Buying a Home in Hawaii: What To Know


Picture this: You’re on a beach, and the sun’s rays warm your skin as you walk across the black sand. Or perhaps you’d prefer to go snorkeling among over 400,000 acres of coral reefs to entertain yourself. 

Hawaii lies 2,000 miles off the coast of the mainland US and has a rich, long-spanning culture with plenty for locals and visitors to do. So there are plenty of reasons to consider buying a home in Hawaii.

There are pitfalls to buying property in Hawaii, though. Space is at a premium on these islands, so it’s a competitive market. But don’t worry, we’ve got some home buying tips to share with you. 

We’ll also discuss the Hawaiian housing market and your housing options. 

How Is the Housing Market In Hawaii?

The housing market in Hawaii is a “seller’s market.” A seller’s market means that the demand for housing is greater than the supply.

It makes sense that there wouldn’t be an abundance of Hawaiian housing options. Hawaii is a popular place among vacationers and would-be homeowners. You also have to contend with the island’s limited space. 

One helpful home-buying tip is to contact an agent who knows the Hawaiian market and can accommodate what you want in a home. For example, one site –, helps military personnel find homes.

What to Expect When Buying a Home In Hawaii

There are a few things you should know before buying a house in Hawaii. As you may have guessed by now, housing options in Hawaii tend to be expensive. You’re paying for the location and scarcity of homes, after all. 

But did you know about lava zones? Lava zones are hazardous spots based on the location, frequency of historic and prehistoric eruptions, and topographical factors.

Lava zones are ranked one to nine (or six, depending on the island). One is the most dangerous, and nine (or six) are the least hazardous. If your home is in lava zone one, you can expect lava in your backyard during a lava flow. 

You may find that insurance and general housing funding for homes in more hazardous lava zones are hard to come by. It’s not impossible to insure a home in these places, but it will likely cost more than average. 

Mortgages, Fee Simple, and Leasehold Properties

Another pitfall of buying property in Hawaii is that it’s hard to catch homes on the market. The seller’s market means that houses sell quickly.

It’s best to get preapproved for a mortgage to put in an offer as soon as you see the house you want. Don’t waste time waiting for your loan while your dream home gets snatched up. 

There are also two types of homeownership in Hawaii: fee simple and leasehold. Fee simple is the complete version of ownership wherein you one the building and land. 

Leasehold is the less common kind of ownership in Hawaii (and the US). Leasehold ownership means owning the building, but someone else owns the land underneath. 

Do your research about both types of properties before purchasing land in Hawaii. 

Looking to Purchase a Hawaiian Home? 

There are many reasons to consider buying a home in Hawaii but many pitfalls. Some helpful home-buying tips are finding a realtor who knows the Hawaiian market and learning about lava zones.

You should also learn the types of homeownership in Hawaii. Lastly, get preapproved for your mortgage to purchase your home immediately. 

If you found this article helpful, we’ve got plenty more real estate articles on the site. Take some time to browse through a couple if you’re interested.