Hawaii Life Policies and Procedures
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is a commitment to provide the highest quality professional real estate services with integrity. High quality professional service requires superior marketing and experienced real estate professionals. We are experts at superior marketing. You are the professional Realtor. Together, we bring integrity to our commitment by virtue of who we are. We’re grateful for your affiliation with Hawaii Life.
Below is our Policies and Procedures Manual for Associates. It defines the details of our commitments to each other and provides information about the day-to-day operations of the company.
1 Company History & Mission
1.1 The Company
Hawaii Life Real Estate Services, LLC is a Hawaii Limited Liability Company serving the State of Hawaii. We operate under the trade name “Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers”. The brokerage headquarters is located in Princeville at Hanalei, Kauai. The Principals at Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers are Matt Beall, R(B), Principal Broker; Winston Welborn, Creative Director; and Justin Britt, Head-Web-Head.
Hawaii Life was originally a referral brokerage, leveraging the power of the Internet and its superior website that provides a Statewide aggregate of all of Hawaii’s Multiple Listing Services and a host of other features. After achieving success with the referral model, we made the decision to become a full-service real estate brokerage to further leverage and harness the power of superior marketing. We made this transition to become a full-service real estate brokerage in June of 2008. Today, we’re one of Hawaii’s top real estate companies.
1.3 Vision Statement
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is a commitment to provide the highest quality real estate sales service by utilizing the powerful combination of professional Realtors with superior marketing and technology.
1.4 Mission Statement
Our Mission is to further the reach of our commitment by enrolling more clients, customers, and Realtors in using the Hawaii Life business model.
Our target is anyone who buys or sells real estate in Hawaii, or intends to do so.
1.6 Hawaii Life MO
We are Hawai‘i Life. And so we have an obligation to understand this place, the culture and people. Learn More
2 Office Policies
2.1 Equal Employment
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is committed to complying with the intent and implementation of the laws concerning equal opportunity. In any personnel action, including (but not limited to) recruitment, selection, utilization, promotion, or termination, there will be no discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, religious belief, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, or veteran status. Any conduct to the contrary, when experienced or observed, should be reported immediately to the Principal Broker or Director of Sales. The appropriate Broker will conduct an investigation and will be required to report the findings to the principals of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers.
2.2 Fair Housing Policy
As a REALTOR, and as an Associate with Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, you are committed to the REALTOR Code of Ethics, which is attached as Exhibit G of this manual. With regards to Fair Housing, Article 10 of the Code of Ethics states:
“REALTORS shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”
In addition, Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is aligned with the National Association of Realtor’s guidelines to Fair Housing, and the Fair Housing Act. As a result, Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is committed to:
- Provide equal professional service without regard to the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin of any prospective client, customer, or of the residents of any community.
- Develop advertising that indicates that everyone is welcome and no one is excluded; expanding our clients’ and customers’ opportunities to see, buy, or lease property.
- Inform our clients and customers about their rights and responsibilities under the fair housing laws by providing brochures and other information.
- Document our efforts to provide professional service, which will assist us in becoming a more responsive and successful REALTOR®.
- Refuse to tolerate noncompliance.
- Learn about those who are different from us as individuals, and celebrate those differences.
Associates who violate the spirit or any provision of the Code of the Ethics or the Fair Housing Act will be subject to disciplinary action and/or termination of the Independent Contractor Agreement and/or employment.
- MLS Remarks and Advertising copy are among the most common Fair Housing violations. Associates must have BIC or PB approval before releasing a listing on MLS or running an advertisement for any listing.
2.3 Harassment Policy
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination and, as a part of this commitment, we maintain strict policy prohibiting unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment. The Company will not allow any form of harassment or any such conduct whose purpose or effect is to interfere with an individual’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Such conduct, when experienced or observed, should be reported immediately to the Principal Broker or the Broker-In-Charge. The appropriate individual will then conduct an investigation and will be required to report the findings to the partners of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers. The privacy of the employee or associate filing the report and the employee or associate under investigation shall be respected at all times consistent with the obligation to conduct a fair and thorough investigation.
Any form of harassment, including sexual harassment is considered to be a major violation of the Company policy and will be dealt with accordingly by corrective counseling and/or suspension or termination of the Independent Contractor Agreement and/or employment. It is the intent of the Company to provide a work environment free from verbal, physical, and visual forms of sexual harassment, and an environment free of harassment, intimidation or coercion of any kind. All associates and employees are expected to be sensitive to the individual rights of their co-workers.
2.4 Violence Prevention Policy
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers will not tolerate verbal or physical intimidation, harassment, or threats of violence toward any Associate or Employee. No talk of violence or joking about violence will be tolerated. “Violence” is defined to include physically harming another, shoving, pushing, harassment, verbal or physical intimidation, coercion, brandishing weapons, and threats or talk of violence. Any Associate or Employee who believes that the actions or words of another associate, employee, customer, client, vendor, or third party constitute intimidation, harassment, or a threat of violence should report it as soon as possible to the Director of Sales. All complaints of intimidation, harassment, or threats of violence will be investigated promptly and will be kept confidential to the extent possible.
Any Associate or Employee who is found after appropriate investigation to have engaged in any intimidation, harassment, or threat of violence to another associate, employee, customer, client, vendor, or third party will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers prohibits retaliation against any Associate or Employee who has made a good-faith complaint of intimidation, harassment, or threat of violence or who has cooperated with the investigation of such complaint.
2.5 Substance Abuse
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers recognizes that individuals, sometimes to the extent that their abilities and senses are impaired, use substances such as alcohol and drugs. Our position regarding substance abuse is the same whether alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, prescription drugs or controlled substances are involved (“substances”).
This policy is implemented in part because we believe that the impairment of any Employee or Associate is likely to result in the risk of injury or loss to other employees, associates, the impaired individual, or to third parties, such as clients, customers, or a business guest.
As an Associate, your job is to provide statistical information about an extremely important commodity (real property). You are also expected to comment on market probabilities with a clear mind. “Impairment” or “being impaired” means that an Employee or Associate’s normal physical or mental abilities, or faculties, while at work have been detrimentally affected by the use of substances.
The Employee or Associate who begins work while impaired or who becomes impaired while at work is guilty of a major violation of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers rules and is subject to severe disciplinary action. Severe disciplinary action can include suspension, dismissal, or any other appropriate action under the circumstances. Likewise, the use, possession, transfer, or sale of any substance on Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers premises or at the company parking lot, or at any job site (listings, etc.) are prohibited and subject to severe disciplinary action. In all instances, the disciplinary action to be administered shall be at the sole discretion and determination of the Company.
When an Employee or Associate is involved in the use, possession, transfer, or sale of a substance in violation of this policy, Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers may notify appropriate authorities. Such notice will be given only after such an incident has been investigated and reviewed by the Director of Sales. If an Employee or Associate is suspected of substance abuse he or she may be asked to undergo a blood test and/or urinalysis to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs in the system. Any such testing will on the Company time and expense. All test results will remain confidential between the Company and the tested Employee or Associate except as may otherwise be permitted or required by law. Circumstances that would make such test appropriate include but are not limited to the exhibition of behavior normally associated with persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or involvement in an on-the-job accident or other work related incident.
Employees and Associates are encouraged to remain substance free.
If an Employee or Associate expects that a client, customer, or vender is under the influence of substances, all contractual negotiations, services or work should cease until a later time when impairment is not suspected. If in doubt, Employees or Associates should contact the Broker-In-Charge or Principal Broker.
Employees and Associates are encouraged not to smoke. Smoking is prohibited on the Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers’ premises, or at any property listed for sale by Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers.
2.7 Alcoholic Beverages
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is not permitted in the office or at any place where business is being conducted. Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers discourages drinking or serving alcoholic beverages at Open Houses, during Caravans and/or any other time associates are conducting business on behalf of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers. Please note that this Policy does not prohibit the occasional celebration marking a significant event achieved by the Company or members of its association; and that during such an event Associates & Guests should be able to toast with a non-alcoholic or alcoholic drink. Attendees who choose to drink alcoholic beverages during our work-related events will be expected to do so reasonably and responsibly. We caution Associates and Employees to use good judgment. And, never drink and drive.
2.8 Auto Policy
Associates and Employees who drive while conducting business for Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers shall at all times have a valid and current drivers license and current automobile insurance with a minimum level of $100,000 liability per person and $300,000 per accident and Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers must be named as additionally insured. A current copy of the Associate’s or Employee’s policy shall be on file at all times. Failure to do so may result in the release of the Associate’s real estate license or termination of employment. Associates and Employees who will drive on Company business must provide a driver’s abstract upon joining the Company. Thereafter, the Associate or Employee shall notify the Principal Broker of any accidents or moving violations.
Associates and Employees must comply with all state laws regarding seat belts and car seats for children.
2.9 Office Dress Code
Our customers, clients and prospects have expectations about the attire of business professionals. In general, “business dress” is expected. Meeting our clients' expectations in advance is part of our commitment. And, dressing differently than what our clients expect may lead them to consider that we conduct business differently than their expectations.
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers recognizes that Associates or Employees may be more effective and/or productive if they’re not obligated to dress in a way in which they may not otherwise dress. And, clients and customers sometimes work better with professionals who are dressed more casually than “business dress.” Keep in mind that part of living the ‘Hawaii Life’ is not to be unnecessarily formal. We encourage everyone at Hawaii Life to dress appropriately, and not to compromise themselves. Represent, but don't be a slob.
2.10 Professional Office Appearance
Keep your work area neat and organized. Part of our business model includes focusing on the essence of what’s needed, and what works. Please refrain from creating clutter, or bringing unnecessary items to the office. A stream-lined, minimalist approach to the design and appearance of the office will provide a more productive work environment.
2.11 Loan Policy
Associates and Employees must not lend or borrow money to or from clients, Company Employees, Company Associates, or the Company. Also, associates shall not pay or receive money from sources relating to real estate transactions that does not flow through the Company.
2.12 Gift Policy
Associates and employees shall not accept gifts exceeding $25.00 in value from suppliers, vendors, or others doing business with Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers. All cash gifts and/or business bonuses received from the client must flow through the Company. The Company may withhold applicable fees prior to paying Associate.
2.13 Personal Computers
Associates must have personal computers, preferably laptops. Associates are solely responsible for the software licenses and information on their personal computers. The Company is not responsible for any loss or damage to Associates’ personal computers even while on Company premises. Associates are encouraged to have insurance covering loss or damage to any personal property including computers maintained in the office.
2.14 Office Computers
Software shall not be installed on the Company computers without the approval of the Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge. Software licenses must be on file for all installed software. Office computers are to be used for work related purposes only. Personal use is prohibited on company equipment. Respect the resources of the office, and especially the privacy of other Associates’ personal computers.
