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RSR Realtors names new CEO, first woman president

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Twenty years ago, Jamie Berrier was looking for a part-time job when she spotted an ad on a bulletin board at HACC.

The ad was seeking an assistant for Greg Rothman, then a sales agent at RSR Realtors.

She made the call, got the job and thus began a career in real estate at RSR.

Two years later, in December 2000, the Lemoyne-based firm hired Jim Koury, a veteran agent whose real estate career was nearly derailed by a spinal cord injury. The injury left him confined to a wheelchair, which has made him more dependent on other agents, including his two sons, to close sales and lease deals.

Koury persevered and became a partner at RSR in 2007. Berrier, meanwhile, worked her way up to become one of the firm’s top agents and a partner by 2009.

Earlier this month, both took the next steps in their careers at RSR. The privately owned real estate firm named Berrier president and Koury CEO.

They replace Rothman, who will remain chairman and partner of the company.

Rothman was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2015 and said representing the 87th District has become his first priority. The leadership change at RSR, he said, will allow him to dedicate more time to elected office.

For RSR, which was founded nearly a half-century ago, Berrier represents a sea change. She is the first woman president of the firm and the first non-family member to be the public face of the company.

“The challenge in front of me is living up to the legacy that other partners have created,” she said.

RSR has long been led by the Rothmans, including co-founder Bill Rothman and his sons, Greg and Garrett, as well as co-founder Sam Reed. In fact, there are now multiple generations of several families in the partnership group working at RSR.

That family history is not lost on Berrier, who assumed the role of president would stay in one of the families.

“President was never something in my sights. I didn’t think of it because of the family dynamic,” she said. “I’m in awe that the partners see I have the ability to lead.”

She deserved it, said Koury. “She has a lot of energy and motivation. I think it’s a good fit.”

He said he sees a nice balance between her expanded role and his as RSR looks to continue growing in a hot real estate market.

RSR also is one of the rare firms that handles both residential and commercial real estate deals. Most firms specialize in one or the other. Plus, it’s an independent company with history and strong market share in the Harrisburg area, which makes it a potential acquisition target for larger real estate companies aligned with big franchise brands such as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices or Coldwell Banker.

Both Berrier and Koury said there is no interest in selling out to a larger firm or joining a franchise network. They aim to see RSR carry on as an independent family company and slowly add new agents as the real estate market grows.

RSR has about 50 people between its commercial and residential staff as well as its appraisers. Land development also has been a big piece of the company’s success in the Harrisburg area, namely its subdivisions in the popular Cumberland Valley School District.

RSR expects housing development will continue to push west toward Carlisle, where it is working on new projects. The company also is bullish about development in northern York County and the Dillsburg area, as well as in municipalities that straddle Hershey, Koury said.

In Central Pennsylvania, strong buyer demand and sales activity has led to a dwindling inventory of homes for sale. Regional home sales have been rising for about five years.

And new construction hasn’t been able to keep pace, though it is rising, as land development has become a lengthier and costlier process since the last recession.

New developments tend to blend residential and commercial uses. Other new residential construction often represents projects approved before the recession.

“We are constantly looking for land opportunities,” Berrier said.

By the numbers

RSR Realtors finished 2017 with $85.9 million in residential sales volume. That total comes from about 380 transactions.

The Lemoyne-based firm, which also is known for commercial real estate, did about $75 million in commercial sales volume last year from about 80 transactions.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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