MEDINA — Rita Zambito’s launch into real estate wasn’t an easy one.
Zambito was born and raised in Elba, the daughter of a muck farmer. She attended Genesee Community College for accounting and Roberts Wesleyan College for management.
Then came marriage and three children, then a divorce, after which she was a single mom who had to make a living.
“I went to work at Stovroff-Potter, and I worked my butt off,” Zambito said.
After that she worked for Woodroe Realty for three years while her youngest son Mark was in college.
In December 2006, the same year her son Mike opened Zambisto’s Restaurant, Rita decided to open her own real estate office. With Mark as her partner and four agents, Zambito Realty opened on North Main Street.
“Then the market hit the fan,” Rita said. “We were competing with five real estate agencies in town.”
“The banks started getting very strict with lending money and the real estate market hit bottom,” Mark said.
Two things helped Zambito Realty survive, Rita said.
One was the fact that Mark was a marketing major and real estate was all he knew. He grew up following his mother on calls and paid his way through college doing market evaluations on properties for banks.
The second reason was their willingness to help people build their credit so they could get financing to buy a house.
“Those first-time buyers that you work with and help are the ones who stick with you and are your best advertisers,” Mark said.
Zambito Realty began to grow. They took on Froman Realty and Linda Froman became an agent for them.
Then another agency closed and several of its agents came to work for Zambito.
Slowly Zambito Realty expanded into Niagara County, Buffalo and Rochester.
“Being from the country we knew how to deal with country people,” Rita said. “We built ourselves on the rural area. We don’t like the hard sell, and we don’t like to be pushed.”
She said there were times buyers were so hard to come by, they just befriended people, hoping some would eventually become customers.
“That philosophy definitely paid off,” Rita said. “It’s not the quick way to make a sale, but it’s the right way.”
She said selling real estate is basically just helping people.
“Everyone has their own doctor and dentist,” she said. “We want to be their realtor. We are there to help with any real estate issue.”
On Jan. 1, Zambito Realty began the move to a new, modern office at 11228 Maple Ridge Road, formerly Verelli’s Used Car Lot.
The business will celebrate the move with a grand opening from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 15. Son Mike will provide food and refreshments from Zambistro’s.
With a growing number of agents from Niagara County and the Buffalo area, Zambito Realty also announced the opening of a second real estate office in Wrights Corners on July 1.
Zambito Realty has been ranked eighth in Western New York among more than 200 real estate agencies. It did more than 400 transactions last year, Rita said.
Owning one’s own business is a drive that Rita has passed on to all of her children.
“You can only make a limited amount of money when you work for someone else,” Rita said.
“At the end of the day you go home thinking of what else you can do,” Mark said.
“Your work is never done,” his mother said. “You go to bed thinking about what you have to do.”
Rita’s daughter Mandy Gotham, who has two children, recently bought a home in Orchard Park and owns a consulting business.
Rita remains a 50-50 partner with Mark in the realty business and with Mike in the restaurant.