Point of Interest
Hawaii has some of the highest home prices in the country, but getting a lower mortgage rate can help make homeownership more affordable. Right now interest rates are at record lows, so it’s a good time to buy or refinance a home.
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Many people want to move to Hawaii because of its beautiful beaches and tropical climate. Because the demand for homes is high and the supply is limited, Hawaii has become one of the most expensive places in the nation to buy a home. Homes in Hawaii cost nearly $400,000 more than the national average, which makes it difficult to afford a home on a low or moderate income.
However, there are programs that can help put homeownership within your reach, like the Honolulu Down Payment Assistance Program. Getting a low interest rate on your mortgage loan can also reduce your total housing costs. With mortgage rates in Hawaii at record lows, now is an ideal time to buy or refinance a home.
Getting a mortgage in Hawaii
Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the nation and is one of the most expensive places to buy a home. The median home price in Hawaii is $587,700, which is $382,800 higher than the national average of $204,900.
High home prices aren’t the only barrier to getting a mortgage in Hawaii, either. It can be difficult to secure financing for properties located in lava flow hazard zones. Many homes also have quirks, like rainwater catchment systems and unpermitted additions, which some lenders won’t allow. Working with a local lender instead of one on the mainland can make it easier to secure financing for homes with nontraditional features in Hawaii.
- Median home price: $587,700
- Average 30-year fixed rate: 3.29%
- Median monthly mortgage cost: $2,350
- Homeownership rate: 58.3%
Hawaii state mortgage rate trends
Hawaii is a judicial foreclosure state, which means lenders have to go to court to foreclose on homes. Lenders usually charge higher rates in these states because the cost of doing business is higher.
Historically, mortgage rates in Hawaii have actually been lower than the national average, despite the average price of homes being so high. For example, in November 2018, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in Hawaii reached a high of 4.88%. During this same time, the national average was 4.94%.
The coronavirus pandemic recently caused interest rates across the nation to reach record lows, which is good news for buyers on a budget and homeowners looking to refinance.
Hawaii state current mortgage rates
Mortgage rates in Hawaii are currently lower than they’ve ever been. In response to the coronavirus, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near 0%, which has caused mortgage rates to drop to new lows in return. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage in Hawaii is 3.29%, and the rate for a 15-year loan is 2.69%. The average rate for a 5/1 ARM is even lower at 2.50%.
If you’re considering the refinance rates in Hawaii, you’ll be pleased to know they’re hovering at 3.52% for a 30-year term. That’s down slightly from the previous weeks.
Most and least expensive places to live in Hawaii
Homes located on the Big Island tend to be significantly cheaper than properties on Oahu, Maui or Kauai. Buying a home in a rural area or a higher risk lava hazard zone can also save you some money.
5 most expensive
- Wailea — This is one of the top vacation spots in Hawaii. It has luxury resorts, pristine beaches and upscale shops and restaurants. Homes in the area cost a million dollars on average.
- Kailua — This is a residential community on the east coast of Oahu with good schools and a family-friendly atmosphere. Homes go for around $940,000.
- Kula — Kula is a town located in the upcountry region of Maui next to a large volcano. Buying a home in this scenic part of the state will cost about $930,000.
- East Honolulu — East Honolulu an upscale residential area near downtown Honolulu. Buyers can expect to pay $921,200 for a home there.
- Aiea — Aiea is a family-friendly town located in Honolulu County. The median household income is $106,556 and homes cost an average of $780,400.
5 least expensive
- Hilo — Hilo is the seat of Hawaii County. The median home value is $319,100, which is $268,600 less than the state average.
- Waianae — Waianae is a small city on Oahu’s coast with beautiful beaches and affordable homes. Buyers can expect to pay around $360,000 for a house there.
- Waimalu — Waimalu is another small city located on the island of Oahu in Honolulu County. The median household income is $80,383, and the average home costs just $426,900.
- Ewa Beach — Ewa Beach is a family-friendly city with lots of amenities, including a resort, beaches and golf courses. The average home price is just $493,000.
- Kapaa — Kapaa is located on Kauai and offers kayaking, water skiing, shopping and biking on one of the city’s many trails. Homes in the area go for around $500,000.
Hawaii state mortgage resources and intricacies
If you’ve only ever lived on the mainland, you may not be familiar with a type of property ownership called a leasehold. A leasehold is similar to a rental agreement but lasts for a longer period of time and gives you the right to make improvements to the property. Leaseholds can be bought and sold and require a mortgage just like regular homes. Getting a mortgage on a leasehold can be more challenging, though, especially if the remaining lease period is short. You won’t be able to build equity either because leaseholds lose their value over time as the end of the lease approaches. However, leaseholds are significantly cheaper than freehold properties that you own outright.
If you’d rather buy a freehold home, there are programs to help you afford one. The HHOC provides first-time homebuyers with 15-year deferred loans to help them cover their down payment and closing costs. If you’re buying a home in Honolulu, you may be eligible for the city’s down payment assistance program. It offers zero-interest loans to low-and-moderate income buyers who can’t afford to make a down payment, with loan amounts up to $40,000. Kauai also has a program that provides low-cost mortgages to first-time buyers to help make homeownership more achievable.
One final thing to note is that the closing process in Hawaii is different from other states. Rather than signing all of the documents on the closing day, you’ll need to complete them ahead of time so they can be processed. Hawaii is a good funds state, so you’ll also have to transfer your funds to the escrow company three to five days before your closing date. Working with a local lender that’s familiar with Hawaii’s unique closing process can make your home purchase go more smoothly.
The final word
Buying a home in Hawaii can be complicated, so having a mortgage lender that understands the process is important. If you want to take advantage of the record low interest rates in Hawaii, reach out to a local lender to discuss your mortgage and refinance options.