2.15 Desk Space
Associates are encouraged to embrace a business model for their careers that allows them to be productive from any location (i.e. Open House, Caravan, Home Office, etc.). Desks and/or Office Space shall be assigned by the Company from time to time and may be reassigned at the Director of Sales discretion. All desks should be kept clutter free with minimal personal items.
2.16 Conflicts of Interest
Associates and Employees must avoid activities that would result in a question of business ethics or a compromise in the Associate’s or Employee’s loyalty to the Company or Clients. In addition, Associates should strive to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Questions regarding the potential conflicts must be directed to the Director of Sales. Activities such as buying a Company Listing or investing or performing work for another organization that provides real estate services or related services and/or development must have prior approval of the Principal Broker. When buying a company listing it must be disclosed, in the contract, that the associate is a member of the Company. No associate shall have an active mortgage solicitor or mortgage broker license at any time while actively licensed as a real estate agent with the Company. Additionally, no associate shall be involved in any form of settlement service or receive income or benefits “for value” directly from a settlement service company while actively licensed with the Company.
2.17 Proprietary Information and Confidentiality
Associates and Office Personnel agree not to furnish to any person, business, real estate brokerage or any other entity presently existing, or to be formed in the future, any information regarding the Company’s clients, customers, properties, prices, or terms of negotiations including the Company’s policies and relationships with clients, customers, or other business relations and/or the Company’s business. Nor will Associates and Office Personnel release to others agent rosters or other internal documents and phone lists. Associates and Office Personnel agree not to remove any of the following:
- Any files
- Prospect or client lists
- Brochures, Manuals
- Any Sales or Marketing Materials
Associates and Office Personnel expressly agree that all such items are the property of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers and will not use these materials in connection with any real estate business carried on either alone or with other individuals or entities.
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers agrees that associates are entitled, at their own expense, to photocopies of any records and files in which they have a bona fide personal, legal, or economical interest; and that Associates may access such files only for such purposes and upon reasonable notice.
2.18 Legal Judgments
Associates MUST notify the Principal Broker immediately and in writing of any legal judgement, order or decision against them, including, but not limited to, DUIs, TROs, bankrupticies, foreclosures and tax liens.
3 Office Procedures & Policies
3.1 Office Records and Files
All Listing and Escrow files should include all documents related to the listing or escrow and any and all correspondence, notes, e-mail communications, text messages, etc. Associates are encouraged to make copies for their own personal files. The Company reserves the right to maintain digital and/or paper files in storage for the statutory period as required by law. Associates should keep their transaction files as long as legally required. All files (Listing, Escrow, etc.) are the property of the Company. Any files located in the office (whether Listing, Escrow, etc.) MUST remain in the office.
In addition to original copies, all Listing Files, Escrow Files, and Transaction Files must be uploaded to RELAY Transaction Management (a link to which is available in the Associate’s My Hawaii Life account). Files maintained by the office and by Associates within the office are confidential, including faxes. Associates or members of the public are not authorized to look in another Associate’s office files or faxes without the permission of the Director of Sales. Inappropriate access by an Employee, Associate, or their clients will result in termination of the Associate’s or Employee’s relationship with the Company.
3.2 Keys and Lockboxes
Most keys are maintained in lockboxes, and Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers encourages the use of lockboxes as key storage. However, in some instances the client will not desire a lockbox on their property or other conditions will not allow the availability of a lockbox. Under these circumstances a copy of the keys will be kept in the office to facilitate showings by other Associates. A key number must be assigned to the Listing. AT NO TIME SHOULD THE ADDRESS APPEAR ON THE KEY TAG. Keys are to be kept in a secured file and filed in numeric order. Information on the key number and location should be maintained with the showing information for each listing.
The identity of the individuals requesting keys or lockbox combinations must be verified. If you are not familiar with the individual requesting the key or lockbox combination ask to see their real estate license pocket card and ask for a business card. If you receive a telephone request ask for their name, office name, and phone number. Verify the information and call them back with the information. If the information is not correct information, inform the Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge.
To check out a key, log the information on the “Key Checkout” form, place the key in an envelope, and get a business card from the person picking up the key. Ask the individual picking up the key to please return it as soon as possible.
Lockboxes are used extensively and are encouraged. The installation should be in an inconspicuous location on the property and then clearly noted on the “Showing Instructions” form. Lockboxes are to be removed promptly upon the sale or after the final inspection of the property. All combinations should be set by the Listing Agent. The original pre-set combination should NEVER be used. The combination may be changed as frequently as needed to give maximum protection for the property and ensure that all showing Associates call before going to the property. Associates shall keep a log of all showing requests and showings.
3.3 Office Hours and Office Keys
Associates may be given a set of keys to the office, and shall not duplicate them for any reason. In general, and consistent with the business of real estate sales, there are no set office hours. Associates and Employees are strongly advised to be aware of the dangers inherent to working alone at uncommon business hours. See Section
3.4 Use of Office and Office Equipment
Sales Associates at Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers are strongly encouraged to create systems and form business habits that do not create unnecessary dependency on office space and office equipment. We absolutely understand that Associates may utilize the office to make phone calls, research property, attend meetings, and meet clients. And, we encourage Associates to create a business practice that allows them to make calls, research property, attend meetings and meet clients away from the office as well. Office equipment is restricted to business use ONLY. Use of reference materials, copy machines, phone systems, office computers and other equipment for personal use is not permitted.
3.5 After Hours
Associates are encouraged to use the office whenever necessary for client meetings and general real estate business. Associates are reminded to exercise reasonable caution and care at all times when using the office and meeting clients. Associates are further cautioned to be mindful of the danger inherent in working alone in the late night or early morning hours. Be aware of persons loitering in the parking areas, walkways, entrances/exits and service areas. Report any suspicious persons or activities to the police.
3.6 Messages and Mail
Associates’ mail and messages will be placed in the mail folders/boxes or forwarded to their voice mail. Please check both upon entering or leaving the office. It is recommended that Associates keep their clients and the Principal Broker informed of their whereabouts.
3.7 Sales Meetings
The Principal Broker and/or Broker-In-Charge may, from time-to-time or regularly, invite Associates to share relevant information about our products (services and listings) at a Sales Meeting. Our focused goal in Sales Meetings is to effectively and efficiently communicate important and detailed information about our products (services and listings). Avoid gossip, abstract concepts, or personal discussions. Focus, listen, and stay on point.
When appropriate, we may discuss changes that affect the Real Estate Industry, legal updates, or changes to company policies and procedures at Sales Meetings. In addition, the company may notify Associates of company policy changes and legal updates via e-mail or other forms of communication. Sales Meetings for Associates are held at the discretion of the Principal Broker, during normal business hours and with ample notice. Attendance by Associates is part of your commitment to Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers. Associates will be held responsible for staying informed about their office and their industry.
3.8 Telephone and Fax
All long distance calls must be placed on an Associate’s calling card or the Associate’s mobile phone. Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is not responsible for Associates' long distance phone services. Extended or excessive personal calls are discouraged as they distract from productivity and unnecessarily tie-up office resources.
- Act in Integrity when answering the office phone.
- A call should be directed to an Associate immediately upon the caller’s request. If the Associate is not available, then provide the caller immediately with the Associate’s contact information.
- A call should be directed to an Associate immediately if a call comes in regarding the Associate’s listing and the caller asks to speak with the Listing Agent.
- At every opportunity, always take complete messages with the callers’ name and number, time of day, subject matter, and urgency.
- Remember that when the phone rings, it’s business. Provide information and service to the caller when asked or expected to.
- Incoming facsimiles are to be treated with complete confidentiality and delivered only to the individual addressed or to the Principal Broker. If it’s not yours, don’t read it.
- As part of the commitment to provide the highest-quality real estate service, and in light of the increasing demand for the privacy of personal information, ASSOCIATES ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO USE A PERSONAL FACSIMILE SERVICE THAT CAN SEND DOCUMENTS DIRECTLY TO E-MAIL. Direct-faxing services (i.e. MyFax, efax, etc.) highly reduce the risk of distributing personal information inappropriately and also serve to create a digital copy of the document as a back-up to the original.
All Associates are required to check names and phone numbers against the Do-Not-Call List prior to Cold Calling, calling FSBO’s or calling expired listings.
Whenever possible, only the Listing Agent should make appointments for their listings to be viewed. Only in the event that the Listing Agent is unavailable for an extended period of time should other Associates contact clients of the firm. Listing Associates are responsible for keeping an accurate and current showing log in the Listing File.
Operate with integrity when scheduling and keeping appointments. Respect yourself and others; be where you commit to being at the time you committed to being there. And, if you’re unable to keep your commitment, communicate immediately.
3.10 Floor Time
Floor Time, if any, will only be assigned by the Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge. All leads that come to the office, including phone calls, visitors, website leads, etc., shall be considered company leads.
3.11 Lead Management Policy
The Hawaii Life Lead Management Policy applies to Associates who have met the requirements and have signed on to the Lead Management Team.
4 Associate Procedures
4.1 Independent Contractors
Real Estate Associates are independent contractors and must sign the Independent Contractor Agreement. Under no circumstances shall Associates be considered employees. Consequently, no federal or state income taxes, unemployment and/or disability insurance or social security are withheld from associates’ compensation.
4.2 Agency Requirements
Associates’ primary work activity is Listing and Selling real estate, including the pursuit of and service to new clients, customers, and contacts. Associates are strongly encouraged to continually develop the skills of communicating effectively and authentically.
Real Estate sales is a relationship-based business. Building, strengthening, and maintaining relationships with clients, prospects, customers, other Realtors, and fellow Associates are all key aspects to real estate sales. Sales Meetings are a venue for us to discuss or announce any changes to company policies and procedures. E-mail announcements may also be used to disseminate important information. The Company understands and expects that our Associates, as professionals, remain informed with changes that affect the Real Estate Industry or legal updates. Associates will be held responsible for staying informed about their office and their industry.
Don’t be a secret agent! Be available at reasonable hours to provide service to your Clients and Customers. Answer your phone.
4.3 Agency Disclosure
For Company Listings, all Associates Represent the Seller.
Dual Agency – Generally speaking, Dual Agency is created when the company endeavors to represent both the seller (when the Company has the listing) and the buyer. Dual Agency could also be said to exist when the Company is representing multiple buyers who are pursuing the same property, or if the Company represents multiple sellers who are competing for similar buyers.
All Hawaii Life buyers must sign a Notice to Buyer Clients that explains the above. Associates need to read and understand this Notice prior to working with a buyer. Ideally this document is presented, discussed and signed by the Buyer prior to showing property.
