Kelly White, The Real Estate Firm

A Woman of Her Word

Location: The Press Room

When The Real Estate Firm’s Kelly White was young, she didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up, but she certainly never thought it would be a sales position—because she couldn’t talk in front of people. “I’d take a zero rather than get up in class to read a report,” she admitted. “It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I could talk to people. I realized I could talk about things I knew about, and then it became about helping people.”
Kelly was in the wireless phone business for 27 years; then, an auctioneer friend invited her to come work for him, so she got her auctioneer’s license. “When I got my first real estate property to auction, he said, ‘Bad news—you can’t get paid on this because you don’t have a license to sell real estate,’” she remembered. “So I got my real estate license, but that was during the market crash, and people weren’t happy during the auction process. In fact, a lot of people were crying. That wasn’t for me because I like making people happy. So that’s when I decided straight real estate was my forte.”
Now, as an affiliate broker and REALTOR in Sevier County, Kelly wants to be remembered for always being an honest person. “I want to be able to look at you in church on Sunday and not run and hide because I’ve not done the right thing,” she said. “I want to be the person that people say, ‘You can take her word to the bank.’”
Kelly counts two people as particularly influential in her career: first, Dale Carr, a friend, local politician, and auctioneer—the one who got her to get her auctioneer’s license and real estate license—and secondly, Rich Levenson, who was her broker for eight years.
Kelly’s most memorable time was the birth of her son. “He had a massive head injury at seven months old,” she shared, “and they only gave him a 50 percent chance to live. Then they said he might never walk or talk, but he graduated from high school with honors and became the first person in our family to go to college. Now he’s got a wife, two thriving boys, and a very successful career with KPD. He’s my pride.”
In her professional life, Kelly is proud to have been installed into the RPAC Hall of Fame in May. “There’s a plaque on the top of the NAR building with my name on it from Tennessee,” she shared. “I’ve also served as the Region 3 DVP for Tennessee Realtors as well as most of the board positions for the Great Smoky Mountain Association of Realtors.”
If Kelly could have dinner with anyone, she’d choose Donald Trump. “I’ve admired and respected him for 25 years or more, and I always said he needed to be our president. He takes risks and always pulls himself out of his struggles. I’m not saying I agree with him on everything, but I think he’s a phenomenal business person.”
As for Kelly, she finds it challenging to balance work with her personal life. “My husband would say I don’t balance it,” she laughed. “He’d say it’s all real estate!”
“Seriously,” she continued, “I try not to work on Sundays; I want to give that day to the Lord. But I don’t do a great job, honestly—I mean, I was putting up a sign last night at 10:30 an hour away from my home. I need more balance.”
Kelly tries to start each day with a written plan, but time management is her biggest challenge. “My hard drive is full,” she exclaimed. “I just need to learn to slow down!” On the other hand, her biggest rewards are the smiles she sees at the closing table, when clients are happy and excited about their new purchase.
And how does she spend her time away from work? At the lake! “We’ve got a place on Norris Lake, and we’re there almost every weekend in the summer. We also love to get away to Orange Beach three or four times a year, take our boat down and fish—I love trying to catch bigger fish than my husband.”
Kelly’s bucket list includes a trip to Greece and to Cabo San Lucas. Her favorite music era is the late 70s/early 80s, and her favorite song is anything by Kenny Chesney—who, incidentally, used to be one of her phone customers years ago!
Kelly doesn’t plan to retire, but maybe she’ll slow down a bit in years to come. Right now she reads books on her Kindle every night before bed just to help turn off her brain. “It’s just to make my little hamster go to sleep,” she joked, “otherwise my little hamster’s in there running around telling me everything I haven’t done today and all that I need to do tomorrow!”
If Kelly had to completely change careers, she’d consider nursing or perhaps something in the pet industry or volunteering with Appalachian Bear Rescue since she loves animals.
At the end of the day, to Kelly, success is not about money. “Success means helping others and having people look up to you and respect you,” she said. “It’s about what people think. I want people to trust me and know that my word is good.”