Sean Ruppert’s outlook on the home building industry has been shaped by years of experience. After graduating from Loyola University, he moved to the Washington area in 1994 and began a sales career with NVHomes followed by EYA of Bethesda, Md., before founding OPaL LLC in 2001. (Click here for related article.) Here is his philosophy for a successful business:

• Be willing to pay for the best locations. 

• Realize that emotion is what really sells a home, not great faucets or new gadgets. “Emotion is garnered from your architecture, interior merchandising, and most of all your salespeople.”

• Hire great legal counsel. 

• Enjoy it and have fun. “I love what I do and it shows in my homes and in my marketing,” he says.

• Make room for a work/life balance. 

• Hire the best salespeople, not just the best closers. “When people used to ask me how I was such a successful sales manager I would say, ‘I’m just being me.’ People like to buy homes from people they trust and want to spend time with. That’s who your salespeople need to be.”

• If you’re a small- to medium-size builder, don’t finance all of your deals with one lender.   

• Lead with design. “Let your architecture be your brand, then let your marketing tie into that,” he says.

• Only partner with people you like. 

• Help those who are just starting out. Ruppert mentors young people who are interested in home building and design. “It helps me more than it helps them, I’m sure of it,” he says. 

• Deal with work stress that keeps you up at night by writing the problem down on paper or emailing it to yourself from your phone.

• Be authentic and allow your company to do the same. “That’s who banks want to finance, investors want to give money to, and buyers want to buy homes from,” he says.