If an Associate is representing a client who elects to purchase a Company Listing, (with or without a Buyer's Representation Agreement) then an appropriate Dual Agency Consent Disclosure shall be circulated to both the Buyer and Seller PRIOR to the signing or delivery of the Purchase Contract.
If the Company is working with a buyer and the seller is a For Sale By Owner, we represent the Buyer exclusively. The FSBO Seller is considered a Customer Seller and a Commission Agreement must be completed and signed by the seller(s) before an offer is presented. A Customer Seller Disclosure should be included in the Purchase Contract. It is highly recommended that the Associate obtain an Exclusive Buyer’s Representation Agreement, signed by the Buyers, prior to showing the FSBO property.
4.4 Business Opportunities and Commercial Transactions
Business Opportunities and Commercial Property Listings or purchases must be approved by the Principal Broker prior to acceptance. If the Associate has not completed at least one CCIM (Commercial Real Estate Professional) course and is not on target to complete the CCIM designation then the Principal Broker may direct the Associate to refer the transaction to a more qualified professional.
4.5 Billing Policy
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers may bill Associates for marketing programs ordered by the Associate, such as company e-mail ($50 annually), Docusign, etc. The Company reserves the right to create a monthly billing program that may include such items as E&O Insurance, MLS Fees, Office Maintenance Charges, Fax Charges, Associate Advertising, etc. In the event that the Company elects to begin a billing program, then the Policies and Procedures Manual shall be amended accordingly.
Associates must use their own names when ordering materials and services. No charges may be billed to the Company without the approval of the Broker-In-Charge. Expenses of any kind incurred by the Company on an Associate’s behalf that have not been paid will lead to the withholding of commission payments until such time that the outstanding payments have been paid by the Associate in full.
4.6 Business Expenses
In general, the Associate pays for personal business expenses. Examples of typical Associate expenses include:
- Health Insurance
- Professional Membership dues and Licensing Fees
- Continuing Education
- Lock boxes and Keys
- Business Cards
- Long distance faxes
- Seminar/training/convention costs
- Supplemental Advertising
- Personal Promotion
- Postage for mailings
- Newsletter Costs
- MLS Dues
- Open House Signs & Name Riders
The Company will provide the following:
- Errors and Omissions Insurance
- “For Sale” signs
- MLS Entry fees for new listings
- Office supplies
- All essential office forms
- Company Letterhead (in digital format)
- Research Tools such as the Condo Guides, Tax Map Books, etc.
- The company website(s)
- Proprietary Software
4.7 Vacations or Illness
When Associates take vacation or are off-island, or in the case of prolonged illness or absence for other reasons, they should notify a Broker-In-Charge or Director of Sales. While technology allows us to handle a lot of "work" remotely, there are still tasks that need to be handled by "boots on the ground." Associates should have an agreement with a colleague in writing around the fulfillment of those tasks during their absence. In the absence of a written agreement, the Principal Broker reserves the right to designate an Associate to provide service in the event that no one has been named and determine the appropriate commission split(s) based upon the service provided. Generally the split determined by the Principal Broker will be 50/50 between the Associates.
4.8 Board and MLS Dues
Associates are responsible for prompt payment of Board of Realtor dues and MLS Dues. Failure to pay dues as required puts the Company and your co-workers’ MLS access at risk. A zero tolerance policy is invoked on all licensees who fail to pay Board of Realtor or MLS Dues, and will result in release of the associate’s real estate license. A copy of this portion of the policy and procedural manual will be shared with the appropriate Boards.
4.9 Client Ownership
Under no circumstances shall any Associate of the Company solicit, divert, or attempt to divert the business of an active Client of the Company from any other Associate. For the purposes of this paragraph, an "active Client" is any individual, corporate partner, assignee, attorney-in-fact, or related subsidiary who is currently under any contract with the Company including, but not limited to, Listing Contracts, Buyer's Representation Agreements, Purchase Contracts, and Property Management Contracts. Failure to honor this agreement will result in immediate disciplinary action and may result in a termination of the Associate's affiliation with the Company.
4.10 Continuing Education and Professional Education
Associates must complete the minimum statutory requirement of Continuing Professional Education. Current Continuing Professional educational requirements are 20 hours every fourth year of which one session must be Code of Ethics Training.
Associates are strongly encouraged to regularly continue their professional education and to seek professional certificates (GRI, CRS, RSPS, etc.) and/or other professional training avenues. In the event an Associate or Broker should complete their GRI, CRS, ABR, or RSPS, then the Company shall reimburse the full cost of the education (only the portion which was incurred during the Associate’s time with the Company) out of the Company Split of the Associate’s next closed escrow(s).
4.11 Participatory Management
Associates and Employees are encouraged to express ideas, suggestions, and challenges with company Leadership. Please do not to complain, gossip, speak ill of others, or triangulate in any way. Respect the time and integrity of other Associates and Employees.
4.12 Release of License
An Associate whose license is released from the Company, either at the company’s request or of his/her own volition, is expected to pay the balance of his/her office bill and return all signage and Company items. The Principal Broker reserves the right to reduce the Agent Commission on Open Escrows not closed prior to (15) days from the Agent’s release date to 60%, and the Principal Broker reserves the right to assign any pending transactions initiated by the released agent to another agent in the firm in which case the commission will be shared 50/50 between assigned agent and the departing agent.
All Listings Belong to the Company, and ALL Company-generated Listings and Buyers will remain with the Company.
4.13 Agent Assistants
Any Assistant (licensed or unlicensed) whom Associates hire must abide by Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Real Estate Commission Guidelines and Company Policies, as may be appropriate. The Principal Broker reserves the right to approve the hire or terminate any assistant or otherwise prohibit him/her from entering the office for any reason and/or to limit the assistant’s office hours, at any time.
4.14 Business Cards
Business Cards are created in Smarketing and must conform to the Advertising Requirements and Administrative Rules of the Real Estate Commission. All cards must identify the Associates by their license name. Business cards must include: Associate's Name and Designation, Hawaii Life logo and website, Associates @hawaiilife e-mail address, Office Phone Number and Office Address. Even if you choose to have your cards printed outside Smarketing, they must still be submitted to Smarketing for approval prior to printing.
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is a commitment to superior marketing.
All advertising must be approved by the Principal Broker or Creative Director. Under no circumstances shall an Associate or Employee run any type of advertisement for their listings or services without the prior approval of the Principal Broker or Creative Director.
All advertising must comply with the Administrative Rules of the Real Estate Commission, the Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement, MLS rules and regulations, state and federal advertising requirements, N.A.R. code of ethics and Hawaii Life guidelines. Associates should encourage their Listing Clients not to run any advertising on their own behalf, as this will increase the risks of non-compliance with the guidelines stated above.
A comprehensive marketing schedule should be developed for each property utilizing the best advertising media. Associates are encouraged to consult with the Principal Broker and Creative Director for assistance in creating a marketing schedule.
As an Associate or Licensee, there is a legal and ethical obligation to be truthful when advertising property or services. Associates may be held liable for fraud, intentional misrepresentation, or negligent misrepresentation if you make material false statements or material omissions in an advertisement. Any false or misleading advertisement will immediately be withdrawn by the Broker and the Associate may be terminated from the Company.
Advertising must not be run before the listing is approved by the Company and entered into the MLS. Advertising paid for by the Company will be run at the Principal Broker’s or Creative Director’s discretion.
4.16 Online Advertising
Any place an agent conducts business online--including (but not limited to): Real estate websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Places, Yelp, Activerain, Trulia or Zillow--must include the agent's full name and designations, the Brokerage’s name, and either a link back to http://www.hawaiilife.com or a way for the consumer to contact the brokerage. In Facebook, this information must be included within the "Info" tab.
Associates may utilize the "My Referral Link” (aka, Agent Referral Link) found in the Agent or Admin Menu of your My Hawaii Life account on www.hawaiilife.com. The "My Referral Link" is designed to allow Associates to link to and utilize the search capabilities of www.hawaiilife.com AND provide automatic lead registration for the agent if an inquiry is made. Leads generated from "Agent Referral Links" are considered "business-earned" and are subject to the Associate's regular commission split.
Online, Associates may NOT represent themselves as the Hawaii Life Brokerage. For instance, when creating a Yelp business listing, the agent may use their name and designations for the title of the listing, not "Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers" or any other form of the Brokerage's name including "Agent Name + Hawaii Life."
Associates may NOT use Hawaii Life's office address as their own for local listings, such as Google+ Local or Yahoo! Local.
4.17 E-mail Policy
Associates are encouraged to use e-mail as a follow-up to verbal conversations with clients, customers, and prospects. Any communication regarding a transaction should be saved for the statutory period of time, and the Associates shall provide the company with copies of all e-mails sent and received which relate to transactions or involve clients of the Company. The Company reserves the right to save any e-mails that are sent or received through the Hawaii Life domain name, sub domains, or servers. It is not the Company policy to regularly monitor e-mails, although the stored data in e-mails may be useful in addition to the Associates’ communication log if a dispute should arise.
Associates are also required to blind copy (bcc) the company on any transaction-related e-mail. For this purpose, the company has created the account: firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail correspondence sent to this account will simply be stored in the Company files, and referred to only as needed for dispute resolution or compliance with Company Policies and Procedures.
Associates shall refrain from sending or forwarding any type of offensive, improper, or inappropriate communications via e-mail to any Company contact, client, customer, Associate, or employee, or otherwise. Remember that e-mail is a limited form of communication. Use clear, concise, and uncomplicated language when writing e-mails.
Associates shall maintain an appropriate e-mail signature when using e-mail for any business related communication. The e-mail signature shall include the Agent’s license name and designation, phone number, office address, and reply e-mail address.
Associates shall refrain from sending unsolicited bulk e-mail, or SPAM, to any group or individual who has not expressly consented to receiving e-mails from the Associate or Company.
Associates shall abide by the Policies of their MLS provider(s) in regards to the uses of the MLS Roster::
- The service may provide bulletin boards, mailboxes, and other messaging services to participants, subscribers and other users. Use of these capabilities is strictly limited to promoting the sale of properties listed in the service.
4.18 Cold Calling
Cold Calling, or telemarketing, is commonly used by real estate companies to solicit prospective clients for sales, property management, or other services. It generally involves messages or telephone calls to promote the purchase, rental and financing of real property and services provided incidental to such activities. Cold calling does not apply to your existing clients – people with whom you have an “established business relationship,” or where the party has made an inquiry, application, purchase or transaction regarding the product or service you are offering.
Associates are encouraged to explore cold calling as a method of business promotion. But just as with advertising, there are pitfalls to be avoided and laws to be followed.
