Hawai‘i’s Homeownership Rate Ranks Fourth Lowest in U.S.

Homeownership rate low in Honolulu as US rate drops to lowest since 1967.

Owning your own piece of paradise isn’t easy—especially on O‘ahu.


Homeownership in high-priced Honolulu was 56.5 percent in the second quarter, down from 60.2 percent in the first three months and up from 55.7 percent a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.


The homeownership rate for Honolulu, which has kept a median single-family home price of about $700,000, was the 10th lowest of the 75 largest metropolitan areas tracked by the Census.


The lowest was Los Angeles/Orange County, with a 48.5 percent, followed by New York (49.1 percent), Las Vegas (50 percent), San Jose (51 percent) and San Diego (51.5 percent).


The highest percentage of homeowners was in the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota area of Florida, at 75.6 percent.


Homeownership is defined by the Census as the percentage of homes occupied by the owner, whether they carry a mortgage or not. It is not the percentage of the adults who own their property, which would be a much lower percentage.


Honolulu’s homeownership rate was similar to the state’s overall ownership rate of 56.7 percent, which was the fourth-lowest rate among the states. Rates were highest in the Midwest (68.4 percent) and lowest in the West (58.5 percent).


Nationally, homeownership fell to 63.4 percent—the lowest level since 1967, when LBJ was president and “Hawai‘i Ponoʻī” was designated the Aloha State’s anthem. That’s just off the all-time low of 63 percent since the government began tracking the data in 1965.


The American dream of home ownership has become increasingly difficult in Hawai‘i and elsewhere, as many lost their homes, rented or moved in with family following the Great Recession of 2008.


Subprime mortgages were commonplace and made homebuying easy just a decade ago. In 2004, homeownership reached a peak of 69.2 percent in America. After the market collapse, though, financial institutions tightened their lending practices, while the rise in home prices in the past few years have kept many homebuyers on the sideline.


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