New York City’s suburb can be equine, boasting lush land speckled with the majestic mammal. Houlihan Lawrence has given the county another reason to be considered horse country — as its signature horse dots signage on the lawns of hundreds of area homes, dominating the local real estate industry.
William Van Duzer Lawrence (above), whose name is synonymous with Westchester development (Sarah Lawrence College, Lawrence Park West, Lawrence Hospital), founded The Lawrence Investing Company in 1888, which ultimately evolved into Houlihan Lawrence. In 1990, husband and wife Peter and Nancy Seaman acquired the brokerage. Nancy’s brothers, Chris and Stephen Meyers joined later. Stephen says when he joined in 1995, Houlihan Lawrence had about 14 offices, 250 agents, and generated roughly $300 million in total sales volume. Meyers explains, “We had to navigate a difficult market at the time, but we did it; we figured out a way, and we started to grow.” He says that with a little luck, the company continued to grow, attracting clients and agents even through the market collapse in 2008. Now, it boasts 30 offices, more than 1,300 agents, and in excess of $6.5 billion in total sales volume. Last year, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices of America acquired Houlihan Lawrence, providing strong financial backing. Meyers says that while HomeServices of America is a national company, Houlihan Lawrence remains a local brand and family-run company: “The beauty of the partnership is that all the support is there that we need, when we need it, yet we have the freedom and flexibility to continue to operate the way we always have, with the same values and culture that we have always enjoyed and will continue to operate under.”
With competing local brokerages, Houlihan Lawrence sets itself apart with a talented team and a focus on innovation, marketing, and cutting-edge technology, says Meyers. According to Anne Marie Gianutsos, chief marketing officer, the company thinks about technology in mobile-first terms. Its app for iOs and Android is “truly one of the best home-search utilities available for the area,” says Gianutsos. The brokerage recently created a digital lifestyle initiative geared toward helping non-Westchester natives in their home search and Gianutsos says it was the first locally to make listings available on social media platforms on such a large scale — with scheduled open houses appearing on navigation app Waze. She says the company arms itself with powerful data and looks outside of the real estate realm for innovation inspiration. If the team can’t find it, they build custom products, like their popular Facebook ad-builder tool.
What’s next? According to Meyers, continued growth, as “Houlihan Lawrence is a rare constant amidst constant change — a great American story, with local roots.”