Bringing his years of experience to his leadership of the Bold Marketing Team, Jim Seabold shares his story of true salesmanship, making “bold” marketing moves and beating the trend curve.
A native of Minnesota, veteran real estate agent Jim Seabold has been a resident of St. Paul his entire life, growing up on the east side not far from his father’s work.
“Our home was in the shadow of 3M,” he says. “In fact, because my father was a 3M engineer I believe I have a very different perspective in my analysis of real estate.”
Right out of high school, Seabold began working in retail sales at Dayton’s. His engaging personality and innate ability to anticipate customer needs, made him successful from the start. Over time, he developed a following of loyal customers. Many of these regulars were real estate agents and each, at one time or another, told Seabold that he would be great selling real estate.
The suggestion piqued young Seabold’s curiosity.
IN THE BEGINNING
“I had an interest in architecture as a kid,” he says. “I also grew up loving Monopoly. Then, when I was about 18, I started working in sales. By the time I was 21, I’d decided it was time to explore real estate as a possible career. The more I looked into it, the more excited I became.”
Licensed in 1987, Seabold became affiliated with Coldwell Banker Burnet and has stayed the course with this high-profile brokerage ever since. Despite being suited and qualified, Seabold soon discovered that because of his age and youthful appearance, he had to work twice as hard to win the trust of potential clients.
“Real estate is challenging for anyone, but it certainly didn’t help that I was 21 and looked about15,” he says with a laugh. “I had to deal with questions like, ‘Is your dad coming?’ But that forced me to focus. I made sure I knew the details of every home that was on the market. I’d go out and tour each one, I’d study the MLS books that we used at that time and I knew financing inside and out. Consequently, within a couple of years, the veterans were coming to me with questions.”
Although his youth created obstacles early in his career, Seabold believes it gave him a distinct advantage in the long run.
“That’s one thing I feel is unique about me,” says Seabold. “I began my real estate career fairly young. For most people, it’s a second career they start in their 30s or 40s. By starting at such a young age, I gained the experience that comes with that focus on one career earlier and still have another 15 or 20 years in the industry. I think that combination is pretty rare.”
Whether it was his youthful outlook or his natural gift for finding creative solutions, Seabold found it both exciting and rewarding to always look for unexpected, even unusual ways to achieve his goal. That goal is to put his clients interests above all else.
“I’m always trying to think outside the box, looking for ways to add value for my clients. For instance, long before the industry was providing pictures of properties, I was out there taking my own,” he says. “I would put them in a portfolio so that at my open houses buyers could see what was for sale. You have to remember, this was back when we were still using those huge MLS books. There was no internet, and no one had pictures. So, this was pretty innovative.”
Seabold has proved to be creative and ahead of the pack in other ways too. Back when he first got involved in real estate, there was no such thing as a true buyer’s agent. As Seabold explains it, everyone was technically a sub-agent of the seller. This means, buyers were basically left to fend for themselves. Seabold didn’t think this was fair and therefore got around this issue in a very clever way.
“We never represented buyers,” he says, “we were all sub-agents of the sellers. To get around this, I always claimed every buyer was a friend because that was the only way you could represent buyers. Of course, a few years later, the entire industry transformed. Everyone thought they had representation, they just didn’t know that wasn’t the case.”
Thanks to the analytical influence of his father, Seabold was always one step ahead, anticipating the next market change and then, utilizing his fertile imagination, would address any obstacle or potential downturn with his own unique approach.
“I was influenced by my father,” he says. “A 3M engineer is a unique breed of analytical personality, so growing up in that household and then going into sales, I’ve always focused on trends and continuously analyzing where I feel the market is headed.”
For example, in 1996 Seabold began working in new construction. “I was able to work with a developer who was building urban-fill condominiums, which in the late-90s was almost unheard of. It was very rarely done.”
Of course, in the early 2000s that became the hot trend and has gradually segued into apartment infill projects. But Seabold has had 20 years of experience representing 32 different condominium projects, many from concept to completion.
Conscientiously studying market trends and trying to anticipate what was coming, Seabold stopped investing in real estate around 2005, 18 months before the bottom dropped out.
DEALING WITH THE DOWNTURN
“As I saw the downturn in the real estate market (of course I had no idea it was going to be as bad as it was), I started working with local community banks and their troubled assets,” he explains. “I took my experience in condominium sales and brought it over to the banking side. At one point, I had seven different banks that I worked with to sell the assets they had that were coming back.”
Of course, Seabold wasn’t the only agent to take a similar approach, but he did do things differently when putting these properties on the market. For instance, during the winter, he noticed that most REO on the market were actually colder on the inside than it was outdoors. Obviously, this does not lend itself to a comfortable or leisurely tour of a property.
