Investment firm offers to help educators buy homes

HONOLULU — An investment firm that helps educators buy homes in high-cost communities brought its services to Hawaii.

Business executive organization Hawaii Executive Conference announced Landed’s Hawaii expansion Tuesday at Hawaii Community Foundation’s downtown Honolulu headquarters.

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The San Francisco-based company invests in home purchases with educators by providing up to half of a standard down payment on a home, with a limit of $120,000, in return for repayment of that money in the future along with a sum totaling 25% of any gain or loss in value.

“It’s a shared investment in the home,” said Landed co-founder Alex Lofton.

Landed has helped almost 200 educators in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and Denver buy homes collectively valued at $100 million since the company was founded in 2015, Lofton said.

Local business leaders and government officials said affording a home in one of the priciest markets in the country is one reason why many teachers leave Hawaii every year.

The state Department of Education had to fill 1,200 teacher positions this year, up from 1,000 last year, said Terry George, president and CEO of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation Kailua.

“We know the cost of living is one of the issues,” he said. “Obviously, we need to do something about this.”

Gov. David Ige said addressing affordable housing challenges is something the public and private sectors can work together to accomplish.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association said it welcomes efforts to help teachers afford homes but questioned how much impact Landed can make.

“The HSTA welcomes any effort to help educators, however this option may only work for a very small percentage of our members,” said Corey Rosenlee, the union’s president. “We will continue to fight for better wages and benefits to ensure teachers don’t need financial assistance to afford a home.”

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Landed typically receives initial interest from 3% to 5% of teachers in the markets it serves, Lofton said. The company is providing information about how to apply at landed.com and meetings at eight Hawaii schools from May 13-17.

The state Department of Education employs 13,000 teachers and has 42,000 other employees.

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