If you make cold calls, your calls must conform to all federal and state law requirements and you must first obtain the Principal Broker’s approval. Additionally:
- You as the telemarketer must maintain a “do-not-call” list.
- You must first insure numbers called are not on the Federal Do-Not-Call List and you must also verify it is not on the Company Do Not Call List.
- You may not call a residence before 8:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m. in their time zone.
- You must provide the called party with your identity and telephone number or address where you may be contacted.
- You may not call any emergency lines, health care facilities, radio common carrier services (cell or pager services) or any service for which the called party will be charged for the call.
If you use an auto dialer, you must:
- State the nature of the call and the name, address, and telephone number of the business organization.
- Inquire as to whether or not the person called consents to hearing the prerecorded message.
- Ensure that the line is disconnected upon termination by either the telemarketer or the person called.
- Refrain from sending unsolicited or “junk faxes”.
4.19 Farming and Mailers
All Associates with the Company are encouraged to use the company’s Direct Marketing System (located in the Admin Menu of your My Hawaii Life account) to “farm” an area or list of property owners on a regular basis. It is suggested that a formal, professionally printed newsletter be used in addition to “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” letters. Associates are also encouraged to generate new contacts with phone calls, personal contacts, community groups, Homeowner’s Associations, etc.
All farm mailings and farm areas must be approved by the Broker-In-Charge or the Creative Director. Any subsequent change from the recommended or approved procedure must be approved prior to starting the activity (mailer or otherwise).
The contents of mail-outs, property information sheets, letters and other advertising materials MUST be reviewed by the Broker-In-Charge prior to distribution or mailing. This reduces the risk of legal complications, which can arise if unauthorized information is released.
4.20 Listing Procedures
All Hawaii Life listing clients shall receive a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) as part of their Listing Package. The CMA shall be provided to the seller(s) prior to the Listing being signed, and the Agent shall obtain the sellers’ acknowledge of receipt of the CMA in writing. Use this opportunity to discuss the benefits of accurate-pricing. Consider the importance and value of a strategically and appropriately-priced listing. Advising our clients about the value of accurate-pricing is one of the most powerful and valuable services we provide to our clients.
The powerful marketing scope and reach of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is not generated on a per-listing basis. As a result, listings aren’t a financial burden to the company. Rather, they help us leverage the marketing tools we’ve built and continue to pay for. For this reason (and because we have no intent to be in contract with a client who no longer wants to work with us), Listings may be mutually cancelable with as little as one day’s notice.
However, we require a Protection Period of 240 DAYS. We require the 240-day Protection Period because of the broad scope of our marketing reach, and the number of prospects we interact with who may require additional time to complete a purchase.
Prior to taking the listing, Associates shall order a current Title Report or Property Profile from a title company. Only a current Title Report can provide accurate information about ownership, liens, and recorded documents. The preferred term for listings is 1-YEAR, with a minimum listing period of 6 MONTHS. We take listings for a fee of 6% of the Purchase Price + Applicable G.E.T. At the Associates’ discretion, Listings may include a provision whereby the Commission may be reduced to no lower than 5% in the event Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers brings a “customer” buyer. A “customer” buyer is a buyer who is not represented by a Realtor and/or an outside brokerage and to whom a Cooperating Broker’s Separate Commission would not apply.
ALL Listings must include and reference the Hawaii Life Listing Addendum, Agency Disclosure, and the Photographic Waiver. The Associate shall acquire the Certification Status of the Septic/Waste Water System from Department of Health for the subject property.
Listing Agreements and Addenda must be approved by the Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge prior to having the Sellers sign. Listings are submitted with the “Listing Requirements” form. Supporting documents should accompany the listing and be submitted to the Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge for review. Listing Input (MLS, etc.):
Whenever possible, all Listings of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers should have 25 digital pictures provided by the Associate. The lead photo is the most important photo in marketing the listing. Exterior photos are strongly recommended for the lead photo. After the lead photo, the next five photos are the most important (various syndicate websites only show the first 6 photos of listings).
Virtual Tours, Videos, and Custom Listing Websites are not mandatory but are strongly recommended. When writing Public Remarks for Listings in the Multiple Listing Service, be mindful that the first few sentences are of the utmost importance. Reference the Hawaii Life Marketing Policy for details on best use and practices for advertising copy.
For Sale signs are among the most powerful way to leverage listings for increased sales. With your clients’ permission, use For Sale signs wherever possible. Refer to the Marketing Policy for details and requirements for Sign Riders.
The Company may assist in making the listing changes, corrections, or status changes when submitted by the Associate on an “MLS Change” form. Authorized Associates may be permitted to make these changes themselves after approval by the Principal Broker. Listings may also be broker-loaded onto Internet sites pending completion of the necessary paperwork (see “Listing Requirements”).
The Company policy is for the Associate to call, write, or e-mail the Seller at least once a week to report activity on the property. Use the Alerts created for Sellers on www.hawaiilife.com to advise Sellers of the page views their listings are receiving. Send the Seller copies of all advertising, fact sheets, flyers and other items used in the marketing of their property even if the Seller is an owner-occupant. Give the Seller feedback regarding showings and make helpful suggestions that will aid in selling the property faster.
Listing Associates must create and maintain a Protection List of every prospect who views the subject listing in person, whether represented by an outside broker or not.
As part of your marketing plan, a “Just Listed” letter should be mailed to every prospect in the Associate’s database AND to the neighborhood in which the listing was taken within one week of the listing’s release on the MLS.
4.21 For Sale By Owner Procedures
The “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) and other types of “Pocket Listings” are part of the marketplace. A professional approach will protect your opportunity to earn a commission and may result in obtaining a signed listing agreement in the future.
The company policy with respect to FSBOs and “Pocket Listings” is that only an active and valid contract creates a client/agent relationship. "Pocket Listings" are considered prospects and/or leads until they become a client by virtue of signing a listing agreement.
Whenever you are planning to work with a FSBO and/or show any property that is not officially on the market, the “Commission Agreement” form is used prior to showing or presenting an offer.
For Sale signs are owned by the Company. After listings have been acquired please make arrangements with the Broker-In-Charge for a For Sale sign. It is important that the sign be removed promptly after the listing is sold or withdrawn. Associates are responsible for any signs used and not returned. A $40 security deposit is required for Associates’ use of post signs.
Name Riders and Open House signs are ordered and paid for by the Associates as a form of personal advertising and are greatly encouraged. Associate Name Riders must include the associate’s license name and designation, and must be approved by the Creative Director or Broker-In-Charge. See the Marketing Policy for guidelines on Name Riders and Open House signs.
ALL OFFERS AND COUNTER OFFERS MUST BE REVIEWED AND APPROVED BY THE BROKER-IN-CHARGE PRIOR TO BEING SIGNED BY THE CLIENT OR CUSTOMER.
A copy of each Offer, Counter-Offer, Addendum, or any other pertinent documents presented to a client, shall be on file with the Company as soon as these are written. “On file with the Company” means that they are immediately uploaded to the RELAY Transaction Management System.
Buyer’s Signature: Review the entire Purchase Contract with the Buyer. Be sure that the Purchase Contract reflects the Buyer’s terms and conditions. It is permissible for one Buyer to sign an offer when there will be more than one person holding title, but is advisable to have the offer signed by all parties whose income will be used to qualify for a loan. ALWAYS GIVE THE BUYER A COPY OF CONTRACTS, ADDENDA, OR ANY OTHER FORMS AT THE TIME OF SIGNING. Then, always have the client or customer sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the copies. Any Buyer Client must sign the NOTICE TO BUYER CLIENTS form with any Purchase Contract.
Deposit Checks: Checks accompanying offers shall be made payable to the escrow company. Cash must not be accepted.
Offers on Company Listings: Buyers who wish to purchase a Company Listing are referred to as “Customer” Buyers and are not represented by the Company. The “CUSTOMER” BUYER DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT must be presented to and signed by “Customer” Buyers prior to the presentation of all sales agreements.
In the event the Buyer is an active client of the Company and has an active Buyer’s Representation Agreement, then a separate DUAL AGENCY CONSENT AGREEMENT must be attached.
Seller’s Counter Offer: Counter Offers shall be reviewed and approved by the Broker-In-Charge prior to being signed by the Seller. If changes to the offer are desired by the Seller, the Counter Offer form is ALWAYS used. Buyer’s Counter Offer to Seller’s Counter Offer: If the Buyer wishes to make additional changes to the Seller’s Counter Offer, then they will draft a second counter offer checking off the box denoting it is originating from the Buyer.
Commission Splits: All agreements regarding commissions (between Associates or between the Company and another firm) must be approved by the Broker-In-Charge, in writing, BEFORE ESCROW IS OPENED. Failure by Associates to agree on a commission split will result in the automatic 50/50 split between the Associates. Fax and Electronic Signatures: FAX and electronic signatures on the Purchase Contract are fully binding and effective. However the parties agree that they will promptly forward signed copies of the original Purchase Contract and other documents. Copies of these updated documents should be included in the Company escrow file and the originals forwarded to Escrow.
4.24 Escrow Procedures
Escrows are opened within 24 hours after acceptance of an Offer. If acceptance is by FAX or digital signature, escrows should be opened while contracts are being mailed for original signatures. The Associates will complete the “Escrow Instruction” form and attach all checks, previous contracts (paper trail) from the “Pending Offer” file along with the final offer. Escrow instructions must be reviewed and signed by the Principal Broker before opening escrow.
If an escrow will not close on schedule, the Associate shall contact the Broker-In-Charge before submitting an extension. The Associate and the Principal Broker should be in constant contact from this point until close of escrow. The company policy is to assist in every possible way to bring about a speedy close to the transaction with no additional risk of default.
If an Escrow goes into default or is cancelled, inform the Principal Broker immediately. The Principal Broker shall sign the Escrow Cancellation form and confirm distribution of funds.
4.25 Lending Recommendations
Associates must avoid providing information about a specific mortgage product to a prospect or client. An example would be providing rate sheets containing the current interest rate from a lender or providing applications or other information for a specific mortgage product. In addition, Associates must NOT provide a client or customer with documentation needed to apply for a preapproval from a lender for a mortgage loan.
5 Risk Reduction & Liability Procedures
5.1 Office Records and Policy on Paperwork:
All Company files must contain original documents including correspondence, notes, etc. whenever possible. Associates should make copies for their files. Escrow and Listing Files are the property of the Company and will be maintained by the Company for the required retention period. All office files (Listing, Escrow, etc.) equipment instruction, reference books, business plans, business projections, budgets, financial reports, project files including brochures must remain in the office. Please refer to section 2.17 regarding Confidentiality.
Listing Files must contain all information on the Listing Requirements form. Listing files must be complete and accurate. See Exhibit C for the Listing Requirements Form.
