Realtor Asha Lee is not one to waste time. Not days, weeks, months or especially years.
When Lee was 18, for example, she decided to become a real estate agent someday. So, she started researching the industry and saving the money she was earning working for McKee Foods so she could one day pay for school.
Many dreams disappear over time as life happens. But Lee didn’t give her vision a chance to fade. Rather, “someday” arrived only a few months later, while she was still glowing with newfound ambition.
“I went at it hard,” says Lee, who was still 18 when she secured her license. “I even studied when I was on break at McKee and then passed the test on my first try.”
Lee set a precedent for her rapid sprint to the finish line when she graduated from Central High School several months early, boasts her mother, Chantele Massengill.
“Telling Asha it will take her a certain amount of time to do something triggers her to do it faster. She likes to prove she can do what people think she can’t.”
Lee employed this same grit when she rolled up her sleeves and went to work. After joining Hero Homes Group, an eXp Realty team based in Cleveland, she began casting her line in the water. But homebuyers and sellers were skeptical of her age and inexperience.
“People said there was no way I knew what I was doing and shut the door in my face,” Lee remembers. “But I kept going.”
Lee hooked her first client while she was manning the phones for her team. The buyer was only two years older than her and expressed no qualms about her age, Lee notes.
“He liked that I was young. He said he could tell I was passionate about what I was doing. We had a house under contract in two days.”
Lee says breaking through the wall of doubt and reluctance was harder than writing her first contract or negotiating her first deal. But once she overcame that obstacle, closings on five houses and two properties followed.
She says her oldest client was 55.
“This is a tough market and people want experience on their side,” Lee admits. “But when I talk with someone and give them the facts, their reservations go out the window.”
This was true of a credit-poor African American couple Lee pursued for several months, she says. But after she helped them to boost their score and qualify for a loan, they were happy to use her as their Realtor.
“Many people of color have bad credit, so I try to help them with that,” Lee says.
When people ask Lee why she became a Realtor at 18, she says it was partly her desire to honor her late grandmother, who wanted to become a Realtor but never did.
Lee also says she’s always had an intense entrepreneurial spirit – and then laughs as she recalls selling pencils for one dollar to her elementary school classmates.
Eager to chime in, her mother suggests Lee has always wanted to make her own way in the world – and her own money.
“Asha is good at saving money and has a firm grasp on what she wants to do and how she’s going to do it. I’m proud of her.”
All of this said, Lee, now 19, seems less concerned with what brought her to this point than with where she’s going.
As Lee looks to the future, she sees herself eventually leaving Hero Homes and representing homebuyers and sellers on her own. She would also like to form her own team someday. (She acknowledges that this instance of “someday” will probably take place in a few years rather than a few months.)
Lee is laying the foundation for the next stage of her career by developing a presence on social media.
“My business started to take off when people saw me closing homes,” she says. “People love success and tracking success.”
In addition to being adept at using Facebook and Instagram to spread the word about her business, Lee says she’s in the early stages of using TikTok to promote herself. This has taught her to do something that does not come natural for her.
“I pose on social media,” she laughs. “If you don’t pose, people will think you’re not doing anything.”
Lee’s ambitions exceed her own well-being and extend to youth like herself who could benefit from a potentially lucrative career.
“When young people see the clothes Realtors wear, they think, ‘That would be a good career for me,’ but when they get into it and find out how hard it is, they become discouraged. And it is hard. But we need more of us to be in the business.”
To that end, Lee has not only become a member of Greater Chattanooga Realtors and the River Counties Association of Realtors, she’s also joined the National Association of Real Estate Brokers and become a Realtist.
NAREB promotes democracy in housing and advocates for public policies that protect and expand sustainable homeownership. Only members of NAREB can call themselves Realtists, agents who have a special charge to make certain communities of color are treated with dignity and respect.
Through her participation in the latter organization’s outreach efforts, Lee hopes to show young people like herself that there are alternatives to college.
“I was studying computer tech support at Chattanooga State when I realized I was on the wrong path. So I looked at my options and decided to become a real estate agent. Now I have a business and a career. If I can do this, so can other people like me.”
Lee isn’t all work and no play. She says she mainly enjoys “hanging out” with family members and friends. But even then, she has a hard time turning off the part of her mind that makes plans.
“My goal this year is to buy an investment property,” Lee says. “I want to live in a duplex and rent the other side of it. That’s how people build wealth.”
If Lee’s track record is any indication of her ability to achieve her goal, then it will surely happen – someday.