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Understanding Leasehold Property in Hawaii


Understanding Leasehold Property in Hawaii – Soldier to Soldier Hawaii Realty

Understanding Leasehold Property in Hawaii

In the world of real estate, there are many concepts and terms that may seem confusing to the uninitiated. Today, we’ll explore one such concept that is relatively common in the beautiful island state of Hawaii – the leasehold property. This blog post aims to explain what a leasehold property is, its benefits, and potential downsides, especially in the context of Hawaii’s unique real estate market.

What is a Leasehold Property?

The concept of leasehold property has its roots in the traditional Hawaiian land division system, where the monarchy and a handful of chiefs, or ‘aliis’, controlled the majority of the land.

In the simplest terms, a leasehold property is one where you own the building and any improvements on the land, but you do not own the land itself. Instead, the land is leased from the landowner or lessor for a predetermined period, which can range from 50 to 99 years. The person leasing the land, the lessee, pays a monthly lease rent to the landowner in addition to any mortgage payments on the building.

Leasehold Property in Hawaii

Hawaii, particularly Oahu, has a high number of leasehold properties due to historical landownership patterns. This system became prevalent in the mid-20th century, when many landowners decided to lease their land instead of selling it, maintaining their ownership while generating a steady income.

The Hawaiian real estate market is quite unique in that it is common for condos and even some single-family homes to be leasehold properties, unlike in many mainland states where leasehold is usually applied to commercial properties.

Benefits of Leasehold Properties

One of the main advantages of leasehold properties is affordability. Since you’re not buying the land, leasehold properties typically have a lower upfront cost compared to fee simple properties (where you own both the land and building). This makes leasehold an attractive option for people who wish to live in otherwise expensive areas of Hawaii, but might not have the resources to purchase a fee simple property.

Drawbacks of Leasehold Properties

While the initial cost of a leasehold property might be lower, it’s important to remember that you are, in fact, leasing the land. As the end of the lease term approaches, the value of the property tends to decrease. Some lease rents also increase over time, as defined in the lease contract.

Another important consideration is the lease expiration. When the lease ends, the land and all improvements revert back to the landowner, unless the lease is renegotiated or extended, which is not guaranteed. This uncertainty can make leasehold properties harder to sell as the end of the lease term approaches.

Leasehold Properties: A Deal or a Drain? – Hawaii Business Magazine


In summary, leasehold properties in Hawaii offer an affordable way to enjoy the benefits of homeownership in a paradise location. However, they come with unique considerations, such as lease rent, the depreciation of property value, and the potential loss of property at the end of the lease term.

As with any major investment decision, it’s essential to fully understand the terms of the lease and consult with a knowledgeable real estate agent or attorney.

While leasehold property might not be for everyone, for some, it could be the perfect route to enjoying the idyllic Hawaiian lifestyle, without the high price tag typically associated with Hawaiian real estate. It’s all about understanding what you’re getting into and making an informed decision that suits your needs and circumstances.

Celester Thomas

Soldier to Soldier