Closing The Loop: Margie Seaman

Nov 20, 2015

Margie Seaman is from New York, and might have stayed there forever had not circumstances intervened.

"I grew up in an era where people didn't move,” she said. “My mother played in a tennis game, with the same six women, for over 50 years. My parents lived in their house for 55 years, and I guess I thought that their house was like the one that I would live in for 55 years."

Despite what her expectations were, Seaman moved into the city to search for a career after college.          

According to Seaman, she went to an employment agency. She told them that she’s a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan, and they had her take a typing test.

“They placed me as a secretary. I was fired nine months later, because I wasn't a very good secretary, but I learned a lot by working in an office,” she said. “While working, I volunteered to help organize tenants in my Manhattan neighborhood, which had some crime problems. That was kind of more what I wanted to do at that time, anyway."

Seaman mentioned that through her volunteer work, she was hired by a city councilman, and then by the mayor's office, which sent her to graduate school in public administration.

She went on to become a commercial real estate broker, and married an economist.

Seaman says that her husband wanted to take advantage of the short sales that were going on in the South at the time, and not in the North where they were living.

“I didn't want to move, because I was heavily invested in my commercial real estate career, and it's all about relationships. If you go to a new city, and you try to tell them how great you are, it doesn't ring true,” she said.

Seaman says she made no money at all her during her first and second years in Jacksonville and very little the next few. She was, by then, a single mother.

But things started to turn around.

"How I finally broke in was, I had to show some humility. In a large city, you have to be aggressive to stand out. You need to compete for a bus seat. You need to compete for a parking spot. You need to compete for air time in a conversation,” Seaman said. “And then you come to a city like Jacksonville, where there's a real intensity, but it displays differently ... all of my aggressive behaviors were way overkill.”

Seaman also tells a story of an early deal that got her on her way.

"This owner had a building that I wanted to put a tenant in, and my tenant turned out not to have enough money for a security deposit, which is very embarrassing when you're a new real estate broker in a town trying to prove yourself,” she said. “So I told the owner that I would waive my commission, and he should put my commission towards the security deposit, and I would worry about getting paid later by the tenant if they did well. He asked, 'Why would you do that? I've never seen a real estate broker waive a commission.’ And I said, 'Because I need deals on my dance card in Jacksonville. No one needs to know whether I made any money, or how much money I made.’ And he said, 'Okay, you are my agent from now on, and I will pay you.'”

"And that's how I got started, baring my soul. That is what changed my fortunes. That was a big life lesson for me,” Seaman said.