Does Your Agent (Still) Have a License?

Last year was a license renewal year. There were over 20,000 licensed agents in the State of Hawaii at the end of 2022. As of January only 17,540 agents renewed their licenses. This means about 2500 folks can no longer do business in Hawaii. Besides an individual license, every agent must be associated with a brokerage (even if they are the broker). When the brokerage does not renew, any agent working under their license can no longer practice. Quite a few did not renew. Of current licensees, only about 60% belong to a professional organization. Agents who belong to an association under the umbrella of the National Association of REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics.

What Goes Into a Real Estate License in Hawaii?

There are two professional organizations on Hawaii Island. Hawaii Island REALTORS® (HIR) is located in Hilo and has about 680 members while the West Hawaii Association of REALTORS® (WHAR), located in Kona, has 926. Some agents choose to belong to both. This is primarily because HIR and the Kauai Board of REALTORS® own our local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Belonging to HIR provides them a say into governance of our MLS. There are three MLS systems in Hawaii (Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Information).

Besides payment of fees, renewing our license requires 20 hours of continuing education including a yearly update of new laws plus ethics training. Agents must also complete a “good boy” questionnaire which requires disclosure of criminal or civil actions. Obtaining a license requires a 40-hour class along with passing a rigorous test. By comparison, a cosmetologist receives 600 hours of supervised training, underscoring the need for agents to work closely under a competent broker. After all, most new licensees presumably have very basic knowledge. Unlike general contractors, real estate agents are not required to include their license number on signs or business cards but it’s simple to check license status by visiting our state DCCA website.

Is Your Agent Geographically Qualified?

Remember, our license gives us the right to sell all over the State, so it’s good to ask your agent if they are geographically qualified. After all, knowing the area is just as important as passing a test. Just one of the things you didn’t know when you begin the search for likely the biggest purchase of your life.

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at denise@hawaiilife.com or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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