Step into the office of Destined Home located in University Heights shopping centre, and you might think that you have stepped into the offices of an Internet start-up.
Bright but pleasant light bounces off a hardwood floor and rollable glass tables decked by computers and cameras, as staff prepare for a grand opening of the new Pemberton Holmes office Dec. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m.
A large mural featuring the company name and logo – a black ox striding across a silhouetted, stylized skyline of Victoria’s Inner Harbour – draws attention without distracting. Listings flash silently across a flat-screen and gentle beats hum in the background. With the exception of a sitting area, the space is wide open, suggesting the absence of obvious hierarchies and the desire to create synergies beyond boundaries.
Consider the biography of lead realtor Daniel Hsu, who has lived and worked in Victoria for 28 years. Dealing in both residential and commercial real estate, Hsu has been working out of his home, an environment filled with distractions. “One of the reasons I wanted to be in an office location was because it is more structured for myself,” he said.
He said he chose University Heights because of his personal and professional familiarity with it.
“I grew up around this neighbourhood. I went to Mount Douglas High, my kids are all going to daycare schools around here, so I wanted to focus on somewhere close by,” Hsu said. “Also a good portion of my clientele are here as well.”
But if Hsu has deep roots in the region, he is also able to reach out beyond its geographic, cultural and linguistic borders.
Born in Taipai, Taiwan, Hsu also speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. He has also lived in Los Angeles and Shanghai over the course of his life. In short, Hsu is familiar with the Pacific Rim region, and he recently travelled to China as part of a local delegation of business and educational leaders led by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, promoting business opportunities in Greater Victoria.
“I deal quite a bit with international clients, anywhere from Russia, from Mexico, from Asia-Pacific, Korea,” said Hsu.
This international orientation will continue, he said.
“My idea is to be more international,” he said. “My colleagues and I are hoping to have [real estate service] in multiple languages to help people who are new to the city.”
Hsu’s partners also bring them with international backgrounds. Shelly Lu, Hsu’s assistant since March 2017, arrived from Taiwan seven years ago. Russell Xu, the other main realtor, comes from Mainland China.
Hsu also hopes to complement his and their linguistic skills with a Spanish speaker to help serve the growing market of clients from Latin America.
“For now, it is me and Russell,” said Hsu. “A couple more agents will come along. We are kind of going through the process of interviewing [potential realtors] to make sure it is the right fit.”
Hsu has known Lu and Xu for years, and the trio will count on their personal familiarity to draw a competitive advantage.
“We are very open-minded,” said Hsu. “We keep the communication continuous. We definitely do our individual-type of projects. But at the same time, we give support when we can.”