Ben Schachter, broker-president of The Signature Real Estate Companies in Florida, first met Isabella Hellman when she was working as a bank teller. Seeing his company shirt with the real estate firm’s logo, she asked him about changing careers to real estate and, given her outgoing personality, he encouraged her to try it.
He helped Hellman get licensed and then personally hired and trained her. She worked in one of his Delray Beach offices for the next 16 months.
The 41-year-old mother of one was still getting started but showing real potential as an agent when she disappeared in a boat accident she took with her new husband near the Bahamas on May 14. The case is now the subject of an FBI investigation and local news reports add to the story every week.
Schachter and his agents are meanwhile still holding out hope that Hellman will be found and the broker is refusing to take down the rookie agent’s photo and bio from the company website.
“I’m not accepting it,” he said. “She was a bubbly, delightful, charming and very congenial woman with a beautiful daughter she was very proud of.”
Her career in real estate was cut too short, he said.
“She had a real knack for it, she was really passionate about real estate. She was starting to flourish, developing salesmanship skills and a knowledge of the industry,” he said.
The broker has made himself available to talk to any of his agents, who are having a hard time with Hellman’s disappearance.
There are over 200 at the Delray Beach west office where Hellman worked and 600 total at Signature’s 17 offices around South Florida.
“It has been really devastating,” Schachter said. “A lot of people are very upset. There is a real dark cloud hanging over the company. You see these things on TV, but to have it happen to someone in our office is terrible.”
The company will likely hold some kind of memorial in the future for the missing agent, but they don’t want to do something too soon that would upset Hellman’s family.
“I’m not sure we are ready for it yet. We are still counting each day, praying that they will find some silver lining,” he said.
“She was a lovely, lovely woman. I’m still hoping that I luck out and she walks in the door. ”