Realty Executive To Start New Firm

July 06 2006
July 06 2006

The regional president of Coldwell Banker, the valley's largest real estate brokerage with about 1,400 agents, has quit to start a brokerage that will focus on some of Silicon Valley's toniest neighborhoods. Chris Trapani, 39, resigned Thursday as president of Coldwell Banker Silicon Valley, a post he had held since June 2004. His replacement is Joe Brown, a 26-year veteran of the local market who has managed two Coldwell Banker offices in San Jose since 2002.

''My goal is to build more of an exclusive, boutique kind of niche firm . . . to create something that's going to attract the people that are and will continue to be productive in this business for years to come, regardless changing technologies and business models,'' Trapani said.

He added that he hopes to open as many as three offices in the next three to five years. The company will be privately financed, he said. It does not yet have a name or a firm start-up date.

The manager of Coldwell Banker's Los Gatos office, Ryan Iwanaga, also left the company this week to work with Trapani on his new company.

Brown said his goal as Coldwell Banker's regional president is to build market share and ''maintain the services that have attracted agents to Coldwell Banker, and support them in their personal business.''

Brown, 55, owned his own company, Number One Realtors, in the 1980s, and also has been a manager for Contempo Realty and Prudential.

The number of people trying to make a living locally in the real estate business has exploded in the past few years.

The Santa Clara County Association of Realtors' membership has swelled to 8,000 this year, up from about 3,000 in 2002. And some experts estimate there are more than 12,000 licensed real estate agents in the county.

They'll likely be chasing far fewer sales this year than last -- about 22 percent fewer houses sold during the first two months of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005.

Larry Knapp, president of Alain Pinel Realtors, one of Coldwell Banker's biggest competitors in the valley, learned Friday of the changes at Coldwell Banker. Of Trapani's plan to start a new real estate company he said, ''it's more expensive than ever, and the environment is more competitive than ever. So, hats off to someone who aspires to do that, and we'll watch and see what happens.''