Deanna Smith

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | November 16th, 2017
Deanna Smith (Photos by Todd Youngblood)

Deanna Smith (Photos by Todd Youngblood)

Real estate is not what Deanna Smith set out to pursue. For 16 years she 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 four children.

When she was presented with the opportunity of becoming a Federal Agent in 2002, she jumped at the chance and relocated her family to Charlotte for the job. After settling in the Queen City, she started to miss interacting with young children, 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 (her two adult children do not reside in the home) was stretched to her limit. That’s when 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 a long 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 proved to be a larger job than she bargained for.

Her husband, Everett, could see his wife stressed out as the days passed. She loved her job, but grew tired. Her other half, who is also her biggest supporter, proposed that she take a couple years off and gather herself, while finding her niche. Since he sold homes wholesale in his spare time, he mentioned that she should consider the same thing, but after a few months of testing it out, she concluded that path wasn’t the one she wanted to take. She did, however, love real estate, home ownership and helping people reach their goals so she wasn’t ready to completely fold.

“I decided to attend school and get my real estate license. I didn’t pass the exam the first two times because it was just that difficult. I sold my jewelry to pay for the exam a third time, and I finally passed,” Deanna beamed.

The phrase ‘In it to win it’ was echoed by both of us during our call. Sitting for an exam three times, would defeat some, but Deanna knew she couldn’t let it go that easily. Upon her licensure she volunteered for a real estate firm but was offered a paid position due to her work ethic and willingness to learn. She was so dedicated that she recruited and trained other agents. When she moved on to another firm, the agents followed her. Under the wings of more seasoned agents, Deanna absorbed as much knowledge as she could, then when the time was right, God told her to embark on her own endeavor.

“The people I worked for laughed at me. They tried to deter me, telling me it was too hard, too expensive, and too soon. But I didn’t listen. Even though they try to seem supportive on social media now, by liking pictures and posts, they don’t answer the phone when I call.”
It’s evident that she has turned this negative into a positive. She has allowed her naysayers to motivate her to keep going and prove to them and herself, that she has what it takes to succeed. In May, Deanna had the grand opening for ‘Deanna Has a Home For You Realty’, but has since changed the name to ‘Exclusive Realty, Inc.’ so she can potentially franchise the business in the future. Her adult son and daughter are also considering a career in real estate and Deanna has been their sole motivator.

“Since opening I have helped my daughter purchase and close on her first home and now she wants to help others.” The business has already become a true family effort. Deanna’s grandchildren help with office work as well as assist with writing cards to her clients. She has taught them about entrepreneurship and to always set a goal to create your own source of income. This philosophy holds true with her husband too, as he owns and operates Ultimate Asphalt and Concrete in Charlotte.

With such a busy lifestyle, family time can be hard to come by. Deanna makes sure everyone spends time together on the weekends traveling and doing activities as a unit. She is also a believer in alone time with Everett so they stay connected.

She stays faithful by attending Freedom House Church and volunteers with them regularly. Most recently she helped collect items for hurricane victims across the country and has lent her hands to several other ministries throughout the years. “Right now I’m waiting on God to tell me where he needs me within the church. And when he tells me to move, I always move. Just like I did with my business. I was hesitant at first, and I’m still scared, but I listened and it has worked out.”

Running a full time real estate business, being a wife and mother, as well as a mentor and volunteer keeps Deanna’s cup running over, but I can tell she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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