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?
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A: A cup of coffee. That’s all I need to get going in the morning.