Hawaii has a reputation for being an expensive place to live, and with shots of glamorous mansions and elegant high-rise luxury estates dominating Hawaii home searches, it can be hard not to feel a little discouraged about buying a home in Hawaii. But fear not—it’s very possible to find and buy an affordable home on O’ahu. Here’s your guide.
Step 1: Find an Affordable Area
A waterfront mansion might be your dream retreat, but start your home search off in the right place to save yourself the sticker-shock. There are many cities and towns on O’ahu that are highly affordable.
In Central O’ahu, towns like Wahiawa, Pearl City, and Waipahu provide plenty of options. On the Leeward Coast, there’s the fast-growing Ewa Beach and its bustling neighbor, Kapolei, recently named the #1 Best Place for Homeownership in Hawaii by NerdWallet. On the Windward Coast, there’s Kailua, named the #3 Most Affordable City in Hawaii by Livability.com, and even Honolulu has its own affordable neighborhoods, earning it the rank of #4 Most Affordable City in Hawaii.
Step 2: Find an Affordable Neighborhood or New Development
Even if you’re set on one of O’ahu’s more expensive towns, you might still be able to find affordable housing if you know where to look. There are a lot of new and growing neighborhoods targeting middle-income buyers, which means lots of new options.
You might find your next home in the mixed-use Kaka’ako neighborhood of Honolulu or in Waikele, just south of downtown. In Ewa, there’s West Loch Estate, Ewa Villages, and Ewa Gentry. In Central O’ahu, Mililani Mauka is ranked the #6 Best Place to Buy a House in Hawaii by Niche.com.
Step 3: Research Nonprofit Groups or Government Programs
There are actually a lot of programs and groups offering assistance to first-time or lower-income buyers. Organizations like the Hawaii Homeownership Center provide services such as homeownership education classes, down payment assistance, and access to low-interest loans.
Through HUD, you can find more information about special loans, such as the US Department of Agriculture Rural Housing FHA Loan. If you’re a veteran or active military, VA loans are a fantastic option. And if you contact the state and city organizations like the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation or Honolulu Department of the Budget and Fiscal Services, you might find even more assistance or programs that pertain to you.
Step 4: Search Alternative Real Estate Types
If you’re still not seeing the prices you want, you might try navigating away from the “standard” real estate sale of a new or resale home. Instead, try targeting your search to short sales, foreclosures, or even fixer-uppers. These can be a great way to find some cheaper options—but there may be a few added paperwork steps, and it’s always a good idea to proceed with caution on “as-is” sales.
Searching for an Affordable Home on O’ahu?
Thinking of buying a home on O’ahu and want to make sure you’re getting the best price? Then it’s time to contact RE/MAX Honolulu. As your Honolulu and O’ahu lifestyle and real estate experts, we’ve got answers to all your homeownership questions. We’ll help you explore the communities, cities, and neighborhoods of the island and ensure you find the perfect home for sale.