State Roundup: Hawaii, Georgia, and Virginia

September 1, 2005

Hawaii: A market with (frog) legs.

In the midst of one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, practitioners on Maui and Oahu are worried prices could soon be hurt — not necessarily by higher interest rates or an economic slowdown but by a frog. The tiny coqui came to Hawaii from Puerto Rico some 15 years ago and, now thriving, is causing a stir with its shrill mating call that residents liken to airport noise. “I would rather live next to a highway,” Mac Lowson, CCIM, president of the Hawaii Association of REALTORS , told the Associated Press this summer. “What will happen when the market isn’t so red-hot? People will buy houses where there aren’t coqui frogs nearby.” Two-thirds of real estate practitioners in a university study last year said the frog’s loud call would hurt property deals.

The University of Hawaii is working with state and federal agencies to control the frog population, and NAR is supporting bills in the state legislature providing financial support for coqui population control.

Georgia: A (free) car in every garage.

To get the edge on its competitors, Atlanta-based builder Forrest Homes is giving buyers a free two-year lease on a Volkswagen Beetle. In return, homeowners agree to keep builder and dealership advertisements on the car. The promotion launched April 1 and applies to about a dozen of the company’s new-home communities in the Atlanta metro area.

Virginia: Economic powerhouse.

Real estate accounted for 11.5 percent of economic activity in the state between 1993 and 2004, the Virginia Association of REALTORS says in a report. The value of the sector includes the spending it spurs in other industries and the taxes generated in property development, sales, and transfers, among other things. “The data gives us a strong position from which to approach our legislators for their support on real estate-friendly initiatives,” says Lisa Noon, VAR’s director of communications and marketing.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is the former director of multimedia communications at NAR.

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