Through the course of your work with clients, you are achieving so much more than the mere completion of a transaction.
That’s the same spirit that Lee Gochman works with. As a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Capital Properties DuPont Circle, Lee takes pride in his role in helping people write the next chapters in their lives.
“I’m not trying to help people make a purchase. I’m trying to help them make an investment. The story of millennials is that we are drowning in student debt and that we don’t have savings for a reasonable down payment, and that we’re also up against lending requirements,” Lee explains. “I started teaching a class about a government program that will cover their minimum down payment and help them find a home.”
Passion and Purpose
When you talk with Lee, it’s instantly clear that he is extremely passionate about helping people through his work as a REALTOR®. He cites a 2018 study by the Urban Institute that looked at the barriers to homeownership.
“The study confirmed that the primary issue is coming up with the down payment. Once I figured out there was a vehicle to help people build wealth and financial security without having to delay their destiny, I went full-speed ahead and started working every day of the year to build relationships and help transform lives in ways that are truly profound,” Lee emphasizes. “In the midst of COVID, young people are lining up to purchase their first homes and, in many cases, are able to do it for less than $1,000 out of pocket.”
After having had his license for several years in commercial real estate and working as an outbound sales associate, Lee started selling residential real estate in April of this year.
His start in the residential side of real estate is a direct result of his care for people. Fresh out of college, Lee had worked on a congressional campaign.
“My job was managing interns from universities in D.C., and I remember visiting a group of freshmen. They had issues from health care to affordable housing. They told me, ‘We’ve done the research. There’s no hope for us.’ I’m here doing what I do to help redeem the dream,” Lee explains. “We have been told that 2020 was the year of COVID. But 2020 was the year we took ownership of our future. I’ve made it my mission to get young people off the sidelines and create wealth for the first time in their lives.”
Lee had done just that. In fact, since March last year, he has helped nearly 70 people purchase their first homes in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In the process, he has also recorded sales representing $26 million in sales volume as an individual agent with the Eng Garcia Properties Team.
One key to Lee’s success has been using the strengths of his prior experience in the political arena. “I made 30,000 calls for people running for office. That’s one of the most difficult things, especially when you’re not the one running. It taught me to listen, advocate for people, and win,” Lee says. “I’m not a huge fan of the salesy approach, but I like reaching out and changing someone’s mindset and helping them change their lives … telling them they can stop paying their landlord and start paying themselves, and letting them know that a $2,000 rent translates to a $400,000 purchase of a townhome or condominium.”
Lee has seen the tangible impact of his work on many powerful occasions.
“The stories that I’ve been able to hear are truly remarkable. Like the immigrant from Croatia who escaped back home to the single mother of five children who had never owned real estate to Ph.D. students … all of these people with different backgrounds are defying reality,” Lee says.
Creating Happy Endings
Lee shared a story of transformation that has stuck with him.
“I remember one young man I met on Juneteenth to look at his first property. He mentioned his family has lived in D.C. for 70 years, and he is carrying on the legacy of a proud African-American family, including his grandfather who fought in the Navy. On the day he met me, his father told him that it was going to be a transformative day — that he was going to be the first one in his family to ever own a home,” Lee remembers.
“Now, his home is a penthouse suite with 1,200 square feet in the heart of Petworth. That’s powerful. While I never choose the people I work with, many of them have inspiring stories. They have risen above so much adversity in a relatively short time. They are determined to create multigenerational wealth. Those stories become my stories.”
Family and Fulfillment
Away from work, Lee’s world is made richer by his family, including his mother, Susan, and his father, Robert.
“My father used to say all the time, ‘If you can go to bed feeling like you’ve helped someone, that’s all that matters, and the money will come.’ That is certainly a philosophy that I’ve taken to heart.”
In his free time, Lee is a self-admitted foodie, with a love for exploring new restaurants. He loves music, especially hip-hop. And he’s also a big fan of the New York Yankees.
As Lee reflects on his new real estate career, he feels a deep sense of responsibility for those he serves. “The impact that I’m making now is more than I could have had as an organizer. We all play a role. You shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to live a great life in America,” he emphasizes. “I can help people leverage and spread out their equity as even as they can. And helping people develop passive streams of income to help them have that financial security. Those folks are engineering a life for themselves and help them live life on their terms. The story that has been fed to us through the media is that we won’t be able to do better than our parents. I say, ‘Just watch us.’”
That’s precisely the spirit with which Lee is transforming lives.