Deanna Smith

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | January 24th, 2020
Deanna Smith (Photos by Todd Youngblood)

Deanna Smith (Photos by Todd Youngblood)

For 16 years Deanna Smith served the state of New York as a Corrections Officer with the Department of Corrections. She also owned and operated not one, but two childcare facilities along with mothering full time.

When she was presented with the opportunity to become a Federal Agent in 2002, she jumped at the chance and relocated her family to Charlotte for the job. Shortly after settling in the Queen City, she missed interacting with the precious children she taught, so she worked part-time at a childcare facility. She also decided to become a foster parent to make an even greater impact, eventually adopting two infant girls. Suddenly the mom of six was stretched to her limit and her full time job gave her an ultimatum.

“They told me I could choose my job or choose my children. And I chose my children,” Deanna says confidently.

Since the Buffalo, NY native had a background in childcare, the natural thing to do was to transition full time at the childcare facility so she wouldn’t miss a beat raising her own. She quickly rose to Assistant Director and, for some time, was quite content. She was back in her element loving on the little ones and spending time with her two youngest children who attended the facility where she worked. But as much as she enjoyed seeing tiny smiling faces everyday, going home to four children (her oldest two no longer lived in the home) proved to be a larger job than she bargained for.

At the suggestion of her husband, she took some time off to figure out what her next move should be. On her first try, she wasn’t completely sold on the idea of real estate. But she did like helping people achieve their dream of homeownership. She threw her hat back into the ring, took classes, and obtained her real estate license. In 2013, Exclusive Realty, Inc. was born and Smith hasn’t slowed down since.

In January 2018, Smith made the decision to buy into the Sellstate Realty franchise, and now she’s doing business as Sellstate Exclusive Realty, LLC. The addition has afforded Smith to empower her team of agents to serve their clients effectively and efficiently. Her agents are able to utilize Sellstate’s Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), that tracks clients’ interests to better fit them with properties they may be interested in. A popular feature of the system is the opportunity to create distribution lists that allows them to keep their clients in the know by sending newsletters packed with industry information.
Now Smith wants to share her new undertaking, Exclusive Title Agency, LLC., a company that researches property titles to ensure there are no liens, judgements, or other discrepancies prior to purchase. “I always move how God wants me to, and he just put this on me,” Smith explains. Simply put, she felt it was something she was led to do.

The title search arena is such a complicated domain that not many people want to tackle. That makes Smith one of the few black owned agencies in the United States. “It’s very risky. If you don’t educate yourself and don’t know what you’re doing, you can get sued,” says Smith. You must be licensed to offer the service and have an exclusive relationship with an insurance company that trusts you. There are no classes to take, so self-preparation is paramount prior to sitting for the state examination.

The addition of these new branches of Exclusive Realty signifies that Smith is mapping out her future and that of her family and employees. She plans to train her team on how to initiate title searches so they can eventually obtain their licenses manage their own businesses. “My goal is to build generational wealth for myself and help my employees do the same.”

Smith is also currently searching for the right piece of land in Charlotte to construct a building to house her businesses under one roof. The border of uptown Charlotte would be ideal, but she’s keeping her options open.

The property will also be home to her nonprofit, Homeowners Pursuing Education. She created this project to teach people how to save and manage their money, understand their finances, and not fall victim to scammers and big businesses. Recently, Smith and others took to the streets of Charlotte and knocked on doors to enlighten homeowners who live in attractive areas subject to gentrification. In January, she plans to invite community leaders to aid her in presenting a seminar focusing on affordable housing, financial literacy, and teaching basic budgeting skills to local residents.

Since changing career paths, Smith has made it her mission to create jobs and educate those less knowledgeable about their finances so they can attain the American dream. Serving one client at a time, she is slowly growing her empire, creating generational wealth, and uplifting her community.

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