Offer Paper Trail:
All offers and counter offers must be loaded to the appropriate file in RELAY Transaction Management. This will ensure that a copy of all paperwork is available in case of questions when the Associate is doing contract work.
Escrow files should include all information required as listed on the Escrow Requirements form. See Exhibit D for the Escrow Requirements form.
Escrow Control Log and Communication Log:
These forms will aid in documenting all events and conversations regarding an escrow and are mandatory on all transactions. They are invaluable if a question arises during or after the escrow period. All pertinent correspondence should be added to the escrow file.
5.2 Inbound and Outbound Referrals
The Company strives to drive business to the Company for the benefit of the Associates. Due to its cost, some of the Company-generated business is paid at a different commission split.
Inbound referrals from the website or from web-related marketing are assigned to the Associates who have committed to the Policies and Procedures of the Hawaii Life Buyer Representation Team. The Principal Broker reserves the right to add or remove Associates from the Buyer Representation Team based on Associate performance, timeliness of agent follow-up and reporting, or any other reason deemed appropriate by the Principal Broker.
Inbound referral agreements for referrals to Associates from other firms must be approved by Principal Broker.
For Referrals to other islands in the State, Associates are strongly encouraged to send Outbound Referrals to Hawaii Life referral partners on other islands. All Outbound Referral Agreements must be approved by the Principal Broker.
5.3 Errors and Omissions Insurance
The Company maintains a current E & O Insurance Policy (Professional Liability). This cover is in the amount of $2,000,000 per incident and $4,000,000 aggregate, with a deductible of $10,000. The use of Home Warranty Programs may reduce the deductible should a lawsuit arise.
Associates may be charged a monthly fee for their portion of the E & O Insurance.
Associates may choose to manage their own rental properties at their own risk but MAY NOT manage for a client. All advertising must be approved by the Principal Broker prior to submission for publication, even for Associate-owned rental properties. Associates understand and agree to comply with the Hawaii Revised Statutes stipulating that any and all rental monies for Associate-owned rentals MUST be deposited into the Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers trust account, unless a licensed Property Management Company has been retained by the Associate.
The office policy regarding legal bills or problems that arise during the course of business will be handled on a case-by-case basis. The general rule however, is that the Associate and the Company share financial responsibilities in the same proportion as the commission split, at the time of the problem. The Associate MUST communicate with the Company at the time of the first indication of a serious problem so that all reasonable remedies available to avert additional liability can be undertaken.
For the Company policy to cover Associate-owned/purchase properties, all properties must have a professional home inspection with the home inspection provided to the buyer, all properties must have a home warranty with the home warranty provided to the buyer, all seller disclosures must be made, the parties must use HAR standardized forms and sales contracts, and it must be stated per standard policy that the Associate as a buyer or seller is a licensed real estate agent and/or Broker.
5.4 Lead Based Paint Disclosure
It is the policy of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers to disclose to our clients and customers the hazards of lead based paint as elaborated in the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule (“Disclosure Rule”) which is codified at 40 C.F.R. part 745, subpart F. The Disclosure Rule, Section 1018 of Title X, requires that Lessors or Sellers of pre-1978 residential housing disclose information about lead-based paint and its hazards to lessees or buyers before they sign a contract to lease or sell. If the Lessor, Seller or Agent fails or refuses to comply with the Disclosure Rule, the Lessor, Seller or Agent has committed a prohibited act under the Toxics Substances Disclosure Act (“TSCA”) and is liable for Penalties. Penalties can range up to $11,000 per incident.
All rental, lease, or sales contracts or pre-1978 housing shall have attached a lead based paint disclosure addendum. All Buyers, Renters, and Lessees shall be provided a booklet with information about lead based paints. All Lessors and Sellers shall be counseled on their obligation to disclose their knowledge of the existence, or the lack thereof, of lead based paint in their structure or appurtenances on the property. If any agent of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is in doubt as to whether a property should have this disclosure, it is Company policy to have testing done by a competent firm to ascertain the presence of lead based paints prior to the purchase or lease.
All Associates and brokers of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers shall have a copy, signed by the appropriate parties, of the lead based paint addendum in file as proof of the Company’s and parties’ compliance and acknowledgement with the aforementioned lead paint disclosure act.
6 Commission Guidelines
6.1 General Commission Guidelines
Commissions are paid to Associates as promptly as possible. Payment of commissions from escrow must be made out to our legal business name: Hawaii Life Real Estate Services, LLC. Commission checks are processed by the Company and are ready for pick-up by the Associate within two business days of the Broker-In-Charge’s review of the completed file.
Please be advised that the Company can only make commission payments to licensed real estate agents/entities. Company Associates may have corporations, LLCs, etc., however the Company cannot make commission payments to these entities due to their lack of license status and insurance.
The “Escrow Requirements” form is used to ascertain if all necessary documentation is included in the file. Upon the sale of a listing, the original listing file will be combined with the escrow file.
POLICY: All documents needed for a “closed escrow file” are added before the Associate is paid, and any outstanding office bills are to be cleared by separate check. Uncollected Associate fees that are more than 30 days past the invoice date will result in a withholding of the Associates commission check.
An Associate’s “closed escrow file” must be complete and reviewed by the Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge in order for the Associate to receive compensation. The file should provide a comprehensive account of activities relative to the subject property/client/customer. See the Closed Escrow Requirements form for further details. A communications log detailing every verbal exchange between the Associates and all other individuals associated with the transaction, including principal(s), other agent(s), lender, escrow office, title representative, inspectors, etc. should be included in the file. Documentation should include the name of the person with whom you spoke, the date and time of the conversation or activity, and the subject matter of the conversation or activity. Additionally, pertinent facts discussed with any party or another broker/agent should be confirmed/memorialized by way of a written follow-up, with copies sent to all parties. Retain copies of all correspondence sent and received in the transaction/closed escrow file.
6.2 Commission Negotiation
Commissions will not be reduced unless the reduction is pre-approved by the Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge. Any commission reductions not approved in writing in advance by the Principal Broker shall be deducted from the Associate’s commission payment.
6.3 Personal Sales and Purchases
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers expects that its Associates could-or-may own, purchase, and sell real estate while affiliated with the Company.
On a personal sale/purchase of a primary domicile, the commission shall be 100% to the Associate, provided that the Associate has completed at least two closed transactions during the last six months or four closed transactions within the last twelve months. Only one personal sale (at 100% commission split) in a 12-month contiguous cycle is permitted. Associates must also be active members of the Company on the closing date and have no outstanding or overdue balances. For Associates who are not active with the Company when the transaction closes, the Release of License Commission Policy (Section 3.11) applies and will be enforced.
Per Company policy, Associate owned/purchased properties are subject to the following requirements:
- The property must receive a professional home inspection that is delivered to the buyer.
- The property must have a Home Warranty that is provided to the buyer.
- All Seller Disclosures must be made
- The parties must use standard HAR forms and sales contracts.
- It must be stated per standard policy that the Associate as a buyer or seller is a licensed real estate agent and/or broker.
6.4 Associate Owned Listings
All Associate listings are to be listed with the Company and be listed at the full service fee. All personal transaction advertising and fees must adhere to Company policies and practices. Principal Broker approval, in writing, is required for all personal advertising. The Associate must pay all fees and advertising on 100% Commission transactions.
6.5 Management and Leasing of Licensee-Owned Property
Pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 467, and Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 99, Associates who own personal real estate transactions shall include ANY transaction in which the Associate is acting as, or on behalf of, a landlord or tenant.
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers expects that Associates and Brokers who own real estate may seek to rent the property out to tenants. In the case of licensee-owned property, the policy of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers allows for the following options:
- The licensee may place the property under the management of a licensed brokerage firm. This solution is strongly recommended. To encourage this option, Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers will not charge a commission split on any referral fees resulting from a licensee placing their own rental properties with a licensed property management company.
- The licensee may act as the property manager only for properties in which they currently have a recorded ownership interest. In the event that the licensee should elect to act as the property manager, then all monies coming in related to the licensee-owned property including, but not limited to, rental deposits, rental receipts, escrow funds, trust funds, clients' monies, and any other like items shall be held in the broker trust account of Hawaii Life Real Estate Services, LLC. Under no circumstances shall the licensee comingle funds related to the rental of licensee-owned properties. Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers shall bill the licensee directly for the accounting and book-keeping services related to the management of the trust account funds.
In any event, the Principal Broker must be kept informed of any rental and lease activity conducted by the licensee, whether the property is managed by the licensee or is under another broker's management. The licensee is responsible to provide the Principal Broker with the Rental Management Contract, any and all Lease Agreements, and copies of the GET and TAT filings (monthly).
As per Hawaii Administrative Rules, Chapter 99:
The licensee shall not acquire, rent, lease, or exchange an interest in or buy, rent, lease, or exchange for one's self, any member of the licensee's immediate family or brokerage firm, or any entity in which the licensee has any ownership interest, property listed with the licensee, licensee's brokerage firm, or listed with any other brokerage firm or licensee without making the true position known in writing to the listing owner or property owner. When offering for sale, lease, exchange, or rental, property in which the licensee owns or has an interest, the licensee shall fully inform the principal broker of the licensee's intention to sell, lease, exchange, or rent, and of the licensee's interest in the property. The licensee shall reveal the interest to the purchaser, lessee, or tenant in writing prior to accepting any offer.
Any sales incentive and/or bonus received shall be paid to the Associate based on the Associate’s regular commission split. All bonuses and incentives MUST flow through the company, and MUST be noted on the Escrow Instructions at the time Escrow is opened. The Company is NOT responsible for any failure to pay bonuses by Cooperating Brokers or principals in any transaction.
6.7 Intra-Office Commissions
All commission agreements between two or more Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers Associates are to be IN WRITING before a listing is taken or a sale is made. The commission available to be split between the Associates shall be paid based on the Associate’s commission agreement and each individual Associate’s standard commission level.
Any brokerage agreement with another Associate, Broker or Company should be agreed upon by the Principal Broker BEFORE accepting a listing or a sale is made. The Company maintains a very positive attitude toward making a workable arrangement in order to create more business for an individual Associate. The “Cooperative Brokerage” form should be used or modified for this purpose. The co-broker must carry an active E&O policy and maintain a current real estate broker’s license.
6.9 Sharing of Commission
Associates may not share or pay commissions to third parties without the approval of the Principal Broker. All payments to other brokers, agents, or third parties must flow through the Company.
6.10 Other Income
Occasionally, other miscellaneous income is received. ALL commissions paid to an Associate MUST be paid to the Company; this includes BPO’s and property management referrals. To avoid misunderstandings, the best approach is to pre-arrange all income arrangements with the Principal Broker in writing. Income to Associates, whether from referrals or BPOs, is subject to the applicable Associate’s commission split.
