Friday, September 17, 2004

Solano firm ranked in real estate magazine

Kappel & Kappel Realtors Inc. makes a trade publication's list of top residential sales companies.

By Barbara Smith/Business Writer

Kappel & Kappel Realtors Inc. joined the ranks of the nation's megabrokers when it was named one of the top 500 residential sales companies for 2003 by Real Trends.

Real Trends, a trade publication for residential real estate brokers, annually ranks the top residential real estate companies in the nation based on closed transactions. The result is an annual Real Trends 500 report. In it, the top 500 companies are listed.

It's a first for any broker in Solano County, said Sue Kappel, who has operated the company since 1972 with her husband, Steve.

"It's like the Olympics of real estate," enthused Kappel. "You start your business, and you look at those guys and you think 'How do you ever get there?' It's really a thrill to me, but obviously a testimonial to my agents and their value systems and the quality of service they provide."

Kappel & Kappel agents number about 140, she said.

"It's the team," Kappel said. "It's not me; it's not Steve. It's obviously the agents. And the older agents set the standards for the new agents."

In the report, the Kappel firm ranked No. 272 in dollar volume and No. 477 in the number of units sold. There are about 80,000 residential real estate firms in the country. The top 500 firms represent less than three-fifths of 1 percent of those companies, according to Real Trends.

"These are the megacompanies," Kappel said. "The No.1 company has 956 offices."

The Kappels operate six offices - five in Solano County and one in Sacramento.

The Kappels first opened a tiny office on Merchant Street in 1972. Shortly thereafter, they opened an office at 355 Main St., today the hub of the brokerage. In 1978, they opened a branch office in Fairfield.

In the 1980s, they established their property management, mortgage and relocation offices in the "Triangle Building" on Main Street in Vacaville.

In the 1990s, they opened a branch office and training center in south Vacaville, and they recently celebrated the first anniversary of a branch in Dixon. And in July, a Sacramento branch headed by the Kappels' son, broker Steven Ted "Teddy" Kappel Jr., was added.

Sue Kappel said she attributes the brokerage's success partly to a training school established seven years ago. That's when she heard that the average real estate agent was 55 years old, while the average homebuyer was 29.

"I could see that we needed to go out there and bring people in the industry to take care of our future," she said. "Bringing in younger agents - that was my turning point, and we just went by leaps and bounds. It was really a labor of love for us."

Kappel got state approval to operate a real estate school and collaborated with Richard Dawson, a 30-year veteran in the business. Dawson serves as the trainer.

"My training office, if it were a company by itself, would be the fourth leading productive company in Solano County," Kappel said.

Barbara Smith can be reached at

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