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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Property Management CATEGORY

Sam LaPlaca is property manager at CM Property Management Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2014. He can be reached at (408) 763-3540 or email.

Sam LaPlaca

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Sam LaPlaca: Virtuous Properties

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — While Sam LaPlaca began his career in the tech industry, it would gradually prove to be a catalyst for another career altogether. “I was working as a computer programmer for Stuart Title, doing title insurance and working on their escrow software, and that actually piqued my interest in real estate,” he explains. “From there, I obtained my real estate license and started buying and selling investment properties, which led me further into the property management business.”

Today, as property manager at CM Property Management Inc., Sam says he appreciates the opportunity to work with property owners and tenants alike. “We’re hired by property owners to handle the ongoing management of their rental properties, so it’s very gratifying to be entrusted with overseeing someone’s valuable asset. I also enjoy maintaining good relationships with our tenants and making sure their needs are being met.”

Originally from Southern California, Sam currently resides in San Jose, which he regards as an ideal location for his active family, which includes his wife, Nivea, and their three children. “One of the nice things about being in the San Jose area is the wealth of outdoor activities that are available,” he says. “We do everything from archery and disc golf to hiking at Rancho San Antonio County Park and hanging out at Panther Beach in Santa Cruz.”

In regard to his life and career, Sam espouses the importance of operating with integrity. “I think it’s crucial to do the best job you can, which means not only striving for continuous improvement, but also being honest and doing right by others.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Sam says he’d pursue a more “hands-on” aspect of the real estate industry. “I would probably start buying properties and fixing them up to make them the highest-performing assets they could be. It may sound like a lot of work, but for me, it would be more of a hobby because I enjoy working with my hands and building things.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?
A: The San Diego Chargers and the Golden State Warriors.

Q: Ever read a book more than once?
A: “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. It’s a financial book based on ancient times in Babylon that uses a fictional storyline to demonstrate financial principles.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Steamer’s Grillhouse in Los Gatos.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Talk radio.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Thesamba.com. It’s a site for Volkswagen enthusiasts. I used to renovate old Volkswagens, and it’s something I’d like to get back into in the future.

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Taking a Preventative Approach to Tenancy

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SAN JOSE — When it comes to managing a rental property, preventative maintenance is essential. In addition to maintaining the physical aspects of the property itself, however, an equally crucial part of preventative maintenance is handling non-physical aspects such as… Read more

3 Attributes to Look for in a Property Management Company

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SAN JOSE — Managing a property is a big responsibility, which is why it often makes sense to leave it to a professional. However, you’ll want to make sure the company you hire is willing and able to provide top-notch service. Here… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Hiring a Property Manager

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Complete Video Transcription:

SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When selecting a company to manage your rental property, there are a few attributes you should look for. Today we’re in San… Read more

Brian Folden is president of Fireside Property Management, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 498-7959 or by email.

Brian Folden

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Brian Folden: A Fire Inside

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — Brian Folden has always been motivated by a burning desire for professional independence. While he’s achieved this to varying degrees throughout his career, only recently was he able to fully attain it. “I’ve always felt a drive to operate independently and be my own boss, which is one of the reasons I got into real estate,” he says. “My dad has been in the industry since I was a kid, so I basically followed in his footsteps. After 30 years working in partnership with him at Fireside Realty, I wanted a business I could run on my own. Eventually, I found the opportunity…right under my nose! In addition to real estate, Fireside had always done property management, but it was never a major focus. It occurred to me that there was a lot of potential there, and that expanding our property management wing was a perfect chance to both grow the business and gain the professional independence I desired.”

Today, as president of Fireside Property Management, Brian says his favorite part of his job is interacting with people. “I enjoy getting out there, meeting people and establishing new business relationships. Working with property owners is a lot different than working with first-time homebuyers—there are different goals and a different overall mindset. I find the process of making and managing property investments very interesting, so I enjoy dealing with this side of the coin.”

A lifelong resident of San Jose (where he lives with his wife, Cassandra), Brian spends his time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “After raising three children, Cassandra and I have recently become empty nesters, so we have a little more time to pursue our interests,” he says. “We like riding motorcycles, as well as traveling and going on cruises when we get a chance. Also, I enjoy outdoor activities like trail mountain biking and backpacking.”

In regard to his professional career, Brian emphasizes the importance of communication. “The interesting thing about being a property manager is you’re dealing with two sets of people who have very different goals,” he explains. “For example, in the event of a maintenance issue, the owner wants to minimize expenses while the tenant just wants the problem addressed, regardless of the cost. Since we have to manage expectations on both sides, communication is very important. If either party is left in the dark, they’re not going to be happy, so we do our best to prevent that with clear, responsive communication.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Brian says he’d take a long road trip. “My wife and I have always wanted to spend a few months seeing more of the country from the road, so if I could retire tomorrow, I’d probably go out and get a trailer for my truck.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?

