At only 32 years old, Jackie Soto is already a real estate industry veteran.
The Divergent Realty managing broker started her career at the tender age of 18 by shadowing her mother, a lender. While her college classmates were likely nursing hangovers or sluggishly walking to class, Soto began her days at 5 a.m. and often didn’t stop until late at night.
“I’d get up at five in the morning, then I had a class that started at six,” she told Inman. “I’d be in class from six to ten, and then I would get to my mom’s office and I would work there. I had an internship at a pharmacy, so after I left the office, I would go to the pharmacy.”
“Then if I had time to play, I would play,” she added.
That focus and tenacity has served Soto well as she shifted from the role of an agent to a managing broker in 2017 with the launch of Divergent Realty, her independent brokerage in Chino, California.
“Being a managing broker was always the end goal, and I think it’s the end goal for a lot of people with entrepreneurial hearts,” she explained. “For me, I’m a free spirit and I’m a wild child, and I kind of felt constrained.”
“Although I loved the brokerages that I was with, you never really had full control or full freedom to do it your way or improve systems, processes, and experiences for the clients.”
Soto’s focus on collaboration and unique approach to customer service and marketing — she does live interviews with clients instead of asking for written reviews — has garnered her respect from industry leaders and colleagues alike.
As her career and platform have grown, so has Soto’s dedication to giving back through volunteering and serving on boards for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the National Association of Realtors’ Young Professionals Network.
“I had the opportunity to connect with and collaborate with a lot more people around the nation and learn a lot more about association work,” she said of her work with YPN. “That’s one thing I love about my business — I love collaboration.”
“I hate when people see real estate as this cutthroat industry because it’s not and we all work together,” she added. “I have so many friends in the industry that are like family.”
Although Soto loves real estate’s collaborative spirit, it doesn’t mean that she hasn’t hit some bumps in the road being a young Latina in a leadership role.
However, Soto chooses not to focus on those low moments and instead works to improve gender and racial equality in the industry through her work with #WomanUp and making diversity one of the core values in her brokerage.
“I don’t want to focus on any disservices or how it’s held me back because I feel that I’ve been able to overcome everything,” she said. “I just focus on helping these causes in whatever way I can.”
“I am able to promote diversity within my own organization as one of our core values,” she added. “If more people made small changes like this with what they can control we’d collectively be able to make a larger impact.”
Soto said she’s been able to overcome thanks to a team of mentors that includes Sara Sutachan, Debra Trappen, and Bernice Ross. These women, who she said “light her path,” have inspired her to reject the limitations that society places on women.
“You can focus on what other people are thinking or not thinking of you,” she said. “And you can also have these self-imposed thoughts of ‘well, you’re Hispanic, you’re female and you shouldn’t be doing this because it’s never been done before [by someone like you.]’”
For those moments when fear and insecurity pops up, Soto has two reminders that keep her going — a bracelet with cheeky motivational message and a piece of sage advice from Debra Trappen.
“This industry is male dominated, but you bring your chair to the table,” she said. “Debra is another mentor of mine, and she told me to ‘bring my chair to the table.’ Don’t worry about others giving you space.”
Looking forward, Soto is excited to begin her term as NAHREP’s San Gabriel Valley Parliamentarian and start her new role as the broker-owner of SoCal’s eHomes after a merger between Divergent and eHomes is complete.
In honor of Inman’s Agent Appreciation Month, we’re highlighting agents with extraordinary stories through a new series, Agent Plus. Do you know someone who should be highlighted for their work inside and outside of the office? Send your nominations to AgentPlus@inman.com.
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