Eileen and Sarah Gilligan, co-owners of Sea Cliff’s boutique real estate firm Gilligan Realty, credit their success to two simple rules: the practice of treating people the way they would like to be treated and their commitment to a strong work ethic.
“Our main objectives are to be honest, to never have an unhappy customer and to truly work for our clients,” Sarah said. “A lot of agents forget that.”
Gilligan is committed to securing the highest value for its clients. “We provide clients with service's ranging from having their property professionally appraised by a certified home appraiser to a complimentary home inspection prior to the listing of the home,” Eileen said. “This is to ensure that if any repairs are needed it will be rectified to make the sale go smoothly.”
The sisters began the complimentary inspections during the recession. “I don’t know of anyone else that does this,” Sarah said. “Our clients love it.”
Eileen and Sarah are from County Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. Sarah was born in Glenwood Landing but her parents moved back to Ireland when she was six months old. She said she always had an eye for real estate. “Dad and his father were always good at buying land,” she said.
When Sarah was 16 she came back to the United States. She babysat, waitressed and cleaned houses. “It was scary coming here,” she recalled. “The first time I was on the expressway I thought I’d never drive here. Then I got my license.” Eventually she took night classes at Catherine Gibbs with her sister. They enrolled in the paralegal program.
“We both thought of becoming lawyers, but a relator told us about his business,” Sarah said. “Laffey Real Estate is an Irish company. We were hired on the spot.”
They worked for Laffey for five years. “We learned a lot, and what we wanted, which was to bring personal service to our business,” Sarah said.
The sisters form relationships with their clients and are known for being confidential. “Our clients are very loyal and all of our business is done on referral,” Sarah said.
Sarah and Eileen bought the building where they opened their business — 365 Glen Cove Ave. in Sea Cliff — in 2003. Today Gilligan Realty continues to grow, and is considered a top player in Long Island’s residential real estate. Eileen attributes much of their success to their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity while utilizing the latest technology available.
Sarah and Eileen, both certified paralegals, are committed to treating all customers the same. “People say they feel like they are in good hands with us,” Sarah said. “And when the deal is done they say they miss seeing us. We’ve gained friendships in the business.”
She said that competitors often tell clients what they want to hear. “We tell them the facts,” Sarah said. “People get upset when you tell them something that isn’t the truth. All of our clients walk away happy.”
The sisters have invested in properties too. They like to buy older homes and renovate them.
"Even if you make your money in another field, if you buy real estate you invariably do very well at it for the rest of your life,” Eileen said. “We made a lot of money selling real estate but we got very wealthy owning real estate. Not bad for two young girls who immigrated to the wonderful United States from a little village in Sligo.”