FAIRFIELD — Kappel & Kappel Realty and Gateway Realty have merged and purchased a Coldwell Banking franchise, creating a realty powerhouse in Solano County.
The move was announced by Coldwell Banker Kappel Gateway Realty at a meeting Tuesday in Fairfield, marking the partnership that will now include nearly 250 agents and eight offices in the county. The move will meld agencies that have been around since 1972 and totaled more than $600 million in sales last year.
“After years and years of being the fiercest competitors, we also complemented each other. We (Gateway) have Green Valley and Fairfield. They have Vacaville and (the) north county,” said Steve Spencer, owner broker. “It seemed like it just meshed.”
Sue Kappel said joining forces is happening at the perfect time, given that the market is recovering and inventory is becoming more accessible. Along with a greater presence in the county and beyond, Kappel said Coldwell Banker will be able to provide training and other services the agencies paid for separately.
“Even though we’ve been competing, we’ve been meeting for years,” Sue Kappel said. “Think about all the money we’ve spent competing.”
The merger and acquisition means the local agents will now have access to a national directory of Coldwell Banker clients that includes membership to a relocation service for businesses and government employees, said Budge Huskey, CEO of Coldwell Banker.
“The fact is, real estate has become a business where you have to cast a greater net,” Huskey said. “They are positioning their companies for the next cycle.”
Steve Kappel said the aspect of bringing in clients from outside the area was appealing in looking at acquiring a Coldwell Banker franchise.
“Real estate is a local business,” Steve Kappel said. “That national connection is important.”
Huskey said Coldwell will benefit from the move as much as the local firms, as there are only about 30 employees in Solano County, which sits between Sacramento and San Francisco, regions where Coldwell has a good footing, Huskey said.
“It’s a big thing for us, too. These are two very established and respected companies,” Huskey said. “Looking at Coldwell Banker, you would see that along I-80, there was that gap that needed to be filled.”
Owner Broker Bev Dorsett of Gateway said the merger went smoothly because of the familiarity of all involved. She said the purchase of the franchise was an obvious move for both groups. That process isn’t always easy when combining multiple companies. She said the clients will benefit as much as the agents given the increased Internet presence and referrals.
“Usually when there is a merger, you are juggling three sides,” Dorsett said. “Those things equal more power, more tools and more services to offer the client.”
Spencer said even with nearly 25 percent of the market share, the company may not be done growing.
“We’re hoping that some of the smaller, quality companies will join us,” he said. “Compared to what we are doing now, it will be a snap.”
Dorsett said the merger and market turn has the group raring to go and is optimistic about the future.
“We were rejuvenated,” Dorsett said. “We haven’t been this excited in years. We expect it to carry out through the company.”
Deborah Gallagher, president of the Northern Solano County Association of Realtors, said the merger will benefit the real estate industry in the county as a whole. She acknowledged that smaller firms may be affected and admitted some may have to decide what their future is.
“I think it will do Solano County well. We’re going to have different tools at our disposal,” Gallagher said. “It’s not like a bank. It can keep getting bigger. It’s hard to fight that.”
The moves will come with some logistical changes for agents. Some of those, she said, will play out in the coming weeks and months. First off, the Coldwell Banker office at 795 Alamo Drive in Vacaville will close in seven days. Agents from that office can choose to move to the Dixon office or any of the Kappel or Gateway offices, she said.
“We have places to go, but it’s quite a surprise,” Gallagher said.
While many will have mixed emotions about the changes, Gallagher said it’s up to agents to make the most of it.
“You make your happiness,” she said. “It’s not like we’re being bought out by people we don’t know.”
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.