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

Mary Toboni (The Vintner)


Consistently satisfied clients have made Mary Toboni’s reputation as a top agent stick. Generating a 90 percent referral status, Toboni has wowed clients for 29 years. Her experience is not limited to residential sales, as development, renovation, new construction, and multi-unit building sales round out her formidable portfolio. Her professionalism and vast experience have equipped her to navigate record-breaking sales under any market condition.

Haute Living Where are you from? What attracted you to San Francisco?
Mary Toboni I was born and raised in San Francisco. I am a fifth generation San Franciscan on my maternal grandfather’s side of the family so I know the city very well.

HL What attracted you to real estate?
MT I was a junior in college when I got my real estate license and purchased my first piece of property. It was always something I really enjoyed. Even as a little girl I can remember the houses in every movie I saw. I remembered the properties more than the 20 characters or story lines.

HL Who was your first mentor, and how did he/she influence you?
MT My father owned Time Real Estate. His stories of making deals had a great influence on me. He was extremely ethical and always did what was right. Every person I meet that knew him says, “What a great man.” He was one of a kind.

HL You’ll never be found without your…
MT My phone! It is glued to my ear so I naturally cannot be without that. But, my assistant, right hand person, office manager, and keeper of the keys, Wendy, is essential to my daily routine. Rob is also excellent, a driving force on our team.

HL What were your yearly sales for 2007? Forecast for 2008?
MT Better than 2006, and 2008 will be a tremendous year! I’m looking forward to a very active year with success for both the buyers and sellers.

HL What is your most memorable deal?
MT The first property that I sold for $1 million. It was about 25 years ago. I was only in the business a short time and seasoned agents could not believe I made the deal! I was a little surprised myself!

HL Where do you live?
MT In San Francisco.

HL If money were no object, what property on the market would you recommend in the San Francisco area?
MT 2820 Scott St. is probably one of the most gorgeous homes I have ever seen. It is a beaux arts residence with glorious San Francisco views. Visit the Web site: www.2820scott.com

HL What is your formula for keeping your high-end and/or high profile clients happy?
MT Bringing good buyers that are willing to pay more than the asking price.

HL Tell us one thing most people wouldn’t know about you.
MT When I was 24 and doing real estate, I also designed, manufactured, and sold children’s clothing. Eventually I decided I liked the real estate business better, as it is more of a people business. It was a great experience, and I am a firm believer that every experience only helps you in future business.

HL What is your proudest achievement?
MT This year my daughter and I went to New Orleans to build houses with Rebuild Together. Our group rebuilt two houses for families who still were not able to return to their homes since the devastation. We mopped ourselves out of the houses. To see the joy in their faces is something I shall never forget.

HL Where would we find you on a Friday night?
MT Probably in a gym watching volleyball or basketball, or on a baseball field, depending on the season. My two younger children play two sports each so it keeps us busy during the year. If we are not there and the Giants are in town then we will be at the ballpark!

HL What are your favorite vacation destinations and/or leisure activities?
MT My husband and I have vineyard property in Russian River area. We produce 1,000 cases of Pinot Noir and 400 cases of chardonnay: Toboni Vineyards Oakwild Ranch wine. It is very peaceful and it rejuvenates us. I have traveled a lot over the years but I think the most relaxing place to go is Lake Tahoe and you don’t have to get on a plane!

HL Your forecast for the San Francisco real estate market for 2008?
MT I think San Francisco has its own real estate climate. The market has never really declined here except after the ’89 earthquake or 9/11. But if there is a temporary decline it bounces right back. We are practically an island, and there is nowhere to build, so there is always a steady incline. I forecast the market to be steady and strong as always.

HL What are your personal goals for 2008?
MT I’m still on goals for 2007…but I am sure they will be the same: to succeed steadily in business, make clients more satisfied than they ever dreamed, to do a good job, and brighten peoples lives!

HL In your opinion, what makes San Francisco so special?
MT San Francisco is unique in that the city itself is made up of many little neighborhoods, each with its own personality. Whether you are in the Mission, North Beach, or Pacific Heights, each neighborhood has something very special that only it can offer. Also, what makes San Francisco so unique is the proximity to many different areas. You can drive one to three hours and find yourself in the wine country, Carmel, Lake Tahoe, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, you name it. Sun or snow, you can find it!