Buying your first home here can be intimidating, especially since you have to come up with a big down payment. A state lawmaker wants to make it easier, proposing no money down for certain people.

Representative Gene Ward calls this initiative “Kamaaina Come Home.” That’s HB 605.  He says many leave Hawaii because it’s too expensive to live here. The proposal is to give local people living on the mainland a reason to come back and be with family.

Representative Ward says to qualify, you have to be a graduate of a Hawaii high school. Have a baccalaureate degree or higher from a university on the mainland or anywhere other than the state of Hawaii. This has to be your first home or condo, and you have to be able to qualify for a mortgage loan. 

“The biggest barrier to getting a home in Hawaii is the down payment,” said Rep. Ward. 

So how will the state pay for the down payment? Rep. Ward says by taxing real estate investment trusts or REITS for short. 

“It’s the big trust, the real estate investment trust, which is basically a corporation that doesn’t pay any taxes when it buys and sells. I think it’s $35 million a year that we could be getting from REITS,” said Rep. Ward. “They are the corporations that own most of the shopping centers multi-billion dollar real estate corporations, which in Hawaii only tax for dividends because the state has given them a buy. This is proposing to create that fund to be the down payment guarantor.”

So what about those who never left to go to the mainland? Could no down payment be real to them too?

“If this one succeeds to get the “Kamaaina Come Home,” I think we could do a phase two,” said Rep. Ward. 

Ward says the priority now is to bring families back together and get local people living on the mainland to be part of Hawaii’s workforce.