Reba Miller has had quite a year.
The founder of RP Miller Realty Group re-launched her eponymous brokerage last March, after a two-year stint at CORE as senior managing director of sales.
The next month, she launched a commercial division.
Then she topped it off by winning REBNY’s prestigious Henry Forster Award, a lifetime achievement honor.
“That two-and-a-half year period that I went and worked for CORE was really a great experience, it came at the right time, but I always felt I was meant to own my own company, or do my own thing,” said Miller. “I was always meant to be my own boss.”
Born in New Jersey but raised on the north shore of Long Island, Miller’s love for real estate started at a young age.
“In the area that I lived in, each house was different from the next, it wasn’t like a community where all the houses are similar or have one style,” said Miller, whose own home growing up was built in the late 1800’s.
But it was after her parents divorced and her father remarried that Miller, one of five siblings, began to understand the emotional connection between a home and its owners.
“I would beg my parents to go look at the property,” she said of going to see the family’s new house that they eventually moved into following the divorce.
Miller’s father owned a retail store on 42nd Street for 25 years, and she and her siblings often worked in the store on the weekends, working the cash register and helping customers.
She pointed to her father’s career as a businessman and learning how important location and a good lease is, her love of helping customers and closing a deal (her father would slip her an extra dollar or two after a good day at the shop) and her parents’ split in 1968, at a time when divorce was not very common.
“I think if you combine those ideas, it reflects who I am today,” said Miller.
In her teens, Miller was “very competitive,” and a talented athlete. “I was very influenced by being on teams and being athletic,” she said. She won a scholarship to play college volleyball, and in her late 30’s, won two bronze medals representing the U.S. at the Pan American Maccabi Games.
“That was on an athletic level, and I thought wow, it can’t get better than that,” she said. “Sixteen years later to get this award (Henry Forster) for business, it was really terrific, it meant a lot, and it will always mean a lot.”
Since starting in the industry 30 years ago, by her estimate she has sold more than $1 billion in real estate, and worked on countless prestigious buildings, including 15 Central Park West, The Plaza, Trump Tower, and The Carlyle Hotel.
She took over at 22 West 66th Street, a condo building that changed hands after having no success, and after downsizing the number of units, sold out the project in under two months.
In 2005, she partnered with Barbara Fox at 985 Park Avenue, a new development condo building that averaged $2,700 psf.
“I think there’s nothing I haven’t done,” she said. “We now have a commercial division. I’ve done a lot of conversions, new development, resale, managed other people’s companies for a while, worked at CORE, partnered with Barbara Fox — I get along well with others.”
Most recently, Miller has been looking to technology and innovative ways to market her listings.
Last September, she hosted a virtual open house for an apartment by using 360-degree immersive panoramic photography — giving the viewer the experience of being in an actual in-person walkthrough. The apartment sold shortly after.
She followed that up with an animation video for 27 East 61st Street, a highly-detailed breakdown that showed the building and its re-build to finished product.
“At this level, it’s very hard to set yourself apart from 13,000 people,” she said of the residential brokerage community. “Whatever I do is very authentic and honest and I make sure my signature is everywhere.”
In terms of growing her business, Miller’s mantra is to go with the flow.
“If it’s meant to be larger it will be,” she said. “It it’s meant to be the same size, that’s where I’ll stay. Either way, I love the business.”
Splitting her time between her homes on the Upper East Side and East Hampton, Miller spends all her spare time with her six-year-old son, who she said keeps her young.
“I don’t ever see retiring,” she admitted.