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Luxe Brokerage Villa Links With Coldwell

Villa Real Estate LLC, the Newport Beach-based luxury home brokerage that in 10 years of operation grew into one of the largest agencies for high-end homes along Orange County’s coast, is being folded into the Southern California division of Coldwell Banker Realty.

The deal was finalized last week, according to Gary Jabara, the Newport Beach entrepreneur who helped launch Villa in 2013 and was its primary financial backer.

Terms of the deal, which Jabara described as a merger, were undisclosed. Villa’s five founding partners will be joining Coldwell Banker’s regional operations. About 20 Villa agents were also confirmed to also be making the move as of last week. Villa’s website listed close to 130 agents prior to the deal being announced.

“There’s a lot of headwinds right now, in the residential [real estate] space,” Jabara told the Business Journal. “So, our agents will benefit from a bigger experience. They’ll be better together.”

$22B Business

Coldwell Banker’s SoCal operations are among the largest brokerages in the country.

Headed by SoCal President Jamie Duran, Coldwell’s operations in OC, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties total 65 offices, nearly 5,000 agents, and 135 employees.

That area brought in $490 million in revenue in 2022, with $22 billion in sales volume and 15,700 homes sold, at an average sales price of $1.4 million, according to Coldwell Banker data.

Its Newport Beach office, run by Debbie Lewandowski, has ranked as the brokerage’s No. 1 office in the U.S. three years consecutively, it said last week.

Villa closed $1.4 billion in sales volume last year, down from $1.9 billion in 2021, according to the MLS.

Villa had offices on the Balboa Peninsula and in Laguna Beach, along with its Newport Center headquarters.

Coldwell Banker said those offices were recently closed.

Coldwell Return

Villa was officially unveiled in March 2013, with its founders highlighting the company’s hi-tech focus, which aimed to shake up a brokerage industry they described at the time as being antiquated.

The group’s five founding equity partners include President Steve High, as well as Kim Bibb, Jon Flagg, Tim Carr and Evan Corkett. That group will be moving to Coldwell Banker.

All of Villa’s agents have been invited to make the move, though not everyone is expected to do so, according to High.

“When [the partners] made this decision, we all discussed what brokerage firm would align best with the Villa brand, and we all unanimously agreed that Coldwell was a great fit,” High said. “I believe Coldwell is the most stable residential real estate company in Orange County.”

Prior to Villa, High, Carr and Corkett were last with Coldwell Banker Previews. The three also were principals at Newport Beach-based Strada Properties, a high-end area brokerage that was sold to Coldwell Banker in 2003.

CRE Push

The Villa transaction comes about 18 months after Jabara sold Mobilitie to Australia’s BAI Group for a price estimated around $1.7 billion. The wireless infrastructure firm was wrapped into a new business called Boldyn Networks earlier this year.

While the luxe brokerage was a significantly smaller part of Jabara’s holdings than the telecom business, he said he’d use proceeds from the deal with Coldwell to invest more into commercial real estate, as he did following prior exits.

His Boardwalk Investments Group has gone heavy into grocery-anchored shopping centers along the coast in recent years, and he’s also invested heavily in the Napa town of Yountville, where he owns a resort and other properties.

Jabara, who continues to have ties to the tech world via his IoXT Alliance business in Newport Beach, says he continues to be on the lookout for other commercial real estate investments.

“We’ll be rolling into some great assets,” he said.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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