The Five Guys of real estate

Dec.December 29, 2011 06:31 PM

A ribbon-cutting ceremony in Jersey City
Over the past three years, Rapid Realty has undergone an expansion befitting its name. Founder Anthony Lolli started franchising his Brooklyn-based rental brokerage in 2009, and the company has since mushroomed to several dozen franchise locations throughout New York City. Now, he’s plotting a national takeover, starting with an expansion into New Jersey.The first Rapid Realty outside the city opened this fall at 479 Palisades Avenue in Jersey City. The owner of that franchise, Nina Morrow, is opening another Jersey City location this month at 183 Montgomery Street.

And that’s only the beginning. Lolli said he is in talks with potential franchisees in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and even Dubai and Brazil.

Lolli started Rapid Realty in 1998 with a Park Slope office — the only one he still owns. He tested out the franchising concept with a location in Crown Heights. Now, there are Rapid Realty franchises in all five boroughs, including seven in Manhattan.

Lolli, who takes a cut of the commissions from each location, said his strategy is to build the brand by opening ubiquitous retail storefronts — the real estate equivalent of the burger chain Five Guys. A native New Yorker, Morrow used a Rapid Realty broker when she moved back to Brooklyn in 2010 after several years of working in finance in Texas. When the broker mentioned franchising opportunities, she was immediately interested. She didn’t have any real estate experience, but Lolli “has a system,” Morrow said. “It’s almost like you just plug in and it takes off on the right course.”

Morrow is planning an empire of her own, with seven more Rapid Realty offices in Jersey City. “I see myself,” she said, “as a mini Anthony Lolli.”

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