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In 22 years, Joseph Himali has seen just about everything in real estate — the good, the bad, and the overtly comical. At the conclusion of one transaction, Joe even had a seller refuse to move out of her home.

“Instead, she wanted to get the money from the sale and keep the home too!” Joe laughs.

Then, there are times where Joe has had the privilege of experiencing some of the greatest joys in life alongside his clients. “Watching one of my early clients go to settlement … she put literally every dollar she had into purchasing her first home,” Joe remembers. “She had 86 cents in her bank account after withdrawing her money for her down payment and closing costs. After she signed her papers and got her key to her new home, she literally danced around the settlement table. That was an amazing experience to be a part of that.”

From Toy Sales to Real Estate

When Joe closed up his toy stores in the late ‘90s and transitioned to a career in real estate, he couldn’t have envisioned the impact he’d have on so many people. While his toy stores were successful, the popularity of the internet pushed brick-and-mortar toy stores to extinction, and Joe was forced into finding another career. Thankfully, he chose real estate.

“I was looking for a job where I could do sales, which I love, and work with interesting transactions,” Joe remembers. “I really liked real estate because you get to help people make a big transition in life, and I wanted to be my own boss. It was very attractive in that way. It seemed like a perfect match.”

In his first year, Joe was Rookie of the Year, and his business continued to flourish from there. He owned Best Address Real Estate for 13 years before most recently transitioning to RLAH Real Estate.

An Industry and Community Leader

During Joe’s real estate career, he has not only founded his own real estate brokerage but also created (and served as president of) the non-profit Independent Real Estate Brokers Alliance (IREBA). He has served on the board of directors of Bright MLS (at the time, it was MRIS), was elected by his peers and served as president of the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® (GCAAR), and served for seven years as a member of the board of directors of the District of Columbia Association of REALTORS® (DCAR). Currently, Joe is a member of the board of directors of the Capital Area REALTORS® Federal Credit Union and he encourages all agents to join the credit union, specifically to help Realtors with their financial challenges.

Alongside his real estate success, Joe has a rich community life. He supports local charities PFLAG (the United States’ first and largest organization uniting parents, families, and allies with people who are LGBTQ+); the National Trust for Historic Preservation; The Historical Society of Washington, DC; and The American Chestnut Foundation.

Joe’s most important role outside of real estate, however, is as a single dad. His child, now 14, is gender fluid. They have introduced Joe to a whole new world of gender inclusivity and gender-neutral language. “I’m a full-time single dad now, and I love it,” Joe beams. “The pandemic has brought me much closer to my child and allowed me to have a better relationship with them than I ever imagined. I’ve been very fortunate that my child has grown closer to me. There are challenges being a full-time agent, team leader, and full-time dad, but I’m very fortunate to have the flexibility in this job and the team that supports me and encourages me to take time off with my child.”

Beyond Obstacles

In real estate — and life — there are always obstacles present. Joe sees entrepreneurship as walking on a tightrope with no net. It’s both scary and exhilarating. Every day is different and exciting.

In the face of challenges, Joe encourages us to lean into integrity, teamwork, and growth. “Spend time to find your core values, write them down, and then find people who share your values so you can grow together. All of the readers of this publication are in this real estate business together. We can be competitors but still help each other grow and be better together,” Joe says.

“Obstacles are temporary, and that with the support of others, you can overcome anything. Bring gratitude to the people you know. Treat yourself with love, kindness, and patience.”