Power Players of San Francisco: Olivia Hsu Decker, Malin Giddings, Nina Hatvany and more

Barbara Callan (The Mastermind)


Since the start of her career in 1986 with Grubb & Ellis in San Francisco, Barbara Callan has been a force to be reckoned with. At Grubb & Ellis, she was named Top Producer and No. 1 company-wide agent, consistently setting records. Since joining McGuire Real Estate in 1993, Callan has been one the company’s greatest assets and was ranked No. 1 by the Wall Street Journal in 2006 after posting a personal $112 million sales record.

Haute Living Where are you from? What attracted you to San Francisco?
Barbara Callan I am a native San Franciscan, fourth generation. Everything about San Francisco is attractive to me. I love the views, the variety in each neighborhood, and the diversity. It truly is an amazing and beautiful city, and is considered the heart of the state! It is also a great city to raise a family.

HL What attracted you to real estate?
BC I have always been attracted to architecture and the many styles of homes throughout the city. Real estate is in my blood. My dad was a broker and owned a successful real estate company when I was a child, and my sister Mary has been a very successful realtor in San Francisco for more than 30 years.

HL Who was your first mentor, and how did he/she influence you?
BC My first mentor was my dad. He was an amazing businessman and a person of great integrity. He instilled in all of his children and grandchildren the importance of honesty and of giving back to the community and helping others. He was a very giving person, had a great sense of humor, was very positive, and a person of strong faith.

HL You’ll never be found without your…
BC Multi-use Palm Treo, and of course my brilliant assistant David Ayerdi who has been with me more than eight years.

HL What were your yearly sales for 2007? Forecast for 2008?
BC Independently, I closed close to $130 million in San Francisco real estate in 2007 and was ranked No. 1 Realtor in San Francisco by the San Francisco Association of Realtors ranking report. I was ranked No. 8 in the state of California, and No. 22 in the United States by the Wall Street Journal and Real Trends. My forecast for 2008 is to sell more than $100 million of San Francisco real estate.

HL What is your most memorable deal?
BC All of my real estate transactions are memorable. Each one is different and unique as I have the opportunity to work with wonderful people. I have always had a great respect and admiration for Warren Buffett. I was very honored when he chose me to sell his properties in San Francisco. It was a very memorable experience for me.

HL Where do you live?
BC I have always lived in San Francisco and can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.

HL If money were no object, what property on the market would you recommend in the San Francisco area?
BC I currently have two of the most spectacular homes in San Francisco on the market. They are listed for $25 million and $27.5 million. Both are absolutely magnificent and offer deep roots in the history of San Francisco. They are both rare jewels, and truly the best of the best.

HL What is your formula for keeping your high-end and/or high profile clients happy?
BC I have great passion and joy for my work. I look forward to starting each day. My clients know I am always available for them. I provide the very best in service and marketplace knowledge.

HL Tell us one thing most people wouldn’t know about you.
BC They may not know that I was a second grade teacher before I started my family.

HL What is your proudest achievement?
BC My proudest achievements are raising (with my husband) three amazing human beings. My son Robert is one of San Francisco’s most seasoned and successful realtors, he is currently among the top 10 of all realtors in San Francisco and a partner at McGuire Real Estate; my son Geoff is an award winning filmmaker and actor whose successful production company recently produced several Super Bowl commercials; and my daughter Regina is a San Francisco real estate developer who designs some of the most spectacular homes all over the city.

HL Where would we find you on a Friday night?
BC Usually out for a quiet dinner with my husband. We have a very extended family in the city and we frequently attend family and charity events.

HL What are your favorite vacation destinations and/or leisure activities?
BC My favorite leisure activity is to spend time with my husband, my children, daughters-in-law, and my amazing grandchildren! My favorite destination spots are Napa and Hawaii.

HL Your forecast for the San Francisco real estate market for 2008?
BC My forecast is very positive. There is always demand in this great city.

HL What are your personal goals for 2008?
BC It is very important to keep one’s life balanced in order to achieve success. My personal goal is to stay healthy, spiritually strong, and to continue to spend quality time with my family and friends. My clients also know that I am always there for them.

HL In your opinion, what makes San Francisco so special?
BC San Francisco is an international city, and everyone wants to live here. It is like an island surrounded by great beauty. We have the perfect climate all year and a perfectly designed and planned city. I have traveled extensively, and to me there is not another place in the world that offers the quality of life that this great city of ours has to offer.