Sometimes in life, taking a leap such as making a career change, can lead to success beyond expectation.
That was the case with Jane Bracken, a Jacksonville native who blossomed into not only one of ERA Davis & Linn’s top agents, but one of the area’s, as well.
A multimillion-dollar producer, Bracken’s accolades include the ERA Leaders Circle award, the company’s highest honor, designating her in the top 10 percent of the agency’s agents in the country.
She also has received the ERA Momentum Award the past three years, an honor based on an agent’s ability to maintain or increase production. Bracken’s production has been on the rise each year.
But she didn’t always aspire to have a career in real estate.
Deciding to take the leap
Bracken took a calculated risk when the broker who was listing her home convinced her she needed to be in the real estate business.
With a little nudge from her broker-turned-friend, Bracken focused her energy on her new career path.
That was almost 13 years ago.
At the time, Bracken was in the insurance business — working in corporate management and claims administration for a large financial company in Jacksonville.
It was a career she enjoyed for two decades and one in which she utilized her degree in finance from the University of Florida.
Bracken, who also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Florida, was flirting with the idea of becoming a financial planner.
She actually had two job offers from financial institutions on the table when she decided to try her hand at real estate.
“I was on the three-month plan with it being commission only. I either made money or I couldn’t afford to do it,” Bracken said.
If during that time she was not successful, Bracken would have turned her focus back to a career in financial planning.
But as she soon discovered, she had both a knack and a passion for real estate.
A desirable career
At the time, Bracken’s two children were still in school.
Her son, Chris, was in ninth grade and her daughter, Emily, was in middle school. The prospect of a flexible schedule that would permit her to spend more time with them was alluring.
Setting her own hours freed her up to drive Emily to and from school and allowed her to be in the stands, cheering her daughter at every track and cross country meet.
It usually meant working nights or weekends to make up the time, but Bracken said it was worth it.
However, she said, don’t kid yourself about the long hours. But, you do have the flexibility to balance your personal and professional life.
“It can work well for whatever your phase of life is, that’s how I feel about it,” Bracken stated. “It’s a great business. I love it.”
Staying on top
Because buying a home is usually the biggest purchase people make in a lifetime, Bracken said she tries to make sure her customers are making a really good financial decision.
Treating people with honesty and respect has built her a positive reputation. In turn, having a good reputation brings repeat clients and referrals.
“In Jacksonville, real estate is a small circle, like a lot of businesses are,” Bracken said. “I think your reputation over time precedes you.”
Her boss, Jim Linn, vice president at ERA Davis & Linn, agrees. “She’s got a great reputation of doing the right thing,” he said.
Bracken has never considered herself a sales person, rather she simply enjoys working with people.
In December, she closed on a house for a young, newly married couple she met when she sold them a home in 2007.
They became like family to Bracken and over the years, they’ve kept in touch.
So they reached out to her when they decided to look for a new home.
Learning the value of social media
Technology also plays a big role in Bracken’s business.
She uses social media as a marketing tool, something imperative to succeed in this business, she maintains.
She recently integrated Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, so she can post across all platforms.
At age 62, she feels a bit like a fish out of water when it comes to using social media, but she’s having a lot of fun with it.
Social media and the arsenal of technology tools ERA offers are a “game-changer,” Bracken said.
The company uses a program that helps agents track and stay in touch with clients.
She also benefits from another program the company uses called LeadRouter, which generates leads for Bracken based on people who inquire about her listings.
In turn, she can reach out to those people and see if they are looking to sell their home.
“What our brokers provide, I really think that’s what’s taken my business to the level that it is,” Bracken said.
And technology works both ways; that’s where a good reputation comes into play.
Before ever arriving at a meeting with a buyer or seller, most of the time the clients have already scoured the internet to review her personal or company website.
“They know a lot about me before I ever walk through the door,” Bracken said.
As busy as Bracken has become in her professional life, it’s important to her to maintain a personal life.
When not working, she enjoys spending time with her children and friends.
Both of her children reside in Jacksonville. Her daughter works for the Department of Health and her son is an attorney.
Bracken usually ends her evenings reading on her Kindle to help wind down. She typically reads fiction, best-sellers and at least one biography and classic per year with her book club.
Giving back also is important. Bracken enjoys volunteering with the American Cancer Society and Community Hospice.
“My mother at age 80 was diagnosed with breast cancer, so it just hits home,” she said.
Being in the industry is not for everyone.
Like many things in life, you get out of it what you are willing to put into it, and Bracken believes in hard work.
She’s also grateful she works for ERA, surrounded by broker and office support, something else she credits for her success. Bracken has been with ERA since 2012.
“I have a lot of blessings in my life now is how I look at it, and being here is one of them,” she said.