This is the smallest real estate office in NYC

Rapid Realty keeps overhead low, activity high in Cobble Hill

TRD New York /
Aug.August 13, 2014 12:50 PM

At 150 square feet, Rapid Realty’s Cobble Hill office is one of the city’s tiniest real estate offices – if not the smallest outright.

The year-old office, at 88 Bergen Street, is smaller than the firm’s Prospect Heights location by about 25 square feet, making it a really, really small office — even by the company’s own Lilliputian standards. “It’s a cute little office,” said COO Carlos Angelucci.

Angelucci said the cramped space gives off the impression of a bustling office. “It creates more of a frenzy,” he said. “We cater to landlords and they want to know you have action in your office.”

Indeed, small offices have become something of a trademark for Rapid Realty, founded in Park Slope in the late 1990s. The firm is known for having offices no larger than 1,000 square feet. That dovetails with the brokerage’s business model of keeping overhead low.

How low? In Cobble Hill, the firm’s rent is less than $2,000 a month.

To cram everything in, the office has custom-built desks measuring 17 inches wide and uses bar stools for seating. About 13 agents work out of the office, though not all at the same time.

“We don’t give agents a big desk to kick up their feet,” said Angelucci. He likened the office to an Internet café, where agents and clients can use side-by-side computers to view listings. The space is a “pit stop” for brokers, who do most of their deals outside the office, he said.

Even so, the strategy is counter to what other firms have been doing in recent years: leaving their retail spaces and moving to larger digs. For example, Citi Habitats has been consolidating its offices by closing retail spaces and renovating larger, commercial offices. And six months ago, Corcoran opened a new Brooklyn headquarters at One Pierrepont Plaza, which has 100 desks.

Despite its tiny offices, Rapid Realty is a big player in Brooklyn. Launched in 1998 by Anthony Lolli, the brokerage is now Brooklyn’s largest firm with 439 agents and 30 offices in the borough, according to recent research by The Real Deal. It’s followed by Corcoran, with 352 agents in Brooklyn.

Angelucci compared Rapid Realty to a Subway shop and larger brokerages to full-service restaurants. “Our thing is quick, fast rentals,” he said.

He said the Cobble Hill and Prospect Heights offices have been known to outperform the company’s 1,000-square-foot offices. He declined to give specifics but said the Cobble Hill location handles high-end rentals and townhouse sales, making it one of the company’s top 10 offices, as far as commissions earned. “Size doesn’t matter,” he said.

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