Affordability is draw for Ewa Beach


POSTED: Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hawaii's residential real estate market is notoriously tougher on first-time buyers than many on the mainland, but Cyberhomes.com, a consumer real estate information portal, has declared one neighborhood, Ewa Beach, affordable for rookies.

Cyberhomes.com, a division of Lender Processing Services Inc., surveyed 7,000 United States ZIP codes to determine the top markets for neophytes. Cyberhomes used the ZIP code's median income to determine the home price a buyer could afford based on the region's 2009 median home price. Neighborhood employment prospects, local school quality and lifestyle were additional factors Cyberhomes used.

In ZIP codes where the affordable home price was equal to the median sales price, Cyberhomes assigned an affordability index of 100, said Marty Frame, general manager.

“;Anything over 100 is affordable,”; Frame said. “;Within all of Hawaii, only Ewa Beach came up positive on the list.”;

The area's affordability index of 108 assumes an average household income of $78,400 and a median sales price of $425,000, he said.

Still, many thousands of miles and dollars separated Hawaii from the company's list, which included Memphis, Tenn.; Phoenix; Lincoln, Neb.; Lubbock, Texas; Richmond, Va.; and Aurora, Colo. Ewa Beach even came in far below the national average for affordability, which Cyberhomes set at 198.

Steep price drops in Ewa Beach, which is considered ground zero for foreclosures on Oahu, have made it affordable for first-time buyers, Frame said.

“;The average home value there now is $354,000 as compared to this time a year ago when it was $495,000,”; he said, “;and in 2007 it was $533,000.”;

As prices have come down in Ewa Beach and road projects have improved traffic, demand has picked up, said John Riggins, owner of John Riggins Real Estate.

“;There are some great values there now,”; Riggins said. “;I don't think it's going to stay affordable.”;

Stimulus money and dropping values have enticed more prospective buyers, especially beginners, said Dan Tabori, executive vice president of operations for Prudential Locations LLC.

“;Compared to March, the number of first-time homebuyers doubled in April and more than tripled in May and June,”; Tabori said.

About 15 percent of Prudential Location's recent first-timers bought in Ewa Beach, where they can get more for the money, he said.

“;With the tremendous value and incentives being offered today, this is one of the best times for first-time buyers to venture into the market,”; said Richard Dunn, an executive vice president for Haseko Homes.





Ewa Beach, Hawaii's only affordable neighborhood for first-time homebuyers, wasn't even close to the national average for affordability, which Cyberhomes set at 198. To be considered affordable, a market had to have an index above 100. The top cities in the nation for first-time homebuyers, along with where Ewa Beach ranks:


Location ' Affordability Index

Memphis, Tenn.436
Phoenix, Ariz.340
Lincoln, Neb.313
Aurora, Colo.318
Lubbock, Texas266
Richmond, Va.265
Ewa Beach108

        Source: Cyberhomes