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Renters left scrambling as more homeowners take advantage of hot market

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 6:36 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 11:42 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many Maui renters are scrambling to find homes as more homeowners take advantage of the hot real estate market.

Maui County’s median sales price hit $998,000 last month. That’s a 25% increase from the previous year.

It’s the same story all across Hawaii with out-of-state buyers offering oversized bids that drive up prices.

While homeowners and realtors enjoy the boom, several working-class families are left out.

“The ultimate goal is to buy a house. But seeing the way the housing market was going, holy cow, $1 million for a median home on Maui. It was a good time for us to take that money and put it into a business,” said Waikapu resident Ashley Schenk.

Schenk opened her small aina-conscience store, Rooted in Wailuku, this past summer.

“Having a business was something that I always wanted to do,” she said.

Now the rental market has also heated up and she has 45 days to move out of her rented house.

“I have been in the same home in Waikapu for the last eight years with my kids and my landlord is now deciding to sell,” Schenk said.

Her landlord had been generous with no rent increases and requiring only $2,000 for a three-bedroom home. The same kind of place would cost over $3,000 now. Even for a two-bedroom home — if she can find one — would cost her $500 more than what she is paying now.

“Not only is there no inventory, but the small inventory that is available, it is so expensive,” said Schenk.

Schenk is not alone.

Hawaiian Community Assets helps residents find homes and they confirm many renters are being displaced.

“Realtors on Maui have confirmed that offers come in from out-of-state buyers at $100,000 to $200,000 over the asking price, which is outrageous,” said Hawaiian Community Assets Community Services Specialist Mariah Espaniola.

Hawaii Life Realtor Jason Gilbert said it’s a “seller’s market” right now.

“A lot of people are able to capitalize on aggressive buyers coming from not only on the mainland but here on the island itself,” Gilbert said.

Schenk hopes her story highlights the bigger picture of the dire need for more affordable housing on Maui.

“We just need more affordable housing for local residents, and residents that have been here that intend to stay here,” she said.

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