Housing survey kicks off next week

KAILUA-KONA — The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. will be surveying households in partnership with SMS Research to get a picture of the state’s housing supply and demand.

The phone survey will start Monday (Jan. 7) and be completed during the following two months, according to a statement from the agency.

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In addition to studying housing demand, the survey also will contribute data that can be used for planning housing programs.

The agency’s announcement outlined four components of the study, including the collection of data about the demographics and economic characteristics of households throughout the state.

The study will help the state project the needs of certain populations, including low-income households, elderly households and those with special housing needs. It also will offer a statewide and county-by-county inventory to include government-assisted units and on- and off-base military housing.

2016 report

The most recent Hawaii Housing Planning Study on the HHFDC website is from December 2016, which SMS also prepared.

That report said the county in 2014 had close to 69,500 available housing units. Another almost 14,500 housing units on the island were categorized as unavailable long-term vacancies, defined further as vacant for seasonal use, for migrant workers or agricultural use or vacant for another reason.

Of the unavailable units, just more than 11,000, or 13.1 percent of all the housing units in the county, were classified as vacant for seasonal use. Hawaii County, according to the report, accounts for a third of all of the state’s 33,054 housing units that were classified as vacant for seasonal use in the study.

The report later outlined the impact property purchases by out-of-state people or agencies has on the local housing supply.

Between 2008 and 2015, 42.9 percent of all residential units sold in Hawaii County were purchased by people or agencies with an address outside the state, exceeding the statewide rate of 27.3 percent.

More than 85 percent of those buyers were mainland residents, while the rest were international buyers. Many units sold to out-of-state buyers, the study reported, were second homes or timeshare units.

In 2014, a total of 6.3 percent of all of the state’s housing units weren’t primary residences. The national average, meanwhile, is closer to 2 percent.

That means the demand for local housing units by nonresidents creates a volume of housing that isn’t available as part of the residential housing stock.

While that has the effect of contributing to the economy through the construction, maintenance and operation of those units, as well as contributing to local businesses and the state’s tax collection, it also reduces the availability of housing for state residents and increases the cost of land, labor and construction materials.

Not only is the housing issue putting units into the hands of out-of-state owners, it’s also pushing the state’s residents out of state themselves.

In a survey asking respondents if they planned to move out of state for their next move, about 22 percent said they would. Of those, 31 percent cited housing as a problem pushing them to leave the islands.

A drop in the growth rate of the state housing stock after the start of this decade, from about 6,100 units per year before 2011 to 1,115 units per year between 2011 and 2014, the report said, “matched a relatively sharp rise” in how many new seasonal units appeared during the same period — 565 units per year prior to 2011 and 1,163 units per year after that.

Hawaii County, notably, had the largest average annual increase in its housing stock in the state, adding 2.1 percent each year.

Considering the impediments to construction, however, researchers pointed to a number of barriers that hinder developers from producing more housing.

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Some of those are physical impediments, such as geographic limitations related to limited land near major population centers. Other barriers included a lack of major off-site infrastructure, such as roads, sewer, water and other improvements that often are passed on to developers (and therefore increase housing costs) rather than constructed by government, as well as government regulations.

Email Cameron Miculka at cmiculka@westhawaiitoday.com.

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