Lightner Group is a San Francisco-based real estate company encompassing several specialties; property management, expert witness and consulting, leasing, and development.


Formed in 1984, Lightner Property Group is a boutique San Francisco property management, real estate investment and development firm. It sponsors a variety of real estate investment opportunities for individual investors. It also provides extraordinary income property management and consulting services throughout the Bay Area.

Lightner Property Group  has wide-ranging experience in complex real estate matters that includes adding value to real estate through zoning changes, new construction, renovation, turning around troubled assets and the routine management of both residential and commercial properties.  The Lightner team has formed partnerships, joint-ventures and strategic alliances. It has also served as court-appointed receivers.

Though small, its professional pedigree, diverse experience, use of technology, innovative thinking and relentless commitment to bettering itself has built a reputation that is unequaled in San Francisco.  It is safe to say that Lightner Property Group is the best real estate management firm in San Francisco.

The Lightner team’s legal acumen and ability to solve daunting problems relating to rent-controlled apartments is unique.  International accounting firms refer Lightner business. Other managers refer difficult situations.  Lawyers look to Lightner when they need expert testimony on all real estate matters ranging from property management standard of care to the fair treatment of passive investors.

Lightner Property Group is headquartered at 612 Howard Street, an historic office building in San Francisco’s South Financial District. Lightner Property Group renovated this century-old building in 1998. This building showcases the firm’s San Francisco Real Estate Development strategies as well as its ability to manage successful investment partnerships.

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William Lightner, Esq.

Bill is a native San Franciscan and graduate of University of San Francisco and Hastings College of the Law. Before entering real estate, he practiced as a business lawyer. Bill founded Lightner Property Group with his wife Merrie in 1984. A 30-plus year veteran of three real estate cycles, Bill’s focus has been finding and financing investment opportunities, adding value to property and the asset management of multi-property portfolios. His development experience includes winning General Plan Amendments and rezoning approvals, residential in-fill redevelopment, suburban land development and merchant building, as well as the renovation of existing income properties.

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Merrie Turner Lightner, Esq.

Merrie grew up in Southern California, but she has made San Francisco her home since 1979.  She graduated from Pomona College and the University of California School of Law at Davis.  Her legal background includes both real estate and labor management law.

Merrie has held several prominent positions at the local and state level of the real estate community including President of the California Apartment Association (1999), a three term President of the San Francisco Apartment Association (1996-1998), and serving as one of two voting Landlord Commissioners on the San Francisco Rent and Stabilization Board for more than 12 years (1992 - 2004). She presently writes for the SF Examiner.

At both the local and state level she has crafted important legislation, developed policies and assisted in setting reasonable, realistic and acceptable standards for the ethical management of residential housing.

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Art Swanson

Art is the most senior Lightner staff member.  Having worked with the Lightner’s for over 25 years, he is a valued and essential team member.  Art is involved in many organizations which support small businesses in the City, including SBA and PPMA. In his spare time, Art enjoys traveling to South America to assist with children's services and education.

Cathleen C. Higgins, SHRM-CP, PHR

Cathleen is our Organizational Director and joined Lightner Property Group in 2007.  Cathleen has over 20 years experience in real estate. She holds a degree in English from Chico State and a Certificate in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Seattle, as well as being a California licensed real estate salesperson. She has two designations in Human Resources. In her "off" time Cathleen enjoys fostering children, admiring architecture, speedwalking, and watching college football with her hubby (Go Dawgs!)


Sonja Martin

Sonja grew up in San Francisco and enjoys learning the layers involved of managing property in the City.  She works as our Receptionist/Administrator, bringing a wealth of customer service and legal experience. Sonja is a certified paralegal. In her free time she LOVES being a grandma and spending time with family and friends.

Jessica Clifford

Jessica is our Accountant and joined LPG in 2009. Though she holds a degree in English, she has vast experience in accounting through assisting her father in running his contractor business. Jessica is a native Bay-Arean who loves spending any free moment doing creative writing and reading modern literature. She also is a happy mother to beautiful puppy.