Liz Nunan Discusses The International Housing Market And Long Distance Relocation
Relocating clients all over the world, Houlihan Lawrence's vice president of global business development must keep her cool across time zones.
Photograph by Ken Gabrielsen
While shows like HGTV’s House Hunters make it look easy—a quick voice over, three house tours, and boom, you move—finding a new home is no easy task. Especially when that move is an international one. As vice president of global business development for Rye Brook’s Houlihan Lawrence, Liz Nunan knows this to be all-too-true, as she helps families from as far away as China relocate to Westchester. “There can be many complications with an international move—but, if we do our job right, all will go smoothly,” she says. We caught up with Nunan to discuss how she handles the job.
Are you seeing any new trends working in the international market?
Westchester has always been a draw for international clients. We have it all—culture, diversity, a short commute to the city, highly ranked public and private schools. The buzz of the last year has been all about the Chinese buyers. We’re not seeing them in great numbers like San Francisco and New York City, but we’re getting a great deal of interest and have closed many transactions to Chinese buyers. I even traveled to China last summer to learn more about the culture and develop relationships and business opportunities for Houlihan Lawrence.
Speaking of China, we heard Houlihan Lawrence is doing a social media project there. Can you share some details?
We’ve partnered with Juwai.com, China’s number one international real estate website with an impressive 1.5 million views each month. Not only do we display all of our listings priced at $1 million and above on the site, but our digital team is providing them editorial content throughout the year, highlighting the lifestyle of our many areas. It’s been a great partnership for us and gives our sellers the exposure to potential Chinese buyers.
What’s different about working in the international sphere?
All international opportunities are challenging because of the time difference and the language barrier. We also find that in many other parts of the world, they don’t have the same expectations we do. In the US, we want immediate service and results. Often on international transactions, it can take weeks to even negotiate with an affiliate to begin the process.
Are there aspects of Westchester’s housing market that make your job more challenging?
There is no hiding the fact we have higher property taxes than many other areas. But our area has so much to offer a family or individual that it often outweighs that.
What is the most difficult relocation experience you’ve encountered?
I was once dealing with a husband and wife being relocated across the country to New York. They were looking at homes with one of our agents. Everything one of them liked, the other absolutely hated. It was clear the husband didn’t want to make the move at all. It was his wife’s promotion bringing them to New York.
We sent them a bottle of Champagne after a difficult day of house hunting. They thought it was fun. Long story short, they ended up moving here and ended up loving it—so much so that when her company relocated out of the area, she opted to leave the company, and they stayed in Westchester.
You must have a huge team to pull all of this off.
I manage a team of six employees. We’re lean and mean. My mantra is everyone must be cross-trained. Of course, we also have more than 1,200 agents that are either assisting us by helping one of our clients rent, buy, or sell [a home], or we’re assisting them if they have a client that has real estate needs in another part of the country or world.