Report: The ‘outsider’ theory of Hawaii’s housing crisis

No one disputes that we have a housing crisis in Hawaii, that there is a lack of affordable housing, that housing prices have climbed to dizzying heights or that we urgently need to grow the housing stock in our state to help keep our family and friends in Hawaii.

But when it comes to the question of how to create more housing, that consensus begins to erode. Of all the scapegoats cited, none has been more widely accepted than the idea of “outside buyers” — people from outside Hawaii who want to buy homes here. The thinking is pervasive that our housing woes are mostly because of buyers from elsewhere

In this report, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii analyzes the issue of “outside buyers” from multiple angles, including tax-assessment data from other states and counties nationwide showing home prices and the origins of the homebuyers.

The information adds up to one inescapable conclusion: There is no evidence that outside buyers are the driving factor in Hawaii’s high housing costs or lack of affordable housing.

If we want to address Hawaii’s housing crisis, we cannot be misled by our preconceptions. Real change cannot happen until we properly identify the source of the problem. In this case, that means addressing the substantial regulatory barriers to housing in our state — land-use, zoning and homebuilding regulations.

Read the report here | Purchase a paperback copy on Amazon