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Buying Property on Hawaiian Homelands

Jasmine Bell May 23, 2024

Buying Property on Hawaiian Homelands: What You Need to Know


Purchasing property in Hawaii is a dream for many, but buying property on Hawaiian homelands involves unique considerations and regulations. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 established the Hawaiian Home Lands program to provide native Hawaiians with land to promote self-sufficiency and preserve Hawaiian culture. If you’re interested in buying property on these lands, it’s essential to understand the eligibility requirements, lease terms, and benefits. This guide provides an overview of the key aspects involved in buying property on Hawaiian homelands.

Understanding Hawaiian Homelands

Hawaiian homelands are specific parcels of land set aside by the federal government for the benefit of native Hawaiians. These lands are managed by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). The primary purpose is to provide native Hawaiians with access to land for residential, agricultural, and pastoral use, fostering a sense of community and cultural preservation.


Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to lease property on Hawaiian homelands, you must meet specific criteria:


Hawaiian Ancestry: You must be at least 50% Hawaiian by blood (a verified native Hawaiian descendant).

Application Process: Submit an application to the DHHL and be placed on a waiting list. The application requires documentation proving your Hawaiian ancestry, such as birth certificates and genealogical records.

Lease Terms and Conditions

Unlike traditional property purchases, land on Hawaiian homelands is leased rather than owned outright. Here are the key points about these leases:


Lease Duration: Leases are typically for 99 years and may be extended for an additional term, ensuring long-term stability.

Lease Transfers: Leases can be transferred to family members who meet the eligibility criteria.

Lease Payments: Lessees are required to make regular lease payments, which are often more affordable than traditional mortgages. The DHHL may also offer financial assistance and loan programs to help with lease payments and property development.

Benefits of Leasing on Hawaiian Homelands

Leasing property on Hawaiian homelands offers several unique benefits:


Affordable Housing: Lease payments are generally lower than market-rate rents or mortgages, making homeownership more accessible for native Hawaiians.

Community and Cultural Ties: Living on Hawaiian homelands helps maintain and strengthen cultural connections and community bonds.

Support Services: The DHHL provides various support services, including financial counseling, homebuyer education, and assistance programs for home improvements and agricultural development.

Considerations and Challenges

While there are many advantages to leasing on Hawaiian homelands, there are also challenges and considerations:


Waiting List: Due to high demand, there may be a significant waiting period before you receive a lease offer.

Property Development: Lessees are responsible for developing the leased land, which can involve additional costs for building homes or agricultural infrastructure.

Restrictions: There may be restrictions on the resale or use of the property, and all leases must comply with DHHL regulations and policies.

Steps to Take

If you’re interested in leasing property on Hawaiian homelands, follow these steps:


Research: Understand the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, DHHL regulations, and the benefits and responsibilities of leasing.

Gather Documentation: Collect the necessary documents to prove your Hawaiian ancestry.

Submit Application: Apply to the DHHL and get on the waiting list.

Prepare Financially: Consider the costs involved in developing and maintaining the property, and explore financial assistance options through the DHHL.

Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with DHHL announcements and opportunities for lease awards.


Leasing property on Hawaiian homelands is a unique opportunity that supports the preservation of Hawaiian culture and provides affordable housing solutions for native Hawaiians. Understanding the eligibility requirements, lease terms, and benefits is crucial for making an informed decision. By navigating the process with the help of the DHHL and taking advantage of available support services, eligible native Hawaiians can achieve their dream of homeownership and contribute to the vibrant Hawaiian community.

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We have 10 years of professional real estate experience. We love to help families, veterans and first time home buyers buy and sell. We both relocated to Oahu with our fur babies, to follow our dreams and live the Hawaii livestyle. Both of our families have deep roots in real estate, providing us strong real estate foundations.

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