Hawaii Real Estate & Geography

Hawaii Real Estate & Geography

Posted in the Honolulu Forum

“I buy homes - Oahu & San Diego”

Since: Oct 10

Pottstown, PA

#1 Mar 24, 2011
The full original article is at: http://bit.ly/dUf5Ky

I used to be a geographer. That sounds like a made-up career to many people, but it’s true and it’s a lot more involved than just making maps. I have a Master of Science degree in geography and even completed a few years of doctoral work as well before happily ejecting myself from the academic machine (glutton for punishment, I suppose). What exactly does it mean to be a geographer (and why am I writing about it in a Hawaii real estate blog)? Basically, geographers look at PATTERNS of physical and social relationships and phenomena. Put another way, we look at changes in physical or social characteristics between different places and how these characteristics evolve over time.

So now you’re probably thinking:“Ok, that sounds nice and all, but how does that relate to Hawaii real estate and housing?” Great question! The answer is actually quite simple. I’m going to coin a phrase here:“property expression of society”. Real estate is the property expression of a society’s values. There are reasons that we settle where we do and where we don’t. Do we want to be near the beach? How close to the beach? Or do we prefer to be back in the valleys? How far back? Which side of a northeast facing slope?

Where do the different ethnics groups concentrate? Chinatown is called that for a reason but WHY THERE? Waipahu has a high Filipino population, but WHY THERE? These are questions we don’t ask ourselves because, for most of us, they are largely academic. We take it for granted – it just is what it is. Imagine taking a snapshot of Oahu or metro Honolulu and coloring in where the different groups have decided to buy or rent property. How would that finished colored photo look?

Now imagine doing that once a year for ten or twenty years! How would those colors shift through time? Would you see the patterns changing from year to year? What if you could do it historically and analyze the changing patterns of property ownership for the past 50 years? What might you find? A geographer would do just that: collect data on previous property ownership records, try to assess the different demographic groups to which the owners belonged, and model the change of ownership of those different demographic groups over time and between different places. They’d likely use a GIS (geographic information system) for the data compilation and analysis and output them in print and/or digital maps.

Once you have a deeper understanding and appreciation of these patterns, now comes the big question: WHAT DOES IT MEAN? What are the underlying forces behind these settlement patterns of different people in different places? What causes certain groups to live in certain areas? Is it for social reasons? Economic incentives or job availability? Do these causes themselves change over time? If so, what do these changes in causes or social/economic priorities mean?

That’s how a geographer would view Hawaii real estate – as the outward property expression of a society’s values, its wants and needs reflected in the decision to plant roots in certain places. It’s a lot more than just who lives where. It’s digging deeper and understanding that there are real reasons, many of which we’re not aware of, that determine the decisions we make in real estate. The questions to ponder are: what are these reasons? why do they change? are these changes uniform across Hawaii or are they unique to each island or each town?

The next time you find yourself with a nice view over part of whichever island you live on (I hike a lot, so I see lots of bird’s eye views over Oahu), take a moment and look out over the nearest town, settled area, etc. Try to imagine coloring in different groups (ethnicity, age, job type, etc.) of the photo in your mind and see the landscape for more than just rows of houses and streets. There are reasons that you see the pattern you’re seeing.

Kapolei, HI

#2 Mar 24, 2011
You wasted yars in college to learn that? Everybody knows to follow the money. Poor people move ro poor areas and try to work their way out. Even my dog knows this.

“I buy homes - Oahu & San Diego”

Since: Oct 10

Pottstown, PA

#3 Mar 24, 2011
Wow, thanks for the courteous and sincere reply. Let me return the favor in kind.

This article was about looking at a real estate landscape from a geographer's point of view, about how the patterns of housing are merely the outward expression of the socioeconomic patterns that evolve over time instead of just rows of houses. It's meant to inform and entertain, not split the atom. So sorry you feel disappointed.

And I didn't 'waste yars in college', although perhaps you did - learn to spell. I analyzed detailed satellite imagery which I paired from data I collected in the Gulf of Thailand, constructed geographic information systems, helped organize a United Nations conference of top academic in Thailand, worked with state agencies on more efficient ways to monitor coastal land use across vertical levels of government oversight and more. I'm also published in scientific journals.

Has your dog done that or did he not have time between crapping in your front yard and pissing off your neighbors?

Honolulu, HI

#4 Mar 25, 2011
I think it would be more informative and entertaining to hear a psychologists take on Hawaii real estate.
Can you analyze data and become enlightened as to what motivates someone to purchase a particular piece of real estate?
Sure OK

Makawao, HI

#5 Mar 25, 2011
Michael Borger wrote:
The full original article is at: http://bit.ly/dUf5Ky
Thank you for your post and I will check out the link as soon as I get the time. You bring up interesting thoughts.
The poster stumpy while crude did touch on one of many reasons that people live where they do. Money is always a top reason. Another could be a persons tolerance to certain weather conditions even on just a single island. Dry on the leeward side or wet elsewhere, where this could be due to personal preferences or medical or even both. You did touch on the subject of like minded or people of the same ethnic background aiding in the choice of where to settle. This is understandable and starts when we are born. Say in HS dynamics where clicks form. Religion, clubs, interests, etc.
It is a look at human behavior from basic instincts (our animal instincts), psychology, personal health and financial needs. Nature vs nurture even comes into play.
It is also like looking at the different periods of time and understanding why, how and where cities were formed.

It is the pioneers that venture/ventured into NEW territory areas that in my opinion are the true free thinkers and brave ones that helped and continue to help forge this country and this world.

Have a good night and thanks again for the post.

“I buy homes - Oahu & San Diego”

Since: Oct 10

Pottstown, PA

#6 Mar 27, 2011
Fisherman: That would certainly be interesting. But there's a fair degree of overlap because both would have to look at 'values' that drive decisions. But a good suggestion!

Sure OK: Yes, money is undoubtedly a prime mover of much of human activity and it always will be. You bring up some many good points, sounding like an academic yourself! All these criteria are likely factors in the overall decisions that form the historical evolution of a social landscape. Thank you for the excellent insight!

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