DFH Real Estate Celebrates Half a Century

The beginning of one of Greater Victoria’s largest independent real estate firms was a simple transaction. Twenty-six-year-old real estate salesman Dominic F. Hanley in 1960 paid $800 for Saanich Realty, then a small office way out on Quadra Street. He renamed it D.F. Hanley Agencies.

Today it’s DFH Real Estate, with offices dotted around the region, and a brand-new one in Sooke. Local offices that previously flew the flags of some of the biggest franchise names — Prudential, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, and Realty World — have merged, and the principals stayed on with DFH.

By 1976, Hanley had sold to partners Jack Clover (who had started at DFH in 1962) and Brian Sharp. They built a head office at Shelbourne and McKenzie in the mid-1980s, which is still in use.

Sharp became sole owner in 1997, then handed over to the third generation in 2008: Peter Gaby, Michael Nugent, and Kevin Sing. Sharp continued to work, but at the end of last year, he handed in his real estate licence.

“Victoria really likes to support local companies,” Nugent said at DFH’s annual kickoff event at Uplands Golf course, where awards are handed out for last year’s sales and sales staff get revved up for the coming year.

The company has 140 salespeople today and “we probably do a couple of thousand sales a year,” said Nugent, the firm’s managing broker. Sales peaked at about 2,400 in 2007 then dipped to 1,800 in 2008 with the recession.

“We’re taking a bit of a breather right now.”

This year “it won’t be a huge jump,” but sales are expected to move higher. “We’re very bullish,” Nugent said.

Victoria has been a popular destination for retirees and that will continue. “The value in this marketplace doesn’t really go away,” Sing said.

He added that one key to DFH’s long-term success has been training. “We’ve really done a lot of work to institute training,” he said. It includes a mentoring program that pairs newcomers with more experienced salespeople.

The 50th anniversary event also unveiled new corporate colours for DFH lawn signs and advertising — navy blue with simple and clean-looking capital letters, designed by Trapeze Communications.

Photo: From left: DFH managing broker Mike Nugent, Realtor Stephanie Peat, and partner Kevin Sing.