Asian American realty group looks to isles
The Asian Real Estate Association of America hopes to help an array of minority groups
The Asian Real Estate Association of America, an organization dedicated to expanding homeownership opportunities for Asian Americans and creating new business opportunities with this growing market, is trying to establish a foothold in Hawaii.
The organization, which held a reception in Honolulu yesterday evening, is exploring ways to partner with Hawaii real estate companies and players to ease homeownership access to Asian Americans, said Allen Okamoto, chair of the organization, which has 30,000 members across 36 states. The association is working to establish a Hawaii chapter and to forge a memorandum of understanding with the Honolulu Board of Realtors, Okamoto said.
"People might ask why do they need us here in Hawaii where Asians are not a minority. However, there are Asian minority groups that are experiencing difficulty," he said.
While Hawaii has significant Asian homeownership levels, especially among Japanese Americans, other immigrant groups from places like Cambodian, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are still experiencing language, cultural and knowledge, Okamoto said.
Founded in 2003, AREAA has expertise in working with legislative initiatives and developing real estate training on the Asian market, Okamoto said. The association has also created courses to teach real estate professionals on how to address real estate needs for Asian Americans and is working on developing a real estate certification program for the market, he said.
Participation in these programs could enhance Hawaii's delivery of real estate to all Asian Americans, Okamoto said. And, that in turn would benefit the entire market.
"The real estate market is turning sour, but the Asian market is very strong," Okamoto said.
Around the country, minority home purchases grew during 2004-2005 at a higher rate than overall purchases, according to LendingPatterns.com 2005 Annual Report on Minority Lending by Compliance Tech- nologies. Also, competition for minority home improvement, home purchase and refinance loans was heated with nationally recognized lenders.
The Honolulu Board of Realtors is exploring partnership opportunities with AREAA, but isn't sure whether the organization would benefit Hawaii real estate professionals.
"Asian Americans play a very different role in Hawaii real estate than they do on the mainland and I believe that they have far fewer challenges here," said Berton Hamamoto, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors.
Hawaii's real estate professionals, like the local population, are ethnically diverse, and many already have experience working with a variety of cultures, Hamamoto said.
"When we go to real estate seminars on the mainland and they discuss these issues often times it's 'Been there, done that' for us," he said.
At the very least, Hawaii real estate professionals may share some of their best practices with the AREAA, Hamamoto said.