The Impact of Rising Sea Levels on Popular Hawaii Markets
In Honolulu, a staggering 29,823 homes are at risk of sinking with rising tides, about a quarter of all Honolulu homes. Currently, buyers are shelling out $650,000 for listings in Honolulu, but in 83 years, the metro could experience $23.3 billion in lost homes. The median value of at-risk homes in Honolulu is $478,000.
What's startling about at-risk areas nationwide is that it's not just the typical waterfront home: Almost two-thirds of the homes are in suburban areas. Zillow categorizes home values into three tiers - top, middle and bottom. Although owners of homes in the top tier may risk losing more money if their home sinks, owners of homes in the bottom tier are the most financially vulnerable. Lower-income homeowners spend more of their earnings on mortgage payments, meaning the loss of their primary investment - their home - can potentially derail their financial stability.
The majority of Honolulu's underwater homes - 48.4 percent - are considered bottom-tier homes. That means nearly half of Honolulu's at-risk homeowners face a financial crisis due to rising sea levels. Middle-tier homes represent 35.6 percent of Honolulu's potential underwater homes, whereas just over 16 percent are considered top tier.
Keeping this in mind, Hawaii home shoppers may prefer to search for homes in these lower-risk markets.
Island of Oahu
An estimated 428 homes in Kaneohe would be underwater by the year 2100. The loss represents only 2.8 percent of all Kaneohe homes, far less than Honolulu. The median price of listings in Kaneohe is $834,000, while the median value of homes that could flood with rising sea levels is $1.086 million. The predictions in Kaneohe favor homeowners in the bottom tier. Only 8 percent of Kaneohe homes that could drop below rising tides are in the bottom tier. About 75 percent of Kaneohe's potentially underwater homes are valued in the top tier, compared to just 17.3 percent of homes considered middle tier.
Island of Kauai
Today's buyers are spending $615,000 for Kapaa real estate, lower prices than in Kaneohe. However, in 83 years, homes currently valued around $438,000 are most likely to fall below lifted sea levels. More than 7.5 percent of homes in Kapaa - 509 total homes - would be underwater if sea levels rose by 6 feet. Of the cities in this list, owners of bottom-tier homes face the greatest risk in Kappa, as 74.5 percent of underwater homes are valued in the bottom tier. Only 14.1 percent of Kapaa's at-risk homes are middle tier, and 11.4 percent are top-tier homes.
An estimated 150 homes, or 5.8 percent of all Kilauea homes, could be underwater in 83 years. Fortunately for Kilauea's financially vulnerable homeowners, only 20.7 percent of those homes are bottom-tier homes; 42.7 percent are middle tier, and 36.7 percent are top tier. The median listing price of homes for sale in Kilauea is unavailable, but shoppers should know the median value of homes threatened by rising sea levels is $1.06 million.
Island of Hawaii
On the ig Island, roughly 8 percent of homes in Puako - about 104 homes - are in danger due to rising sea levels. Puako listings are going for $1.15 million, the priciest of all detailed markets. The median value of homes at risk is $1.73 million, by far the greatest financial loss predicted on this list. High-value homes are the majority of Puako's potential underwater homes, at nearly 59 percent. Just under 33 percent of threatened homes are middle tier, and only 8.7 percent are valued in the bottom tier.
Just 2 percent of all Pahoa homes - 122 homes total - risk sinking with rising sea levels. The median for listings in Pahoa is $205,900, the cheapest among these markets. Buyers should consider that the median value of homes forecast to drop below sea level is $308,000. Owners of homes in the bottom tier are safest in Pahoa, with only 3.3 percent of predicted underwater homes. The majority - 85.2 percent - of impacted homes are top tier, while 11.5 percent are middle-tier homes.
A 6-foot rise in sea levels could be catastrophic for homeowners in the bottom tier, as they risk losing their financial stability along with their homes. In markets like Pahoa and Kaneohe, however, lower-income homeowners face the least risk when it comes to rising sea levels.