Keeping An Eye On Real Estate

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - December 09, 2009
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Broker’s Eye’s Adam Lee in front of Da Tabura building

Adam Lee started Broker’s Eye as a hub of real estate so he’d have his hands and eyes on the latest details to better figure out what the next trend is.

These days, as CEO of the company, his projects include buying buildings, renovating apartments and selling them for a profit.

“We have fun doing the projects,” he says. “I think people see that.”

Apparently they do, as he was named one of the top 30 real estate agents under 30 in America by the National Association of Realtors in 2007.

One of his buildings is called Da Tabura, after radio personality and winemaker Lanai Tabura, one of his partners.

“When they see Da Tabura (on the front of the building), I’m not worried that they’ll drive away,” says Lee with confidence. “That name is not what is going to make or break the deal. It’s just something fun. It’s viral marketing. We sent it to all our contacts and got the word out that we have this project going.

“It’s important to think out of the box.”

In this project, as with several others, he allows apartment owners to select the color of their granite, flooring and paint.

Lee describes himself as an optimist, and says one of his strong points is being able to look at data from a neutral point of view and to see trends in the market.

“The perception of the market may be that it is slow or not a good time to buy,” he says.

But he defies that perception, as he recently sold 26 units of that apartment building before its grand opening. He says that there are certain parts of the market that are currently really hot. Five years ago properties on the west side of the island offered opportunities, and then the trend changed to properties closer to Honolulu because people wanted to live

closer to where they work.

The Roosevelt High graduate says a big part of his success is marketing.

“We do it in different ways every time,” he says. “For the six-story building on Piikoi and Lunalilo, we had Hawaii Pacific University cheerleaders on the busy corner cheering and bringing people to come in.”

Lee says doing the daily things that it takes to stay on top of trends can be a challenge.

“It’s easy to fall behind and not be able to catch up,” he says. “Just like washing dishes, it’s easy if you keep up all the time. It’s a commitment to wanting to know everything on the market and find the best properties, and thinking about the next trend based on that information. Once you have the knowledge, you have to be willing to pull the trigger and go for it.”

When he started working as a real estate associate in 2002 with his father’s company Abe Lee Realty and Abe Lee Development, which was established more than 30 years ago, he says he didn’t get special treatment.

“He gives everyone the same chance to learn and dive in about investing as well as general brokerage,” he says. “I took advantage of the wealth of information available at the company. I would always have a list of questions about things I wanted to learn. If you can learn five details every day, that’s 150 new things in a month.”

When he launched Broker’s Eye in 2003, Lee dispatched 12 drivers around town to snap photos of properties as soon as they became available in order to have the scoop on the latest information. Lee enjoys sharing information with people, and his Web site,, has “Basic Real Estate 101 tidbits” on video.

His book, First Million Is The Hardest, will launch soon. Lee says it offers tips to help readers develop business confidence to be able to make decisions.

His own decision is to work in real estate here in Hawaii.

“There is something special about our place; it’s paradise,” he says. “The Mainland loves it,Asia loves it, locals love it. Anybody who comes here loves it. As the world shrinks with global communication, travel gets faster. Hawaii is going to be top, top, top.”

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