6.11 Independent Contractor
The Associate is an Independent Contractor and shall not be treated as an employee with respect to the services performed there under for Federal or State Tax Purposes.
6.12 General Excise Tax
General Excise Tax (GET) is required on all commission earnings in the State of Hawaii. Associates are encouraged to collect GET from the buyer or seller. When collecting GET from the Seller, the Listing Contract must state that the GET will be collected based on the Gross Commission to the Company. The GET collected from the Seller must comply with the allowable rates for the county where the property is located. See the Principal Broker if additional details are needed. GET will be split the same as commission based on the Associate’s current commission split level. Each Associate is required by law to obtain a General Excise Tax License Number and report and make GET payments when due.
6.13 Policy on Buyer Deposits
It is not the practice of the Company to keep Buyer’s deposits on broken escrows. On those occasions where a deposit is forfeited from a Buyer our Company policy is to return the deposit to the Client. If, however, the deposit is retained by the Company, the money received will be split with the Associate based on the Associate’s current commission split.
6.14 Commission Disputes
Commission disputes are best resolved by the parties directly involved and can be prevented by commission agreements before the transaction begins. However, in the event a dispute cannot be amicably resolved, the ultimate decision will rest with the Principal Broker. Commission funds will be held by the Company at no liability or cost to the Company until the dispute is resolved.
7 Social Media Policy
Hawaii Real Estate Brokers recognizes the value of social media sites and tools to promote our brand and increase sales. Besides providing more customers, social media provide new avenues to deliver customer service. Hawaii Life is committed to helping Associates expand their sphere of influence responsibly. These guidelines apply to Hawaii Life's Associates, Independent Contractors and/or Employees who create or contribute to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of Social Media. Whether you log into Twitter, Yelp, Wikipedia, MySpace or Facebook pages, or comment on online media stories — these guidelines are for you.
Hawaii Life Associates are encouraged to participate in Social Media, and we expect everyone to participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation and of course follows the letter and spirit of the law.
A social media presence will help us express our Core Values, increase our market share, and provide a greater awareness about the company in general. Our social media dialogue should be consistent with Hawaii Life’s Core Values and our mission.
Hawaii Life will establish and maintain a presence on social media sites to foster success for our Associates. We will continue to monitor and offer guidance in all areas of social media, including (but not limited to): instant message services, blogs, e-mail and other messaging devices, event sharing, social bookmarking, video sharing, podcasts, micro-blogging (Twitter and other platforms), photo sharing, widgets, message boards, question-and-answer platforms, wikis, RSS, social networks, and crowd sourced news.
Hawaii Life has established an e-policy which outlines the best practices to minimize risks and maximize compliance with state and federal regulations and adherence to the NAR Code of Ethics. In December 2006 the US Federal Court system announced amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The amended rules govern the discovery of electronically stored information (ESI), which refers to e-mail and other data that can be stored electronically. The rules apply to existing technology as well as future advances in technology. The revised rules make it clear that all ESI –including but not limited to e-mail messages and attachments, IM chat, text messages, blog posts, history of Web surfing, backup tapes, voice mail, and all other forms of created, acquired, retained, and archived data- is subject to discovery in civil lawsuits. Because this leaves a real estate brokerage company liable for discovery of all ESI of their Employees/Independent Contractors, as well as their Employees, the brokerage must establish and enforce rules which govern the ESI in all forms listed above. The ESI refers to content, not the tool used to create the content. Whether written, transmitted, acquired, posted, downloaded or uploaded via e-mail, IM, the Web, social networking sits, cell phones, or other electronic business communication tools, ESI creates the electronic equivalent of DNA evidence.
In a real estate transaction, a business record refers to any communication which has an impact on the transaction, including records required by the state licensing authority as documents to be retained by the brokerage for a specific period of time, i.e. copy of the listing or buyer representation agreement. All communication between the brokerage (which includes Sales Associates, Broker Associates and Employees of Hawaii Life) which affects the specific real estate transaction would also be classified as part of the business record. This includes e-mail, text messages, IM, and all attachments, to name a few. Retention of those records is specified by the state licensing authority and Hawaii Life policy. Purging said business records shall be a direct violation of not only license law but also the FRCP.
These policies are in force regardless of whether Employees/Independent Contractors are using Hawaii Life-provided technology tools during business hours or their own personal computers or cell phones on their own time in their own homes. Hawaii Life reserves the legal right to monitor all Agent e-mail transmissions and Internet activity.
7.2 E-Mail System Policy
Hawaii Life requires that all e-mail received or sent in connection with a specific real estate transaction be retained by the real estate agent, assistant, Employee or other participant to the transaction affiliated with Hawaii Life. Whenever possible all e-mail correspondence should be delivered and sent through the Hawaii Life server so that the server will capture those e-mails to archive and index them. Hawaii Life assigns everyone a Hawaii Life e-mail address which shall be used for all incoming mail. (This e-mail address may be forwarded to your individual e-mail account, i.e. gmail account) Whenever possible, all outgoing mail shall be sent from the same Hawaii Life e-mail account. Sending a response through your personal account will not go through the server and therefore you will be responsible for archiving that response.
This written e-mail policy governs use of Hawaii Life’s e-mail system at the office, as well as at remote locations. The e-mail policies apply to the use of desktop or laptop computers, Blackberry or smartphones, cell phones, and other hand held devices whether supplied by the brokerage or owned individually by the Employee or Independent Contractor. The policy governs anyone who is associated with Hawaii Life on a full or part time basis. Anyone who violates Hawaii Life’s e-mail rules or policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
E-MAIL EXISTS FOR BUSINESS PURPOSES
The Hawaii Life e-mail system is provided for business purposes. Any personal correspondence should be conducted through a personal e-mail account (Gmail, AOL, Yahoo!, etc). PROHIBITED USE OF E-MAIL
We recognize that the boundaries between 'personal' and 'business' are easily blurred in our business. The uses below are strictly prohibited for Hawaii Life e-mail:
- Offensive Content and Harassing or Discriminatory Activities.
- Associates and Employees are prohibited from using the e-mail system to operate a business, conduct an external job search, solicit money for personal gain, campaign for political causes or candidates, or promote or solicit funds for religious or other personal causes, even if done through their personal e-mail accounts but on the brokerage Hawaii Life server.
- Associates and Employees are also prohibited from using the e-mail system to play online games, visit chat rooms, shop online, or engage in illegal activity. Independent Contractors will be held to the same standards on Hawaii Life’s server.
- Employees and Independent Contractors alike are prohibited from using Hawaii Life’s e-mail system to engage in activities or transmit content that is harassing, discriminatory, menacing, threatening, obscene, defamatory, or in any way objectionable or offensive. This would include:
- Sending, receiving, soliciting, printing, copying or replying to text, images, or jokes that disparage others based upon HUD regulations or political view points.
- Sending, receiving, soliciting, printing, copying or replying to messages that are disparaging or defamatory.
- Spreading gossip, rumors, and innuendos about Employees, clients, suppliers, or other outside parties.
- Sending, receiving, soliciting, printing, copying or replying to sexually oriented messages or images or images that contain foul, obscene, off-color or adult-oriented language as well as images that are intended to alarm others, embarrass Hawaii Life, negatively impact Employee productivity or harm Hawaii Life morale.
EMPLOYEES AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS HAVE NO REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY:
- The e-mail system is the property of Hawaii Life.
- All passwords, user IDs and messages created and transmitted are the property of Hawaii Life.
- Hawaii Life reserves the right to monitor all e-mail transmissions conducted on Hawaii Life’s e-mail server.
- Employees and Independent Contractors alike have no reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to business and personal use of Hawaii Life’s e-mail system.
- Hawaii Life reserves the right to monitor, inspect, copy , review and store at any time without notice any and all usage of Hawaii Life’s e-mail system, and any and all files, information, software, and other content created, sent, received, downloaded, uploaded, accessed, or stored in connection with Employee or Independent Contractor usage.
- Hawaii Life reserves the right to disclose e-mail text and images to regulators, the courts, law enforcement and other third parties without the consent of the Employee or Independent Contractor.
CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY AND PERSONAL INFORMATION MUST BE PROTECTED
Unless authorized to do so, Employees or Independent Contractors are prohibited from using the e-mail system to transmit confidential information to outside parties. Nor may they access, send, receive, solicit, print, copy or reply to confidential or proprietary information about Hawaii Life, Employees, clients, Independent Contractors, suppliers, and other business associates. Confidential information includes but is not limited to: client lists, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, Employee/Associate performance reviews, salary details, commission splits, trade secrets, passwords and information that could embarrass or jeopardize Hawaii Life and any of its Employees or Associates if it were to be made public. Employees and Independent Contractors are prohibited from using the e-mail system to transmit copyright-protected information without permission of the copyright holder.
HANDLING UNSOLICITED E-MAIL THAT VIOLATES HAWAII LIFE POLICY
Hawaii Life’s e-mail policy prohibits Employees or Independent Contractor from sending or receiving inappropriate or offensive material. In the event that you do receive e-mail messages that violate policy you should take the following steps:
- If you know the sender then you must immediately instruct the sender to stop sending this type of material.
- If you don’t know the sender then you should not respond or reply to the message. Instead, you should immediately notify the Principal Broker, who will attempt to block receipt of this type of material in the future.
Those who follow these procedures will not be deemed to have violated policy. Those who fail to follow these rules and continue to receive banned material may be deemed to be policy violators with appropriate ramification, including termination, for violating the policy.
E-mail passwords are the property of Hawaii Life. Only authorized personnel are permitted to use passwords or user IDs to access another Employee’s e-mail without consent. Misuse of passwords/user IDs, the sharing of passwords/user IDs with non-Employees, and/or the unauthorized use of another Employee’s password/user ID will result in disciplinary action.
WRITING STYLE AND "NETIQUETTE"
In short, e-mail messages should be treated as a formal business document. Style, spelling, grammar, and punctuation shall be appropriate and accurate.
All e-mail Blasts from Hawaii Life’s e-mail system must be cc’d to email@example.com. This pertains to both Employees and Independent Contractors.
7.3 Messaging (Phone Messages, E-mail, IM, Text Messages, Direct Tweets, etc.)
Transaction based messages must be transmitted in a format that is an archived message and made as a permanent part of the transaction record. If you have any doubt whether or not a message is a business record, ask yourself if you would retain the message had it been sent in paper form. If the answer is yes, then the message is probably a record and you should transmit it via the e-mail system and retain it according to Hawaii Life’s record retention policy by cc or bcc to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cell phone and text messaging policy applies to Employees’ use of cell phones, smart phones, Blackberries and other mobile handheld and hands-free phones whether provided by Hawaii Life and/or owned by the Employee or the Independent Contractor. Hawaii Life’s cell phone and text messaging policy applies to full-time Employees, part-time Employees, Independent Contractors, interns, consultants, and Employees/Independent Contractors.
