This AAPI Heritage Month, Three Agents Share Their Vision for the Real Estate Industry
In the late ’70s, Congress introduced five joint resolutions proclaiming one week in May as celebratory of the accomplishments of Asian and Pacific Americans. Throughout the years, this gesture has been extended into a monthlong celebration, starting May 1, which pays tribute to the many contributions that Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans have made to all facets of society.
For members of the AAPI community and agents who want to successfully work with members of the community, the Asian Real Estate Association of America, or AREAA, is a trade organization dedicated to promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities in Asian American communities.
For AAPI Heritage Month 2022, we connected with three Keller Williams AAPI community members to learn more about how their unique experiences shape their businesses, as well as how they envision the future of the real estate industry. Here are their thoughts.
Three Professionals Share Their Vision
Tracy Hsieh, KW Luxury
For San Francisco-based luxury agent Tracy Hsieh, everything starts with family. The daughter of Vietnam War refugees, Hsieh’s journey has come full circle through her success in luxury real estate. “We started cleaning homes and commercial buildings at night. We started from the bottom and that kind of strong work ethic was instilled in me at a young age,” she shares. “To be able to now say I sell multimillion-dollar properties … I sell the homes that my family used to clean years ago. My proudest moment is being able to give this gift to my family generations above. I’m here because of them.”
Outfront: What is your vision for the future of real estate? TH: For me, it’s about increasing production and creating the space for other like-minded people’s vision. So, I like to run a typical team model, but with my own bend. The next evolution of luxury real estate in San Francisco is very different from how it’s been operating from the past many decades. What I sense is that there is an evolution of the Realtor that’s coming in San Francisco. It’s a huge melting pot, and we’ve evolved very quickly because the market has evolved quickly. I see a new wave of agents coming through: Younger, diverse, tech-savvy. I see a turning of sorts of how traditional real estate is done. It will always be relationship driven, but I think the leverage with systems and technologies is changing the landscape quickly.
Outfront: How have your heritage and unique experiences shaped the way in which you approach your business? TH: The flexibility to put on all different hats. I think about my grandmother a lot. She took care of nine kids, escaped from Vietnam, and created work for herself in order to support her family. She had to educate her kids, and scrub toilets at night. She taught me to be very adept at adjusting to the moment. Now I use those same skill sets to manage my own family and manage communications with clients and let them know I’m really an all-inclusive agent. I’m not afraid to scrub a toilet, and have tough conversations and negotiations to protect their best interests. I don’t really draw a line anywhere. We have really high standards and are not afraid to say no to new things. What is there to lose?
Billy Guan, KWYP
In addition to his work as a Walnut Creek, California, referral agent, Billy Guan is working on his financial coaching business. “Many Realtors are lacking in financial acumen, and could make a lot of money, but they do not put their money in the right places. I want to change the landscape by teaching Realtors how to use financial strategies to accumulate real estate wealth, as well as teaching their clients how to protect their financial and real estate assets when they purchase a property.” He is passionate about his role in the industry, as an educator on one of the biggest investments a person will make in their lifetime.
Outfront: How have your heritage and unique experiences shaped the way in which you approach your business? BG: I’m able to help many more clients that are not necessarily versed in speaking English. I speak Cantonese, so I can translate certain things to my clientele that not many agents are able to. I’m able to negotiate for them, and try to get the best deal available on all sides.
Outfront: What message do you have for the Outfront audience?
BG: I enjoy learning about different cultures and eating other cultures’ foods. I feel like when people break bread together, you get to learn more about them and their cultures. In a situation such as over the past couple of years, when AAPI hate and Asian hate crimes were skyrocketing, it is important to understand that we are all one people, and we have more things in common than different. Everybody is the same, and everybody just wants to take care of their families and make their money. It’s important to be kind and have grace with everybody.
Helen Dellheim, KW Commercial
In 2010, Helen Dellheim made the move to Keller Williams because of the commercial offerings. “I think it’s truly the only company that has developed a pathway for residential agents or agents that are thinking about switching careers. Being in the larger corporate commercial brokerage culture is not exactly welcoming of diversity, women, and people from different walks of life. Whereas, KW Commercial is.” Her business is primarily focused on tenant reps, industrial, and retail assets.
Outfront: What is your vision for the future of real estate? HD: My vision would be to increase the diversity and women in the profession, and I think one of the ways to do that is to be as visible as possible, and point people in the direction of growing in the field and expanding. I’m an immigrant. I came here with our family when I was 6. Our family believed in small businesses: a small dry-cleaning business that became six, that turned into buying real estate. Meeting people, advising them … even if you start out with five suitcases and $500, you can become a multimillionaire in one generation.
Outfront: How have your heritage and unique experiences shaped the way in which you approach your business?
HD: Having always been a minority in any situation, whether social, academic, or professional, has helped me to always see things from the outside perspective. You have to develop a really sharp eye and understand people. There is a Korean expression, nunchi. It basically means being able to bring all the data of a person and situation in a quick glance – figuring out how to assess a situation and understand people. If you have nunchi, you’ll have a higher success rate. It doesn’t intimidate me to be the minority. It only enforces my passion. You have to have people who are willing to be in that room, break through, and make everyone else comfortable in order to open up and have acceptance.