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As housing prices on Oahu hit record highs, families grapple with rising rents

Prices for single-family homes on Oahu hit a new record high last month and are up more than 21% from last year, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors.
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 4:20 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 21, 2022 at 4:47 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Prices for single-family homes on Oahu hit a new record high last month and are up more than 21% from last year, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

Gavin Thornton, the executive director for Hawaii Appleseed, said many working families are not only struggling to buy a place but are seeing rents skyrocket, too.

“I don’t think anyone would have imagined that things would have gone in the direction that they’ve gone, which is nearly straight up,” said Thornton.

The nonprofit helps low-income people with legal issues that often are related to affordable housing.

“We hadn’t been taking the steps necessary to address this housing crisis prior to the pandemic, prior to skyrocketing home prices,” said Thornton.

On top of those increases, mortgage rates are as high as they were a decade ago.

A 30-year fixed rate is over 5%.

“We as a community just need to make a decision that anybody that’s working 40 hours a week needs to be able to afford housing,” Thornton said. “Whether that’s through increasing their wages, or providing more government investment into housing so that people can afford a home.”

The Honolulu Board of Realtors said prices of homes mainly have to do with supply and demand.

“What everybody is asking is, at what point will it cause the market to normalize,” said board president Chad Takesue. “Until inventory levels get to a point where they meet, we continue to expect to see a competitive marketplace.”

Takesue said that even though housing prices are rising, demand remains strong. He said that even though there is a rise in interest rates, they are still historically low.

“They’re still favorable,” he said.

But Takesue said families who thought they would be able to afford a home a few years ago are likely downgrading their demands.

If you are struggling to afford rent payments, Hawaii Appleseed encourages you to check out a number of programs for Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii and Maui counties.

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