Whether you are already an Islander or considering retiring to one of Hawaii’s beautiful island homes, you will find so much to love about this vibrant state. The cool outdoor breezes, the natural landscape and beaches, delicious food and vivacious culture make Hawaii one of the most sought-after destinations to build a new home.
As a new homebuyer, you may find the thought of financing your first house to be a bit overwhelming. Balancing your excitement and anticipation with the financial stress can be a challenge when you’re looking to close the gap between your allotted budget and your total expenses. Luckily, there are opportunities for first-time buyers that help make your investment more affordable, so you can settle into your dream home sooner than you think!
Who qualifies as a first-time homebuyer in Hawaii?
This definition can vary by state, so it’s important to delineate this term really quick. In most cases, an individual may qualify as a first-time homebuyer in Hawaii if he or she has never owned a home, or at least has not owned a home in the past three years as a primary residence. When reviewing the guidelines for each program, check the specific requirements for exceptions.
Statewide First-Time Buyer Programs
The following programs are available statewide to Hawaii residents.
Down Payment Assistance Loan Program (DPAL)
The Hawaii HomeOwnership Center Affiliate, HHOC Mortgage, functions to serve primarily low to moderate income families in Hawaii who seek homeownership. The HHOC Mortgage DPAL Program, exclusively available for first-time homebuyers, provides a financing option which requires only 5% down payment. Other restrictions may apply, so visit the website for details.
Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program (DPACC)
In addition to the DPAL program, HHOC Mortgage also offers a second program to assist low to moderate-income individuals and families with down payment and closing costs when purchasing their first home. The HHOC Mortgage DPACC Program provides a 15-year deferred loan with zero interest and no monthly payments. The funds can be applied to the down payment, closing costs, or a combination of both. Income limits and other restrictions may apply. See the website for more information.
Mortgage Credit Certificate Program
The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) offers a mortgage credit certificate exclusively for first-time homebuyers. This program will reduce the amount of federal income tax liability for the borrower by allowing a tax credit worth 20% of their annual mortgage interest. The remaining 80% can still be put towards an itemized tax deduction. Other requirements, including income limitations, may apply and borrowers must use an approved lender. See website for full details.
Hula Mae Mortgage Loan Program
Additionally, the HHFDC also offers financial assistance to first-time homebuyers by way of the Hula Mae Mortgage Loan Program. This program provides an affordable home loan option and down payment assistance. Qualified applicants will meet specified income limits and other requirements. See the website for details and information necessary to apply.
HawaiiUSA’s First-Time Homebuyer Program
HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union offers the HawaiiUSA’s First-Time Homebuyer Program for eligible first-time buyers to assist with financial and process-related inquiries. This program provides guidance and support for new borrowers and may assist qualified applicants with down payment and closing costs. Other discounts may be available upon completion of first-time homebuyer education course. Flexible income limits and other restrictions may apply. Qualified participants must be a member of HawaiiUSA FCU. To learn more and to complete an application, visit their website.
Homebuyer Programs by Location
In addition to statewide programs, there are also homebuyer assistance programs based in different cities and regions of a state. The programs below are opportunities for first-time buyers in Hawaii based on the county or island of residence.
Residents of Maui County who are looking to settle down in their first home may consider applying to Maui County’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Down Payment Assistance Program. This program is available to first-time buyers only and eligible borrowers must meet specified income limits. Qualified applicants are selected through a lottery process for down payment assistance in a maximum amount of $30,000. See the website for lottery dates and other restrictions.
The Kaua’i Home Buyer Loan Program offers low-cost mortgages and gap financing for qualified first-time homebuyers interested in living on the island of Kaua’i. Preference is given to residents of Kaua’i and the property must be the owner’s primary residence. Eligible borrowers may be subject to income limits and complete a homebuyer education course. Other restrictions may apply, so check out the official website for more information.
Residents of Oahu may be interested in opportunities for financial assistance through the Community Services Department. For borrowers looking to purchase within the city and county of Honolulu, Honolulu’s Department of Community Services offers down payment loans with zero interest and no fees to low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers. These loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis. See the website for income limits, additional restrictions, and to apply.
Find Your Home in Paradise
Settling into your first home can be exciting and a bit scary, too. If you hope to call the Hawaiian Islands your paradise home, but you find that your dream house is just slightly out of financial reach, be sure to check out the programs above to see if you qualify for assistance. Your new home is just a gentle island breeze away!
The links on this site were researched by NewHomeSource. This is as cohesive a list as possible. Individual homebuyers should contact entities to fully understand requirements and processes.
Melanie Theriault is a writer, counselor, and lifelong learner. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Southwestern University, where she discovered her passion for fostering human connection through storytelling.