Four Questions with Derek Lau, Hawai‘i REALTORS® 2021 President

We are pleased to welcome Derek Lau as the 2021 president of Hawai‘i REALTORS®.

Derek has nearly two decades of full-time experience in the real estate industry, currently serving as president and principal broker at Real Estate Specialists. Lau is a Certified International Property Specialist and a Certified Residential Specialist®, a designation given to the top 3 percent of REALTORS® in the U.S.

He holds a number of industry designations and serves on several state and federal boards to represent REALTORS® throughout Hawai‘i, including the Honolulu Board of REALTORS® and as a federal political coordinator for the National Association of REALTORS®. He has also served on the boards of the United Cerebral Palsy Association and Hawai‘i’s Technology Development Corporation (HTDC).

Lau graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in computer and information sciences. He has more than 8 years of experience as a software design engineer and worked as a consultant for a top Honolulu firm.

What are your goals for the coming year?

I’m very much approaching 2021 as a cohesive team effort to best serve our members. A president serves for one year, but the organization does not move in one-year increments. I want to build on the success we have already achieved across our primary focus areas, including advocacy, community relations, communications and member services.

We will also continue to strengthen our communities through our charitable and volunteer work, which is more critical now than ever.

What are some of the most pressing challenges for the real estate industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous issues that we will still be addressing throughout 2021. The most pressing is that we are facing a statewide housing inventory shortage of historic proportions, which has resulted in affordability issues and a lack of housing solutions for many homebuyers.

How will Hawai‘i REALTORS® work to support the industry?

We can’t sit back and let the industry run on auto-pilot. There are a number of efforts that we need to get involved in and push for at the local, state and federal levels. I have seen firsthand the impact that we can have and how important that it is to really be vigilant and work for change. One example of this is protecting the 1031 Exchange, which is vital for the real estate industry.

Also, we want to ensure that the message of who we are, who we work for and who we support is communicated effectively, so everyone understands the value of what we do.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed how Hawai‘i REALTORS® serves its members?

The pandemic has forced the widespread adoption of new technologies, and we have pivoted to leverage that by providing a variety of engaging interactive seminars and resources virtually. Providing virtual access to these events has increased accessibility, allowing more members to attend, as well as helping us secure speakers who would normally be too busy or cost prohibitive.