start with something and work your way up, but become a homeowner," said Mukaigawa.

This story is part of an ongoing series, "Priced out of Paradise," in which Hawaii News Now will explore Hawaii's high cost of living and why so many island families are struggling to make ends meet.
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