Interview Series: Yolanda Chen

Posted by: TheGuarantors on February 24, 2020

Transparency is a core value at TheGuarantors, and we recognize the importance of sharing industry knowledge and insight with consumers. With the popularity of our Landlord Interview series, we are thrilled to be launching a new segment; a Broker Highlight Series. The segment's goal is to shed light on a brokers role in securing apartments for clients in major cities.

We interviewed Yolanda Chen, Vice President for hooli homes New York, a brokerage that assists mostly internationals - specifically Chinese students - with the apartment search in the United States. Chen sat down with Rita Yin, a Partner Success Manager at TheGuarantors, to talk about her broker experience at hooli homes and how TheGuarantors services have helped her and her team fill rental properties.

Hoolihome-yolanda   Yolanda-hoolihome-newyork

How long have you been involved in real estate?

I have been in the real estate industry for almost 5 years. During my time in graduate school, I started to get familiar with real estate as a hobby. When I finished graduate school and earned my masters, I acquired my real estate license and started working at Citi Habitats.


Why hooli homes?

I joined hooli homes when it was a start-up with three employees and haven't looked back. The growth mentality embedded in the company keeps me motivated. Not to mention that in two years we have grown our team from three to 100! We built out the sales, marketing and broker teams. This is just the beginning of what we are going to accomplish here, and that’s what makes it exciting.


What does a typical day look like?

Most mornings are spent catching up on emails from the night before, communicating with the hooli homes China team, and bringing all parties up to speed on current and on-going projects. I spend afternoons organizing and scheduling training modules for my team, doing building tours for visitors, and servicing clients however we can. When I’m done with that, I’ll check in with the marketing team and work through some projects with them such as advertising new buildings in the area through WeChat, a Chinese social platform.

In the evenings I spend a lot of time speaking with the hooli homes China team. This is actually the best time to communicate with them because they are 13 hours ahead of us so when it’s 7:30 PM in New York, it’s 8:30 AM there.


The rent regulations last year capped security deposits and prepayment to one month's rent - did this affect hooli homes NY or your clients?

When the law was signed, we were concerned about Chinese students' reactions because it would be a major change; students would have to go from prepaying their full year of rent to just paying one month’s rent plus a security deposit. Although it sounds positive, they would now have to find a US guarantor or third party service to secure the apartment because of their lack of credit and income. Luckily, we had an existing relationship with TheGuarantors so all the information was there, we just had to relay it.


What have you done to solve these new obstacles with the rent laws?

Since most of our renters are required to provide a guarantor, we had to educate ourselves rather quickly about different lease guarantee options. It was imperative that we considered all vendors so we could give the best recommendation, but TheGuarantors was the obvious best choice because of our history together.


How do you work with TheGuarantors? What types of clients do you send to them?

TheGuarantors Customer Success and Underwriting team answer our questions swiftly via phone, email, and WeChat which is why we love working with them. Their Customer Success Team has associates that speak Chinese which is super helpful considering the large amount of Chinese students we help find rentals for.

We typically refer international students, recent graduates, and people who have minimal liquid assets or no credit score to TheGuarantors because of their credibility with these types of renters.


What are you looking forward to in 2020?

I am hoping we can increase business in rental, residential sales, and expand into different neighborhoods. I'm looking forward to continuing to foster relationships with our clients and allies so we can help more people find the right apartment for their needs.


TheGuarantors would like to thank Yolanda for taking the time to speak with us and is looking forward to continuing to develop the relationship with the hooli homes team! Keep a lookout for more Q&A's with industry professionals on our blog!