Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Hawaii

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Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Hawaii

Bart Waldon

With its tropical climate, natural biodiversity and cultural allure as the 50th state, Hawaii presents a premier locale for land ownership beyond compare within the U.S. Yet paradise always comes balanced by realities on the ground. For potential buyers seeking property to develop business ventures or personal enjoyment, evaluating the pros and cons of acquiring Hawaii land parcels requires full due diligence and local guidance. On the plus side, over 1.3 million acres currently see active agricultural uses across Hawaii including pastures, sugar cultivation and diversified cropping according to the USDA’s latest available census data

This reinforces the islands’ need for continual food self-sufficiency and hints why land ownership enables various revenue-generating operations. However, buyers must also reconcile factors like Hawaii’s isolated location far from machinery repair outlets or livestock feed providers, costs of transporting goods, irrigation challenges in arid areas, ever-encroaching development speculation and the state’s uniquely stringent environmental regulations safeguarding endemic plants and wildlife. Weighing these positives and drawbacks with realistic plans for intended property use steers prudent decisions on buying into Hawaii’s alluring landscape.

Pros of Buying Land in Hawaii

Perfect Weather and Natural Beauty

One huge draw is the near perfect weather and stunning natural landscapes you’ll find across the islands. Warm temperatures in the 80s year-round, lush green mountains, pristine beaches, colorful reefs – it’s an outdoors lover’s dream. Having your own piece of paradise means you can soak up Hawaii's incredible natural offerings every single day.

Laidback Lifestyle

In addition to the natural perks, the overall vibe and lifestyle on the islands is a major appeal for many looking to buy land in Hawaii. Life is known to be more low-key and relaxed compared to the hurried, stressful pace of living on the mainland. The soothing sounds of the ocean waves, “island time” attitude, and the spirit of aloha all contribute to a more peaceful way of living.

Agricultural Opportunities

The rich, volcanic soil and ideal growing climate also make Hawaii primed for agricultural activities. Owning land could provide you with space to create a fruit orchard, exotic flower farm, coffee plantation, macadamia nut grove or other rewarding agricultural endeavor. Plus, farming ventures allow you to live more sustainably and potentially generate income.

Strong Real Estate Market

Despite the ultra-high costs, real estate values in Hawaii generally appreciate well over time, mainly due to high demand coupled with limited supply. This creates a robust housing market that favors sellers. Property values have trended upward consistently, so owning land can be a valuable investment.

Tax Incentives

Some financial perks also exist for Hawaii landowners when it comes to taxes. Overall property tax rates are relatively low, and there is no state income tax. Additionally, you may qualify for the homeowner exemption, providing significant savings on property taxes for residents with homes built on residentially zoned land.

Cons of Buying Land in Hawaii

Extremely High Costs

The biggest drawback of buying land in Hawaii is the astronomical price tag. Hawaii real estate consistently ranks among the most expensive in the country. Even vacant plots in rural areas easily sell for over $100,000 an acre. Be prepared to spend at least seven figures if you want an acre or two on which to build a home. Financing costs will also be higher than average.

Remote Locations

Affordable land in Hawaii tends to be located in more remote areas, far from jobs, conveniences and healthcare. This requires longer commutes and less access to services. While the remoteness provides more privacy and seclusion, it also leads to greater isolation. Make sure the location meets your lifestyle needs before purchasing.

Building Restrictions

Hawaii has strict regulations on construction and land development to preserve the islands' natural resources. This limits what you can build on your property. Expect a lengthy permitting process for any new structures or major renovations. Also, properties in high risk lava zones may face additional building restrictions.

Hurricane Vulnerability

While rare, the Hawaiian Islands are occasionally threatened by tropical storms and hurricanes. Homes near the coast face the highest risk of storm surge flooding and wind damage. Inland flooding can also occur during heavy rains. Protecting your property will require preparedness and likely higher insurance costs.

Limited Space

Hawaii is one of the least densely populated U.S. states, but land appropriate for development is still scarce outside of major cities. This limits options for those who want multiple acres to spread out on. Be prepared to compromise on acreage or location if your budget is limited.

Distance from Mainland

Hawaii's remoteness from the mainland provides serenity but also separation from family and convenient travel. Flights can be pricey for those who need to frequently travel to and from the mainland. The distance also means greater isolation from broader economic and social hubs. Make sure you are ready to be removed from the conveniences of life on the mainland.

Key Factors to Consider

If you're seriously looking into buying land in Hawaii, keep the following key considerations in mind:

Location - Prioritize what matters most to you - a remote lot with privacy and nature, or proximity to a town center? Research locations thoroughly before buying.

Permitting - Understand the regulations and restrictions for building and developing on the property. Work with an experienced local agent.

Access - Ensure there is suitable road access to the property. This can be a challenge on some rural plots.

Utilities - Check on connecting water, electricity and internet. Bringing utilities to remote parcels gets expensive.

Financing - Secure funding before house hunting. Work with lenders experienced in Hawaii real estate. Expect higher rates and costs.

Insurance - Shop around for homeowners insurance early. Coverage will be pricier than on the mainland.

Taxes - Consult a tax advisor to maximize benefits and minimize costs. Property taxes are low but closing costs are high.

Natural Hazards - Study past flood and lava zones. Understand risks posed by volcanic activity, hurricanes, tsunamis and heavy rainfall.

Lifestyle Needs - Ensure the location suits your needs in terms of climate, amenities, commuting distance, healthcare access, etc.

Making the Decision

Buying land in Hawaii is a major investment requiring careful thought and preparation. While rewards like a tropical lifestyle and real estate appreciation are enticing, significant hurdles exist as well. Doing thorough research ahead of time and consulting professionals will help you make the best decision for your individual situation.

Consider renting on the islands first to experience day-to-day island living. Overall, focus on your long-term lifestyle goals. Avoid jumping into a purchase based solely on emotions. Patience is key to finding the right Hawaii property at the right price.

If you have the financial means to purchase prime real estate, enjoy slowed down island life, and can handle the remoteness - buying land in Hawaii could be your ticket to paradise. Weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing land in Hawaii is a major life decision that requires careful thought. While the tropical climate, relaxed lifestyle, and investment potential are tempting, you must also be prepared for the high costs, remote locations, and risks that come with island living. Take time to realistically assess if the pros outweigh the cons based on your individual circumstances. Consider renting first to experience Hawaii at length. Thoroughly research locations, permits, utilities, insurance, and taxes before committing to buy. Consult professionals and locals to fully understand the realities of owning land in Hawaii. If after careful consideration you decide the rewards outweigh the challenges for you, then purchasing land in paradise may be well worth the investment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How expensive is land in Hawaii?

Land prices in Hawaii are among the highest in the country, easily over $100,000 an acre even for undeveloped rural lots. Prime properties on the coast or near cities sell for millions. Financing, insurance, utilities and construction also cost more than average.

What are property taxes like in Hawaii?

Hawaii has relatively low property tax rates compared to the mainland. Exact rates vary by county but average under 1%. However, Hawaii has very high closing costs that can reach 10% of the sales price. There is also no state income tax for residents.

What building restrictions exist in Hawaii?

Hawaii has stringent regulations on construction to protect natural resources. Expect a lengthy permitting process for new structures or major renovations. Properties in lava flow hazard zones may face additional restrictions. Always check zoning regulations with the local county before buying land.

How does buying land in Hawaii compare to other islands?

Hawaii is generally more expensive than other island destinations like the Caribbean. However, Hawaii real estate also tends to appreciate faster over time. The Tradewinds provide cooler temperatures than tropical islands closer to the equator. Hurricanes are also less common in Hawaii compared to other regions.

Is financing available for buying land?

Financing is available, though often with higher interest rates and stricter credit requirements compared to the mainland. Work with a lender experienced in Hawaiian real estate. Look into an adjustable rate mortgage, which often offers lower initial interest rates. Plan to put down 20-25%.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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