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4 Quick Tips to Maximize Social Media in Real Estate

Real estate has always been, and will continue to be, an industry centered on relationships. As such, real estate professionals are poised to exploit social media to further build relationships and their engagement of sphere of influence. However, many agents use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and the other social media sites merely as platforms of ‘marketing’ – and by that it’s merely spouting listings without any real value to the audience.

Here are a few tips based on observations of social media successes and failures:

  1. Be REAL. Don’t just talk about your latest and greatest listings – that’s a surefire way to get your audience to tune you out. Show your personality, relate to people, and be genuine. Be the real you, for better or for worse (hopefully for the better), and customers will respond accordingly.
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Posted by: Alex Cortez on December 5th, 2012 under Best Practices, Technology


Hawaii Act 182 – Revamping the Foreclosure Process

Signed into law by Governor Abercrombie on June 29, Act 182 received little media coverage yet its effect on the foreclosure process in Hawaii is sure to have significant ramifications. The new Act is meant to resolve unintended consequences (‘flaws’, as scrutinized by the media and public) of Act 48. To provide a brief background, Act 48 was intended as a solution to protect owner-occupants at default from facing what was widely considered to be antiquated non-judicial foreclosure procedures. However, lienholders chose to skirt the new protections afforded by Act 48 by implementing policies whereby all new foreclosures were processed judicially. Hence, although some owner-occupants were ‘saved’ from non-judicial foreclosure, now through judicial foreclosure they can face deficiency judgments – not to mention that under-staffed, under-funded courts are now backlogged by the wave of judicial foreclosures.

With that said, the 2012 legislative session included efforts to address/remedy concerns from consumers, lenders, title companies, and HOA’s. As such, let us look at what Act 182 encompasses:

  1. Act 48 had placed a one-year moratorium on Part I of the non-judicial foreclosure law, now Act 182 has been completely eliminated Part I.
  2. Mediation, which is only available for non-judicial foreclosures of owner-occupant residential properties by lenders, has now become permanent.
  3. Borrowers can convert a non-judicial foreclosure to judicial. This protection becomes permanent under Act 182, whereas it was temporary under Act 48.
  4. Establishes a separate non-judicial foreclosure and assessment lien process for AOAO and HOAs. Very critical.
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Posted by: Alex Cortez on July 16th, 2012 under Guest Bloggers, Regional

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Hawaii HB 2078 Passed – How Does It Change Short Term Rentals?

For many mainlanders and foreign nationals, the opportunity to invest in Hawaii real estate is the perfect melee of business with pleasure. Although for the most part Hawaii is not regarded as a strong short-term cash flow market, its reputation as a stalwart long-term equity market has made it a perennial favorite among those with a comparatively patient investment strategy.

However, it is critical that buyers (regardless of their nationality) perform due diligence and are well aware of any material facts that could reasonably affect their investment. As such, potential buyers and the real estate community had been closely monitoring Hawaii HB 2078 since its initial proposal in January. In a nutshell, this measure sought to require off-island vacation rental owners to use an on-island property manager, with the purpose of ensuring that appropriate taxes are collected on any rental income generated. Current transient accommodation owners and real estate professionals who realize how this legislation would have a negative effect on investment strategies and the sluggish real estate market rallied to form an organized opposition force and through their efforts, HB 2078 evolved through a series of versions (Click here to view) to a more fair measure. Ultimately, HB 2078 HD2 SD2 CD1 passed Final Reading on 05/02/2012 and is scheduled to become effective on 07/01/2012. As passed, this measure will:

“Require the owner of a transient accommodation to designate a local contact residing on the same island as where the transient accommodation is located. Furthermore, it requires that all advertisements and solicitations for transient accommodations on any website display the registration identification numbers.”

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Posted by: Alex Cortez on May 22nd, 2012 under Regional

1 Comment »

Listing Syndication – Yes or No?

