Real Estate Power Players

Olivia Hsu Decker
The Social Phenom

Olivia Hsu Decker of Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty has served as an Haute Ambassador for international events and travel since we launched our San Francisco edition one year ago. One of the city’s driving social forces, Olivia is highly active in philanthropic endeavors as well, and her client base is representative of her social stature—she has repped the who’s who of the Bay Area. Olivia specializes in the sale and marketing of homes in excess of $5 million, and her current portfolio includes some of the region’s finest properties, including a $48 million Belevedere landmark estate.

Haute Living Where are you from originally?
Olivia Hsu Decker I was born in Shanghai, China, and lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan before immigrating to San Francisco.

HL How long have you lived in San Francisco? What neighborhood?
OD I came here in 1975 and was lucky to move straight to the beautiful Tiburon/Belvedere area. I have been living in Belvedere since 1980. My home has the most amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay, and San Francisco. I love Belvedere and my views. I feel very blessed everyday when I look out of my windows.

HL When did you first become interested in a career in real estate? What about it sparked your interest?
OD I have been interested in beautiful homes since I was a child. The beauty of gardens and of architectural and interior designs sparked my interest. I used to peek into gates to see the big mansions behind them. I wanted to be an interior designer or realtor for these mansions since a young age. I also enjoy meeting people from around the country and the world who come to me to buy their dream home and settle down in my neighborhood.

HL What was the first big sale that you closed in the luxury market?
OD In 1982, I sold a $3.25 million home in Belvedere and a $2.5 million home in Tiburon, which set records at that time.

HL Who taught you the tricks of the trade in luxury real estate? What are some of the lessons that you learned?
OD In fact, I learned how to service VIP clients when I was assistant manager at Grand Hyatt Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco. I learned that clients are always right, I learned to be patient and always be available to help the clients. Wealthy buyers of luxury homes don’t want to wait; whenever they are ready to buy, I want to be sure I am there for them.

HL What is the secret to succeeding in the San Francisco real estate market?
OD Service—to cater to client’s needs. Knowledge—to know your market extremely well and know the properties the clients want. Patience—don’t give up if clients don’t buy right away.

HL What is it about the Bay Area that is attractive to those seeking a luxury lifestyle?
OD The beauty of the Bay Area is the biggest attraction. San Francisco is, in my opinion, the most beautiful city in the world. I have a home in Paris and sure, Paris is a beautiful city, but I prefer San Francisco. We have a very compact city lifestyle; we can enjoy world class opera, symphony, ballet, museums, theaters, and some of the best stores and restaurants in the world. But a short 10 minutes away, we can be on the beach on the Pacific Ocean near Marin Headlands and Sausalito. Within an hour drive, we can be in Napa Valley/Sonoma Wine Country, enjoying fine wine, gourmet food, and a relaxing, elegant, idyllic lifestyle. Within three hours drive, we can be skiing on the slopes of Lake Tahoe and Alpine Meadows. We have one of the best harbors in the world for yachting and from SFO, we can easily fly to anywhere in the world.

HL What are some annual cultural/social events that would appeal to Haute Living readers?
OD The events are endless. The Opera Ball, the Opening Night of the San Francisco Symphony and Ballet, The Fall Antique Show, The Annual Black & White Ball, the various exhibits at de Young Museum, Legion of Honor Museum, Asian Art Museum, the Opening Day of the Yachting Season on the Bay, the annual Napa Valley Wine Auction, the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance…

HL Where is the first place you would take an out-of-town visitor and why?
OD Golden Gate National Recreation Area, starting at the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands to the Pacific Ocean and coast. This whole area is breathtakingly beautiful and so close to San Francisco.

HL Where are the best luxury shopping venues in San Francisco?
OD Designer boutiques, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue along Union Square.

HL The last place you went for fine dining?
OD The Restaurant at Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley. Chef Christopher Kostow received two Michelin stars in 2009. Also the restaurant at Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, it’s my favorite fine dining in Marin County.

HL You never leave home without…
OD My BlackBerry!

HL Your favorite Friday night out?
OD Dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant or going to the opera.

HL Describe San Francisco in three words:
OD Beauty, diversity, sophistication.

HL If you weren’t in real estate sales, you would be…
OD I would like to have a TV cooking show.

HL When not selling properties, what is your favorite pastime?
OD Cooking, interior design, travel, reading…

HL What is something that people would be surprised to find out about you?
OD That I am an excellent chef and I can tell more than 200 jokes from memory.

HL What are your predictions for the local market in 2010?
OD The market recovery should improve in the second quarter of 2010. Many buyers who have been sitting on the sideline will jump in as soon as they see the market improve. Even during a bad recession, people still like to live in a nice home. The luxury home market will not be down for too long.