Local real estate experts have been predicting a cooling market, but that doesn’t seem to worry Chris Trapani, who recently opened Sereno Group, a Los Gatos-based real estate company that is targeting only upscale neighborhoods, including Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Monte Sereno.
The former regional president of Coldwell Banker said he plans to capture the market with his local roots, personal experience and by assembling an all-star team. Sereno has attracted some of the top real estate agents in the area, including Almaden agents Steve and Christine Perry. Sereno Group also brought on board Ducky Grabill, Carol Jeans, Lucy Wedemeyer, Ryan Iwanaga, former Los Gatos manager for Coldwell, and Raylene Khan, who was a San Jose manager with Coldwell in the Almaden area.
"These are people who are household names. We’re confident that they’ll capture significant market share, regardless of what’s going on in the market," Trapani said.
Agents must sell at least $10 million annually to remain on the team, Trapani said. Based on the team’s previous sales, Trapani is predicting the company will produce more than $600 million in sales the first year.
How the formation of Sereno Group will affect other realty companies has yet to be seen. Margaret Yost, an agent who sells homes in the Almaden Valley for Coldwell is not worried about the added competition.
"It’s always been a competitive business," Yost said. "There have always been lots of choices for the consumer, and now there’s one more choice. Competition makes everybody work sharper."
Khan said while leaving Coldwell was hard; joining Sereno Group was a no-brainer. She is not worried about the market. She said while fewer units are being sold, many of the top agents are still above where they were last year in terms of sales.
"The top-producing agent in Almaden has already produced everything she did last year," Khan said.
According to statistics from RE Infolink, between April and June of 2005, 162 single-family homes were sold in the Almaden area at a median price of $937,000. In 2006, the total number dropped to 115, but the median price of those homes rose to $1,064,000.