Behind the Signs: True Stories of Aloha from Hawaii Real Estate Agents

There’s more to being a real estate agent than just helping people buy houses.
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Photo: Courtesy of List Sothebyʻs International Realty

What does a real estate agent do? Good question. With the agents at List Sotheby’s International Realty, duties can range from helping clients sell undesirable properties under a tight deadline to fronting renovation costs and helping people get their COVID-19 vaccine. But more importantly, List Sotheby’s International Realty agents are always trying to build relationships with their clients, which in turn helps them find the perfect home for prospective buyers. Here are three stories of agents going above and beyond to help their clients, proving that their job is so much more than just buying and selling homes. 

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She Got Her Shot

“Every client is different, I gauge their needs and adjust accordingly,” says Lectie Altman, a List Sotheby’s International Realty Realtor who has called Hawaii home since 2009. “Some clients require daily contact, others weekly, some even less, although if you are one of those types, I will typically follow up more.” One of her clients had a request that wasn’t necessarily in the realm of real estate, however. “She really wanted to get her COVID-19 vaccine, but wasn’t able to navigate the system and figure out how to do it on her own,” says Altman, who believes that thoroughly educating her clients, step by step  not just on the ins and outs of homebuying, but on other concerns too  helps the buying and selling process to “flow naturally.” 

Altman, who’s always up for a challenge  she swims open-ocean races during her free time  helped her client navigate the system and get her vaccine. “It’s relationships, that’s what I build my business on  relationships and trust. If there’s something my client needs or wants, I will help them in any way that I can,” she says. 

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Under Pressure

“If it goes beyond Dec. 31, the deal is off.” That was what a seller said to Paul Goldkorn’s clients, who were trying to sell their old property in time to afford this one  under a newly formed deadline. What was the problem? “It was very difficult to sell this old property,” says Goldkorn, a List Sotheby’s International Realty agent with more than 30 years of experience. “It was a small apartment … only 400 square feet” with a maintenance fee of over $1,000 a month. The place was taking so long to sell that the seller of this new property his clients were looking to buy had finally placed a Dec. 31 deadline on any deal. 

Fortunately, List Sotheby’s International Realty agents don’t crack under pressure, and Goldkorn was able to sell his client’s old property with only a few days to spare. “It was very involved on my part; it was a small deal but it took more work than a $2 million or $3 million deal,” says Goldkorn. The clients “were so happy I didn’t slack off  because it was such a small deal that was almost hopeless.” 

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It’s Called Aloha

Born and raised on Oahu, Aaron Tangonan knows a little something about aloha. It shows in countless ways, from the smallest gesture, holding a door open, for example, to monumental acts of kindness. It’s what makes Hawaii special, and it’s what makes List Sotheby’s International Realty agents, like Tangonan, special, too. “Recently, I was working with a kupuna  a senior citizen  she’s single and lives alone and I actually helped her buy a property almost 15 years ago,” says Tangonan, who has won numerous realty awards in the Islands. “But now the maintenance fees have gone up so much, her Social Security income can’t cut it.” 

To remedy the situation, the client wanted to sell her old property to purchase one that was a little more affordable in the long term. Unfortunately, her old place needed some work. “I covered the renovation costs,” says Tangonan, “from repainting the walls to fixing the sink and more, and in my mind it was minor.” It cost around $2,000, which Tangonan eventually recouped in his commission. It’s that kind of aloha and going above and beyond the job that sets List Sotheby’s International Realty agents apart from others. 


Lectie Altman, Realtor-Associate® HI LICENSE RS-78689, (808) 450-5652, Find her agent profile page here. 

Paul S. Goldkorn, Realtor-Associate® HI LICENSE RS-34892, (808) 286-8118, Find his agent profile page here. 

Aaron Tangonan, Realtor-Associate ® HI LICENSE RS-64999, (808) 781-5360, Find his agent profile page here. 

Categories: Digital Exclusive, Homebuying Hawaii