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Forbes Global Properties CEO Alex Lange Talks Secondary Markets As Hawaii Life Joins The Network

Forbes Global Properties is the preeminent consumer marketplace for luxury real estate, featuring the world’s finest homes for sale and the agents representing them. Established in 2020 by real estate luminaries Jeff Hyland and Bonnie Stone Sellers, the company is owned and operated by brokerages and features offices in more than 75 locations worldwide.

The company continues to grow its international reach, with one of the newest editions to the Forbes Global Properties family being Hawai’i Life. Hawaii’s top residential brokerage for nearly a decade, Hawai’i Life boasts a roster of more than 350 skilled agents that have closed more luxury transactions than any other brokerage in Hawaii since 2012.

Tapping into Forbes Global Properties’ network of vetted and respected experts was a major draw for Hawai’i Life, according to company founder and CEO Matt Beall.

“The opportunity to work directly with Forbes to leverage their exposure and clientele, and to be a founding member of a truly global organization — it’s both a huge acknowledgment of our success and an exciting value add for our clients,” Beall said.

Hawai’i Life joins Forbes Global Properties after a frenzied 2020 that saw Hawai’i luxury home sales (residential properties priced at $3 million or greater) grow by 26.25% in volume — from $1.54 billion in 2019 to $1.95 billion in 2020. Hawai’i Life itself more than doubled its luxury sales volume in 2020 (going from $335,419,000 in 2019 to $677,389,000 in 2020), with the company’s total sales at all price points jumping from $1.6 billion in 2019 to $2.17 billion last year.

I recently sat down with Alex Lange, Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Global Properties, to discuss the impact of Hawai’i Life joining the brand, secondary home markets and the current climate for luxury real estate.

NL: When it comes to Hawaii real estate, there is no bigger name than Hawai’i Life. How important is it for Forbes Global Properties to align itself with top brokerages such as Hawai’i Life?

AL: What’s important is Hawaii Life’s position in the luxury real estate market.  Bespoke luxury estates have unique marketing requirements. Hawaii Life brings salience, capability, and tenacity to the business at hand. Nobody in Hawaii does it better.

NL: With the rise of work-from-home opportunities, are people more comfortable making “secondary markets” their primary homes?

AL: The trend certainly seems to be increasing, especially if those homes have more open space or lend themselves to outdoor activity. It’s amazing how small your home begins to feel after a year of “lockdown.”  Additionally, low inventory is driving up prices in primary markets. When you combine lower cost, a better quality of life, and the ability to work remotely, it’s no surprise there’s a migration to secondary markets.

NL: What does Hawai’i Life’s success in 2020 say about the current state of luxury real estate?

AL: Most firms that specialize in luxury real estate did well in 2020.  There’s continued pressure to empower consumers with information and commoditize real estate transactions. My intuition is “self serve” homeownership is inevitable for the average transaction. However, the luxury market is moving in the opposite direction, where affluent buyers and sellers have increasingly unique needs that require a concierge approach. Hawaii Life agents understand those needs and execute amazingly well.

NL: Are we still seeing the same intensity in housing markets as we did in 2020?

AL: It’s honestly hard to tell how sustainable this market activity can be.  Although interest rates are at historic lows, purchasing power isn’t outpacing the increases in home prices. Existing homeowners are worried about the future and are not cashing out. Consumers are “sheltering in place” and saving more than ever, with the personal savings rate up to 13.7% compared to 11% in 1960 and now exceeds 2.3 trillion.  

We will probably see price corrections resulting from soaring home prices, wage growth stagnation, and economic uncertainty. That said, “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts…” 

  • If homeownership becomes more affordably, and… 
  • If the Federal Reserve continues to inject liquidity into the market, keeping interest rates low, and…
  • If the current pattern of moving from urban cores to more secondary markets continues…

There’s a good indication we’ll continue to see the same intensity.

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