A Legal Mind
Introducing Sarah M. Love, 2023 president of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii
Sarah M. Love, 2023 president of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii

A s a youth growing up in Mililani, Sarah M. Love developed a keen observation of people and their motivations. She also was an inquisitive, opinionated child, often seeking fair treatment for herself and older sister, Alison. So much that their mother, Teresa Tyler, would tell her youngest daughter, “You should become a lawyer!”

Love eventually did become an attorney.

After graduating from Mililani High School, she received a psychology degree from DePauw University in Indiana and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa-William S. Richardson School of Law.

Today, she is a partner at downtown Honolulu law firm Lung Rose Voss Wagnild, one of the nation’s top law firms, according to U.S. News & World Report. In addition, Love is the 2023 president of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIA Hawaii), a leading professional trade organization for builders in Hawaii and the Pacific region.

“As an attorney, I work closely with developers, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers, sureties and owners,” Love says. “Because of this, I bring the unique perspective of being able to see and analyze issues facing the industry through the lens of the different industry stakeholders.”

Her areas of practice—litigation disputes involving construction, procurement, insurance coverage and defense, real estate, complex commercial issues, employment and counseling clients—are ideal for BIA Hawaii, which prides itself on member advocacy at the Hawaii State Legislature. During the 2022 session, BIA tracked 481 industry-related bills and submitted 45 testimonies. Of those, 41 were enacted.

Bearing these in mind, some of Love’s immediate goals for 2023 are:

  • To advocate for laws that ease housing burdens in Hawaii, which faces some of the most restrictive housing regulations and highest home prices in the nation. The Hawaii median single-family home price is nearly 2.5 times the national median, according to an April 2022 report by the University of Hawaii Economic Resource Organization (UHERO). Reducing the regulatory burden of housing construction could drive down housing costs as it increases the supply of available homes, she says.
  • To host more in-person events, such as Networking Nights and general membership meetings, the Big Home Show in January and the Summer Home Show in August. “Our experience in 2022 has proved that the community is ready for the shows to be back,” she says.
  • To educate members about national issues that could impact building in Hawaii. This would allow members to protect themselves and know the “types of provisions they should have in their contracts or what practices can be helpful in mitigating the supply chain disruptions and inflation among project stakeholders,” she says.
  • To improve the building-permitting process by closely working with city and state governments. Delayed permits have driven up the cost of housing in Hawaii, due to restricted available supplies. Permitting delays also affect contractors, who are not able to estimate the cost of construction, “especially in a market that is ever-changing with escalation cost and supply chain disruptions,” she says.

The initiatives come at a unique time for Hawaii’s building history. As the year 2022 comes to a close, local builders face home-buying hesitancy, regulatory burdens on home construction and rising interest rates. (Note: The mortgage rate at the time of this writing was 7%, a high not seen since 2002.)

BIA Hawaii’s installation banquet for its officers and directors is scheduled for Dec. 16 at the Honolulu Country Club. Love’s presidency is the culmination of her active involvement with the group—she joined in 2013 as a government relations committee (GRC) member and became a board member in 2015.

“I recommend anyone interested in BIA Hawaii to start working with the GRC committee,” she advises. “It’s a great opportunity to have a voice in actions that effectuate change for the industry, and it is invigorating to be around others in the industry who are working hard for a larger common goal of improving the industry.”

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