Smarts in real estate, sales, managing family sparked Miller’s elevation to ERA Tides broker-in-charge

Jan Miller in August was named broker-in-charge of the ERA Tides Realty office on James Island (Jim Parker/Staff 10-3-2012).

By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

In her first go-around as real estate agent, Jan Miller coordinated home-sale and -purchase deals in the Edisto Island area for “the Beach Co.”

She playfully fools people with that line: It wasn’t the large Charleston developer-agency Beach Co., but tiny The Beach Co. of Edisto Inc.

Randy Beach ran the office, and long-time Edisto broker Legare Smith was her mentor. That was close to 30 years ago.

Edisto “was a fantastic place to live,” she says. She got married, had two children, and eventually took time off to raise the kids. The real estate market was tight post-Hurricane Hugo, and Miller’s career took a different tack.

The family moved to James Island, and she held positions that had more predictable hours than real estate: AT&T, Dial Page — where she was top sales person in the Southeast— The Post and Courier and a home warranty company with a service area from Myrtle Beach to Savannah.

She held onto her real estate license, though and in 2004 rejoined the profession, more than 15 years after her Edisto experience. She has spent the past years building a following with ERA Tides Realty and was recently rewarded for her efforts.

On Aug. 9, Miller was named broker-in-charge, heading a venture with 31 agents and another 20 referral employees. “It was kind of an overnight thing,” she says.

Conveniently, the main office is at 125 Wappoo Creek Drive a few miles away from home. ERA Tides also has a location at Stono Ferry in Hollywood.

“I love people, enjoy (talking to) people,” Miller says. In real estate, “You really get to be involved in big decisions,” she says.

She’s maintained a healthy buyer and seller list. “I have some of my clients from 25 years ago on Edisto,” she says. But she’s been passing on business to concentrate on her new post. “I’m giving them (fellow agents) leads left and right,” she says.

Among other things, the broker-in-charge is responsible when agents put properties under contract. “I do a lot of reading,” she says, showing a stack of deals and other paperwork.

“The other big part of my job is getting in new agents,” she says. “In September, we brought on Lisa Burbage,” a veteran agent who is in charge of recruiting and training. Five more agents are starting “very soon,” she says.

ERA, the worldwide real estate network, provides invaluable help. “The resources are fantastic,” she says. “We have a national reach.” The company, which originally stood for Electronic Real Estate Agent, provides ‘virtual classrooms’ and other cyberspace perks. At the same time, it stays out of day-to-day affairs. “We are more of a boutique operation owned by Charleston businesspeople and investors,” she says.

Miller grew up on James Island and went to James Island High, then onto the College of Charleston where she studied English.

Spending a summer at Edisto, she met her husband-to-be, Ronnie Miller. Eight years her senior and a fellow James Island High grad, he was golf pro at what would become Fairfield Ocean Ridge. The Millers have been married 33 years.

She worked in the golf shop for awhile after they were married, but by 1980 she decided to get a real estate license, traveling close to 100 miles roundtrip between Edisto and a real estate school in North Charleston for night classes.

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That was before the onset of the online Multiple Listing Service, cell phones, even modern-day personal computers. “On Edisto in the 1980s, it was very different (than today),” she says. She was one of 11 agents; now there are “probably 100.” Once the vacation season ended on Edisto Beach, the community was reduced to just 220 permanent residents.

She would work for Beach Co. of Edisto and the Lyons Co. and was principal broker at Bay Creek Villas. Ronnie Miller, meanwhile, would go on to be head pro at Kiawah resort’s Osprey Point and Turtle Point courses and now director of instruction at the Tommy Cuthbert Center at Kiawah.

When Jan Miller got back into real estate, she joined Kitty LaTorre’s Coldwell Banker-LaTorre Agency on James Island. The agency had “such a great group,” she says. “I really enjoyed it.”

LaTorre Agency merged with ERA Tides five years ago, and Miller remained with the combined company.

The Millers’ two children are grown. Son Troy has a bachelor’s degree from UNC-Asheville, a master’s from the Univeristy of Georgia and is a golf course architect based in Maryland; and daughter Allisyn, who has two degrees from the College of Charleston, is coordinator of the college’s Historic Preservation Graduate School.

Miller says the Charleston area real estate market is on the mend. Cash purchases are becoming more common, she says. “It’s good; it’s busy.”

She says ERA Tides is looking eventually to expand its footprint, possibly reopening offices in Summerville and Mount Pleasant.

Whatever happens, Miller expects to stay in a post such as real estate where she can be personable. “I’ve never met a stranger,” she says.

For more information, visit www.eratidesrealty.com.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.