- Text messages transmitted by Hawaii Life’s Associates create business records and must be retained if it has any bearing on a real estate transaction.
- Never discuss Hawaii Life business in any public setting in which you could be overheard. Not every location is right for cell phone conversation. Find a secluded spot in which to conduct Hawaii Life business via your cell phone.
- Do not use your cell phone cameras or video recorders to take, transmit, download, upload, print or copy photos or videos that are not appropriate or in the case of an Employee, directly related to Hawaii Life’s business if you are using Hawaii Life supplied phone/camera. Prohibited photos and videos include, but are not limited to, embarrassing, or unprofessional images (of anyone or anything) as well as photos or videos of Hawaii Life buildings (internal and external) offices, facilities, operations, products, services, confidential and internal documents.
- Never use a cell phone camera or video recorder to take, transmit, download, upload, print, or copy photos or videos of coworkers, executives, customers, suppliers, or any other third party without getting the express permission of your subject.
- All e-mails and text messages or other form of communication for use in the real estate transaction shall identify you as a real estate professional. Your signature block on both shall have your name, the company's name, the office address, phone number where to reach you, and your @hawaiilife.com e-mail address. Your voice mail should identify you by name, that you're associated with Hawaii Life… and a greeting.
- E-mail confidentiality: Users should be aware the e-mail is not a confidential means of communication. Hawaii Life cannot guarantee that electronic communications will be private. E-mails can be forwarded, intercepted, printed, and stored by others. Users should also be aware that once an e-mail is transmitted it may be altered.
Deleting an e-mail from an individual account will not eliminate it from the various systems across which it has been transmitted.
7.4 Software Usage
Software piracy is both a crime and a violation of Hawaii Life’s software usage policy. Employees and Independent Contractors are directed to use software strictly in accordance with its licensing agreement. Unless otherwise provided in the license, the duplication of the copyrighted software (except for back up purposes) is a violation of copyright law. In addition to violating copyright law, unauthorized duplication of software is contrary to Hawaii Life’s standard of conduct.
- Employees and Independent Contractors are prohibited from giving software to clients, customers, vendors, and other outsiders. Under no circumstances will Hawaii Life use software that has been brought into the organization from an unauthorized source, including, but not limited to, the Internet, home, friends or colleagues.
- All software used on organization-owned computers will be purchased through authorized Hawaii Life procedures.
7.5 Social Communities and Video Site Policies
Hawaii Life recognizes that Employees may, for business reasons, access, view, operate, and post, download, or upload content to external social networking sites and video sites on their own time via their own computer equipment and personal Internet accounts.
Hawaii Life has established the following networking and video site policy, which all Associates are obliged to comply with at all times – during business hours on Hawaii Life time and computer resources, and after working hours on Employees’ own time and personal computer tools and Internet accounts.
When operating, accessing, viewing, downloading, uploading, or posting content (including but not limited to text, photos, videos, and art of any kind) to external social networking or video sites, Employees are responsible for behaving professionally, ethically, responsibly, and in accordance with all of the Hawaii Life’s employment rules and policies. Violations of Hawaii Life’s social networking and video site policy whether they occur at work during business or on the Associates’ own time and own computer equipment and technology tools, will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
7.6 Property Listing Guidelines
Agent will supply Hawaii Life with a list of Web sites where property listings are posted. (Use attached form.) Agent will use care and diligence in hiring property syndication providers. Property listing detail pages at destination sites must include the following data points:
- The firm’s name as registered with the Real Estate Commission (abbreviations are not permitted)
- The physical and mailing address of the appropriate office
- The licensee's designation (RB, RS, RA, R, etc.)
Property listing sites that are “socialized” and permit comments must be monitored regularly to provide a legally acceptable level of fiduciary care in accordance with license law and the NAR Code of Ethics. Listing changes and status must be updated at all third-party sites in a manner that conforms to MLS rules and regulations.
All multi-media property descriptions must be branded in accordance with real estate legal mandates and Hawaii Life policy.
Listing photos must be unaltered and represent a true visual representation of property and condition per NAR Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 12-8:
The obligation to present a true picture in representations to the public includes information presented, provided, or displayed on REALTORS®’ websites. REALTORS® shall use reasonable efforts to ensure that information on their websites is current. When it becomes apparent that information on a REALTOR®’s website is no longer current or accurate, REALTORS® shall promptly take corrective action. (Adopted 1/07) Videos must contain titling WITHIN THE VIDEO that contains requisite data points [brokerage name, address, telephone number, and Agent Designation].
Obtain signed releases for all persons appearing in videos and photos.
The seller must sign the Hawaii Life Listing Addendum which includes the internet photographic waiver and allows the brokerage to advertise the property on the Internet. The seller must consent to which pictures are being used in the promotion of their property, including still photos as well as virtual tours. The seller must also be informed as to Hawaii Life's policy on IDX and that their properties may or may not be featured on other Hawaii Life web sites.
Associates must insure the privacy of the seller by not allowing potential buyers to take photos using ANY medium without the written permission of the seller.
7.7 Social Networking Guidelines
Social networking and video site users are required to write/post content under their own names. Pseudonyms and anonymous postings are prohibited, whether using a personal social networking site, public video site, or a Hawaii Life-hosted social networking or video site.
Associates and Employees must identify themselves as real estate professionals via the profile page of any social networking or video site. If the Independent Contractor or Employee mentions Hawaii Life or identifies themselves as an Employee of Hawaii Life via text, photos, art, Hawaii Life logos, Hawaii Life uniforms, Hawaii Life letterhead, Hawaii Life products, Hawaii Life trademarks, or any other image, copy, or content, when using a personal social networking site or public video sites, then the following must be included on the profile page of the site:
- The firm’s name as registered with the Real Estate Commission (abbreviations are not permitted)
- The physical and mailing address to the appropriate office
- The licensees designation (RB, RS, RA, R, etc.)
Associates and Employees must incorporate the following legal disclaimer into their personal social networking pages and public video site posts: “The opinions expressed on this social networking profile (video site) are my own personal opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers.”
Associates and Employees are prohibited from attacking, defaming, harassing, discriminating against, menacing, threatening, or otherwise exhibiting inappropriate or offensive behavior, attitudes, opinions, or commentary toward or about coworkers, supervisors, executives, customers, vendors, shareholders, the media, or other third parties when using a personal social networking site or public video site.
Associates and Employees are prohibited from disclosing confidential, sensitive, proprietary, top secret, or private information about Hawaii Life, its products, services, trade secrets, financials, plans, research and development, Associates, Employees, executives, customers, partners, suppliers, or other third parties, when using a personal social networking site or public video site.
Associates and Employees are prohibited from using a Hawaii Life-provided or personal cell phone or Smartphone camera or video recorder to take, transmit, download, or upload to social networking or video sites any photos or videos of coworkers, executives, customers, suppliers, any other third party without first securing the written permission of your subject and an authorized member of management.
Associates and Employees are prohibited from using a Hawaii Life-provided or personal cell phone or Smartphone camera or video recorder to take, transmit, download, or upload any business- or Hawaii Life-related photos to social networking or video sites without first securing written permission from an authorized member of Hawaii Life management. Banned photos and videos include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Embarrassing, or unprofessional images of Hawaii Life Associates, executives, customers, suppliers, or other third parties. In other words – do not take, transmit, download, or upload embarrassing or unprofessional photos or videos of anyone.
- Hawaii Life buildings (internal and external), offices facilities, operations, research, products, services, confidential data, and internal documents.
- Hawaii Life uniforms, logos, signage, trademarks, business cards, letterhead, literature, or any other printed or electronic content that can be used to identify Hawaii Life or its Associates.
Associates are prohibited from disclosing financial information about Hawaii Life, including revenues, profits, forecasts, and other financial information, when using a personal social networking site or public video site.
Associates must adhere to Hawaii Life’s written content and language guidelines. Prohibited content includes, but is not limited to, obscene, profane, adult-oriented, pornographic, harassing, discriminatory, menacing, threatening, and otherwise offensive text, art, photos, videos, graphics, cartoons, or other images and content, when using a personal social networking site or public video site.
Employees are prohibited from posting copyright-protected material without the express written permission of the copyright owner, when using a personal social networking site or public video site.
Employees may not post content or conduct activities that fail to conform to local, state, and federal laws when using a personal social networking site or public video site, or a Hawaii Life-hosted social networking or video site.
Employees must comply with all of Hawaii Life’s written employment rules and policies and independent contractor agreements, including but not limited to Hawaii Life’s social networking and video site policy, sexual harassment and discrimination policy, ethics guidelines, code of conduct, confidentiality rules, and netiquette policy, when using a personal social networking site or public video site.
Obtain signed releases for all persons appearing in videos and photos.
Violation of Hawaii Life’s social networking and video site policy (or any other Hawaii Life policy) will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
7.8 Blogging Policies
Hawaii Life recognizes that allowing Employees/Independent Contractors free reign over communications is an extremely powerful tool to further our mission. AND, these communications can and will be perceived as "corporate" communication, which puts the organization at tremendous risk. Blogging poses risks to employers, Employees, Independent Contractors, third party vendors and even individual bloggers. Blogging liability falls into several categories: litigation risks, security breaches, discovery disasters, public relation nightmares, loss of control, productivity lost, and regulatory violations. However, Hawaii Life supports bloggers in promoting business and support professional development efforts. To that end, Employees and Independent Contractors must be responsible for behaving professionally, ethically, and responsibly in the blogosphere. Therefore, Hawaii Life has established the following policy:
- As per the Code of Ethics of the NAR: The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about competitors, competitors’ businesses and competitors’ business practices includes the duty to not knowingly or recklessly publish, repeat, retransmit or republish false or misleading statements made by others.
This duty applies whether the false or misleading statements are repeated in person, in writing, by technological means (i.e. the Internet) or by any other means. The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about competitors, competitors’ businesses and competitors’ business practices includes the duty to publish a clarification about or to remove statements made by others on electronic media the REALTOR® controls once the REALTOR® knows the statement is false or misleading.
- Sensitivity to copyright law and trademark law is especially important when it comes to blogging. No person affiliated with Hawaii Life can copy or post on their blog information which is copyrighted without giving appropriate credit. Copyright law applies to written copy as well as photographs and videos. Republishing of someone else’s blog post is highly illegal and will not be tolerated.
