Though she was “accidentally” born in Chicago—her parents were there on vacation—Nancy Almodovar considers herself a bona fide Houstonian. Raised here, she went on to graduate from UH with a business degree. She loved marketing—her minor in college—and envisioned herself perhaps working in fashion or publishing.
Then, at 21, she flipped her first house.
“I fell in love,” she said.
House flipping became the means by which Almodovar and her now-husband financed their own wedding, and she quickly saw a future in the business. Even better the actual flip was the feeling of helping a client, especially a first-time home buyer, and soon enough, Almodovar found herself immersed in real estate, a field she never anticipated pursuing.
“It’s just amazing; it’s such a personal experience,” she said.
Four years ago, she launched her own business from her kitchen table. Today, Nan and Company Properties is a technology-driven luxury real estate firm, and the official Houston affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate Network—a major feat for a four-year-old company owned by a woman, and one much younger than her Christie’s peers.
When Almodovar got the call from Christie’s that she’d been selected to join the prestigious network after two years trying, “I put them on hold so I could scream,” she said. “It was just something that I really wanted. I have my goals list, and I’m just checking them off as I go.”
On how Nan and Company differs from other real estate firms:
"[When I started my business], I felt that other real estate companies were doing the same thing they were doing whenever they started their companies back in the ‘80s. I wanted something different. Technology is changing every day—I’m constantly looking at trends, and I strongly believe if you don’t evolve with the trends, you’re going to get left behind. … Customer service is something that we like to train our team on—not just getting them to the close, but what happens after? Do you just go away when we close, goodbye? We make sure that we’re in front of our clients for years to come, no matter what it is they need."
On transitioning from flipping houses to selling luxury real estate:
"It’s completely different, being part of the Christie’s Network, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I get realtors that come into the office that say, ‘Hi, I want to sell million dollar homes.’ Everybody does. That doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a lot of discipline, it’s a lot of hard work, and it’s networking. What are you doing to put yourself in those positions? How are you marketing yourself?"
On the struggles of starting out:
"When I started my company, the only two people that told me that I could do it were my husband … and my mother. Everybody else was like, ‘no, don’t do it, you shouldn’t do it, how are you going to do it?’ I just blocked all of that out and said, ‘you know what, I’m doing this. I believe in it.’ Four years later, we have a support team of 12 individuals, we have 45-50 agents, and we’re part of an international network. Who can say that? To all of the young women out there that want to start a business—do it. People ask me all the time, ‘Were you not afraid of failure?’ Of course. Of course you are.
"[It was hard to overcome] the doubt, but also having to always prove yourself, because you are young and woman-owned—just having to prove yourself extra hard. ‘What are you going to do for me?’ I would always think, ‘Would you ask someone that was maybe older or not a woman this question?’ I just know whenever I walk into a room, the energy [changes], and that’s something that becomes difficult, because I’m human, right? To have to deal with that, you just have to turn the other cheek."
On being younger than her Christie's colleagues:
"Everybody thinks you have to be a certain age to do certain things, and that’s not the case at all. [I think] we’re the youngest affiliate in the Christie’s Network … I can tell you that age is nothing but a number. It has nothing to do with it. I think a lot of realtors feel like, ‘well, if I’m not this age …’ [but] most of my top agents in my office are in their 30s. I want to say 30s is the new 20s—I’m in my 30s. You can do it. Yes, you have to be disciplined; yes, you have to have the experience, but if you get started early, you can do it."
On a woman-owned business in the industry:
"It’s definitely not common–it’s not common to be woman-owned, it’s definitely not common to be young. I get that all the time … [at meetings] I would get, ‘Oh, is this your parents’ company?’ And it’s just funny. I hope it becomes more common. I definitely want to see more young, successful, woman entrepreneurs. I would love to see that—we need that."
On her “how-to” YouTube series:
"When I started getting into the luxury market, I would ask other realtors, ‘How do you do it?’ … and nobody would say anything. ‘Oh, well, you know, you just kind of do it.’ It was sort of like a kept secret; nobody wanted to give you the ins on what was really happening. After [being named Houston Business Journal’s No. 1 luxury realtor in 2016], I made myself a promise: I’m going to help others that want to get into the luxury market by doing this YouTube series. I’ve had so many realtors reach out to me and ask me questions … when I’m able to answer, I do answer. I talk about how to market yourself on social media, how to talk to people at networking events, just the simplest things, and it’s not new. I didn’t invent anything. I’m not doing anything [different], or at least that’s how I feel. I’m just giving people advice that I wish someone had given me."
On balancing work with motherhood:
"I love real estate, I love my agency, I love my team, but it’s knowing when to [say no] … it’s something that I’ve definitely learned to do, how to be present in the moment. If I’m playing with my kids, then I can’t negotiate an $8 million deal no matter what I want to do. Also, meditating is very important; one of my goals for 2018 was to mediate, and I started meditating by walking my dogs every morning. You have to have me-time … if I’m not taken care of, how can I take care of the ones around me? That’s very important. You just have to want to do that."