A First-time Buyer’s Guide To Hawai’i Real Estate

Blog Post Image
Real Estate

Text: CENTURY 21 Hawaiian Style | Images: CENTURY 21

Hawai’i is a beautiful and unique place with a vibrant culture and breathtaking scenery. The island of O’ahu is unique in that it is simultaneously a bustling metropolis and a tropical island retreat, offering a unique plethora of properties ranging from standard single-family homes to luxurious high-rise condominiums. It’s also one of the world’s top tourist destinations, home to some of the world’s most famous surfing destinations, Waikiki, as well as North America’s largest open-air shopping mall. In Hawai’i, you can truly live, work, and play in paradise. It's no wonder that real estate in Hawaii is so highly sought after, both by those who are seeking a permanent residence and those who are looking for a vacation property. For first-time homebuyers, however, the process of navigating the real estate market in Hawai’i can be daunting. Let’s explore the ins-and-outs of real estate in Hawai’i, including the current market trends and what you need to know before buying a property in Hawai’i.

The Current Market

Hawai’i's real estate market has seen a steady increase in prices over the past few years with O’ahu’s median home price alone exceeding $1 million for the first time historically. The first quarter of 2023 has reflected a substantial dip in prices for the first time in nearly 2 years. While recent economic developments have caused concern for homebuyers, this change has created a pocket of opportunity for prospective buyers with the capital to invest in Hawai’i real estate this year. 

Experts agree that purchasing real estate in Hawai’i remains a smart and steady long-term investment. It is true that demand for real estate in Hawai’i certainly contributes to the higher price of living in paradise. With only a finite amount of space, the demand for property in Hawai’i is high. Additionally, steady sales over the last year have reflected an overall decrease in availability of inventory. At the end of the day, however, a wealth of data spanning the last decade continues to support the majority of expert opinions that say with purchasing real estate in Hawai’i, “you get what you pay for,” namely a steady ROI. 

Despite the statistics showing a trend towards scarcity in inventory, owning real estate in Hawai’i is still more than possible. In recent years, the influx of new development projects, primarily on the west side of O’ahu, metro Honolulu, and Kaka’ako, have presented new buyers with a wealth of options for purchasing Hawai’i real estate. Each development has its own unique characteristics, speaks to a unique lifestyle, and accommodates different budgets. Working with a CENTURY 21 Hawaiian Style agent can help you find the one that best suits your needs.

What to Know Before You Buy

  • Understand that the process of buying property in Hawai’i is different than in other states.

    For example, Hawai’i has a unique land tenure system that is based on ancient Hawaiian traditions. This system, known as "Kuleana," can make it more complicated to buy property in Hawai’i, so it's important to work with a real estate agent who is familiar with the local laws and customs.

  • Consider the cost of living in Hawai’i before you buy.

    Hawai’i is known for its high cost of living, with groceries, gas, and other essentials costing more than they would in other parts of the country. You'll want to make sure that you can afford to live comfortably in Hawaii before you invest in real estate there. 

  • Do your research before you buy.

    Make sure you understand the local real estate market, including the prices of comparable properties and the overall state of the market. You'll also want to consider the location of the property, the amenities it offers, and the potential for rental income if you're buying a vacation rental property. No one knows these factors better than a licensed real estate agent. It’s important to consult a trusted, experienced agent to guide you through the process. 


Real estate in Hawai’i is a unique and exciting investment opportunity. Whether you're looking for a vacation home or a permanent residence, Hawaii offers a range of properties to suit your needs. However, it's important to understand the local market and do your research before you buy. With the right approach, you can find the perfect piece of paradise to call your own!

Are you ready to get started? Working with the right expert can make all the difference!

CENTURY 21 Hawaiian Style brings over three decades of experience in Hawai’i real estate to each and every transaction. Our highly skilled agents can help you find the property of your dreams.
Contact us today! 
(808) 383-6551