Mary Prenon | May 14, 2018

Emi Cacace

Education is in Her Blood

Emilce Cacace grew up in a small town in Patagonia, Argentina, but even at a young age, she knew she was destined for bigger things. The little girl who was able to read and write at the age of four is now the owner of Portico Realty Group with offices in Westchester County and Manhattan. In addition, she’s a faculty member at HGAR’s School of Real Estate and Fordham University, the Co-Chair of HGAR’s Fair Housing and Cultural Diversity Committee and a member of the Global Business Council of HGAR.

Last year, Cacace was a guest speaker at the Latin American Congress for Real Estate Professionals, which brought more than 500 people from around the word to Argentina. She also recently attended the FIABCI World Real Estate Congress in Dubai, where she met real estate professionals and developers from all over the globe.

So how did Cacace manage to make such a successful transition from her native “Apple Valley,” famous for its Argentinian apple trees, to the Big Apple? “Because I could read and write at such a young age, my mother sent me to school very early on,” she said. After graduating from high school, she traveled to the capital city of Buenos Aires to begin working in the hotel industry. She also did various internships, earned a degree in Hospitality and learned everything she could about it. “I think education is in my blood,” she admitted. “I love to learn and share what I know with others.”

It was this love of learning and sharing that eventually led her to teaching. When she was 21, one of her first classes was with a group of people in their 40s. “I guess that did feel a little strange at first because I was so much younger,” she said. Within a short time, she became a lead faculty member for a hospitality degree program and provided corporate training to private firms in Argentina. In addition, Cacace taught marketing, management, sales, business administration and public relations for several private universities.

Her interest in real estate grew when she returned to Patagonia to help her mother manage a real estate development company. Cacace later launched her own business consulting firm and traveled throughout Argentina presenting seminars.

At the age of 27, she and her husband emigrated to U.S.—not knowing anyone living here. Fluent in both Spanish and English, she found it fairly easy to adjust and took some time off from teaching while her husband concentrated on his business. “We got here in 2000, and 18 years later, we’re still here and still enjoying it,” said Cacace. Her husband owns a hair salon in Bronxville, and she said it was her constant thirst for knowledge that led her to a career in real estate.

“I wanted to understand how things work when you buy and sell a home, so I studied real estate. I didn’t originally plan for this, but I got my license and just started doing it,” she said.

Cacace joined Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate in Bronxville and worked with them for eight years before starting her own firm in 2015. “Joe Houlihan was such a wonderful mentor and when I told him about opening my own firm, he said. ‘I don’t know why you didn’t do this before’. I told him that I wouldn’t do it without his blessing,” she recalled.

Her first office was in Scarsdale and in 2017, she opened a Manhattan branch. Currently there are five people in her Westchester office and two in the city. “I have always loved a challenge and the most important thing is to challenge ourselves,” she said. “We can always become better—it’s a matter of how we approach things. We always have to be positive.”

Cacace names her mother as the biggest influencer in her life. “She did everything herself and her work ethic is the best example that I ever had,” she added. Most of her family still lives in Argentina and she visits whenever she can.

Currently a Manhattan resident, Cacace travels back and forth from the city to Westchester. “Real estate here in the U.S. is very different than in other parts of the world—it’s more organized, clear and transparent,” she said. In Argentina, for example, there is no multiple listing service. “I wish every country would adopt the way we do things here. It makes our jobs more efficient and lets us focus more on our clients.” Among her many real estate designations are: CIPS, ABR, SRS, CBR, TRC and CDEI.

Cacace will also be the premier instructor for HGAR’s new Spanish language Continuing Education course “A-Z: Conceptos Immobiliaros Clave para Clientes de Habla Hispana,” which deals with common real estate terminology that is often lost in translation. The HGAR School of Real Estate is the first to offer a Spanish CE course approved by the New York Department of State.

“The class will be taught in Spanish and is for Realtors dealing with Spanish speaking clients,” explained Cacace. “It’s designed to help both the Realtors and their clients get a better understanding of the whole home buying and selling process, with clearer translations.”

In addition to the many hats she wears, Cacace is also a mom to three-year old Lucas. While having a child has been a big change, she still manages to find time to keep learning. She recently earned a degree in Journalism and vows to never stop leaning. “I’m always open to learning,” she said. “I’ll probably be 99 years old and still starting something new.”

Mary Prenon
HGAR, Director of Communications