Chris Trapani, president of Coldwell Banker Silicon Valley, said on Friday he has resigned his post as the top-ranking regional executive for the national brokerage overseeing 17 offices and 1,400 agents in the South Bay.
The 39-year-old real estate veteran, who has been selling Silicon Valley homes since 1990, says he intends to start a company of his own. He hopes to open his doors within the next 60 days.
Coldwell Banker manager Joe Brown has been named to replace Trapani. Brown has been the managing broker of two Coldwell Banker offices overseeing their operation and the sales of 185 agents. Brown says his new job, while a big one, is a natural stepping stone for him.
"I think I'm probably the most qualified to take it at this time. I think I'm up to the challenge," he says.
Trapani was the Silicon Valley president for CB for the last two years but has a long history in the area as a successful agent, manager and executive.
He is being joined in his new endeavor by Coldwell's Los Gatos manager, Ryan Iwanaga. The two men have been friends since childhood and grew up together in Saratoga, Trapani says.
He reached his decision after "months of soul searching" and discussions with his family, including his wife and father, his long-time mentor, Trapani says.
"My wife is key. I would never have done it if she weren't behind me. She is probably more excited about it than I am, if that's possible," Trapani says.
His father also backed the decision, which Trapani says has nothing to do with larger changes at Coldwell's parent company Cendant Corp.
He and Iwanaga intend to pursue creation of a boutique brokerage with up to three offices situated from Los Gatos to San Francisco, Trapani says.
They hope to attract the most sought-after cluster of agents in the business: those who consistently sell most of the homes that trade in any given year. They do not expect to focus on the sale of homes in any particular price range, he says.
"At this point in my life, I felt it was important to be true to myself," Trapani says. "I like to create and build and pour myself into people, and my hope is always to make them better. Instead of having scattered roles, this allows me to have a narrow focus targeted on a few key people."
The business is being backed financially by a group of "private local investors" including himself, he said. He did not release names.
Brown began his real estate career in 1980 and earned his broker's license in 1986. At one time, he owned his own company, Number One Realtors Better Homes and Gardens, with two sales offices in Campbell and a mortgage company.
His first order of business will be to find a manager to replace himself, Brown says. He also will have to work to find a manager to replace Iwanaga in Los Gatos.
"So short term, I will be making sure agents are unfazed, and it's business as usual," he says. Beyond that, he says he will be watching the market to ensure the company is adjusting accordingly.
Home sales in the Bay Area have slowed markedly in the last several months after several years of torrid growth and great gains in housing prices. The number of people getting their real estate license skyrocketed with many moving into real estate from lost jobs in the flagging technology industry. Brown says he expects fewer new agents to join the industry in coming months as a result of the slower sales and for some existing agents to return to positions in high tech.
"And I am absolutely O.K. with that," he says.
Coldwell Banker is a member of the NRT family of companies. NRT is a subsidiary of Cendant, a New York Stock Exchange traded company.