New HBR president
sees Realtors as integral
to the American dream

Curtis K. Uno

>> New job: Honolulu Board of Realtors president and chief executive officer
>> Replaces: Peter Freeman, who left early this summer
>> Work history: A lawyer and corporate executive with more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit corporations, most recently as Building Industry of Hawaii chief staff executive.

What interested you about the Honolulu Board of Realtors job?

Curtis Uno takes the helm at the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

The Honolulu Board of Realtors seemed to be such a natural tie in to my interest in rendering service to the community through nonprofit organizations. I've worked for SHOPO, the Hawaii Employers Council and the Building Industry Association. The tie between the Honolulu Board of Realtors and the Building Industry Association was particularly strong. They are both focused on the same dream. By any standard, the American dream is to own a home and both organizations are so well suited to facilitating that. It's so important. It speaks to establishing roots and the Realtors play such a key role in that, I wanted to be a part of it.

You've lead a professional organization before, most recently the BIA, what are the challenges involved in that?

Any challenges are not a reflection of trying to lead professional people. There can be challenges in the nature of the structure of the organization. But the Honolulu Board of Realtors subscribes to a very enlightened philosophy in the management of their organization. The Honolulu Board of Realtors recognizes that there are a particular set of skills and talents that are required to be a professional Realtor. But they also recognize the fact that it takes a different set of skills and talents to run a nonprofit organization. So at the Honolulu Board of Realtors, members set policy and they leave it to the paid staff to execute that policy. It is a very enlightened view for a nonprofit organization.

What are your goals for the HBR?

I would like to shape the Honolulu Board of Realtors into becoming more member focused and more goal oriented and to provide our members with those services and support they need to become more accomplished in their profession.

Do you think the surge in home sales we've seen this year is sustainable?

I do. I cannot speak for the association on this, but I can speak to my personal observations. We are enjoying record low interest rates and therefore record low mortgage rates. Because of the state of the economy, we probably will continue to see those low rates. That is bringing in buyers, like young buyers, who previously could not afford to pay a mortgage. A much larger category of home buyers are now able to afford homes and I think that's wonderful.

Will prices lock young buyers out?

I don't think so. In addition to continuing low mortgage rates, there are many circumstances that will continue to bring homes onto the market. Changes in capital gains tax rules will encourage older home owners to sell and move into low-maintenance condominiums, making those homes available.

Has the HBR seen a jump in membership due to the strength of the market?

Absolutely. We have surpassed 4,000 members this year after averaging about 3,600 members for some time.

Hawaii homeowners still bear the scars of one real estate bubble. That word is being bandied about now to describe the mainland market. Do you think we're pushing into bubble territory here?

I don't think so. The difference between this resurgence and the Japanese bubble is it was highly dependent on foreign money coming in and on a foreign economy. This is all home grown; local people buying local homes. There is some minor investment activity, but it is primarily home grown.

Inside Hawaii Inc. is a conversation with a member of the Hawaii business community who has changed jobs, been elected to a board or been recognized for accomplishments. Send questions and comments to

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