Affordability still a challenge for Hawaii homebuyers

A home is for sale at 141 Kaikuono Street in Hilo on Monday, July 10, 2023.

Real estate data provider ATTOM examined the median home prices during the first quarter for roughly 590 U.S. counties in a new report released Thursday and found that median-priced single-family homes and condos remain less affordable in 95% of the counties for the average U.S. income earner, who makes $71,708 a year.

ATTOM deemed the portion of average local wages in the U.S. consumed by major home ownership costs, including typical mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance, as “unaffordable” during the first quarter of 2024 in 425, or 72%, of the 590 counties analyzed in the report, based on the 28% guideline preferred by mortgage lenders.


Not surprising to those who live in Hawaii, Honolulu County, Hawaii County and Maui County also fell into the “unaffordable” range. Data was unavailable for Kauai County and Kalawao County as ATTOM researchers only analyzed counties with a population of at least 100,000 and at least 50 single-family home and condo sales in the first quarter of 2024.

ATTOM estimated the median sales price for single-family homes and condos in the U.S. during the first quarter at $336,250 — up 5% from first quarter 2023. The average income needed to afford major homeownership costs in the U.S. now is $82,708, according to ATTOM, which assumes a 20% down payment and a front-end debt to income ratio of 28%. Right now, the average U.S. wage earner needs to use 32.3% of their wages to buy, which exceeds some lending guidelines.

The gap is even more pronounced in the Hawaiian islands where ATTOM estimates that the annual income needed for major homeownership costs is $145,151 in Honolulu County, $118,454 in Hawaii County, and $208,806 in Maui County. But the average wage earner in Honolulu County makes $65,715, and the average is $54,561 in Hawaii County, and $58,201 in Maui County.

ATTOM estimated the median price for single-family homes and condos in Honolulu County during the first quarter at $640,470, which was flat to the first quarter 2023. However, the median price for single-family homes and condos in Hawaii County rose 8% during the same period to $515,000 and in Maui County it rose 4% to $904,527.

At those prices, ATTOM estimated that Honolulu County buyers would need 61.8% of annualized wages to buy; it would take 60.8% in Hawaii County and 100.5% in Maui County.

Maui County’s current percentage was so high that it earned the dubious distinction of being the third highest county in the nation where major ownership costs require the largest percentage of average local wages. Kings County in Brooklyn, N.Y., required 109.5% of annualized local wages to buy a single-family home and Marin County, Calif., outside of San Francisco, required 102.8%.

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