14 years ago these entrepreneurs stuck their flag in the depleted soil of a sleepy Downtown Los Angeles and set up shop, taking a leap of faith in the DTLA real estate market that perhaps only our pioneer ancestors could relate to.
And pioneers they are. Committed to building their lives as well as their livelihoods in DTLA, Rasmus Ray Lee and Helena Le of Premier Real Estate have a true eye for potential and a deeply rooted love of the land that shows in their zeal for helping clients thrive in DTLA.
They Came, They Conquered
When Danish native Rasmus stepped onto DTLA soil in the early 2000’s he looked beyond the desolation and crime and saw a thriving art community. Being a musician himself, and one fresh from playing the NYC and Boston scene no less, he knew all too well that art districts invariably lead to development. Sharing his foresight was another East Coast transplant, Vietnam native Helena Le, the mastermind behind Premier Real Estate and the founding mother of the company’s DTLA office.
“You need developers to build but you need artists to make things hot,” says Rasmus over dinner at one of his favorite spots, Prank, in the LUMA Tower. Next door the Hygge Bakery, his creation, of course, exhibiting a wall size black and white photo of Rasmus himself proudly showcasing a selection of Danish cakes. “Artists build the atmosphere on the ground, developers build up from that- they make it brick and mortar.”
Rasmus points out that the artists were in DTLA long before anyone else, and long before anyone else even thought to live in the city. And he and his colleagues weren’t about to miss all the fun. The team of 10 employees all either live in or own properties in DTLA, giving them exclusive insight into the market and a true passion for the city itself. Look at any picture on the company’s Yelp page and you’ll see PRE staff both working and playing hard in a city they undoubtedly adore.
It’s no wonder then that PRE is consistently voted 5 out of 5 stars on Yelp, and has the top customer service rating in the country for their field. No one knows the real estate business better, which is no surprise given their collective team of experts in real estate law and loans, putting PRE on top.
A Foundation of Faith
Prior to Premium Real Estate, all DTLA listings were managed by agents in offices out of Los Feliz, Hollywood, or elsewhere. Brokers and agents wouldn’t work let alone live in the city. So what did the PRE founders do? Moved into a ground level office in South Park and invested. Big time.
Being the oldest real estate office in downtown Los Angeles has paid off. The company’s newest listings include names like The Ritz Carlton and the LUMA Towers, and since opening, they’ve sold over $100 million worth in properties
in the last 3 year
. Quite a leap of faith and a lucky draw when considering the scene they came into.
“The Majority of Downtown LA looked as if a nuclear bomb had gone off,” recalls Rasmus of the vibe of DTLA pre-turn of the century. “I think that is how most people saw it until 2000.”
And in 2003, Rasmus saw lofts.
Recalling his first view of the Flower Street Lofts, Rasmus explains the light bulb that went off, as he suddenly realized that these were going to be the next big thing. “LA didn’t have a sense of lofts… condos, lofts, these were going to be hot.”
Lucky for PRE, Rasmus was already a firm believer in city living. Opting to live in apartments his whole adult life, Rasmus thrives off the genuine and more-friendly interactions of living in close proximity to others and the hustle and bustle mixed use developments bring. “ Some people love the beach, but I love tall buildings. Looking up at them gives me a sense of calm,” he admits. “Everything in downtown LA is building up. It feels natural to live in that for me.”
No wonder PRE has so successfully serviced DTLA. Its humble visionaries are truly one with the city. Rasmus, who in addition to being the C.E.O is also the company’s designated broker and office manager, has with his team helped several hundreds of people looking for the right investment, buying their properties, selling their properties, renting out their properties, and finding properties to lease and live in- all contributing to the growth of DTLA.
A scroll through the PRE Yelp or Facebook page and you can see why customers choose Premier. A cheery collective smile back at you, as they are shown working hard but more importantly playing hard in a city they’re obviously very proud of. This crew’s got soul, a byproduct of living and loving the city they service no doubt, and why they get their customers the best investments, every time.
Many skills contribute to the versatility of the PRE team, who work together on projects despite commission, a rare synergy in the stereotypically ultra competitive real estate industry. Rasmus explains that among them there is a photographer, a notary, a contractor, a short sale specialist, loan modifier, a CPA, and an investment specialist providing holistic financial assessments and extensive personal experience investing in DTLA.
All staff live or own in the DTLA area, and are invested in the city’s industry and future. A visit to their office on Hope Street solidifies the tone of the company by its modern but warm design and open concept, no cubicles but instead integrated conference areas and clean desks, with giant windows looking straight out at the bustling sideway it sits on.
The Future of PRE, The Future of DTLA
It’s hard to discount a symbiotic relationship between the pioneering real estate company of DTLA and the city’s exponential growth. After all, they were the only ones who believed enough in the city to open their office in the bare bones of a pre-renaissance DTLA over a decade ago.
So what can we expect from PRE as their high-rises soar around them? Well for one, a second branch opening in the arts district next year, which Rasmus will also lead as designated broker and office manager. Also, expansion globally, as client bases grow in China, Taiwan, India, and Korea. PRE is currently featured on a number of international listing websites, as DTLA becomes recognized globally as a fast-growing cosmopolitan giant.
And perhaps the most exciting of all is PRE’s success in bringing buyers into the highly anticipated Ocean Wide Plaza, a beacon of global sophistication and high-rise innovation, bringing residential offerings from Park Hyatt which will be half condos half hotel, two towers of non-branded condos, and open-air retail as DTLA’s first high-end mall. The towers are set to open in 2019.
In the meantime, PRE is working double-time opening up the conversations needed to ensure that despite soaring real estate prices organizations are put in place to ensure affordable housing. The company is searching for partnerships to create funds to help organizations that launch programs and opportunities for those affected by gentrification and dramatic rent hikes.
For Rasmus, the social challenges that come with development are something he is not taking lightly, but he also sees an array of new opportunity for the residents of DTLA as jobs at all sorts of skill levels are emerging with the booming of business.
“It inspires me to do more,” says Rasmus, the wheels turning in his mind as he looks around the bohemian interior of Prank’s distinctive dining room, the bar filling up with DTLA locals and professionals energized from a work day of promise and prosperity. “It’s truly supply and demand in DTLA.”
Premier Real Estate
1100 S Hope ST, STE 102
Los Angeles, CA 90015