HMC Realty joins Century 21, seeks bigger share of international buyers

The Chinatown brokerage rebranded as Century 21 Realty Associates to tap into the company’s Asian network

A Chinatown brokerage has moved under the Century 21 umbrella as it seeks to attract more international buyers looking to Chicago.

HMC Realty & Management Co. rebranded as Century 21 Realty Associates, a move broker/owner Sharon Wong said better equips the firm with new technology and a better ability to land Asian buyers who are making a splash in the Chicago market.

“The major reason is the global buyer is making a hit in the area,” said Wong, a broker with 15 years experience. “We want to grow from a global aspect. Century 21 is globally known.”

Chinese buyers have been the biggest international purchasers of American and Illinois residential real estate for some time. From April 2017 to March 2018, Chinese buyers spent $912 million on Illinois homes, considerably more than second place United Kingdom, with $657 million, according to the Chicago Association of Realtors.

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HMC Realty already specialized in Asian buyers looking at Chicago’s Chinatown and nearby neighborhoods like Bridgeport and McKinley Park. Most of the brokerages’ 25 agents are bilingual and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese, Wong said.

Wong has operated HMC for six years but has been in the business for 15 years. She said five agents moved to her brokerage since it aligned with the Century 21 brand late last month.

Now Wong’s goal is to build a referral system across Asia and help centralize listing data. Century 21 has 5,000 brokerages in China, she said.

The move to Century 21 will also help the brokerage compete with the new, technology-driven firms that have shaken up the residential industry. Century 21 also underwent a rebranding effort this year, ditching its yellow-house graphic for a streamlined, typographic logo.

Local brokers want technology, Wong said. “It’s hard to invest [in technology] on your own.”