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Real Estate Is a Family Affair for Bronxville's Houlihan Clan

Pictured at a recent Houlihan family reunion are: standing left to right, Gerry Houlihan, Dan Houlihan, Joe Houlihan, sitting left to right, Kathrene Houlihan, and Liz Genovese. Photo Credit: Contributed
Joe Houlihan runs the real estate side for Houlihan & O'Malley in Bronxville. Photo Credit: Contributed

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- For Joe Houlihan, co-owner of Houlihan & O'Malley in Bronxville, real estate is truly a family affair.

Joe runs the residential real estate side of his business, while his brother and partner Dan handles the commercial property group. A sister, Liz Genovese (there are nine siblings), is in charge of commercial appraisals. A brother, Gerry, a former restaurateur, specializes in restaurant consulting and brokerage.

And if that were not enough, one of Joe's most seasoned agents, Pat Houlihan, is the wife of his cousin Jim Houlihan, who runs Houlihan Parnes, a real estate investment and service company headquartered in White Plains.

"It's a wonderful experience and joy to be able to work with so many family members," Joe 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." 

He can track his family's involvement in real estate back to his great-grandparents, Daniel and Margaret Houlihan. Iimmigrants from Ireland, they began buying and selling building lots in Manhattan and the Bronx in 1891. In the early 1900s, the Houlihans made a name for themselves by building "Houlihan Flats," the first multi-family apartment building, on what was then farmland in the Bronx.

Then, just before and after World War I, Joe's 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 further 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.

Joe Houlihan, who grew up on Chittenden Avenue in Crestwood (minutes away from the Houlihan & O'Malley office), got a feel for real estate at a very young age, as his dad was also in the family business.

"When I was a little boy, my aunt Betsy would always take me along when she was searching for a weekend house. It turned into a 12-year project, and during that time, she taught me how to read the classified section for listings in her desired location, keeping within her price limit," he recalls.

A graduate of Iona College, he spent eight years working in accounting at Arthur Andersen & Co. before joining his brother Dan at Houlihan & O'Malley in Bronxville. (Dan had worked for the real estate appraiser Jim O'Malley for years and bought the business when O'Malley retired.) While the two started out appraising residential and commercial real estate, the brothers have greatly expanded their business. Today it includes a residential division, run by Joe, with eight real estate agents; and a commercial appraisal and brokerage division with his three siblings and seven additional staff members.

As Houlihan & O'Malley continues to grow, so does the Houlihan family. Joe just returned from a family reunion where the whole clan got together, including his mother (who lives across the tracks from Houlihan & O’Malley in Bronxville), her nine children, 19 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

"We'll have to see who in the next generation of Houlihans will join the family business," Joe said.

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