Since 2008, more homes in Maui County were sold to people from the American mainland and foreign countries than to Hawaii residents, according to a state report.
A new analysis from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism covers trends in Hawaii’s housing market from January 2008 through September 2015.
Average home prices statewide have been increasing steadily since 2011, particularly in Maui County.
Statewide, nearly one out of every four homes was sold to someone from the mainland during the period studied, and just 4 percent were sold to foreigners.
The highest average home prices were in Hanalei, Kauai, and on Maui’s south and west sides. Those areas also had the highest percentages of buyers from the mainland and foreign countries.
The correlation between expensive homes and out-of-state investment in those neighborhoods doesn’t surprise local economist Paul Brewbaker.
“Saying that offshore buyers are more present in resort areas is sort of like saying tourists are popular in resort areas,” he said.
But he said the report proves that “the assertion that the market is dominated by foreign buyers is pure mythology,” he said.
Still, local real estate analyst Ricky Cassiday said the report indicates that offshore buyers compete with local buyers for certain types of homes.
He suggested that the city consider increasing property taxes for out-of-state buyers and ensure that government-subsidized housing developments limit initial sales to local residents.
“The presence of all these people (buying homes) is proof that Hawaii is a great place to live,” Cassiday said. “The question becomes, ‘Are they paying enough of their share of paradise?'”
The state analysis found that Hanalei had the highest average home price at $868,843. Nearly 62 percent of homes purchased there were bought by mainland buyers and 2.9 percent by foreigners.
The west side of Maui had the lowest percentage of homes sold to local residents and an average price of $718,276. Nearly two-thirds of homes were sold to mainlanders and 8.6 percent were sold to foreigners.
Those figures support the report’s finding that offshore investment is more prevalent in the neighbor islands than on Oahu. Some 47 percent of neighbor island homes were sold to offshore buyers compared with 15 percent on Oahu.
More than 38 percent of mainland homebuyers were from California, followed by 10.5 percent from Texas and 8.5 percent from Washington state.
The Big Island was the most popular place to buy a home, followed by Honolulu.
Canadians bought more than 44 percent of homes purchased by foreign buyers, followed by Japanese buyers, who made up 37.9 percent of sales.
Buyers from Hong Kong spent the most with an average home price exceeding $1 million. Buyers from China and Korea ranked next highest at $936,738 and $882,894 respectively.