HGAR’s Houlihan Served as Parade Grand Marshal

John Jordan | April 1, 2015

EASTCHESTER—Veteran Realtor Joseph Houlihan, who along with this brother Dan, have owned boutique real estate brokerage firm Houlihan & O’Malley in Bronxville for more than 30 years, had the honor of serving as Grand Marshal for Eastchester’s 11th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 15.

Houlihan, 60, whose great grandparents emigrated from county Kerry in Ireland in the late 1800s, was selected as Grand Marshal by the Eastchester Irish American Social Club. The 2015 parade began at Immaculate Conception Church in Tuckahoe and marched north on Route 22 to Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester. The parade incorporated local schools and organizations and featured 10 pipe bands, five Irish Dancing troupes, four brass marching bands, three Irish music bands and numerous other groups, including the local police and fire departments, as well as veteran and active military.

“I never thought I would have this honor. My family worked hard and became successful through hard work. Their humble beginnings in Harlem brought them to Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx. They belonged to St. Phillip Neri Parish; there is a stained glass window at the church with the Houlihan name on it,” he said. “That work ethic still stands and I am proud to be part of that history.”

Houlihan, the managing partner of Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate Services, grew up in Crestwood and is a graduate of Iona College. He manages the real estate brokerage business while his brother Dan handles the commercial property and appraisal group. Dan Houlihan acquired Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate Services in January 1984 from Jim O’Malley. Joseph joined the firm in June 1984.

He recalled that he was first introduced to the real estate business at a very early age from his father, who was also in the family business.

Joseph spent eight years working in accounting at Arthur Andersen & Co. before joining Houlihan & O’Malley. Dan had worked for the real estate appraiser O’’Malley for years before buying the business upon O’Malley’s retirement. The brothers started out appraising residential and commercial real estate, but later ventured into real estate brokerage and other areas as well. The brokerage business currently has eight real estate agents and the commercial appraisal and brokerage division is made up of three siblings and seven additional staff members.

Real estate runs in the veins of the Houlihan clan. Joseph’s sister, Liz Genovese is in charge of commercial appraisals at the firm. His brother, Gerry, a former restaurateur, specializes in restaurant consulting and brokerage. Also, one of the firm’s most seasoned agents, Pat Houlihan, is the wife of his cousin Jim Houlihan, who runs Houlihan Parnes, a commercial real estate owner and investment company headquartered in White Plains.

The Houlihan name has a long history in the real estate industry in Westchester County. The family’s roots in real estate date back to Joseph Houlihan’s great-grandparents and Irish immigrants Daniel and Margaret Houlihan, who began buying and selling building lots in Manhattan and the Bronx in 1891. In the early 1900s, the Houlihans built “Houlihan Flats,” the first multi-family apartment building, located on what was then farmland in the Bronx.

Just before and after World War I, his grandfather and two great-uncles joined the business and pioneered the development of the Woodlawn and Wakefield sections of the Bronx, building private homes, apartment buildings, theaters, and other commercial buildings. The family also expanded into real estate management, sales, and insurance. During the Great Depression, the Houlihan brothers managed and sold hundreds of foreclosed properties for life insurance companies and banks; they later expanded into property appraisal and mortgage brokerage.

“It’s a wonderful experience and joy to be able to work with so many family members,” Houlihan said. “The camaraderie between us and fellow colleagues contributes to the warm, caring, yet very professional atmosphere at our firm, which is what Houlihan & O’Malley is known for. We’re a boutique firm that works together as a tight team to help our clients get the best results. The trust factor is key.”

Joseph, who sold his first residential property in 1998, tells Real Estate In-Depth that the firm is committed to remain an independent boutique real estate brokerage firm. He started out as a buyer’s agent and was initially the only residential broker with the firm. The firm now has five full-time and three part-time agents and Houlihan said he is looking to add more staff.

“What I really want is experienced full-time agents to call me up and say ‘Can we have a cup of coffee,’ ” he said. Houlihan said that ideally he is looking to have 12 full-time agents with the ifrm.

With the plethora of larger regional and national brokerage firms in the Westchester County marketplace, Houlihan said his firm intends to remain independent.

“I have my own little niche in the world here,” Houlihan said. He emphasized that his firm offers a hands-on approach where many times he will sit across the table with a prospective seller and strategize the marketing effort to sell their home.

Houlihan said that he still has a passion for the business. “As one of my agents Michelle Pagnotta said to me one time, ‘It is really a privilege that people let you help them and guide them into their most important transaction.”

“As I tell a lot of people, in about 50% of the transactions that I do there are tears somewhere along the way,” he added. “Yes, it is business, yes it’s money, but it is very emotional and is very often scary. So I can get excited by that.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth