Isle mortgage costs among top


POSTED: Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nearly half of Hawaii homeowners paid 30 percent or more of their household income for mortgages last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released yesterday.






        Hawaii ranks among the top five states in the percentage of homeowners spending 30 percent or more of their household income toward their mortgages. Here are the top and bottom states, as well as the national average, based on the percentage of homeowners in that category in 2007.


1. California53%
2. Nevada49%
3. Florida48.9%
4. New Jersey46.1%
5. Hawaii45.8%
47. Kansas25.7%
48. West Virginia25.5%
49. Iowa25.3%
50. Wyoming24.4%
51. North Dakota21.4%

        Source: U.S. Census Bureau


The report showed that 45.8 percent of people with mortgages in Hawaii spent that much to own a home, the fifth-highest percentage among the states and the District of Columbia.

Nationally, 37.5 percent of homeowners fell in that category in 2007. California led the ranking, with 53 percent of residents in that group, followed by Nevada, Florida and New Jersey.

Hawaii's median housing cost for people with a mortgage was $2,099, meaning half paid less and half paid more. It was below only New Jersey at $2,278 and California's $2,314.

Meanwhile, the state's median monthly rent continued to top the nation at $1,194, edging out California, New Jersey and Maryland, all of whom broke the $1,000 mark.

John Riggins, a self-employed real estate agent, said many of his clients have opted to delay buying a home because of steep mortgages.

Ideally, prospective homebuyers should limit their mortgage payments to a third, or about 33 percent, of their income, Riggins said. But he noted several people he has worked with have entered home-payment plans that will eat up 35 percent to 45 percent of what they make.

“;I suspect that many people are over that”; 30 percent threshold, Riggins said. “;It has become an accepted thing.”;

But prospective homebuyers shouldn't be turned off by Hawaii's high mortgage costs, said Dennis Oshiro, executive director of the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center.

Since its launch here five years ago, the nonprofit, which teaches people how to budget for a home and find special loan programs, has helped more than 500 people become homeowners, Oshiro said.

“;It is certainly worth exploring before you give up,”; he said, citing deals available for first-time homebuyers.

Those looking to own a home in Hawaii may initially need to settle for one with fewer bedrooms, or chose a different neighborhood to afford mortgages, but they can eventually build equity toward moving into their dream home, Riggins said.

He pointed out that many people could own a small place by adding a few hundred dollars to how much they set aside for rent.

“;There may be a studio they can buy,”; he said. “;The ideal is to take one small step. People shouldn't be going out thinking brand-new luxury, or whatever. They should be thinking in terms of their budget.”;