Years in Business: 50
Size: 420 agents on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island
Regions Served: State of Hawaii
2018 Sales Volume: $1.5 billion
2018 Transactions: 2,400
In 2019, Locations is celebrating 50 years of offering top real estate service throughout Hawaii, and Scott Higashi, the firm’s president and CEO, is coming up on 15 years with the company.
Previously, he managed a local franchise of Colliers International, and he’s always enjoyed helping people realize their goal of homeownership and invest in their long-term wealth and financial security.
“For decades now, Locations has surveyed its clients after every transaction, and there’s no better feeling than reading about how we’ve helped someone return to a neighborhood where they grew up, move into that dream house or secure an investment property to plan for their future,” says Higashi. “It’s also incredibly satisfying—and inspiring—to see our team of full-time, committed sales professionals succeed in this competitive industry.”
Hawaii is a dream location for many homeowners. How did your market fare in 2018?
Scott Higashi: Home prices increased for the sixth consecutive year in 2018, achieving moderate gains of about 4 percent for single-family homes and about 5 percent for condos. With less than 3.5 months of remaining inventory, competition for homes and condos—particularly in the entry-level price ranges—is strong, as indicated by the fact that nearly one in four sales is being bid up above the asking price. One positive for would-be homeowners in our market is that inventory has been steadily increasing since the beginning of 2018, offering more options for buyers.
Any growth initiatives planned for 2019?
SH: Growth and diversification are always top-of-mind. We recently acquired the operations of Clark Realty, located on Hawaii Island. They’re a like-minded firm with 114 agents and four offices. With this acquisition, Locations leads the state of Hawaii in closed transactions.
What most sets your firm apart in the marketplace?
SH: Since our founding nearly 50 years ago, we’ve leveraged our research and technology capabilities to the advantage of our agents and our clients. We’ve continually employed an in-house data analyst, which has allowed our agents to stay ahead of the curve as market conditions change. As a firm, our nearly four decades of local market data allow us to anticipate areas of opportunity not only in a real estate cycle, but also within various client segments.
How important is technology to the company?
SH: Locations was the first firm to computerize MLS listings in 1972—a move that revolutionized the industry. We’ve invested heavily in technology over the years, developing proprietary software to help agents identify and prioritize business opportunities, while maintaining a cutting-edge website and mobile app that led to nearly 10 percent of our total sales.
What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business right now?
SH: Market conditions in 2019 will be ripe for 1031 investors to reposition their real estate holdings to properties with greater potential for long-term appreciation. A stable pricing environment, increased inventory and a level pace of sales will make for an ideal time to upgrade and reallocate investments. The new year also presents an opportunity for first-time real estate investors to get in the game, as certain demographics, like millennials—and, increasingly, boomers—are electing to rent, which may lead to increased inventory and demand for a variety of rental types and price points.
How are you attracting new agents to your firm and retaining top producers, and what do you look for in someone new coming into the company?
SH: Our recruiting efforts are guided by our mission and values, which have remained constant and unwavering for nearly 50 years: to give our clients a clear advantage in the market and to foster an environment of shared learning. First and foremost, we look for professionals who understand that clients come first. We also look for people who want to build a long-term career in real estate, and who value shared learning and collaboration.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.