Priced out of Paradise: Rents soar as housing demand outpaces supply

Published: Apr. 14, 2016 at 9:45 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 14, 2016 at 10:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Living in Hawaii is pricey. And it's getting pricier.

A new report says rent in the islands is up across the board, from single-family homes to condos and apartments.

Rents for three-bedroom single-family homes are up 7.2 percent on Oahu alone, compared to the first quarter of 2015, according to the analysis from Real Property Management Alliance and RentRange

Analysts say the rising rents are a textbook example of what happens when high demand meets low supply. And without a major infusion of new housing, they say, there won't likely be an end to the rising prices any time soon.

"Within 30 days, we will rent any property that we bring on the market, so it always goes pretty quickly," said Kawika Burgess, president of Real Property Management Alliance in Honolulu.

Burgess said about one third of units in Hawaii is rental housing.

The good news is that more inventory is being added in West Oahu thanks to developments in Kapolei and Ewa, where renters can get a little more bang for their buck.

Ewa Beach resident Janice Perez pays $2,200 a month for her five-bedroom house. Her daughter pays about the same for a small apartment in town.

"You gotta pay to live in paradise, you know? But I do think that rent is ridiculous," Perez said.

Real estate analyst Ricky Cassiday said rents for condos and apartments have increased more quickly than those for homes.

According to a 2015 analysis he conducted for the city, apartment rents went up 4.5 percent from 2012 to 2013, and 9 percent from 2013 to 2014. By 2015, rents had jumped 10 percent compared to the year before.

In 2013, the average rent for a two-bedroom in Honolulu was $1,800; by 2015, it was over $2,100.

"At the same time this is happening, the number of listings is declining," Cassiday said. "So you have, like the 'for sale' market, less supply and higher demand."

He added, "If we are to meet the challenge of housing our own people, we have to do it in a way that produces more supply that is appropriate."

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