BUSINESS PROFILE

As a Realtor, her niche is serving medical professionals


Betsy Pepine, broker-owner at Pepine Realty, is shown at a recently sold property in the Turnberry Lake subdivision in Jonesville.

Erica Brough/Staff Photographer
Published: Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 6:12 p.m.

Betsy Pepine's understanding of the medical profession has come in handy in her real estate career.

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Betsy Pepine, broker-owner at Pepine Realty, is shown at a recently sold property in the Turnberry Lake subdivision in Jonesville.

Erica Brough/Staff Photographer

Facts

Betsy Pepine

Age: 45
Occupation: Broker-owner, Pepine Realty
Personal: Single; two daughters, Maria and Elena
Pets: A rescue dog, Dakota; two kittens, Ethel and Winter
Dream partner for lunch: Alice Paul, suffragette
Last book read: "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg
Favorite TV show: "Not a fan of television."
Playing in her car: Freakonomics and EntreLeadership podcasts
Hobbies: Running, interior decorating
Education: MBA in marketing and health-care management, Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania; bachelor of arts in economics, Duke University

Pepine comes from a family of physicians, spent summers in high school volunteering at Shands, studied pre-med for a time at Duke University and was in pharmaceutical marketing and consulting for 15 years.

So when the single mother transitioned to real estate in 2006 to cut down on business travel, she found her niche serving health-care professionals.

"It helps immensely because when you're in the car with somebody and they're interviewing for positions, you can speak their language," Pepine said. "You know the environment in which they're going to be working. You know the people. You know the issue. So you're looked at not only as a resource for real estate but really as a resource to their job, their community."

The health-care niche has been lucrative in a community with three hospitals and a revolving cast of medical residents and fellows. Pepine opened her own brokerage in 2010 and has built Pepine Realty into the fourth-largest local firm in terms of residential sales with $36 million so far this year.

In a firm with seven agents, her sales have accounted for $24 million of that total.

Pepine said her focus is not on sales numbers but on earning repeat and referral business "because I think if I focus on that, my numbers will be there."

"For me, success is not getting to the closing table, it's getting to the closing table and hopefully I have converted that client into a fan and then to be able to earn their trust."

Pepine said she struck out on her own after she felt she earned enough "fans" working for what was then ERA Trend Realty and then Cornell & Associates.

She said she sees her job as helping clients manage their stress since buying a house is a major life event that usually follows another major life event such as a change in jobs or the size of the family.

"My goal is to transition a family here. You have six to 12 months to make sure they're comfortable living in Gainesville."

One client family joined her for Thanksgiving. Another asked to put her down as an emergency contact at their daughter's school.

"That is success to me. That's why I do this and what keeps me going."

Pepine grew up in Gainesville's Suburban Heights neighborhood. She and her twin sister, Anne, followed older sister Marci to Duke. She was in pre-med, but said she felt that was not her calling. She took business classes and did an internship in pharmaceutical marketing.

Pepine got her first taste of real estate while studying for her master in business administration at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. One class involved fixing up and renting out a row house to needy families in South Philadelphia.

"That was life-changing for me to see what impact a house can have on someone's life," she said.

After spending 10 years in pharmaceutical marketing in the Northeast, she returned to Gainesville in 2001 to raise her daughters, then ages 2 and 1. "I had such positive memories of growing here. I wanted the same for my children."

She ran her own pharmaceutical marketing and consulting business for five years here. During that time, she also bought and rented out houses. In 2006, she earned her real estate license and devoted herself to real estate full-time.

Outside work, Pepine said she spends the bulk of her time as a chauffeur for her two teenage girls. She is on the board of trustees at Trinity United Methodist Church, helps coordinate student recruiting in the area for Duke and volunteers to serve homeless people.

She also described herself as an avid runner, having run marathons.

If she could take one thing to a desert island, "I would take my running shoes."

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