News of Abbott Realty Group’s decision to stop syndicating its listings to real estate aggregators such as Trulia and Zillow renewed the discussion in the industry regarding the value of third-party sites in marketing properties. To summarize the point made by the likes of ABR and Edina, which made the decision in November, is that third-party aggregators take listing information (which is ‘owned’ by the listing brokerage) as content for their sites, which drives traffic to these sites. The resulting traffic then becomes a valuable commodity which can be leveraged into selling advertising, whether to individual agents, brokerages, or add-on services (i.e. moving companies). A consensus among the anti-syndication crowd is that data is often outdated, automated-valuation models (i.e. Zestimates) are inaccurate, and that ultimately these portals are using listings to attract traffic to their sites, so that they can sell those ‘leads’ and ad space to real estate agents.

The flip side of the argument, at least as made by Zillow’s CEO Spencer Rascoff, is that portals such as Zillow are ‘most likely to provide the most exposure to the most buyers,’ which results in listings selling faster and at a higher price. He goes on to say that ‘not putting listings on Zillow, and Trulia is tantamount to abandoning any hope of finding a buyer who is using a mobile device’ (emphasis added by Mr. Rascoff), which would lead one to believe that the big aggregators have a monopoly in mobile technology – a point that many leading innovators could argue against.

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Posted by: Alex Cortez on February 8th, 2012 under Guest Bloggers

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Market Report – Maui’s Luxury Sector

As the recession continues to take its toll on the national real estate market and speculation abounds a possible double dip, the Hawaii market remains resilient. And although droves of first-time buyers and investors are flocking to what is regarded as a long-term equity market, the sector that is proving to be most interesting is the luxury stratum.

There have been a number of sales that are reflective of wealthy buyers showing confidence in the Maui real estate market. For example, three months ago Paypal co-founder, Peter Thiel, paid $27M for a Makena beachfront single-family residence, setting the record for highest amount ever paid for a property in Maui County. The previous record had been set the year prior at $19.85M for another Makena estate. In addition, the North Shore is a mecca for free-spirits and water-sport daredevils (care to surf a 50-foot wave at Jawz?), making oceanfront/beachfront properties highly sought-after. Yet the highest sale recorded in the North Shore came two months ago, as a Spreckelsville oceanfront home sold for $9.65M, shattering the previous record of $5.85M set at the peak of market in 2007. Furthermore, Maui luxury condos are known for having a high price tag and numerous sales during the 2005-2007 boom solidified such reputation. However, it was last year that the sale of a Wailea Beach Villa set the high mark at $12.5M for a Maui condo. And as Maui was recently named by Conde Nast as the ‘Best Island’ in the world for the 17th time and ‘Best Destination’ globally, interest in the Valley Isle by well-heeled buyers is sure to continue.

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Posted by: Alex Cortez on October 19th, 2011 under HomeGain Market Data, Regional


Hawaii Residential Condos

For many potential buyers of Hawaii real estate, the term ‘Residential Condo’ is new and unfamiliar, as many parts of North America do not have a similar form of ownership. Residential condos are regulated by Hawaii State Law 514B, which dictates how condominiums are created, managed, governed, and operated in the state of Hawaii.

The critical components shared by condos and residential condos are common elements (pool, recreation area), limited elements (actual unit, assigned parking space), have an individual tax-map key number, can be sold independent of each other and have a conforming use of the land as per applicable zoning codes. However, residential condos are assigned a limited common element such to appear and function as a single-family residence, enjoying exclusive right/use of fixtures within said element. These can include a pool, garage, and other features; further defined by fencing the appurtenant area if so desired. Some residential condos share many common elements such as driveways, pool, water meters, while others are fairly autonomous of other ‘apartments’ within the same development. Furthermore, some residential condos will have CCR’s in place, HOA’s collected, Board meetings, etc. while others have minimal (if any) collective participation. Compare properties in Launiupoko, which is on land zoned as agricultural and have strict criteria to the size of the structure but are fairly independent of each other apartments, to those in Makena Place, which are luxury estates on apartment-zoned land and are tightly governed/maintained by the HOA.

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Posted by: Alex Cortez on September 21st, 2011 under HomeGain, Regional

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