Sometimes, finding affordable housing means thinking outside the box. One idea that can help local families continue residing in Hawaii is to take advantage of tax lien auctions. A federal tax lien is the government’s legal claim against your property when you neglect or fail to pay a tax debt. When an owner with a tax lien passes away, the state will often put the property out for auction, especially if the family is unaware of the situation. These tax lien auctions are open to the public and will sell the property – land or homes – at a deep discount. Depending on the island, the cost can be anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 cheaper than the normal cost. Each parcel is sold to the highest bidder for certified or cashier’s check, and bidders are required to register and verify funds prior to the start of the auction. You can typically find these auctions advertised in the newspapers, online at sites like or even by word of mouth from builders and contractors.