By Roslyn Lo
Though they live on opposite ends of the Eastern Starboard, Margarita Sanclemente and Maria Velazquez are inseparable.
The two women live in Florida and New York respectively, but chat over the phone multiple times a day, travel with each other, finish each other’s sentences, and complete high-end real estate deals together.
Prudential Douglas Elliman’s dynamic duo aren’t just life-long friends—they happen to be a renowned mother and daughter team operating in multiple international markets.
With Sanclemente operating in Prudential’s Florida branch and Velazquez a member of the Sroka Worldwide group, the Colombia natives bring years of expertise and flair to Prudential Douglas Elliman.
The two partners have their routine figured out: Sanclemente brings in the foreign clientele while Velazquez shows them New York property.
Together, they have completed seven deals in New York with South American clients, serving as a bridge between multiple international markets.
“We complement each other very well, being young, beautiful, and proactive,” Sanclemente said. “They call me for advice, and then they go to New York and Maria takes care of it. We have a great routine. I take care of the contracts, attorneys, Maria does the follow-ups and sales.”
“We have our territories covered,” Velazquez added. “We take care of each other’s needs in the process. We always travel together, we have fun, we enjoy good food, wine, people, and culture. It’s a nice family structure. The best of it is trust, which is very hard to find in this business.”
The two women hail from Colombia, where they spent time before living in Florida and New York.
Their contacts aren’t limited to those in Bogotá—the duo has racked up connections in Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Panama, Canada, Italy, Spain and Brazil.
After taking time off to raise Maria and her son, Sanclemente started her real estate career locally in Colombia.
She took on the timeshare business in Orlando before transitioning to residential property and quickly emerging as an influential broker.
Sanclemente went on to serve as partner in Elite International Realty and VP of Sales for Prodigy International, and was named Top 100 Producers of 2008.
Along the way, she opened the Panama market internationally, responsible for the sales of 700 units between Panama City and Playa Blanca on the Panamanian Pacific coast.
By 2007, she had ventured into the Manhattan market and was her daughter was ready to join.
Velazquez initially moved to Miami to earn a culinary degree at Johnson and Wales, along with an Associates Degree in Dietetics from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Restaurant Management at Florida University.
After a successful stint in the field as a general manager for one of Bogotá’s most highly acclaimed dining establishments, she decided the wanted to try her hand in real estate.
It was after Velazquez started assisting her mother with listings that she switched industries.
“Little by little, I got involved in real estate, and I liked it very much. I was very much directed and educated as independent and business-focused. Since I was a little girl baking cakes for school to make my own money, my mother always pushed me to be a strong woman,” she said.
Velazquez is currently serving as the on-site sales director at William Beaver House Condominium in the Financial District, and as international sales director for Cipriani Residences at 55 Wall prior to joining DE Worldwide.
“Our clients have married us in some kind of way,” Velazquez said. “They’re very much attached to us. My belief is that the fact of being an outside positioning yourself as an insider in this market, it’s required for you to know what you’re doing in an unknown territory.”
Long ago, the mother-daughter duo recognized that cities such as Miami and New York City were perpetually stimulated by foreign investment.
“New York City, aside from being a stable market in the crisis, is the capital of the world, more than investment. Being an island, the natural boundaries cannot grow. There’s only a limited amount of property, and to be able to own a piece of New York is a privilege,” said Sanclemente. “Surprisingly, for Colombians the next destination is the big city. From finance, fashion, culinary arts, to four seasons, there are so many exciting components to experience. New York’s culture is very fascinating to a South American client,” the mother of two elaborated.
When it comes to American and Latin buyers, both women emphasized that the disparities were worlds apart.
“The cultural difference is very complicated. It’s a whole different thing, we’re talking about apples and bananas,” Velazquez explained.
The key for Sanclemente and Velazquez is making their clients feel like home, even when they are miles away.
“We manage each of our client’s properties. If they want to rent, maintain, we do it for them. If they need a concierge, they arrive here, we treat them like VIP, show them the best projects, find an attorney. We help our clients feel like locals in a completely strange world,” Velazquez said.
With no plans to slow down on the horizon, Velazquez and Sanclemente are looking to expand connections in Argentina, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia and Spain.
The mother-daughter team have their hands full, but always stay true to their number one priority: family.
“People like our team and feel comfortable with us. It’s a pleasure to be able to work with the trust and experience that I learned from my mother,” Velazques said.