by Esther Muller

Mann Report
September, 2001

When you’re at the top of your game in Manhattan real estate and you need a lift, suggestions, or introductions, who do you call? Esther Muller, president and CEO of Esther Muller Consultants.

This consultancy is the latest incarnation of what Muller has been doing for 25 years: providing guidance, vision, contacts and unparalleled negotiating skills. During her interview in her office overlooking Central Park, there is hardly ever a quiet moment. The phone rings, and it’s a real estate investor from Israel wanting to know which is better: the package of 18 co-ops in Midtown or the West Village building with 22 units? “I don’t like either!” she says. “Let me introduce you to… hold on! My other line is ringing.” It’s Lew Rudin, co-chairman of Rudin Management, who’ll be speaking at the next class at the Academy for Continuing Education, where Esther presides as president and master teacher. “Scott Durkin, chief operating officer of the Corcoran Group, is meeting me later to discuss how we can work together
to improve educating our agents,” Muller mentions casually between
phone calls.

The phone rings again; this time her assistant answers it. It’s Lenny Bayer, president of Goodstein Realty, calling to confirm progress on the affordable housing presentation Muller is helping him put together for the New York City Board of Education. She hangs up the phone, a smile on her face. “And, now I’m working with the Goodstein Organization to help thousands of teachers find affordable short- and long-term housing. This is just another way of giving back to the community: happy, secure teachers mean better education for our children,” she says.

Giving back is a common theme in Muller’s career. While searching for a way to support the real estate community she loves so well, she teamed up with the Academy for Continuing Education, providing curricula and capital to create “a first-class program for first-class professionals”. By bringing top practitioners together with a dynamic curriculum, she has raised the bar for what agents expect in continuing education. “It took us two years to get approval for our program from the State,” she says. “And it was worth it!”

In addition to motivating and teaching hundreds of brokers to close the
deal, she emphasizes that ethics and education are vital to being successful. “I believe that ethics should be part of every real estate broker’s experience,” she comments. Anyone who’s done business with Muller knows that her handshake is more binding than any document that a lawyer could ever
draw up.

Through her consulting company, Muller enables people and companies access to her and her colleagues’ experiences and successes in the real estate industry. Her goal is to bring together the knowledge and experience
of an older generation with a fresh view and the magic of technology.
As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Muller has always strived to make
the world a better place to live. She comments, “I wanted to be a hippie, but
I also wanted to give my son things like piano lessons, private schooling and steady meals.”

As a young mother with a child, Muller was teaching in Ridgefield, Connecticut, when she was approached by a developer who needed help educating his tenants on the advantages of home ownership. Real estate seemed to offer the freedom to manage her own schedule, earn a substantial living, take care of family and help people empower themselves through ownership. “So, I began selling properties and felt that I was making a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

Soon she was working with major developers in Connecticut and had
started her own firm to facilitate conversion and sales of rental units to
coops and condos.

In 1980, looking at New York, she saw a vast untapped market for conversions, and expanded her operations to Manhattan. Muller became known as the “queen of sponsor apartments” because she was involved
in converting dozens of buildings with thousands of units throughout the city. Included were such residential landmarks as the Ansonia, Leonori and Parc Vendome condominiums.

While on vacation in Mexico the ever-industrious Muller discovered a clothing line called ACA JOE. Muller then shifted her focus to building and franchising several well-known companies including: ACA Joe, Mailboxes Etc., RE Max, and The Great American Backrub, while also becoming a top broker producer at Sopher, and later, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the largest publicly held real estate company in New York.

Central to the success of all these ventures was Muller’s keen sense of real estate site selection and lease negotiation. “When we were analyzing the assets of these companies it always came down to the location or the lease. The common denominator to all these companies was real estate – not clothing, not backrubs and not the packages at mailboxes – simply, bricks and mortar.”

When asked how she feels about her decision to start her consulting group, she smiles and says, “I love it! I’m finally getting to do something that really brings together everything and everyone: 25 years of real estate experience, teaching at a real estate school, and advancing real estate as a profession.”

Esther Muller, president and CEO
Esther Muller Consultants
120 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019 Tel: 212-262-2662 Fax: 212-262-4610