Vitals: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty
Years in Business: 14
Size: 6 offices, 166 agents
Regions Served: All of Oahu island with offices in Honolulu, Kapolei, North Shore and Kailua, and all of Maui County, which includes Maui, Molokai and Lanai islands, with offices in Wailuku and Paia
2017 Sales Volume: Around $752,334,195
2017 Transaction Volume: 999 units
When Myron Kiriu first moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1984, he worked as a CPA for four years, utilizing the accounting and financial degree he obtained at the University of California, Berkeley. Then, he decided to make a career change.
Kiriu received his real estate license in 1989 and has served as CEO and owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty since 2004. Over the past 14 years, what began as one small office has transformed into six offices with 166 agents on Oahu and Maui.
Why did you make the switch from finance to real estate?
Myron Kiriu: It was a bit accident, a bit desperation. I had gotten out of a bad business venture and was in debt. I needed a way to get out of debt, so I got my real estate license and started cold-calling. I was able to work my way out of debt, and it helped me begin what has become a successful career.
What is the market currently like in the Hawaiian Islands you cover?
MK: It’s still very busy. We’re starting to reach a peak, so we might see prices flattening out, but things are busy. We mostly serve Oahu and Maui, but we may be looking to expand to the main island in the future. If the right opportunity comes up, especially with a quality partner, I’ll go for it.
Who is moving to the area? What segments are you seeing the greatest opportunity with?
MK: I’m 57, and a lot of my business is second-time homebuyers coming from the mainland, and those are expensive properties. Hawaii is a very desirable place to live, so anyone in the Pacific Rim—where the economy is doing well—looks for second homes here. We also have a base population and an aging population who are starting to sell down to buy condos or homes in retirement communities.
As you grow and add agents, what qualities do you look for in new hires?
MK: We want to grow with quality. We’re very selective about our agents, so we’re a little different than other firms in that new hires have to go through a pretty selective interview process. For us, it’s never been about number count, but rather, bringing in agents who are a good match with our corporate culture. If they’re not, they’re probably not good for our company. And, of course, we’re looking for skills and core values that will match everyone else in the company.
What makes your firm unique in the area?
MK: The quality of our agents. Of companies with more than 50 agents, we have the largest per-agent productivity on Oahu. We invest a lot of time and energy into training agents and have created a collaborative corporate culture where agents help one another, which is unique for a lot of real estate companies.
How much emphasis do you put on training?
MK: We have extensive training; in fact, we have over 20 in-house classes on both soft and technical skills. We have additional training for technology, so if an agent needs help with their website or further guidance into how to use our CRM program, there’s hands-on training. Training is huge for us.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges in the industry right now?
MK: Technology is a challenge because you have to stay ahead of the curve. Also, as we grow, maintaining the level of service and identifying the needs of the agent is challenging. Keeping our corporate culture strong is yet another challenge.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.