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Donielle Cardinale at her Mattituck office. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
Donielle Cardinale at her Mattituck office. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Just over a decade ago, Donielle Cardinale was trying to navigate life as a single mother with two very young children when she decided to try her hand at real estate.

“I needed to redirect my career in a way that would utilize the combination of my knowledge, skills, contacts and past experience while still allowing me to live and work here on the North Fork, in the community that I love, so that I could be here for my children,” she said. Her previous experience included work in retail, event planning and food and beverage services. “Honestly, I did not expect to fall in love with the business the way that I did,” she said.

Today, Ms. Cardinale, 42, is an associate broker at Cardinale Group — Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Mattituck. She lives in Mattituck with her son, James, now 15, and daughter, Riley, now 10, and can’t imagine working in another field.

“Because I believe so strongly in the North Fork, I’m told that my passion for what I do and my enthusiasm for this paradise we live in becomes contagious,” she said.

Q: Tell us about the first house you ever sold.

A: The first week I was in this business, I ran into a friend while he was getting his morning coffee. He announced that his wife was pregnant with their fourth child. I half-jokingly told him he needed a bigger house; he half-jokingly told me I was right.

As I left, I drove by a “For sale by owner” sign at a house I thought would be perfect for them. I soon realized the homeowners were the parents of past schoolmates. We ended up having a cup of coffee together and talking for over an hour … Within a few weeks, my friends were in contract to purchase that house, and they are still living there and enjoying it today.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A: Part of what continues to keep this business interesting is the need to be learning and growing as a professional every day. There are new challenges all the time. I have often said that if you are not reinventing yourself today, you will not exist tomorrow.

The influence of technology and the way buyers find information via the Internet has greatly influenced the industry. Websites like Zillow and Trulia are full of inaccurate information, which we as real estate professionals are continuously trying to educate our clients and customers about.

Q: What advice would you give other real estate agents?

A: Play nice in the sandbox! I look at other realtors as colleagues, not competitors. We all share a common goal of finding a way to sell the right home to the right buyer. None of us could do that alone.

I continue to find it mind-boggling when someone makes it difficult to show their listing or is less than enthusiastic about receiving offers. However, overall I would say I feel blessed to have a great community of professionals to work with.

Q: Who do you respect in the local real estate community?

A: There are several agents I have a lot of respect for: Jill Dunbar, Joanne Wind, Denise Lara, Janet Markarian, Carol Szynaka and Tom Uhlinger, to name a few.

Q: When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do on the North Fork?

A: It would be very difficult to name just one thing I love most. My family spends a lot of time boating and enjoying time on the water. Another thing I enjoy doing is riding horses. I grew up riding with my mother and sisters; now I have the pleasure of doing the same with my own daughter.