Lin Pan has been helping Asian residents find their place in the community
What started as a way for Lin Pan to earn a few extra bucks as her family expanded has turned into perhaps the largest real estate agency catering to Asians throughout Long Island. The successful real estate agent is living the American dream and helping others find theirs.
It all began when Pan moved to the U.S. with her husband and business partner, Derek Zheng, in 2000. The young couple lived in Maryland while they were attending school. Pan was obtaining her master’s degree in accounting at a small college in DC, while her husband attended the University of Maryland, where he earned his PhD in physics.
By 2006, Zheng landed a job on Wall Street working for Bernard Madoff. With three little boys, Pan was concerned that her husband wouldn’t be able to earn enough money to support them, so she obtained her real estate license. In October, she rented a desk in a Re/Max office and began selling real estate in Bayside, where the family was renting an apartment.
“I also couldn’t imagine myself working with numbers as an accountant every day,” says Pan. “My personality is more suited to real estate. I like communicating with people and meeting different clients and seeing different properties every day. And there was more potential in real estate, even as the market was going down and big firms like Lehman closed.”
By the end of the following year, Pan had been working hard—and still does, as her phone buzzes constantly during this interview—invested a lot of money in advertising and did so well that she was able to purchase a home for her family in Great Neck. At the time, the oldest of her three boys was starting school and the youngest was 1. She settled in the area because “I had a friend who lived in Great Neck, heard how good the schools were and how convenient it was to the city, Bayside and Flushing.” In addition to the great schools and location, Pan says, “Great Neck offers a beautiful environment with water on three sides and the convenience of the city with a country-style life.”
During the Christmas party in 2008, Pan knew her husband’s job with Madoff was in jeopardy and didn’t feel his future jobs in the financial industry were particularly stable either. In 2012, now the parents of four young boys, the couple decided that Zheng would give up his job to open Lin Pan Realty Group on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck. The company has done so well that this year they opened a second office in Manhattan, where they cater to the luxury buyer and have branched out into commercial real estate. When asked how many houses she’s sold, the only answer Pan gave was “a lot.”
As for her agents and the clients selling homes, Pan says they’re from diverse backgrounds—Asian, Persian, American, Jewish and Italian—but that 80 percent of her buyers are Asian. Some already live in the area and are looking for houses along the North Shore in towns such as Great Neck, Manhasset, Port Washington, Sands Point, Roslyn, Brookville and Jericho, as well as along the water in Suffolk in Huntington and Northport. Through her husband’s marketing efforts using social media, their website and blog, as well as through referrals from friends, clients and a friend who’s an immigration attorney, the firm has also attracted about half of her buyers, some of whom are real estate developers from China, who want to invest in our more stable real estate market. “Some of them buy several units for investment,” says Pan. “They may purchase a luxury condo in Manhattan, a house in Great Neck and another in the Hamptons.”
Pan feels that there are a lot of opportunities for new immigrants in New York, particularly for women, especially compared to China, where there’s discrimination against women and those of a certain age. As far as the field of real estate, Pan says, “The real estate business is a people
business. Women are often good communicators and everyone around you is a potential client.”
What can we learn from the experienced broker? Pan’s advice for buying or selling a home is to enlist a good, strong broker—and to listen to her professional advice. “Even if my clients are successful and smart, they are not an expert in this field. When they go to an Italian restaurant, they don’t try to cook. Let the professionals do their job. It didn’t happen in one day. Experience and connections make you successful, not only knowledge.”
In her spare time, Pan spends time with her boys, Robert, 14, Jackey, 11, Enoch, 10, and Daniel, 4. She’s vice president of the Long Island Chinese Association, a senior member of the New York Chinese Business Association and a member of the American Chinese Hunting and Shooting Association. When she’s not working, volunteering or hunting and fishing with her family, she spends a significant amount of time having dinner and going to karaoke with clients from China. “Some of my clients are really good,” says Pan. “They sound like stars.”
Pan is proud of her accomplishments. She came to the U.S. with an accounting degree after college and has worked hard. She goes above and beyond and picks up buyers at the airport, helps them get their driver’s license and registers their kids for school. She says, ”I love to help people.”
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