Nan Palumbo

From Selling Flowers to Selling Homes

Nan Palumbo, Co-Chair of HGAR’s Young Professionals Network (YPN), had a roundabout journey into real estate—by way of a market research analyst, contractor and florist! An agent with Green Grass Real Estate Corp. in Bronxville, Palumbo credits her long-time friend and brokerage owner, Carmen Bauman, for getting her into the business.

The two have been friends since their teen years, when Palumbo moved to New York. “I remember her telling me ‘You just have to be a Realtor’ because of my background,” she recalled. “At the time, all I was thinking was that I needed another job like I needed a hole in the head, but I just went for it.”

Palumbo’s other gigs included owning and operating a floral business, and later, dabbling in commercial real estate development. After graduating with a B.S. in Marketing, she took a position in market research, but apparently yearned for something more. “I just woke up one morning and decided to be a florist,” she quipped. “I knew I could learn about flowers, so I bought a shop in Greenwich.”

She opened in 2005, and while the transition went fairly smoothly, Palumbo did experience one rude awakening. “I didn’t know I was allergic to flowers until after I bought the shop! Anything with pollen makes me sneeze,” she laughed. “But I was happy. My dad always told me ‘If you really want something, you can do it. You can learn anything, and it might take time, but you’ll get what you want.’”

Two years later, she bought her first investment property in Greenwich, and admits it took her almost a year to complete. She gutted the three-family home, renovated and resold it, then bought a 28-unit building in Bridgeport, CT. “Somewhere along the line I also became a licensed contractor,” added Palumbo.

After five years of running the flower shop, Palumbo transitioned the business to her home, offering exclusive services to higher-end clients for their homes, events, and businesses.

Palumbo found her next career into residential real estate a bit challenging initially. “I had to learn about my clients and what they wanted, and it did take a lot of patience,” she acknowledged. “The first year was slow, but now it’s getting better and better.”

Since 2018, she has been listing and selling mostly in lower Westchester, with some deals in the northern part of the county, as well as in Rockland. She also got involved with HGAR’s YPN, which helped her meet a lot of new people and learn even more about the business.

“It’s a great opportunity for people who are newer in the business to get a better feel for real estate, as well as the association,” she said.

In addition to networking and educational events, YPN prides itself on its charitable activities like fundraising for local non-profit organizations like the Ronald McDonald House in Valhalla. “It’s so important to have the support and the networking that this group provides,” added Palumbo. “We all learn so much in the real estate course, but we don’t know anything about being a Realtor until we become one.”

For the fall, Palumbo and Co-Chair Tony Ruperto may be planning an event with RPAC, and were also thinking about a possible outdoor carnival, complete with a dunk tank. The two met in HGAR’s inaugural Leadership Accelerator Program (LAP) and have been involved with the association ever since. “That class was really great, and we got such a good handle on the inner workings of HGAR,” she said.

For Palumbo, residential real estate has proven to help her live vicariously through her buyers. “I put myself in their position and act like I would if it was my own purchase,” she explained. “And the best part is I get to do this over and over again for new people.”

Currently living in New Rochelle, Palumbo has two children—11-year-old Chiara and 8-year-old Gianluca. Her free time is filled with play dates for the kids as well as water sports like jet skiing. “I used to be a motorcycle fanatic, but now the bike is just sitting in my garage,” she said.

Palumbo and her family often travel to Thailand, where she was born, to see family members. She is fluent in both Thai and Italian, but notes that English is widely spoken there. “It’s very easy to get around there and Thai people are so kind and helpful,” she said. And as she still runs her floral business, along with real estate, she always looks forward to a little “R & R” from her busy schedule.

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