How The Kilauea Volcano Eruption May Affect West Hawaii Real Estate

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By now you know that Hawaii Island was rocked by an eruption at Kilauea last week that caused a pink plume of ash to rise hundreds of feet in the air when part of the crater wall fell into the caldera. That event seemed to start the lava flowing down lava tubes along  the volcano flanks 12 miles away into Leilani Estates, a subdivision built on the East Rift Zone, a Lava 1 Zone. 15 fissures have now opened up and have caused over 35 structures to be destroyed. This entire lava event, along with the numerous earthquakes and VOG issues is causing many people, including all of the Realtors and staff at LUVA Real Estate, to offer well wishes and assistance to those affected, but to also wonder how this is going to affect the real estate market on Hawaii Island.

First we want to assure you, that where the lava is currently flowing is over 100 miles from Kailua Kona and West Hawaii. We are not affected on the west side by Kilauea as we have Mauna Loa and Hualalai buffering us. If you look at the lava zone map, you can where the different lava zones are and can see that West Hawaii is located in Lava Zone 4 (yellow), which is not in a high danger zone.

We asked Lance Owens, President of the West Hawaii Association of Realtors and a 30 year resident on the island to give us some insight.

“Do you remember in  2014 all the national news  about the town of Pahoa and how it was going to be swallowed up by lava?  We had stores, (large chain stores) pack up and leave before the lava hit, they even removed fixtures from the buildings! We had CNN, CBS, NBC, all the big players all on island, just like now, it was hyped up around the WORLD. The  same thing that is happening right now with lots of misinformation was being put out back then. On the West side of the Island, I did not experience any negligible difference in my real estate business and within a year, homes in the town of Pahoa were selling, and nobody notices all the barricaded power line poles and other things that make you say “What is that about”?

I think the answer to home values being affected may lay more in the VOG (volcanic fog) when it comes to the West  side. If the VOG levels stay at this weeks level for a long time, it will have an effect, but if the VOG goes away, the flow itself, will not make a significant difference in the West Hawaii real estate market.

With that said, prayers and thoughts to the families that have lost their homes recently, and the 100 plus families that have lost homes over the past 35 years to this same eruption, as Kilauea has been erupting constantly since 1983.

How will mortgages be affected by the current lava event?

People who purchase homes in Lava Zone 1, the zone that is currently being affected by the lava, could not get home insurance and thus a mortgage on their homes. This will, obviously, continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. The good news is that homes in Lava Zone 2 are still seeing no change in mortgage availability according to Leslie Woods and Susan Gordon of Premiere Mortgage Resources.

Rent Increases and Insurance Premium Updates

Interesting to note, a moratorium on rent increases is being signed by Government Ige this week to help the beleaguered residents of the affected region find rental homes islandwide. Also, there have been rumors that homes devoured by lava have no insurance options. That is not the case if the homeowner has fire insurance according to Gordon Ito, who has been the state’s insurance commissioner since 2010 and is chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Western zone. Here is an article with more info: 

We want to reiterate that businesses, beaches and restaurants are open and life continues in West Hawaii. We know that our island is one ohana and whatever affects one side of the island affects us all. We offer our thoughts to all those who have lost their homes within the past week and will work with the West Hawaii Association of Realtors to fundraise and volunteer where needed to help those affected by the lava event.

How Can You Help?

If you would like to help, the Hawaii Island Food Basket is accepting donations to provide meals for the evacuees in two shelters in East Hawaii. Click here for more info:

If you are local, nonperishable food items and water are being collected at The Club in Kona and Gertrude’s Jazz Bar, both located in Kailua Kona.

If you need more information about the market or would like to discuss any aspect of real estate in West Hawaii, pleaese contact LUVA Real Estate Services today and we will be happy to help!