Designer Profile: Barney Diamos, Dream Team Real Estate Group

Raised in the Mission District and the son of a restaurateur, Barney Diamos figured his career would be in the food service industry, not real estate. HIs father, Frank Diamos, co-owned Minichiello’s Italian restaurant on 22nd and Valencia streets. Barney Diamos wound up opening a pair of restaurants of his own, before switching gears and becoming a real estate broker.

He started in San Francisco and the Peninsula and built a respectable portfolio from San Francisco to Silicon Valley between 1999 and the Great Recession. But Barney Diamos recognized the root of the problem and pivoted, creating Loan Negotiator Group, a mortgage restructuring company that coordinated with banks to fix homeowners defaulted adjustable-rate mortgages so they could stay in their homes.

“It wasn’t a real estate crash, it was a mortgage crash,” he said.

Barney Diamos estimates LNG saved roughly 1,700 homes from foreclosure during their years in business.

For the last two years he’s headed up Dream Team Development Group, a collection of family members and industry experts who seek out investment opportunities and transform old multi-family residences into condos and tenancy-in-common buildings.

Dream Team

Real Estate Group

A group of experienced real estate developers building upscale residences throughout the Bay Area. The group provides project evaluation and construction management, as well as joint ventures with investors. Barney Diamos serves as president of the Dream Team Real Estate Group, while his brother Joe Diamos plays the roles of vice president and controller. Jeff Sternberg is the team’s project manager and provides a wealth of experience as a general contractor and product supplier. The group’s conservative approach ensures each project is completed to the highest standards and the team’s recent projects include a home in Silicon Valley, as well as residences in San Francisco’s Marina district and Parkside neighborhood.

Contact: 50 Woodside Plaza, Suite 624, Redwood City, 650-722-7880, dbgroup00@, www.dreamteam

“A few years ago we started seeing a market spike and we were constantly hearing about how expensive housing is,” he said. “So we’ve been taking small apartment buildings and converting to them to tenancy-in-commons or condos because it creates an affordable opportunity for home ownership.”

In this interview with The Chronicle, Barney Diamos talks about his upbringing in the local restaurant industry, his goal to bring more affordable housing and homeownership to the Bay Area and his passion for making sure World War II veterans are property recognized.

Q: What’s your favorite type of architecture?

A: Being a native of the Mission District, I’m always dying to restore Victorians, but they can be a challenge because they’re so old.

One of the common pitfalls of Victorians are their masonry foundation, basically the foundation is made of bricks. A lot of them don’t have cement perimeter foundations, so it’s something to be wary of when we’re looking at them. After all, bricks can crumble during an earthquake.

Beyond that, you’ve got other issues like knob and tube wiring, cast-iron plumbing and wood-rot. That said, they’re a challenge, but I love them. I adore the period details. It’s really fun to enhance a facade with with cornices, rosettes and gold leaf painting.

Q: What is your design philosophy?

A: We take old buildings and modernize the floor plans. When we size up a project, we want the path of least resistance. It can be easy to get hung up on project for years and years. We’re looking for the biggest bang for the buck, and that’s achieved by providing the best value to a new homeowner or tenant.

We’ll redesign kitchens and bathrooms, and add modern features like Nest Thermostats. Recently we did a Viking appliance package in a Marina district home, and we’ll add finishes like counters with waterfall edges. We’re always trying to stay on the cutting edge.

Q: What’s your favorite neighborhood to work in?

A: I love the Marina district. I love the people and vibe. And it has great architecture and weather. Plus, you’re near the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, and I love the sound of those foghorns.

Q: Do you have family? What are you hobbies?

A: I have a close family with three wonderful children who are now grown. They originally all started out helping the family business. They’re all successful in their chosen careers, and all are related to the real estate and construction industries. My eldest daughter is a project engineer for a large construction firm, while my son works as an electrician.

My youngest daughter helped me with the books when we were first starting. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been able to work closely with my family. My partner, Tracy Stevenson, is a designer and flight attendant, so we travel a lot. We enjoy admiring and learning about all the diverse architecture and new design ideas we see.

Q: Your father, Frank Diamos, was a World War II veteran who served in Okinawa. How did his experience shape your appreciation for veterans?

A: I was raised Semper Fi by an incredible Marine. I can’t express how lucky was I to be raised by my best friend and hero. He was the toughest, nicest guy, and everyone in the neighborhood knew him. Something people don’t realize is that when a lot of the soldiers from the Pacific theater came back, the parades were over and they never got their medals.

So I’ll research old World War II veterans and work to get them the service medals they are entitled to. I’ve probably done 15 or 16 now. I don’t think those guys will ever get the credit they deserve.

Q: What’s a piece of technology you can’t imagine doing business without?

A: My iPhone. I think back to what it was like in the early 2000s, when we were relying on fax machines. Now I can run the business from my iPhone. It does everything, like group texts and resending contracts — plus all the different apps.

The iScanner app allows me to scan things off my phone, so I don’t have to go to office to use a scanner or send a fax. Oh my god, has that made things so much faster and easier. I can submit investor profiles to three different investors from my phone. It’s all stored in my email history and Dropbox and Google Docs. And everything can be shared in real time.

Q: Why are you such a proponent of tenancy-in-common developments?

A: A tenancy-in-common — where residents share co-ownership of a multi-unit property — are most prevalent in two of the most expensive cities in the country: New York and San Francisco. And that’s because of the huge increase in home prices.

TICs, like condominiums, provide a more affordable option to entry-level home buyers in San Francisco. And “fractional financing” is becoming more available to purchase TICs, making it even more achievable to afford and buy them.

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