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Business :: Real Estate :: Understanding the Hawaii Real Estate Market :: How to Shop for the Best ...

How to Shop for the Best Brokerage and Agent

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Most residents of Hawaii already know most of the answers to these questions and many of these questions may be more suited to the prospective buyer from outside Hawaii, Residents will still find some very interesting information in the answers to these questions.

I think we will take the probably the most challenging question first….

“Who are the Best Agents?”

The answer to this question will not be found here as the answer is going to have to come from within each of you asking this question. I can only guide you in thinking about what the right questions will be in asking an agent to help you that will ultimately allow you to answer who is the best agent to work with?

Normally a search on the internet is not going to reveal to you who might be the most experienced agents if this is one of your criteria choices. Mostly what you will find by searching the internet with this question is agent self promotion.

You could make the assumption that the ‘Big Boxes’ like Coldwell Banker, Prudential, RE/MAX, etc. should provide you with the best choices based upon their name recognition and size.

By assuming the Big Boxes is the best way to go you could be making an incorrect assumption.

One of your key beginning questions you should be asking yourself is

“What Real Estate Brokerage gets the most attention of buyers and sellers?”

We are in a ‘Technology War’ that seems to be changing on a daily basis. A case in point is ‘printed word’ vs. ‘video.’ We all ‘see’ and learn better when we are as ‘close’ to the experience as possible. When we are in a class room we learn better, faster. We hear anticipated questions and those answers. We get answers immediately to our questions. I surmise that in the not too distant future we will be able to not only pick what streaming video we want to watch on a website to get answers to questions we have but we will also have ‘live chat rooms’ on a multitude of real estate questions we may have.

There are National Websites and Localized Websites. In choosing between the two I would go with a localized website ‘if’ it had the answers I was seeking and it had a disproportionate amount of ‘viewings, hits,’ whatever you want to call them.

The point is…you are looking for…Exposure. The more exposure a website has the more viewer ship it has and the higher likely hood a buyer will find the home and answers they are looking for as well as the seller has more chance of selling their home for a higher price in a shorter period of time than a website that receives a less amount views.

It is all about exposure

You can go onto the internet and use Google, Bing and other search engines and you can ask the same question in a multitude of different ways. In most cases in Hawaii you will end up sooner than later at: and

Fortunately for me I am affiliated with one of them… Because I am affiliated with this website my articles and my ‘viewership’ is up and the result for me is more business. The result for my clients is the satisfaction that they got what needed in the shortest amount of time not only because they worked with an agent who is experienced and qualified but because the clients worked with a website that has a dominant viewership.

Is this the end result, these two websites? The answer is No but it is a good portion of the ‘right answer.’ You still need to visit other websites to learn and expand your knowledge such as we have here at

At Oceanic Cable we are fortunate enough to have for the most part experienced agents who have chosen to write for this website who have a vast wealth of knowledge concerning real estate matters.

“What about picking the agent?”

Please remember, it is exposure you are looking for. Now it is time to pick within the websites that have exposure for an agent.

The most common mistake a prospective buyer or seller still makes even after all these years is asking an agent …

“How many years have you been selling real estate?”

Trust me. When I look around for a real estate brokerage to associate myself with ( I was at Prudential and Coldwell Banker before RE/MAX) the first thing I look for is the not the years of experience their agents have but how many homes have they sold in the number of years they have been selling real estate.

You would be amazed as I was when I looked up the sales history of agents with 10+ years of experience and found many of them had sold less homes than an agent with 2-7 years of experience.

(Courtesy to Hawaii Real Estate Commission)

Currently there are approximately 22,000 licensed real estate agents in Hawaii and about 58% of them are on Oahu. This means that on Oahu there are approximately 13,000 real estate agents.

If we take the total sales on Oahu in 2008 which was approximately 6,700 total for both Single Family Homes and Condos combined, that would mean that each agent sold approximately ½ a home per year.

Five years ago over 90% of sales on the Island of Oahu were done by less than 10% of the licensed real estate agents. My guess is that this % has dropped even further now with a -27% decrease in sales volume. Most real estate agents right now are probably selling less than 3 homes / year. This type of data can be gotten at the Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Real Estate Licensing Board.

“So what does all this mean?”

If you are in the market to either sell or buy a home on Oahu, I would begin looking at the Companies that have a dominant position on the internet, first.

Secondly, once that is established, look at agents of these companies who have been in business between 5-7 years because it is within this number of years I have found that agents are most aggressively building a career for themselves within their brokerages and are driven to be successful. I could show you this data….but I would have to shoot you. No, seriously, I cannot share the data as it is personal, proprietary data of individual brokerages I have analyzed.

This is not to say that agents who have been in the business longer or a shorter time may not be your best choices. It all ‘depends.’ To find out what it ‘depends’ on, read on…

“How will you find these agents?”

Ask for Sales Reports

Each and every agent will have a Gross Sales / Activity Report. This report will show you how many homes they have sold as a buyer’s agent, how many homes they have sold as a listing agent, how many homes they have not been able to sell as a listing agent, how many times they have had to lower the asking price in order to sell a listing, what neighborhoods they helped a buyer to purchase a home and what neighborhoods they have been selling listings.

Wow, now you wish you probably knew this before…well, now you do!

Tip of the Day before I close…the news is the Feds are stopping their purchasing of U.S. Treasuries because they think the Unemployment is down and a Recovery is taking place. 

“What does this mean to me?”

Interest Rates have a real good chance now of going UP.

See for more info on this.

In last month’s article I promised to share some of the newest half year data with you all. You can also find this data on my website at

The above map shows a % for both SFH’s and Condos for each of the areas. This % equals the amount of Just Accepted Offers in Escrow as compared to total inventory for sale. Please note the ACS % at the top left of the map for Oahu SFH’s and Condos. The Oahu ACS% is the basis for the up or down arrows for each neighborhood on the Island Map.



As you can see from the In Escrow and Sold Pie graphs above it is the $400,000 to $499,999 price range that is has sold in July ’09 ( the last 60 days) and the same price range is even a bigger % going into Escrow now.

Buyers are now choosing to purchase the lower price ranges whether it is a Single Family Home or Condo in almost areas of Oahu. This trend has been occurring all year and has the average price range the buyers are choosing to purchase in has dropped all year.

I hope that this article has made some sense to you and that you have enjoyed it.

As always, writing these articles is a ‘One Way Street.’ This is not an interactive exercise, so if you have any questions, I will be happy to try and answer them.

You can reach me at: or 808-384-9015

I thank you for your readership and wish you all much Aloha,

Mike Gallagher
Broker in Charge, RE/MAX Honolulu
Ethics Complaints Review Committee Member

The views and information contained are not provided or endorsed by Oceanic Time Warner Cable or any its affiliates. The content provided is for general information and entertainment purposes only. Please seek professional advice before acting on any information contained within this web site. Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


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