Take heart, first-time homebuyers: Experts say Oahu housing market is tough, not impossible

Take heart, first-time homebuyers: Experts say Oahu housing market is tough, not impossible

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dennis Oshiro, executive director of the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center, remembered his surprise in 2003 when a home on his street sold for for $280,000.

"I thought, 'My God, who can afford that and when will it end?'" Oshiro said.

Over 14 years later, the median price for a single-family home on Oahu is now near $800,000. And experts say it could reach $1 million by 2022, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.

According to a June report from the Honolulu Board of Realtors, Oahu's rising home prices are the result of high demand and lack of inventory on the island.

"It is amazing to see record sales prices and also the speed at which homes are selling this summer," said Sue Ann Lee, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, in a news release. "Lack of inventory for single-family houses below $500,000 has pushed the median price higher."

Despite price increases, more and more people are looking to enter the market. Pending sales for single-family homes increased by nearly 39 percent, according to the report.

Oshiro has been helping first-time homebuyers for almost a decade. He says even today there are ways to own a home.

"If the commitment to own a home is the goal, they'll find a way, but will need help," Oshiro said.

Oshiro said those looking to buy should set clear expectations and talk to housing experts about the qualifications needed in today's market.

He added that Oahu isn't the only place where housing prices are skyrocketing, and he said legislative measures could offer solutions. One possible fix, he said, could be to put in place higher taxes for foreign investors looking to purchase in the islands. Such measures have been either proposed or implemented in several Canadian cities.

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