“Not only were they freezing inside,” he says, “they were dirty as well. Very unappealing. They looked desperate.
“we made minor improvements,” Seabold continues. “These were basically cosmetic, but it made a difference. Taking this one additional step, resulted in the banks making thousands upon thousands. Back in the day when the market was first flooded with foreclosure properties, the banks weren’t doing this. Now, they’ve learned to do it, but that’s what we were doing from the beginning.”
Seabold was not just ahead of the banks in these improvements, he was doing things 99 percent of the other real estate agents were not. Not surprisingly, he was exceptionally successful.
While there are numerous examples of his forward-thinking and proactive, Seabold offers one particular example. “With one bank, I had 30 different duplexes in North Minneapolis,” says Seabold. “They were all occupied. Faced with the multiple challenges of getting tenant cooperation, I came up with a plan that included paying them $20 per showing. Not only did they suddenly become more cooperative and available, I actually had them calling me asking when the next showing would be!”
Taking on an associate who specialized in short-sells, Seabold was also able to service the other end of this market crisis. They were equally successful with these clients, in one instance negotiating over $900,000 in debt relief for a seller with no recourse.
Over the years, Seabold has became particularly adept in staging and marketing. Aware that such aesthetics are not just “a nice touch” but can mean a difference of up to 20 percent in the sale price.
“Proper staging, professional photography and well-executed marketing have a tremendous impact on the final sales price,” he says. “The basic reason for this is that you attract a significantly higher number of people who look, and the more interest there is the higher the sales price tends to be.
“In fact,” he adds, “about 80 percent of my business is helping sellers prepare their homes to put on the market.”
REPUTATION FOR EXCELLENCE
With his ingenious approach and customized customer service, Seabold easily attained top producer ranking, earning the respect and admiration of clients and colleagues along the way. Not only has his business continued to grow, Seabold has been recognized by the industry for his numerous areas of expertise.
Continuing to build a reputation for excellence and innovation, he attracted new clients as well as enjoyed the endorsement of repeat business from long-time clients as well as their families and friends.
With this explosion of growth, Seabold knew he had to take additional steps to ensure he would never jeopardize his existing relationships nor fall down on the service he has always strived to provide. It was time to add more staff and form a team that could sustain his standards of service. He began seeking out like-minded professionals who he could trust to carry out his high standards.
Seabold, was just as judicious when selecting members of this group as he was with every other aspect of his business. The BOLD Marketing Team is a clever double entendre reflecting both the powerful assets of the group as well as the leader’s name.
“Having a vast amount of experience in so many different areas of real estate makes a world of difference,” Seabold says. “We have an excellent team of dedicated professionals who know the business and how to cater to our clients.”
While it’s apparent that Seabold is fully dedicated to his clients, he does make time for family and friends. He and his wife are the parents of four sons and, as a family they enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.
“We live very close to Lake Como,” says Seabold, “and one of our favorite activities is just walking around the lake. It’s great exercise and truly beautiful and very calming.
“Lately, we’ve been doing a lot more biking,” he adds. “We’re fortunate to live within a block of the Grand Round, which is a 26-mile trail with virtually limitless points of interest. Also, it leads into the Gateway Trail which brings us to Stillwater.”
After spending the better part of his life in real estate, people often ask Seabold if he’s getting bored or burned out.
“Not at all,” he says emphatically. “For one thing, real estate is one of those industries that always changing and my role within it continues to change as well. To be honest, my greatest joy is to solve problems. I love when my team members come to me and my mind immediately kicks into high gear. It’s exhilarating to come up with a solution that no one has thought of before, but more importantly one that makes all parties happy.”
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Seabold’s capacity for combining creative solutions with analytical reasoning impacts virtually every aspect of his life. A true football fan, Seabold wanted to be on hand for the sport’s biggest day – Super Bowl LII, so he devised a way to acquire these tickets for himself and a friend at an incredible price.
“Of course, we were disappointed that the Vikings weren’t playing,” he says, “but we still wanted to see the game. Two months in advance, we devised a plan to buy tickets after the game had started during the first quarter. Most people want to be there before the kickoff.
“We knew if we waited until after the game had started, the value of those tickets would decline,” he continues. “We also had some things working in our favor. By 5:45 in the afternoon the temperature had dropped to around two degrees. Ultimately, we were able to negotiate tickets for $1,000 apiece and ended up sitting in the 13th row of the lower level on the 40-yard line.”
Normally, these tickets required a VIP connection and a hefty pricetag of around $7,500 a piece. Their winning strategy resulted in dream seats for one of the biggest events of the year.
“Did we feel exceptionally lucky?” Seabold says. “Absolutely! It was such an incredible purchase and we got into the game when the score was 3-3.”