News and Updates January 11, 2017

Former Coldwell Banker Chief Opens Office In Los Gatos

Sharon Simonson

Chris Trapani, the former president of Coldwell Banker Silicon Valley who quit his high­profile job in April, says he has hired 30 agents for his new company and intends to open his first office in Los Gatos within the next 10 days.

The new firm, called the Sereno Group, will locate its founding office in the same 5,500 square feet that also served as an original office for Alain Pinel Realtors, Trapani says. The address is 214 Los Gatos­Saratoga Road.

Alain Pinel, founded by entrepreneur Paul Hulme about 15 years ago, is now a dominant regional brokerage with strong name and brand recognition.

The Sereno Group’s business model centers on attracting only the top­producing agents in the market place. It has stipulated that its agents must have aggregate annual sales of at least $10 million and must maintain that level to stay, Trapani says.

For seasoned real estate agent Ducky Grabill, beating that benchmark should not be a problem. Ms. Grabill specializes in Los Gatos homes and last year sold properties valued in excess of $65 million. She was the top­selling agent at Coldwell’s Los Gatos office for 14 years in a row, she says.

A former agent with Trapani at Coldwell Banker, Grabill says the working environment at the Sereno Group is a welcome change, though she admits that the decision to leave Coldwell Banker was not an easy one.

"The business model of 50 desks in an office with 150 agents working out of them is not efficient," she says.

Agents in those settings often have little experience and a lot of company resources are devoted to helping them get started, she says. "It’s draining."

Sereno also has attracted at least four other top­producing Coldwell agents: Lucy Wedemeyer, Carol Jeans and Steve and Christine Perry. In addition, Raylene Khan, the former manager for the Coldwell Banker San Jose office for the Almaden area, resigned that post Friday, also to join Sereno as an agent, Trapani says.

The Los Gatos office is the first of several that the Sereno Group plans for the Bay area, though Trapani says expansion will be north and "disciplined and deliberate."