Ralph DiBugnara, is president and founder of Home Qualified, a digital resource for buyers, sellers and real estate agents. Ralph is also VP at Cardinal Financial, a national mortgage loan company behind $28 billion of closed loans.
What has been the biggest challenge in your particular role and how have you overcome those obstacles? In a real estate market that is constantly changing, being able to adapt, stay consistent, and not overreact to market fluctuations has been my biggest obstacle. I’ve overcome these obstacles through lessons of failure, including the 2008 market crash. Learning that real estate is a long-term journey takes patience and consistency. If you can withstand the waves, you will ultimately win long-term.
What about your current role/position at the company are you most happy with? What I’m most excited about is helping to shape new leaders in the mortgage and real estate space. We are in an era where personal branding and self-growth are at all- time highs. To truly be successful, you need to be unique, think outside of the box, and continue to avoid growth traps to become a leader and not a follower. I am able to work towards my real purpose through our 200 salespeople, and help them avoid my past failures as well as give them insight on how to innovate for the future.
What is the best piece of advice you have received that has helped you succeed in your industry? The best piece of advice I’ve received is to surround yourself with people that will help you learn and grow into new ventures you wouldn’t be able to do on your own. We can all do more together than on our own.
Even in the age of technology, working from home and virtual work that makes things easier, you still have to dedicate time, effort and work to get to the persona and financial heights you wish to attain. You have to do the work.
Would you advise any younger person to begin a career in CRE? Yes, I would. Real estate gives you the opportunity, without any ceilings, to earn money and create long-term wealth and with security as long as you’re willing to put the effort in. It doesn’t require any specific experience or degrees, just time and the willingness to succeed.
To truly succeed you need to live the business, you need to sacrifice weekends, vacations, and a lot of your time as you’re truly self-employed even if you’re working for a company. I started in the industry in 2001 when real estate was a very hot business, but it did not give me a realistic expectation of how hard I would have to work to continue the success I had initially experienced. To get a foothold in the industry, not only do you have to work hard but you must continue to innovate so your offer is unique compared to the competition.
Please share with us the best lessons learned or a surprising component of your unique journey. Or share an initiative that you are working on that you are most proud of. I was able to get into real estate through a friend that was willing to give me an opportunity. When I got the opportunity, I worked very hard to make the most of it, lost it all in the financial crisis, and then had to work even harder to build it again. What I’m trying to do now is share my experience to give the younger generation access and opportunities that I didn’t have. We’ve created a scholarship through the Disruptors Network to give people that access. This is something I am proud of because I’m trying to create new leaders in our industry.
In your opinion what takeaways did we learn from the COVID-19 crisis? The biggest takeaway for me was that you have to be willing to shift strategies, prepare for downturns in the market, and adapt. The most important message to myself from the COVID crisis is to never stay still and keep moving forward no matter how bad the market is.
What three phrases would you use to describe your work mindset?
- Build leaders, not followers – In a society of social media where following other’s trends has become the norm, I want to create new initiatives and lead others to do the same.
- Be great – We all have greatness inside us. No one person is better than the next. We just have to believe in ourselves. Our success has no ceiling.
- Pressure is a privilege – If someone or something is putting pressure on us to complete a task it’s because they believe that we can or need us to. That pressure will help you realize that you have more strength or knowledge than you thought you did if you did not complete it.