- Associates shall not publish affiliate income and other revenue programs on Associates' web sites and blogs (See Affiliate Income and Other Revenue Programs)
- Comments on your blog that raise red flags should be immediately reported to Hawaii Life.
- Employees/Independent Contractors will provide Hawaii Life with a complete list of all URLs for their personal and real estate business blogs as well as sites where the Employees/Independent Contractors post on multi-authored platforms.
- All blogs users are required to write/post content under their own names. Pseudonyms and anonymous postings are prohibited, whether using a personal blog or responding to a public blog.
- Employees and Independent Contractor bloggers are required to identify themselves, by name and title, as Employees of Hawaii Life, when using a Hawaii Life-hosted business blog. They are also prohibited from disclosing confidential, sensitive, proprietary, top secret, or private information about Hawaii Life, Employees, executives, customers, partners, suppliers, or other third parties, whether using a Hawaii Life hosted business blog or a personal blog.
- Bloggers must adhere to Hawaii Life’s written content and language guidelines, whether using a Hawaii Life-hosted business blog or a personal blog. Prohibited content includes, but is not limited to, obscene, profane, adult-orientated, pornographic, harassing, discriminatory, menacing, threatening, and otherwise offensive text, art, photos, videos, graphics, cartoons, and other content.
- Employee-bloggers and Independent Contractors must incorporate the following legal disclaimer into their business and personal blogs: “The opinions expressed on this blog are my own personal opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers."
- Violations of Hawaii Life’s blog policy, whether they occur on Hawaii Life’s blog or the Employee’s own personal blog or to a third-party blog, will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
7.9 Personal Web Sites
Of all real estate companies, Hawaii Life recognizes the opportunities for marketing listings and providing consumers with necessary real estate-related information via personal web sites. We applaud Associates who have their own personal web site and encourage everyone to establish a presence on the Web. A unified, legal, and creative platform can be provided by policies and procedures. To that end, Hawaii Life has established the following Personal Web Site Policies:
- Employees/Independent Contractors will provide the Principal Broker with URLs of their personal business web sites along with any web sites where they display a link to the Hawaii Life web site. All Independent Contractors must use the Hawaii Life Referral Link (located in the agent's My Hawaii Life account). Independent Contractor will comply with state licensing law and REALTOR Code of Ethics by keeping the property information up to date, in accordance with MLS rules and regulations. Framing web sites or listings of other brokerages without their written consent, deceptively using meta-tags, keywords, or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to the otherwise mislead consumers, or manipulating listing content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result is not allowed. Agent websites must also comply with the following:
- EACH PAGE of the site on which the firm’s advertisement or information appears must include the following data:
- the firm’s name as registered with the Real Estate Commission (abbreviations are not permitted) -- Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers
- the address of the appropriate office
- the office phone number
- EACH PAGE of the site on which the licensee’s advertisement or marketing information appears must include the following data:
- the licensee’s name
- the name of the firm as registered with the commission (abbreviations are not permitted): Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers
- the address of the appropriate office
- the office phone number
- If your real estate website advertises a business relationship with a product or service provider, or if you have an affiliate business relationship, Hawaii Life must be consulted and must grant permission to advertise those relationships. Without such approval, Hawaii Life would be liable for the endorsement of the product or the service you are posting with, since the firm's information is attached to your website. Further, the business relationship must be fully disclosed to all parties who visit your website. Many companies provide you with an affiliate program with a live link to their site for purposes of registration or ‘estimates’ for services, which also must be approved by Hawaii Life.
- If you require registration on your website in order to access additional information you must comply with the NAR Code of Ethics provision regarding disclosure: REALTORS® intending to share or sell consumer information gathered via the Internet shall disclose that possibility in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.
7.10 Domain Names
The NAR Code of Ethics provides the following: REALTORS® shall not:
- Use URLs or domain names that present less than a true picture, or…
- Register URLs or domain names which, IF USED, would present less than a true picture
In providing risk management on this issue, each Associate (Employee or Independent Contractor) will supply to Hawaii Life a list of all of their registered domain names from the domain registration service from which they originated. Should anyone be found to be in violation of this provision, Hawaii Life will exercise all duties of compliance. Trademark violations could become a part of this provision and thus would expose Hawaii Life.
7.11 Copyright Caveats
Copyright laws prohibit the unauthorized use of original content ranging from photographs and drawings to software and marketing materials. Consider the following copyright issues when creating a Website or other promotion materials, such as blogs:
- Don’t copy photos, illustrations, graphics, or significant amounts of text from another Web site without permission and proper credit notice.
- Do credit the source of even one fact or sentence you use from another source.
- Be sure that you secure the copyright or the right of unlimited usage for materials created for you by third-party vendors, such as photographers, newsletter designers, and Web developers.
- Don’t make copies of Hawaii Life-owned software for at-home use.
7.12 Reputation Management
Hawaii Life must guarantee the preservation of its reputation and that of its Employees and Independent Contractors. One way to consistently monitor that reputation online is to employ a Reputation Management System through which you are consistently notified each time your name, team name, company name, etc. is posted on the Web. Several Reputation Management systems are in place and Hawaii Life strongly recommends that you select one and use it faithfully. If there is an issue that becomes a concern, i.e. a posting from someone else that is an incorrect statement, notify the Broker-In-Charge or Principal Broker immediately.
Social media tools to monitor and maintain reputation management controls are very important. Create and Maintain Google and Yahoo! Alerts based on your name. These alerts will send you an e-mail each time one of your search words is found by the search engines.
Press Inquiries: All requests for comments and interviews from the media must be filtered through Hawaii Life's Principal Broker or Broker-In-Charge.
7.13 Affiliate Income and Other Revenue Programs on Associates' Websites and Blogs
If your real estate related blog advertises a business relationship with a product or service provider, or if you have an affiliate business relationship, Hawaii Life must be consulted and permission must be granted to advertise those relationships. Hawaii Life is liable for the endorsement of the product or the service since you are posting with the company's information attached to your blog. Further, the business relationship has to be fully disclosed to all parties who visit your blog. Many companies provide you with an affiliate program with a live link to their site for purposes of registration or ‘estimates’ for services.
Employees/Independent Contractors must receive permission from Hawaii Life to display links on their web sites and/or blogs that create revenue through programs that are not available through Hawaii Life, including:
- consumer affiliate referral fees
- agent-based referral fees
- real estate related products and services
- non-real estate related products and services [such as network marketing programs]
The obligation of REALTORS® to preserve confidential information (as defined by state law) provided by their clients in the course of any agency relationship or non-agency relationship recognized by law continues after termination of agency relationships or any non-agency relationships recognized by law. REALTORS® shall not knowingly, during or following the termination of professional relationships with their clients:
- reveal confidential information of clients; or
- use confidential information of clients to the disadvantage of clients; or
- use confidential information of clients for the REALTOR®’s advantage or the advantage of third parties unless:
- clients consent after full disclosure; or
- REALTORS® are required by court order; or
- it is the intention of a client to commit a crime and the information is necessary to prevent the crime; or
- it is necessary to defend a REALTOR® or the REALTOR®’s Employees or Associates against an accusation of wrongful conduct.
- Information concerning latent material defects is not considered confidential information under the NAR Code of Ethics. (Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/01)
8 Antitrust & Commission Splits
Commission rates of the Company are based on the value of the services we provide and competitive market conditions. Commission rates are determined solely by agreement with the listing party.
Associates of the Company shall not participate in any discussions with individuals affiliated with any other real estate company concerning the commission rates charged by the Company or any other real estate company. When soliciting a listing or negotiating any agreement, Associates shall not make any reference to a “prevailing” or “standard” commission level in the market or any other words that suggest that the commission rates are uniform or standard within the market area.
Associates shall not discuss the business practices of any other real estate firm. If or when an Associate is unsure how to respond to the concerns of a potential client or an Associate of the Company or another real estate organization, the Associate shall contact the Principal Broker immediately.
8.2 Commission Splits
Commission splits between Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers and Associates are decided on a case-by-case basis by the Principal Broker. Once an Independent Contractor Agreement is executed and signed by the Associate and the Principal Broker, then the commission split as specified on the Commission Agreement shall remain in place for the required duration up to the close of Escrow. Commission splits are confidential, and all Hawaii Life Associates agree not to discuss their personal commission split or that of others.
9 Code Of Safe Practices
9.1 Off-Site Activities
1. Meet all prospective customer/clients unknown to you in the office; if uncomfortable with the individual(s) for any reason, do not leave the office; nothing requires you to establish a business relationship with persons whose manner or conduct is intimidating to you.
2. Be cautious in setting appointments to meet with customers/clients along in vacant properties or any secluded area. Women, and others most vulnerable to assault, should be especially cautious – consider working with a “buddy”, carrying a cell phone, informing the office of your planned activities; having a pre-arranged check in-time, etc.
3. Be aware of neighborhood conditions that my impose a hazard or be distracting while traveling to the property (such as congested traffic, intersections, schools or industry in the area).
4. Note treacherous conditions along unimproved roads, driveways or rights of way.
5. Upon entering a premises, note steps up or down, swinging doors or lowered ceilings, etc. that might pose a hazard; watch for holes in yards.
6. Be aware of any hazardous items such as firearms, knives, or other items of sport or skill that should be locked away.
7. In setting up signs and flags, ensure that they do not obstruct vision of motorists or pedestrians or block walkways, driveways or rights of way.
8. While driving, remember the following:
- Ensure that all occupants of your vehicle wear seat belts and that children are properly secured in the necessary and legally required child carriers.
- Take time to familiarize yourself with your route to avoid sudden turns or land switching.
- Anticipate the impact of time delays and, if necessary, phone ahead to reschedule showings.
- Be aware of the distractions caused by communications devices such as cellular phone, pagers, etc. If needed, pull over and stop your vehicle to answer or make calls, text messages, etc.
- Keep your vehicles full of gas and in proper running condition.
9.2 Workplace Activities
- Work areas should be maintained in a neat, orderly manner. All liquids should be kept away from electrical equipment that could be shorted out if the liquid is spilled.
- All electrical equipment should be plugged into appropriate wall receptacles or into an extension of only one cord of similar size and capacity.
- All cords running into walk areas should be taped down or inserted through rubber protectors to preclude them from becoming tripping hazards.
- Storage of files and supplies should be in such a manner as to preclude personal injury; boxes should not be stored in walk areas.
- Electronic Equipment such as computers and printers should have circuit protection.
- Cleaning solvents, flammable liquids and solutions that may be poisonous or not intended for consumption should be stored in appropriate, well-labeled containers.
- Fans used in work areas should have fan guards.
- Desk drawers and filing cabinet drawers should be kept closed when not being accessed.
- Papers and files should not be placed on the floor in order to prevent tripping hazards.