Today we are here with Maui’s Luxury Real Estate Agent Mary Anne Fitch. Mary Anne has sold a half a billion dollars in real estate and has been named Maui’s #1 realtor by Hawaii Business Magazine.
A: I worked in Boston and Los Angeles in the computer industry from 1977 to 1988 selling software. Living in LA put me in a position to visit Maui on a regular basis. I loved it more and more with each visit. At one point, I met a very successful real estate agent serving the Japanese market on West Maui, specifically the Kapalua Resort. He encouraged me to get my real estate license. I decided to take a 90-day leave of absence from my job and moved to Maui in 1988. I got my license and worked closely with this agent for several years. Now it has been 28 years on Maui.
Q: What do you think has been the key to your personal success?
A: I believe the key to my success is persistence and having a great understanding of the sales process. It is very important to qualify prospects, be able to handle objections that they may have, and know when to close the sale. Selling real estate on Maui is unique as I am selling primarily second homes. No one needs a second home. They just want one. I am truly selling a lifestyle more than a piece of real estate. Once I determine that a prospect is qualified and really wants to buy on Maui, it is important to persist in making the sale happen in order to assist the client in reaching their dream of owning on Maui.
Q: Every successful entrepreneur has encountered failure. Can you give me an example of a failure earlier in your life that became a life lesson leading you to success later in your career?
A: Earlier in my career, I tried to serve all markets and also run my own business. I thought I was capable of doing it all. I have learned that my strength is in very high-end sales, and not management. I recently merged my own business with a very successful larger company, Hawaii Life, serving all the Hawaiian Islands and have prioritized my business to focus on the high-end market. I delegate more of my business to colleagues who are instrumental in assisting me, and more importantly, my clients.
Q: What has been the most interesting property you have listed to date?
A: The most interesting property I have listed to date is a Maui estate property built originally as a primary residence by a European couple originally from Sweden and Croatia. Both had lived in US, Canada, Hong Kong and other parts of the world. I believe they built the finest home on Maui. It took years to construct, of solid concrete with caissons down into lava rock on the ocean. It incorporated Mediterranean and Moroccan architecture, built on one of the most magnificent oceanfront settings on Maui. It sold for just under $14M back in 2004.
Q: What trends have you seen in the luxury property market in the Islands? What’s happening now?
A: The luxury market hit a high in 2005. It was clearly impacted by the US and global financial crisis. It has come back to almost the same price points over 10 years later. I see luxury buyers being more careful in their decision-making process. Many choose smaller properties requiring less maintenance and also purchasing properties that can generate a rental income. Buyers are focused on finding a property and location that fits their lifestyle.
Q: What advice can you give to someone buying a second home?
A: Many buyers feel that they want only a residential property or only an oceanfront property. I try to share what I have learned from almost 30 years of assisting second home buyers. I recommend that they be open to a residential condominium which often provides the privacy they are looking for, but with far less responsibility. Often buyers do not realize the additional maintenance and cost associated with an oceanfront or beachfront property. An ocean view property with close access to the ocean can be far less expensive than an oceanfront property.
Q: What are the top three questions a buyer should ask their agent about a property, and why?
A: What is the reputation of the builder of the home? What are the operating expenses of the home? Is this home at the lower price point of comparable properties or a higher price point?
Q: Before we go, what’s one piece of advice you would give to someone about to have their luxury property listed; what should they look for in an agent?
A: The most important thing a seller should look for in an agent is how much activity the agent has generated in this particular neighborhood or market. Which homes have you sold in the last three to five years? How many properties do you have listed in the neighborhood or development? The most experienced agent in a particular market or development will generally achieve the best sale price for the property. It will be obvious that the listing agent knows the market and will be able to best position the property, for the buyer’s agent and buyer.
Mary Anne Fitch
Having purchased her first home at age 23, real estate was a familiar business and a natural progression for her career. Since 1988, Mary Anne Fitch has sold over $590M in Maui real estate. She’s owned her own company (twice) and true to form, acted on many exciting, life and career – expanding opportunities during that time.