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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

First Team Real Estate Lives Up to Its Name

July 07, 2000|DARYL STRICKLAND | Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670 and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

Even though real estate brokerages are getting bigger through industry consolidation, an independent company in Orange County recently took top honors as the county's largest firm last year.

First Team Real Estate in Costa Mesa had more sales than any brokerage in the county, according to a nationwide survey of the top-selling firms by industry newsletter Real Trends in Colorado. First Team closed 9,080 transactions last year that totaled $2.7 billion in sales, Real Trends said.

Coldwell Banker, which is part of NRT Inc., the nation's largest real estate concern, finished second in the county with 7,141 deals totaling $2.5 billion. Prudential California, the nation's fifth-largest company, ranked third with 6,274 deals totaling $2.3 billion.

Orange County has dozens of mom-and-pop real estate firms that have been getting swept up by larger companies over the last few years. And their numbers are expected to continue shrinking.

"There's still a lot of consolidation left to go," said Steve Murray, president of Real Trends.

But First Team is fending off the larger companies, ranking among a handful of independents that are thriving. First Team has strong management and develops new employees well, Murray said.

Though First Team doesn't have a flashy image, he said, the company makes prudent decisions. "That makes the difference in this case," he said.

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