Realtor Offers Clients a Personal Touch

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broker wants her firm to stay small

by isha dandavate

rachel erlich believes in providing more than the usual apartment-hunting experience. she believes in personal interactions, a comforting experience for her clients and finding a solution that leaves everyone happy.

erlich, 47, began rachel realty in 2004 after having worked for two other real estate companies. "i chose not to work for a big company, because i believed in the old mom-and-pop school," she said. "i believe there is something in good service." she started the business with just two other women, and in the past six years her small realty company has grown to 20 employees.

according to erlich, her business is different from other realty companies in one main way: she manages everything instead of hiring someone else to do it. in fact, this is the reason why she hasn't expanded her business further. she doesn't want to leave her agents in the upper west side office for an office in another neighborhood so she can continue to be involved with all of her clients. "this is somebody's life-they're waiting for a home. this is where they eat, sleep, this is where they trust," said erlich. "this is a big responsibility for a broker. at least i take it that way, and so does my group."

the agents who work with rachel also observe her dedication. "almost every deal-especially in this market-she has personalized the experience for clients," said agent orly musai, 29. "the way she thinks, the way she sees things, she's truly an inspiration."

musai has worked at rachel realty for four and a half years, and has a hard time thinking of just one story to illustrate erlich's dedication to personalized service. she remembers a time when she just began working at the company-rachel was helping a client complete a deal at an apartment building run by a co-operative. because of the co-op's strict rules and procedures, the clients were unable to move into their new apartment on time. "the client needed to stay where they were for an extra two days, so to pay for the clients, rachel gave up part of her fee," says musai. "it was a small fee, but we gave it back because this is what matters. she always finds a solution for the clients."

in order to provide this high level of service, erlich has made some sacrifices. "my hours could start at six in the morning, literally staying overnight and working until the next morning," she said. "sometimes i need to do that to remember that in business it's ok to sacrifice once in a while."

but it seems her sacrifice pays off. musai observes the happiness and ease with which clients interact with erlich. "even when they hand her a check, though it's a lot of money, they're doing it with a smile."

erlich was born in israel and came to new york in 1965 with her parents. she grew up in the lower east side and now lives with her husband, avi, in new jersey. she has three children from a former marriage, and avi also has two children. the couple work together at rachel realty.

when asked about free time, rachel laughed. "if i get that luxury i just want to do nothing. i want to stop thinking. i have my cell phone on silent and i take that extra time so i can re-energize the batteries."

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