The number of families on the Hawaiian Homelands waiting list is in the tens of thousands, and the wait is long.

But on Saturday, the list got a little shorter for 31 families as, at long last, they chose their lots in Waimanalo.

Chris Kaniaupio and his family have been waiting for a long time for a homestead lot — nearly 50 years, but on Saturday, he was awarded a lot in Kakaina, a new development on Oahu’s east side.

When he finally realized that he was going to be a homeowner, Kaniaupio said it was “surreal … I guess it really didn’t hit me to actually going to be able to move into a house now in Hawaii, and own our own home, instead of renting.”

About half of the 31 families chose the turnkey option, while the other half selected vacant lots to build their own homes.

Thomas Kalawaia said “I went with owner-builder because I wanted something different. I didn’t want to be like everybody else.”

Families signed their paperwork, and those who selected turnkey homes, they were able to select an option of one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom homes, the latter an attraction for bigger families that opt for multi-generational living situations.

Hawaiian Homes commission chair Jobie Masagatani said that “today was about families that had what’s called an undivided interest lease. It’s like a paper lease that gives them an opportunity to select a lot in the future.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands told us families pay for the cost to the structure — turnkey homes cost between $280,000 to $300,000. The 99-year lease is a dollar for the first 7 years, but then families have to pay property tax after that.

Approximately 27,000 applicants are waiting for a lot. Lots on Lanai, Kauai and Maui could be coming online in the next 12 to 18 months.

Often times, the Hawaiian Homestead commission has a difficult time contacting applicants because their information is outdated. So if you’re on a Hawaiian Homestead list, contact them through and update your info.