As a company, our team collectively achieved $1.7 billion in sales in 2018, and as I reflected on that year in a blog post last January, I didn’t expect we’d reach those lofty heights again in 2019. But here we are.
If there was a theme to 2019 for Hawai‘i Life, it was certainly continued growth. We definitely experienced a growth spurt throughout 2019. We added over 100 brokers and agents to our team, and their collective contributions have been invaluable.
We finished 2019 with nearly 1,900 closed transactions and 400 active listings—both are records for the company. We also grew our Property Management by similar bounds…expanding to more than 400 properties under management across Hawai‘i.
Behind the scenes, our creative team has been hard at work on product improvements to our website and tools that will powerfully impact our business for the coming decade. In a way, we’re returning to our roots in the coming year, with a renewed focus on Smart Marketing & Solid Representation.
We’ve already had some great wins in this department, like the Hawai‘i Life Video Channel, and some very technical speed and SEO improvements to HawaiiLife.com to help hold our #1 spot as the most trafficked real estate website in the state of Hawai‘i.
We chose not to host a Worthshop conference series this year, after recognizing the value of taking a year off for a little introspection and reflection with our Road to Hana retreat in 2017…but we’ll bring it back soon enough, and by popular demand.
We lost a dear friend and leader in Mealoha Kraus this year. It’s a loss that’s still with us. In Mealoha’s honor, the Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund set up a new fund with the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. The Mealoha Kraus Legacy Fund will be managed by her family for years to come. Mealoha’s legacy lives on.
Our growth is continuing in 2020. In January, we’ll finalize our onboarding of the teams from both Gold Coast Realty in Waikiki, as well as Hāmākua Coast Realty on Hawai‘i Island. Both of these groups bring entrenched and specific market share to Hawai‘i Life, as well as over a hundred new short- and long-term properties for our rental inventory. There are a few other irons in the business development fire, of course, but we’ll leave those surprises for the next decade.
All in all, I remain in awe of this company and what we continue to accomplish as a collective. It’s such an impressive group of people, and the way that it’s grown is really the best part of the story. Not by brute force, or programmatic “recruiting,” but by doing the work and letting the results speak for themselves.
Here’s a little look back on the year, in chronological order:
Grand Opening of Our New Haleiwa, O‘ahu Office
January 10, 2019
Though we’ve had a presence on O‘ahu’s North Shore for several years, we opened a brand new office in the heart of historic Haleiwa as we kicked off 2019. Our purpose-built Haleiwa office opened on January 10, 2019, right in the hustle and bustle of one of Hawai‘i’s most famous small towns, renowned as one of the world’s surfing meccas.
Located near the famed Rainbow Bridge in Haleiwa, and surrounded by local eateries and art galleries, Hawai‘i Life Haleiwa is in the heart of it all. Surrounded by incredible natural beauty, the North Shore of O‘ahu is a unique, eclectic community of surfers, artists, and O‘ahu residents looking for a quieter, country lifestyle.
With a commitment to creating office spaces that resonate with their surrounding community, we opened our Haleiwa office in January 2019 with an office blessing and celebration, and an art installation by renowned Hawai‘i painter Doug Britt and live music from the Barefoot Boys.
Diana Ricciuti took the reins as Broker-in-Charge of our Haleiwa office in 2019, as we elevated O‘ahu BIC John Climaldi to a new leadership role. As Director of International Affiliations, John maximizes the incredible value of our relationships with global luxury real estate networks Christie’s International Real Estate, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International®.
We Welcomed East O‘ahu Realty to Hawai‘i Life
In early February, we welcomed East O‘ahu Realty to Hawai‘i Life, along with more than 70 agents, brokers and support staff led by Cherie Tsukamoto. Founded by Jack Leslein in 1992, the 27-year old firm and their team have invaluable O‘ahu market expertise, in addition to very deep-rooted relationships in the O‘ahu community. In East Honolulu, we now have a strong anchor with our oceanview office in the heart of Hawai‘i Kai, and an incredibly talented team with a deep bench of experience in the O‘ahu market.
Seasoned Broker Bob Lightbourn Joins Our Maui Leadership Team
Bob Lightbourn has proven to be a tremendous asset to our Maui leadership team. After a number of years pursuing him, he finally joined Hawai‘i Life in early 2019. He brings a wealth of market knowledge and experience to Hawai‘i Life Maui, having spent more than 40 years living there, with nearly all of those years honing his relationships and skills in the real estate industry.
Bob is widely recognized for his incredible mentorship and dedication to our profession. He’s skilled at facilitating teamwork and collaboration. When he joined us, he said, “Mentorship and leading positive change within the industry are my favorite aspects of my real estate career.”
Hawai‘i Life Honored As CHRISTIE’S Affiliate of the Year
In March, we were honored with global recognition in the form of CHRISTIE’S Overall Affiliate of the Year Award in a ceremony held at the Palace of Versailles in Paris. It’s CHRISTIE’s highest honor, bestowed upon Hawai‘i Life as we completed a little more than 10 years of doing business in Hawai‘i.
The ceremony was the culmination of CHRISTIE’S Annual Global Conference, where affiliates from 48 countries met to celebrate their business performance in 2018. In that year, Hawai‘i Life broke every imaginable record we might have set for ourselves, achieving $1.7 billion in sales as a company in our tenth year of operation.
