Jane Brown: Both Sides of the Coin
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SAN FRANCISCO – In real estate, the sales process is typically coordinated between two distinct parties—a realtor and a lender—often within a somewhat turbulent dynamic. When Jane Brown first entered the industry, she saw how stressful this could make the process for clients caught in the middle and knew there had to be a better way. Eventually, she hit upon the idea of bringing the two aspects of realty and finance together under one roof. “When I founded my business, we were a financial company that dealt with residential loans, but it wasn’t long before I added a real estate division,” she explains. “The fact that I was able to handle both sides of the coin for real estate clients was a pretty unique thing at the time.”
Today, as owner of Optimum Realty & Financial Services, Jane says her dual enterprise continues to benefit sellers and buyers alike. “In addition to the convenience of one-stop shopping, handling both aspects allows me to have full control of every transaction. If there’s ever a problem with a loan, I don’t have to hunt down the lender—I know exactly what’s going on and what needs to happen next.”
Jane began her career as a math teacher, but her ultimate goal was always to go into business for herself—an ambition inspired by her father’s example. After obtaining her MBA in Finance, she occupied consecutive positions as an international banking representative and a corporate manager before founding Optimum Realty & Financial Services in 1991. Thirteen years later, Jane says her favorite part of running her business continues to be meeting and working with clients. “You can’t be successful if you don’t develop relationships with people, and that’s definitely something I enjoy. The fact that there are so many different types of people here in San Francisco makes it even more enjoyable.”
Originally born in Staunton, Virginia, Jane lived in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Indiana before finally settling in San Francisco, where she’s lived for 38 years with her husband, the Reverend Amos Brown. In addition to its recreational variety, Jane says she appreciates the city’s cultural diversity. “I feel that cultural integration and acceptance are the only things that will bring about peace in the world, and San Francisco is one of the few places where you can truly get to know people of many different cultures.”
Outside of work, Jane’s favorite pastimes are traveling and conducting family genealogy research—both of which have actually coincided. “In my research, I’ve been able to trace my heritage back to Africa, and I actually had the opportunity to visit the land of my ancestors,” she explains. In addition, Jane says she has developed an increased interest in health and wellness, having experienced firsthand the benefits of a recent change in diet. “I became a vegan about two years ago, and I’ve since done a lot of research on natural health remedies. So many of our nation’s health issues have to do with the food we eat, so I find it very fascinating to learn about and experience the impact of dietary alternatives.”
When asked the first thing she’d do if she could retire tomorrow, Jane says she’d spend more time researching her genealogy and visiting the land of her heritage. “I’d take my grandchildren to Africa so they could see where their ancestors came from. I’m just waiting for them to get a little bit older so they can truly appreciate the trip.”
Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Music—I used to study voice and sing.
Q: What’s your favorite fruit?
A: Fuji apples. They’re always sweet, and you can prepare them in so many different ways.
Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: The first trip I took to Africa. It was truly a gift to have the opportunity to visit and experience the land of my ancestors.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Old coins.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Either Christmas or Thanksgiving because I get to see my family, and we have so much fun when we get together.