CRE Midwest

Diliberto Real Estate Services’ Frank Diliberto: Enjoying the local, personal side of CRE

Frank Diliberto not only serves as principal of Diliberto Real Estate Services and RealEstateAuctionsINC.com, but he also is operating director at City Capital Advisors. Diliberto has completed more than $5.8 billion in sales and advisory volume on behalf of Fortune 500s, leading banks, institutions, trusts and private investors. And during his 23-year career, Diliberto has become a leader in the advancement of auction and structured-sales solutions within the U.S. and select global real estate markets. Diliberto recently spoke to Illinois Real Estate Journal about his work in commercial real estate.

001Frank Diliberto not only serves as principal of Diliberto Real Estate Services and RealEstateAuctionsINC.com, but he also is operating director at City Capital Advisors. Diliberto has completed more than $5.8 billion in sales and advisory volume on behalf of Fortune 500s, leading banks, institutions, trusts and private investors. And during his 23-year career, Diliberto has become a leader in the advancement of auction and structured-sales solutions within the U.S. and select global real estate markets. Diliberto recently spoke to Illinois Real Estate Journal about his work in commercial real estate. 

Illinois Real Estate Journal: How did you get your start in commercial real estate?

Frank Diliberto: I started in 1990. The first transaction I did was the sale of a two-flat for my parents in the area of Canaryville. I liked the financial markets, the stock market and the real estate market when I was starting out and soI started taking some real estate classes. My folks got me involved with one of their properties. Apparently they wanted to see me in the real estate business more than in the stock brokerage business. I really enjoyed the fast-paced nature of the stock market. When I was doing real estate, I stumbled onto Sheldon Good & Company and I enjoyed the fast pace of the auction because it reminded me of the stock market. I liked the structure of the real estate market along with the fast-paced nature of the auction market. So my first position was with Home Real Estate in Oak Lawn where I sold my first property and then I later decided to go into the auction business and took a position with Sheldon Good & Company in January of 1990.

IREJ: What do you enjoy most about commercial real estate?

Diliberto: I enjoy real estate because of the commodity that it is. Real estate continues to be a local commodity but it’s one that has grown to be of the nature of a global marketing platform. While business has taken us to various parts of the country and various parts of the world, we enjoy the local nature of it. It’s still a person-to-person business, but it does get challenging. In the commercial real estate business, you have to reinvent yourself periodically.

IREJ: What do you think are some of the more challenging parts of working in commercial real estate?

Diliberto: The challenges have changed. When I started in the business, the real estate market was consistent. Regardless of the economic environment, the real estate market held ground. When things were unstable, real estate was a stabilizing factor. It’s dramatically changed in the last five to 10 years. The real estate markets have been fluctuating now. The challenging nature of it is that it is an ever-moving marketplace. It does move now with the economy and you have to figure out how to make real estate stable. Today, we’re more of a market-maker in real estate, especially in the auction process. Just because real estate traded at a certain level at one time does not mean that it’s predictable. What we tend to do, especially on the auction side, is make a market for real estate. That’s the challenging part. It’s about creating those opportunities and being careful because it is a moving commodity now.

IREJ: Why do you think you’ve been so successful during your career?

Diliberto: I have never moved away from what I do. Through City Capital Advisors, we have the ability to raise money and we have the ability to help sellers and owners of real estate with financial needs and financial hurdles. But I’ve always stayed close to what I do, and that is real estate sales and advisory. When we’ve had ideas, we’ve kept it close to that center. Our center is real estate. We also provide a selling function and we’ve grown from there but we’ve always kept the roots of being a solid practice based in Chicago. Chicago is a great market to do business in. Those are the things that have kept us in the right direction even when the markets have been challenging.

IREJ: What advice would you have for people who are just starting out in this business?

Diliberto: You have to work today not for what you’re going to gain today in this business. You have to work today for what you want to gain tomorrow. I think that’s very important because most people are engineered to work today for what they want today and this is not a business in which you can do that. This is a business that has ups and downs. You’re going to put in efforts today to grow tomorrow. That’s a defining goal in this business.

IREJ: What are some of the personality traits that people need to succeed in commercial real estate?

Diliberto: You have to have the ability to enjoy working with people because the real estate business is a personal and local business no matter where you are or where you’re marketing. I think you also have to be a bit aggressive. When I say aggressive, I mean you have to be a goal-getter. There are a lot of crazy people in the real estate business. I would just say you have to be persistent. It’s also a business where we help people, so you have to be patient.

IREJ: How has the business changed over the years?

Diliberto: If you look at any segment of business, it’s become more of a mass production, low service environment. There’s an impersonal touch today in business. It just doesn’t have that personal contact anymore. The nature of real estate still requires a personal touch. I think there’s a struggle going on right now. There’s a struggle to maintain high level service and still work with the current movement of business and industry, which have taken more of an impersonal, mass marketing approach. This is a struggle that still continues. One of the things we strive to do is to lean on the personal side of business.

IREJ: What would you say has been your greatest success?

Diliberto: That would be having my family. That’s the greatest thing I ever did by far.