Real Estate Weekly
October 13, 1999

PROFILE OF THE WEEK: ESTHER MULLER

Academy For Continuing Education President
is Consummate Educator

Always eager for new challenges, Esther Muller has become a virtual renaissance woman in real estate education and marketing. In addition to being the co-founder and president of the Academy for Continuing Education (ACE), Muller is a real estate investor. But before finding her professional home in real estate, she developed the popular ACA JOE sportswear chain, and was involved in such prominent franchise ventures as The Great American Back Rub and Mailboxes, Etc. U.S.A.

Even today, with the success of ACE, she is launching the New York
division of Bamboo.com, a company that provides virtual apartment tours
on-line and, concurrently, is introducing her school’s curriculum on-line
for 22.5-credit hours.

Of all her achievements, however, Muller regards the Academy for Continuing Education as one of her most significant endeavors.

“Most brokers are required to take continuing education courses every two years to renew their licenses, so they make reluctant students,” says Muller.  “I know, because I used to feel the same way.”  But I knew that if the brokers were treated with respect and offered a curriculum taught by their peers and other industry luminaries, they would be responsive. This has been the key
to ACE’s success and it is why the top brokers return to us, as well as send their friends.”

In less than five years, ACE has become a leading institution for continuing education in the real estate profession in New York City. To accomplish this, Muller orchestrated a curriculum and venue that reflected the professionalism of her students. ACE classes are taught on the penthouse floor of the
St. Moritz Hotel, overlooking Central Park and much of the City’s most desirable real estate.

The diverse curriculum focuses on practical information, including the latest marketing technologies, landmark criteria, time management, architecture and financing. Moreover, the courses are taught by such leading industry figures as Lew Rudin, co-chairman of The Corcoran Group; Alan Rogers, CEO of Douglas Elliman; Peter Marra, president of William B. May; and many others. It is not surprising that the majority of the “students” who fulfill their two-year license requirements at ACE generally comprise the city’s top money-makers.

Muller’s understanding of the types of time constraints and busy schedules that brokers and sales agents are subject to resulted in the development
of www.RealEstateAcademy.com, ACE’s on-line continuing education
course.  With this innovation, the school has successfully entered the world
of virtual education.

ACE has received New York State approval for its on-line curriculum, and students will have up to six months to complete the 22.5 hour requirement.  The course may be completed at home and is meticulously monitored through log-in times.

Clearly, Muller’s passion over the past 15 years has been the education of real estate brokers and sales agents; first as a teacher, and then as the president of her own school. Her new project, Bamboo.com, is totally consistent with this mission, too, because Muller has strong opinions about technology and its impact upon the industry. For years, she has been one of the industry’s leading advocates on the use of technology as a vehicle for marketing real estate properties.

“Cutting-edge technology is a clear indication of where the real estate industry is heading,” points out Muller. “Brokers ignoring it will not be able to compete in today’s marketplace and are, basically, making a commitment to retire rather than participate in an exciting, new interactive world.”

Bamboo.com, which went public this summer, places 360-degree virtual
tours of residential and commercial property over the Internet and is
available to brokers nationwide.  It enables them to display their properties
to interested buyers by setting up direct links to the brokers’ web sites, as
well as a large group of dedicated real estate sites, such as realtor.com
and homeseekers.com. Several technology-savvy firms have already signed on for the program, including The Corcoran Group, Ashforth Warburg, Goodstein Residential & Commercial Properties, and Prudential MLB Kaye International, with additional inquiries coming in daily.

It is another step for marketing residential real estate and a vintage venture for Esther Muller, who is always trying to introduce new and creative ways to market properties. She points out that with this technology, apartment buyers from around the world will be able to view selections – anywhere and at any time – and brokers will be able to e-mail the tour directly to their clients.  Muller boasts that Bamboo.com is committed to providing superior service by focusing only on the real estate industry. She also emphasizes the ease of using the product and its quick turnaround and delivery time.

So once again, Esther Muller is at the cutting edge with new ideas and business enterprises. The same woman who introduced casual chic fashion in the 1980’s and successfully sold co-ops in the early 1990’s (even after the market soured), has re-invented and educational curriculum that was deemed painfully boring, and has made it exciting. At the same time, she has provided a place for brokers to network and learn.

And at this moment, she’s throwing yet another curve to learn from –
on-line marketing and education.  Only instead of the students bringing
an apple to this teacher, she is giving them one great Big Apple…  in living and moving color.