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Locations 1969

Locations Inc logo

The founders initially planned to call their company "Commercial Locations Real Estate," but soon realized "Locations" more accurately reflected their strength in residential sales.

1969: Humble beginnings

Locations was founded Dec. 17, 1969, by Bill Chee, Gregg Kashiwa and Don Lewis in 24-year-old Chee's Nu'uanu apartment.

Reflecting on those early years in a 2013 interview with Hawaii Business magazine, Chee recalled, “We were so young, we could only depend on facts, not reputation. So we started to acquire real estate information and were doing things like drawing graphs of neighborhoods and their fluctuations of how many sales were made.”

It was this facts-based approach to real estate that allowed the young firm to earn the trust of clients, and it would lay the foundation for the firm's success for decades to come.

Locations 1970s

Thanksgiving1978

Locations introduced its first Thanksgiving card in 1978. Locations' holiday mailers were an overnight success with clients, a tradition that continues to this day. Locations now send clients Chinese New Year, May Day and 4th of July cards, in addition to Thanksgiving cards.

1970s: Research becomes paramount

The 1970s were a period of explosive growth for Locations. The young firm grew from the original three partners at the beginning of the decade to 10 by 1975 - a move that set Locations apart from other real estate firms. Today, Locations continues to be one of the handful of real estate companies that extends partnership in the firm to its top agents.

In 1976, Locations founder Bill Chee served as president of both the Hawaii Association of REALTORS® and the Honolulu Board of REALTORS®.

Locations purchased its first branch office, located on Hunakai Street in Kahala, in 1978. That same year, the firm welcomed Mike Sklarz, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, to head up its research and data department. With "Dr. Mike" on board, Locations began publishing "Real Estate Indicators," a quarterly publication that cemented the firm’s reputation as Hawaii's leader in real estate market research and data analytics.

The firm ended the decade by opening the Pearl Ridge office in 1979.

Locations 1980s

1980s adLocations expanded its footprint in the 1980s, ending the decade with five offices across Oahu. The firm also unveiled a new logo in the 1980s to reflect its market research capabilities.

1980s: Locations grows to 150 agents

By the 1980s, Locations had solidified its reputation for unparalleled real estate market data analytics. The firm added "Real Estate Sales & Research" to its name, and debuted a new logo.

The firm expanded to four branch offices to accommodate its 150 full-time agents, adding offices in Downtown, Kaneohe and at Ward Avenue, in addition to its Pearl Ridge branch office and the main office on Hunakai Street.

The firm also handled several project sales throughout the decade, including Craigside (Nuuanu), Honolulu Tower, Crestside II (Hawaii Kai), Lakeview (Kailua), Hokuloa (Kaneohe), Dole Plantation lots (Wahiawa) and Makaha Valley Plantation (Waianae).

In 1988, Bill Chee established the Locations Foundation - the firm's non-profit arm - as a means for Locations agents and staff to donate a portion of their income to local charitable organizations serving children and families across Oahu. The Locations Foundation celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2018, and has more than 200 active volunteers who donate nearly 1,500 volunteer hours and more than $300,000 annually.

Locations 1990s

1980s adIn 1993, Locations had more than 200 agents on Oahu and Maui, and had just acquired the Geographic Information System (GIS), a computer-mapping tool.

1990s: Tapping into new technologies

Technological advances in the changed the way REALTORS® conducted their business. Cell phones and laptop computers became commonplace, and voicemail and email allowed agents to communicate with each other and their clients on the go.

In 1993, while serving as the youngest President of the National Association of REALTORS® (and the only NAR president from Hawaii), Bill Chee warned in his now-infamous "Lion Over the Hill" speech that Multiple Listings Service boards would need to innovate to meet the changing expectations of consumers.

"Times have changed drastically since we first started [the] MLS. Our members and their customers have changed dramatically, too. Now it's time for [the] MLS to change. It's time for us to be on the leading edge..." Chee declared.

The firm continued to lead the Hawaii real estate market in research and data analytics, continuously publishing "Real Estate Indicators" throughout the decade, and using a revolutionary computer mapping system to visually present sales and current listings to its clients.

Locations 2000s

state of RE 2000Locations kept its clients informed during the housing crisis of the late 2000s with its "State of Real Estate" newsletter.

2000s: Navigating a boom and a bust

In 2002, Locations launched a new website, BrokersMLS.com, giving its clients even more access to data, including sold data. The same year, Locations established its Transaction Management Department, a service for agents and their clients to manage the documents associated with transactions - from listing to closing.

In 2005, the firm purchased its current headquarters at 614 Kapahulu Ave., the former offices of Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company.

During the Great Recession of 2008, Locations touted its neighborhood expertise to guide its clients into making sound real estate decisions in a challenging market.

To further assist first-time homebuyers in 2009, Locations advanced its clients the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, helping them to secure their home before filing their taxes. The firm loaned more than $2 million dollars to 400 first-time homebuyers that year - and was paid back by all but one client.

The firm also sold two projects during the decade, 909 Kapiolani and Watermark.

Locations 2010s

2010s thumbToday, Locations continues to be Hawaii's real estate market research and data leader, with publications like its Market Insights report.

2010s: Becoming 'Hawaii's Best'

Locations began the new decade by earning the title of Hawaii's Best Real Estate Firm, First Place, by the readers of the Star Advertiser, a distinction it would go on to earn for nine consecutive years.

To better serve a new generation of tech-savvy clients, Locations developed its mobile app in 2010, giving clients access to property details, market statistics and local insights - all on the go.

In 2013, Bill Chee received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Real Estate from Hawaii Business magazine, attributing the firm's success to its clients-first, innovative approach: “In this business, if you reflect backward, it’s just simply the wrong direction to look. Things are changing all the time. Customers are changing all the time. If you look back and wish it were that way again, you can’t survive.”

The following year, Locations relinquished its national franchise affiliation, returning to its roots as a locally owned, independent firm. As a an independent firm, Locations joined the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a global network of the world's market-leading independent residential brokerages.

In 2016, Bill Chee stepped down as president and CEO of the firm, passing the reigns to Executive Vice President Scott Higashi, the firm's current CEO. Locations rolled out its current website in 2017, and continues to develop innovative digital tools to advantage its clients, like the Locations Home Valuator.