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Honolulu First-Time Homebuyers Have Financing Options

Wayne Yoshioka

Honolulu topped the nation once again for median rents and housing costs.  That according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report. But, as HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports, some attendees at the Home Buyer’s Fair on Saturday aren’t discouraged by high prices.   

The average sales price for a single family home or condominium in Honolulu has more than doubled in the last 15 years.  That, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

“I am looking around.  Brought it up to my parents.  I mean, can’t really live with them forever so I kinda think it was time to be independent.”

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Hawai'i Homeownership Center executive director, Dennis Oshiro, helps first-time homebuyers.

Twenty-Nine year-old Brandon Ching is a safety consultant and part-time sports writer.  He’s looking at some financing options to buy a condominium in the McCully-Mo’ili’ili area near the busline.

“The difficult thing about it is that the inventory is pretty limited.  I’m kinda confined to a particular, maybe, price range so the difficulty is like, where can I get money for, you know, some sort of down payment or how am I gonna keep up with the payments.  I think that’s the thing that stresses not only me but other people in general.”

The Hawai’i Homeownership Center helps first-time homebuyers like Ching with credit counseling, loan qualification and financing programs.  Executive Director, Dennis Oshiro, says there are ways to buy a condominium without the traditional 20 percent down payment required by most banks.

“Not too many home buyers, let alone lenders, know about the state’s mortgage tax credit program which also helps the home buyer get qualified.  We can use the tax credit that’s projected off of the purchase and use that in their qualifying for mortgages as well.  And sometimes that can be the difference.”

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Senior loan officer, Dwight Bolosan, conducts a session on financing options.

There are other ways first-time home buyers can finance a home purchase.  Dwight Bolosan is a senior loan officer at a local bank.

“For low-to-moderate income individuals, the Honolulu City and County, the will give you up to $40-thousand at zero percent interest as additional down payment to your home.  Now that’s gonna go on as a second mortgage to the property so, typically, they want you to come in with at least 5 percent down and then they can give you up to 40-thousand for additional down payment assistance.”

Honolulu single family homes and condominiums have increased in value at about 5-to-6 percent.  Real Estate Broker, Dawn Rogers Horn, says O’ahu’s prices should remain high and sales competitive .

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Real estate broker, Dawn Rogers Horn, says housing inventory is tight and prices should remain high.

“Sellers are staying in their homes while the prices rise and increase and they’re not necessarily putting them on the market unless they have to sell for some reason or they choose to sell to make their own upgrades or relocations.  So we have buyers waiting in the wings that want houses because there’s just limited inventory available.”

Meanwhile, first-time home-buyer, Ching, says he’s sticking to his list of priorities.

“The important things right now are looking for a place and then also kinda establishing myself with my current job.  Those would probably be like the 1-A and 1-B.  I guess marriage is like a distant second right now.”

According to the U-S Census, Hawai’i has the highest median monthly mortgage payment in the nation at 2,916 dollars, nearly 3 times the national average.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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