Power Players of San Francisco: Olivia Hsu Decker, Malin Giddings, Nina Hatvany and more

Stephanie Ahlberg (The Actress)


Stephanie Ahlberg is well accustomed to seeing her name at the top of the top 10 lists, even at the prestigious real estate firm of Hill & Co. Living in the Bay Area she has loved for more than 40 years, she is a seasoned veteran and has the record to prove it. In her 27th year selling residential real estate, Ahlberg still closes more deals than any other Hill & Co. agent. Known for her “win-win” negotiations and superior sense of professionalism, Ahlberg is a name to know in San Francisco real estate.

Haute Living Where are you from? What attracted you to San Francisco?
Stephanie Ahlberg I grew up in the Air Force. My father was stationed here when I was a child, and we all loved it so much we moved here when he retired. I was 14 at the time. To me, San Francisco is the most “European” of all the U.S. cities-small in size but large in culture and beauty.

HL What attracted you to real estate?
SA When I was in my 20s, I was pursuing a career as an actress to pay the bills. I worked downtown. My employer was busy buying and selling real estate during that “boom,” and I thought it would be a good job to go along with my acting. I quickly realized that real estate was not a part-time job. Twenty-eight years later, I still love meeting new clients, showing our beautiful homes in San Francisco, and becoming their lifetime real estate advisor.

HL Who was your first mentor, and how did he/she influence you?
SA I started my career in Orange County, as that is where my husband did his medical residency. The first office I worked in had a great woman, Mary Jo, who became a friend and a shining example of how good sales and customer service should be.

HL You’ll never be found without your…
SA Cell phone! Yipes! I don’t know how we did the business without them (and I’ve been in real estate since before everyone had a computer, email, fax machines, and cell phones).

HL What were your yearly sales for 2007? Forecast for 2008?
SA Unlike many top luxury agents, I do not have a group of agents working for me. I work alone with my valuable assistant. The second half of 2007 was tough. My sales total was $16.5 million in sales volume. This year is going great and I am on track to do $35 million or more (YTD total is $27,784,256 in sales volume).

HL What is your most memorable deal?
SA Well, there are actually several-two with a big rock star with some real dogfights to get the deal-but I think the best was in 2000. I had a great listing in Presidio Heights. The market was very hot then and most good listings were going over asking. This particular property was listed at $2.4 million. We had 24 offers, and the winner was a Mircosoft guy with lots of money, and he wanted it so much he brought in a revised offer of $5 million! More than double the asking price! Needless to say, my client still thinks I’m a hero.

HL Where do you live?
SA I actually live over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. I love the fact that I have the best of both worlds; selling and working in San Francisco and living where the summer climate is a bit warmer.

HL If money were no object, what property on the market would you recommend in the San Francisco area?
SA Without a doubt it would be this year’s Decorator Showcase home. I love it! It is not only beautiful with great views, but I actually think it is worth every penny of the $27 million asking price.

HL What is your formula for keeping your high-end and/or high profile clients happy?
SA Service, service, service. I keep in touch with my clients, whether currently in a transaction or not. I take them to lunch, dinner, the theater, and once a year have a client appreciation event. I make sure they know how important they are to me.

HL Tell us one thing most people wouldn’t know about you.
SA Most realtors would not know I love cooking and am a very good cook.

HL What is your proudest achievement?
SA Being a devoted mother and wife! In addition, I happily serve on some non-profit boards and enjoy giving back to my community. I also hold the sales record at Hill & Co. for the most sales volume in any one year for the entire history of Hill & Co. and am a published author in the California Real Estate Client Strategies book.

HL Where would we find you on a Friday night?
SA Either at home with my husband or at the theater. I am an avid theater-goer.

HL What are your favorite vacation destinations and/or leisure activities?
SA My favorite vacations are out of the country and/or a beach visit with a stack of books. I especially like my favorite spa resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. I also love to act. I try my best to do at least one play a year!

HL What is your forecast for the San Francisco real estate
market in 2008?
SA My segment of the market, luxury properties, is doing great! The only slowdown is that there are less offers in a multiple-offer situation, but we are still seeing the multiple offers and going over asking price for the good properties.

HL What are your personal goals for 2008?
SA I would like it to end up as my second best year ever (2005 is going to take quite a bit to top). Do one full production play, vacation with my family, and go to the Antarctic.

HL In your opinion, what makes San Francisco so special?
SA Many things! It is a small city (only 800,000 people and only seven miles by seven miles). It is very cosmopolitan and sophisticated. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. l love living here!