New Perspectives on Land and Housing Markets in Hawaii

Land leasing is common in Honolulu, with many owners of residential, industrial, and commercial buildings leasing land. This report examines land and housing markets in Honolulu and the mainland United States to understand better why prices and lease rents are so much higher in Honolulu than most other US cities. Three stylized facts stand out:  

  • Census data show that Hawaii home prices were already exceptionally high in 1950.
  • Over the last six decades, inflation-adjusted land and housing prices in Honolulu register small annual real increases.
  • Honolulu’s inflation-adjusted land and housing prices have been highly volatile in the medium term since the 1960s, forcing market participants to bear high levels of risk.

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