A: The San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. I’ve been a fan of both teams since I was a kid, when my dad used to take me to see them play.

Q: Music or talk radio?

A: During baseball season, talk radio. Any other time of year, I’m usually listening to country music.

Q: What’s your favorite season?

A: Fall—I just like being outside in the cool weather.

Q: What was your favorite cartoon when you were a kid?

A: “Speed Racer.”

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: Old, rare silver coins and paper money.

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The Importance of Relational Boundaries in Property Management

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SAN JOSE — If you’re a property owner, make sure you’re establishing proper relational boundaries with your tenants. While it’s good to have a healthy working relationship with your tenants, it’s important to avoid getting overly close or emotionally involved with them.… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Maintaining Professionalism With Tenant Relationships

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Complete Video Transcription:

SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to landlord-tenant relationships, professionalism is a must. Today we’re in San Jose with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Brian Folden… Read more

Quan Phan is a 9-year veteran of the real estate industry and owner of GBA Realty, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 689-1271 or by email.

Quan Phan

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Quan Phan: More Than a Feeling

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO — When Quan Phan purchased a beachfront condo in Baja, Mexico, his sole aim was to have a relaxing “home away from home.” What he didn’t expect was for it to lead to a new professional livelihood. “I really enjoyed the feeling that came with finding and acquiring a nice property, and I started thinking I’d like to help other people get that same feeling,” he recounts. “A couple of years later, I came back to California and went to work for a real estate firm. Soon after, I got my broker license, and in 2008, I formed GBA Realty.”

Unfortunately, Quan’s timing couldn’t have been worse, as the real estate market crashed soon after he established his firm. However, even as firms all around him were flailing in the recession’s murky deluge, he found a way to keep his business afloat. “After the market crash, there was suddenly an abundance of foreclosed properties,” he explains. “Some investors I knew approached me and said if I helped them select good properties, they would use my company to both purchase and manage their properties after the fact. So, that’s how I got started in property management.”

Today, as owner of GBA Realty, Quan says one of his favorite parts of his job is being a point of mediation between tenants and property owners. “Most conflicts between tenants and property owners can be settled quite easily, but without someone to facilitate communication, they often remain unresolved and even escalate. As a property manager, my role is to mediate between the two parties so I can minimize unnecessary conflicts and make sure everyone is treated fairly.”

Originally from Vietnam, Quan came to the United States in his adolescence, and although he says the transition was difficult, he feels it ultimately made him stronger. “It was a tough age to make that big move, and it was hard going to school and not knowing English. However, even though it was challenging, I think those challenges helped me grow. Over time, I grew to appreciate the fact that this country provides the opportunity to succeed for those willing to work for it.”

Outside of work, Quan spends most of his time and energy on his family and health. “With me, family is first,” he affirms. “In addition to my wife and son, I have four brothers and sisters, all of whom have kids, so we enjoy getting together at each other’s houses. I’ve also started exercising and biking over the last few years to stay physically active and healthy.” Additionally, Quan enjoys following local sports teams like the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors.

In regard to his professional career, Quan says there’s a lot more to being a successful property owner than making a quick buck. “Most property owners want to maximize the income from their rental properties, but they need to understand the value of looking beyond the dollar amount. When we assess potential tenants, we don’t just look at their credit scores; we look at the person and their situation as well. How long are they likely to live there? Will they take care of the property as if it were their own? These and other questions are critical points to consider when bringing tenants and property owners together.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Quan says he’d get involved in community service. “If I ever retired, I would find opportunities to volunteer. Whether that means getting involved in local schools or just helping to make the neighborhood a nicer, cleaner place, that would be very rewarding for me.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: I played soccer.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Waterbar in San Francisco.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Turn on the fireplace, watch sports and spend time with my family.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect wine. I have a friend who’s a wine distributor in China, and he really turned me on to the enjoyment of fine wines.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: A cup of coffee. That’s all I need to get going in the morning.

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An Insurance Tip for Rental Property Owners

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SAN FRANCISCO — An important aspect of owning a rental property is having the right insurance policy in place. After initially owning a primary residence, many property owners move on to a second home and keep the first as a rental… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Insurance Tip for Property Owners

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Complete Video Transcription:

SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you own a rental property in addition to your primary residence, you’ll want to make sure your insurance… Read more

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