Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 6, 2018

Cain settles in at RE/MAX

Realtor finds ‘my niche’ after variety of career roles

From exercise science to property management to advertising sales, Cain tried several fields before settling on real estate. - Photograph by David Laprad

When Alexia Cain was 16, she knew exactly what she wanted: a 2003 Honda Civic. Her grandfather offered to buy her the new Honda Civic – the 2008 at the time – but she was adamant.

Although Cain’s grandfather was perplexed, he was impressed with her determination and persistence and told her she’d make a great salesperson.

Cain didn’t want to be a salesperson, though; she wanted to work in the medical field. So, she left her hometown of Atlanta to attend Auburn University, where she earned an exercise science degree.

It was a good program, she says, but by the time she graduated it was no longer what she wanted to do.

“When I was 18, I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life,” she adds. “But that changed. I thought about going into physical or occupational therapy, and even had pharmaceutical sales in the back of my head, but none of that resonated with me.”

To fill the gap, Cain took a job as the leasing manager of a student housing complex in Auburn. She stayed in this line of work when she moved to Birmingham, only she moved up to new construction.

In time, leasing apartments lost its magic, and Cain took a hard right turn into advertising. She liked her job enough that when she and her husband, Stephen, married and moved to Chattanooga in 2015, she stuck with media advertising sales.

But in time, that, too, no longer appealed to her. As Cain thought about her future and her quest for something that would stick, she realized she’d been keeping real estate in her back pocket since her days as a leasing manager.

So, she took a hard left turn and entered the real estate profession – but not as a Realtor. She lowers her head and voice and says she took a job with a company that buys houses for cash.

“It was like We Buy Ugly Houses, but it was a different company,” she acknowledges.

Cain says she didn’t know what she was getting into, but when she saw how the company did business, she didn’t take a right or a left turn – she slammed on the brakes and got out of the car.

Cain chooses to not talk about the company, but it’s clear she’d erase it from her resume if she could. Then again, she points out, it led her to the job she says is the one that will stick – Realtor.

When Cain mentions her new profession, she lifts her head back up and smiles. What’s more, as she talks about earning her license, finding a company to operate under and getting her name “out there,” an enthusiasm that has not been there while she spoke about her other career stops emerges.

“Deciding where to hang my license took a while,” she explains. “I went with Re/Max in Hixson because of how much its agents know and the number of successful Realtors [broker] Brenda [Purcell] has on her team. I knew surrounding myself with them would inevitably lead to my success.”

It also helped that the office is a three-minute drive from the Big Ridge area of Hixson, where Cain and her husband bought a house.

Currently, Cain is in the process of letting the people with whom she became acquainted while in advertising know she’s in a new line of work. “Instead of their advertising rep, I’m now their real estate professional,” she says.

With only two weeks under her belt since she became licensed, Cain knows potential clients might question her lack of experience.

But she says she’s ready to show them just how capable and prepared she is to find the right buyers for her sellers and the right homes for her buyers.

“I have a strong background in sales and marketing,” she continues. “To sell a house, you can’t just put a sign in the front yard, you have to get it in front of the right people.

“I have the experience and skills to do that.”

Fair enough. Plus, Cain has already learned what she says is one of the most important lessons for any Realtor: “I’m not a salesperson,” she says. “I’m in the business of counseling people through the process of buying a home.

“That can be intimidating and scary, but I’m not pushy. I want to help people make decisions that make sense to them. If a home doesn’t feel right for any reason, then we’ll move on.”

Cain certainly knows what it feels like when something is off – and when something is a good fit. She says her new job is better than a good fit for her – it’s a perfect fit.

“This is my niche,” she adds. “I’m a people person. I like being out in the community interacting with people and getting to know them.”

Cain and her husband are also enjoying getting to know the Chattanooga area.

When they feel like being city folk, they can be found hanging out with friends at a local craft beer establishment (she jokingly calls herself and Stephen “beer snobs”) or shopping at the Chattanooga Market.

Then, when they want to take advantage of their natural surroundings, they hit a local trail.

“We like that Chattanooga has the amenities of a city but is surrounded by mountains and the river,” Cain says.

Cain can’t think of a single downside to living in Chattanooga – not even the traffic. “When I hear people complain about the traffic here, I tell they don’t know what they’re talking about,” the Atlanta native says, laughing.

Cain and her husband chose to live in Hixson because they wanted to “get more bang” for their buck. They’re also big believers in Hixon’s schools, although they don’t have any children – yet.

They do have two rescue dogs, which Cain says are like children. (One can imagine a parent of two telling her “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”)

 The two mixed breed animals join them on their hikes as they search for local waterfalls and fill a place in Cain’s heart for dogs.

Cain has not only saved and is taking care of two dogs, she volunteers two or three times a week at McKamey Animal Center. During a recent volunteer stint, she took a dog who had received a new hip to its physical therapy.

“I love dogs,” she says. “As far as doing volunteer work in the community, that’s what resonates with me.”

As Cain was entering adulthood, she only thought she knew what she wanted in life.

But as she becomes a productive part of her community and settles into a new career, she realizes that was all part of the journey that brought her to where she belongs – and where she intends to stay.

She also values the wisdom she gained along the way – including what to do if someone ever offers to buy her a new car again.

“I would never turn down a new car,” she says, laughing louder than before. “What was I thinking?”