CHRISTIE’S bestows four awards in the small, medium and large market categories each year. Their overall Affiliate of the Year Award winner is chosen regardless of market size and determined based on excellence in four categories: overall business innovation, market leadership, collaboration with other affiliate network colleagues and CHRISTIE’s art auction house, and finally, passion to succeed locally and globally under the CHRISTIE’s International Real Estate brand.
Grand Opening of Our New Pa‘ia, Maui Office
In June, we moved around the corner to our new office in Pa‘ia, Maui, located at street-level at 26 Baldwin Avenue, in the heart of one of the world’s favorite surf towns. To celebrate, we held an office blessing on June 13, with about 50 Maui agents and friends in attendance.
Maui’s North Shore is an incredible location and Pa‘ia holds a special place in our hearts, given that we opened our first office in Hanalei, on the North Shore of Kaua‘i. We love the vibe of small, oceanside surf towns in general, and the unique charm of Pa‘ia, in particular.
Grand Opening of Our New Hanalei, Kaua‘i Office
We first conceived of Hawai‘i Life while working from a small office space in the Ching Young Center. After more than a decade and lots of growth and change, we were thrilled to find our way back to our roots. In August, we returned to Hanalei as we welcomed the experienced team at Country Brokers to Hawai‘i Life. Led by Scott Lindman, their small North Shore team brings plenty of local expertise and strong relationships to Hawai‘i Life.
Hawai Life Hanalei is now located on the makai said of Kuhio Highway as you enter town. Our team works in a space previously occupied by Country Brokers for almost three decades. We welcomed their team with a grand opening celebration and blessing held in August. In addition to an experienced team of Hanalei real estate agents, the move adds a number of quality Kaua‘i vacation rental properties in Hanalei to our offerings at Hawai‘i Life Vacations.
HGTV’s “Hawaii Life” Program Gets Picked Up for 14th Season
This year, HGTV ordered a 14th season of the popular Hawai‘i Life television program. The show exclusively features Hawai‘i Life agents and their clients and reaches an audience of between 1.2 and 1.6 million viewers on Sunday night. It exposes Hawai‘i Life listings, agents and the Hawai‘i Life brand to more than 20 million viewers across the country, plus a wide audience in Canada and online.
A casting call was sent out to our agents across the state in October. Casting and filming of the new season’s episodes began shortly thereafter. HGTV’s Hawai‘i Life is a reality tv series that ranks among the top 20 rated shows that appear on Sunday night cable content.
HLCF Board Established the Mealoha Kraus Legacy Fund
In November, we dealt with the tragic loss of one of our colleagues and friends. Mealoha Kraus was a longtime broker on the Big Island and a dear friend to many of us. She served as the Hawai Life Charitable Fund’s first Chairperson from 2014 until she stepped down early in 2019 to focus on her health. Mealoha lost her battle with breast cancer in November at the young age of 42, leaving behind her husband and two children.
The Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund board met in November and chose to establish the Mealoha Kraus Legacy Fund to honor her memory and her legacy of important charitable work in our community. Under Mealoha’s leadership, the HLCF raised and distributed more than $250,000 in funding to nonprofits across the state.
The Mealoha Kraus Legacy Fund is managed by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation in Honolulu and will be stewarded by Mealoha’s family. The fund was seeded with a $10,000 donation from the Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund, and an additional $10,000 donation from Hawai‘i Life.
You can donate directly to Mealoha’s fund by using HLCF’s portal at give.hawaiilife.com. Simply add “Mealoha” to the memo to your check or credit card donation. Or you can donate directly through the Hawai‘i Community Foundation portal, at this link.
The HLCF Board also opted to rename the HLCF’s People’s Choice Award, an annual grant, in Mealoha’s memory. Now the Mealoha Kraus People’s Choice Award, the grant is disbursed annually to a charitable nonprofit chosen by the public from a handful of eligible Hawai‘i Love grant applicants.
We Welcomed Gold Coast Real Estate and Hāmākua Coast Realty to Hawai‘i Life
November & December, 2019
Late this year, we welcomed two additional real estate firms to Hawai‘i Life. Gold Coast Real Estate on O‘ahu and Hāmākua Coast Realty on the Big Island joined our team, making it official in January 2020. It was a great way to kick off the new year, with the additions of their agents, expertise, resources and an expansion of our property management services on both islands.
Hawai‘i Life Gold Coast now includes more than 100 rental properties under management in this resort-zoned area. Gold Coast Real estate has been specializing in some of Honolulu’s most unique real estate along this coastline for 25 years. Working from our Gold Coast office in the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, our team serves O‘ahu with a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Gold Coast’s many co-ops and condos, in addition to the nearby neighborhoods of Waikiki, Diamond Head, Kahala, Kaimuki, Manoa, Palolo Valley, and Hawai‘i Kai.
Hāmākua Coast Realty joins our Big Island team this month as we mark ten full years of serving residents there. Our new Hāmākua Coast agents bring knowledge, insights and experience with the unique properties there, following close to two decades of operations along this 50 miles stretch of coastline north of Hilo. Hawai‘i Life Hāmākua expands our property management on Hawai‘i Island to include more than 40 long-term rental properties. Julie Keller will serve as broker-in-charge of our newest office located in Honoka‘a.
Hawai‘i Life Sold $1.6 Billion in Real Estate in 2019!
Collectively, through hard work, professionalism, skill and dedication, Hawai‘i Life agents across the state achieved $1.6 billion in real estate sales in 2019. Mahalo to all of our clients, friends, agents and brokers. Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous 2020. We look forward to maintaining our growth trajectory and reaching new horizons through 2020 and beyond.