Ralph Imani, 26, works to provide low-income housing as a real estate investor.
Imani’s parents immigrated to Baltimore and New York from Iran in the ‘80s. Imani grew up Orthodox in the Jewish Persian community in New York and graduated from Touro College with a degree in business management. He moved to Baltimore to break into the real estate industry. Now, three years after moving, Imani owns REI Equities.
Imani lives in Pikesville with his wife, Sharon. He is involved with the Jewish Persian community in Baltimore.
How did you get into real estate?
Real estate is something that I always wanted to do from a fairly young age. After high school, I went to Israel for a gap year and when I came back, I enrolled in college full time and worked full time for a family business as well. That was all to get my feet wet. Once I had an opportunity to intern for a family friend in New York who was doing what I wanted in real estate. I was there for about a year until I interned at a brokerage to get a different angle of real estate. From there, I slowly started to travel to Baltimore and talk to people who were in the market here. I looked at a lot of different properties and asked a lot of questions. Once I was ready, I decided to jump right in.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
That’s a hard question because my job has a lot of different facets to it. It’s not just real estate; a big part of it is construction and property management. I’ve always been fascinated with construction, and I’ve been around construction my whole life, so the construction aspect is fun. There are always new challenges with trying to get certain stuff done because we buy distressed houses. They have a low market value and allow us to do what we do. Then, we fix them up ourselves.
What is it like to meet the people who live in your houses?
It’s a very different world. It’s nice to see that you can provide housing for less fortunate people. I love seeing that I can help people who are less fortunate than me. Some of them are more thankful than others.
Where do you see your business in the future?
I see the construction part of my company taking off and becoming a company of its own. Right now, I oversee both parts of the company, and I would like to have people under me who manage each side of it. I would like to own our own buildings instead of just buying distressed houses. So, what we do now on a larger scale.
Shira Kramer is a freelance writer.
Correction 5/18/22: This article has been updated to correct Ralph Imani’s job.