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Publisher’s Desktop

Recognizing Hawaii’s Top Realtors

Publisher’s Desktop

Before we started the Hawaii Business Top 100 Realtors program in 2007, there was no objective recognition of the state’s top Realtors. As a business publication, we felt that it was important to recognize agents for their business success, and the best measure was sales volume. Our idea was validated by Tom Zimmerman, now founder of Honolulu HomeLoans, who offered to host a dinner for the top Realtors at the Royal Hawaiian if we generated the list.

Simply collecting and merging the MLS data from Hawaii’s five boards of Realtors, which use different systems, was a daunting task previously completed by real estate economist Harvey Shapiro. Harvey passed away in September. This year, the CPA firm Grant Thornton LLP stepped in and did an excellent job of creating and verifying the list. We have made hard decisions on which criteria to use. For instance, we exclude land sales, multifamily dwellings and new home sales, which significantly shapes the outcome of the list. Different criteria would have generated a very different list. (See Page 50 for all the criteria selected.)

Our choice of criteria is guided by a desire to recognize agents involved in the resale of residential homes. These are the Realtors who endure the open houses and caravans; search for new niches, business models and marketing approaches to differentiate themselves; and ultimately change the way their industry operates. There is also an interesting dynamic between Realtors and their firms: good ones are gold, not only to the buyers and sellers they represent, but also to the managers and principle brokers of the firms for which they work. Clearly, real estate in Hawaii is a highly competitive industry driven by diversity and entrepreneurship.

The diverse paths that lead a person to become a Realtor shatter the stereotype of the soccer-mom-real-estate-agent. In our Top 25 this year, we have a former bank president (Bob Hansen); a former accountant with KPMG (Myron Kiriu); a surfer who built one of Hawaii’s largest organic farms before devoting himself to real estate (Neal Norman); an attorney (Patricia Case); and a former senior vice president at a national credit corporation (Dolores Bediones).

Four years of researching the Top 100 Realtors demonstrates to us that the industry dynamically responds to the changing market. This year, discount Realtors who assist sale-by-owner transactions moved far down the list as Hawaii changed from a seller’s to a buyer’s market. Meanwhile, the sales of Realtors specializing in REO (bank-owned property) transactions have increased dramatically. And Realtors who had previously served as developer’s representatives have moved back into the resale market.

A particularly striking change has been a shift to teams, similar to the growth of teams in the financial industry. To fairly compare Realtors’ sales volumes, we contacted all the Realtors and asked them to exclude any transactions in which they did not take the principle role. Our top overall Realtor this year, Rob Kildow, with more than $107 million in sales, worked with his team to produce an additional $103 million in sales.

Four years later, I fully understand Tom Zimmerman’s desire to host an exclusive dinner for these folks. The Top 100 Realtors drive the industry in Hawaii. It’s important that they be recognized for their amazing business success.

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Hawaii Business,June