When Jeannie Kong arrived at the Four Seasons Resort Maui for the 50th annual Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) installation ceremony on Friday, Sept. 7, she had no idea she was part of the day’s agenda.
In fact, when Kong heard her name announced as the 2018 Realtor Salesperson of the Year, she says it took her a few moments to process what had just happened. “My reaction that day was of utter surprise—it was sort of like a dream,” she said.
That day, Kong, along with 2018 Realtor Broker of the Year Rachel Ball Phillips and 2018 Affiliate of the Year Eric Miyajima, were honored by RAM for their business and real estate accomplishments, as well as their spirit, character, professionalism and volunteer work.
Kong’s real estate career began in 2006, and somewhat unexpectedly. At the time, she was working as an interior designer and had an online store. “It was a very busy time in the real estate world [and] I had some properties that I wanted to sell,” she recalled. “I was always involved in real estate, from investments to scouting locations for companies, and when I was in my early 20s, I was an assistant to a vice president of a top commercial real estate firm in New York City. So it seemed natural for me to get a license to sell my properties. I thought I would just do it for myself—until my friends and acquaintances asked me to market or buy help them buy properties, as they knew my work ethic. So it grew from there. Real estate was a leap of faith, but I soon grew to love the creativity of it.”
Now, more than a decade later, Kong has forged a well-respected career as a Realtor Salesperson. “Real estate is an emotional business and being able to get to the core of people is quite fascinating,” she said. “I also love real estate because I love designing homes and being creative with the marketing. Each home is unique and bringing that value angle to the marketing campaign really excites me. There is so much joy to watch people excited about their Maui home or help a seller get top dollar.”
Over the years, Kong has contributed her time and talent to a number of worthy causes. Among other things, she’s served as the vice president of the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation’s board of directors, was elected as one of RAM’s directors-at-large and volunteered as a guardian ad litem (a person appointed by a court to protect the best interests of a child in a particular matter). “Volunteering has always been a part of my life,” she explained. “It was a requirement to graduate from high school and I never stopped since.”
Kong currently serves on RAM’s Member Services Committee and RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Committee. She’s also a volunteer for the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program (which collects furniture, school supplies and other items with the goal of improving the educational experiences and opportunities for Maui County’s public school students). “As a mother of four wonderful human beings, I saw firsthand the needs for students and teachers,” she said. “I also see a need to help students navigate the college prep process.”
Kong says making a positive difference in the lives of others is intensely rewarding. “I am a firm believer in giving more than you take. I feel the joy of giving back is a gift in and of itself,” she said. “On our island, what one gives has such a direct and immediate impact. I feel blessed to be here and have been able to raise my children here. I have never met a more giving group than our Maui Realtors.”
And that’s something Kong takes to heart. “Being a Realtor on Maui is especially unique, because not only are people attracted to the beauty of Maui, but also the lifestyle,” she said. “So live it and be the aloha. Take time to talk story, listen, be a good neighbor and enjoy our island every day. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – September 22, 2018