Jacki Semerau Tait – There is no overnight success its habits

Meet Jacki Semerau Tait, a top-producing Realtor and renowned Real Estate Coach who went from having just $4 to her name to helping thousands of agents achieve six-figure incomes! Jacki believes in the power of collaboration, stating, “Sometimes your weakness exists so someone else’s strength can shine.” Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Her number one advice? Form habits! To grow, first stop and fix the systems you have in place. 

Click here to learn more about Jacki

Show Notes

Welcome to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast where you’ll hear the good, the bad and the ugly of how real estate agents overcame challenges and grew their business. Check out the Episode Notes at CrushItinRE.com/podcast. Here’s your host, Lindsay Favazza.

Jacki Semerau Tait: When we are walking around in our weakness, it’s a false narrative that you have to work on that weakness and just fix it and become strong and be good at everything. Sometimes your weakness exists so that somebody else’s strength can shine.

Lindsay Favazza: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Agents Who Crush It in Real Estate. I’m your host, Lindsay Favazza, and today, we have an incredibly inspiring guest with us. Known as the queen of relational real estate, Jacki Semerau Tait is a top-producing realtor and acclaimed real estate coach. Her journey from having just $4 to her name to empowering thousands of agents to achieve consistent six-figure incomes is nothing short of remarkable.

Beyond her success in real estate, Jacki is also an international best-selling author and a professional motivational speaker who has shared platforms with legends like Les Brown and Magic Johnson. Her $4 story has transformed lives around the world, and we’re thrilled to have her share her wisdom and insights with all of us today. Welcome to the show, Jacki.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Thanks so much for having me, Lindsay. I’m excited to talk to you today.

Lindsay Favazza: Yes, it’s going to be so much fun. Take us back to the very beginning. How did you get into real estate and what was your motivation to do that? What were you doing before? Take us in the time capsule.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Got you. My background was in marketing and advertising, but when I decided to get into real estate, I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. My then-husband and I decided we wanted to get started buying investment properties. I started working with a real estate agent who really didn’t understand what our goals were. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I don’t think she really worked with investors. I think she was more like the motherly, I’ll-hold-your-hand, first-time-buyer agent.

For us, we were just starting. This was before you could open up YouTube and basically learn all sorts of tips and tricks, all that kind of thing. I said, you know what, instead of trying to find an agent who understands what we’re looking for, I am just going to go to real estate school and figure it out for myself. That was what inspired me to go to school. While I was in school, the oddest thing happened. I completely fell in love with it. I say that it’s odd because if any of you listening ever went to real estate school, it’s not much to fall in love with.

Lindsay Favazza: It’s not like the college campus vibe or snow cake parties.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Not at all. I think what really appealed to me– I am a creative through and through. I’m all about that 30,000-foot view. I think what really got me with real estate is all the intricacies. To build a deal, you have to put it together like a puzzle. Every deal is different. To me, I found that challenge really appealing. I was basically taking my school test going, “I think I want to do this for real.”

That’s what I did. I got my license and I went to work. I started working with a small company. It was a prudential franchise branch in Cave Creek, Arizona. I had my first deal in escrow within six days of hanging my license. I was like, “Oh, this is really–“

Lindsay Favazza: Was it beginner’s luck?

Jacki Semerau Tait: What’s that?

Lindsay Favazza: Was it beginner’s luck looking back, or did you just– was that the start of it?

Jacki Semerau Tait: Yes and no. Basically, what happened is, back then, again, I’m talking 2002. Everybody having an email was a new thing, and we were still faxing deals. This was so just to set the stage as to what you had to do. Again, my background is in advertising and marketing. When I started, they offered floor time. That was the first thing I did as I signed up for floor time.

A funny little side story is I’m sitting there, it’s my third day. I did Monday, I did Wednesday, and I did Friday. It’s Friday. I just got there. The receptionist is, like, “Hey, I’m going to go to lunch. Will you grab the phones?” Right after she leaves, I’m the only person in the office, the phone rings, and I’m like, whatever the company name was. They’re like, “Yes, we’re looking to talk to an agent.” I kid you not, I was like, “Oh, who do I give this to?” Then I’m like, “Wait a minute. I’m an agent. I can help you.”

Lindsay Favazza: That’s so cute.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Those were the people, they were coming into town. It was Labor Day weekend. I spent the weekend with them and opened escrow for them on Tuesday morning.

Lindsay Favazza: Can you imagine if there was another agent in the office, and you’re like, “Hey, I have a lead.” They’re looking at you, going, “What are you doing?”


Lindsay Favazza: That’s adorable. Tell me about those early years of getting started. It must have been a challenge. Then you had to go through 2008 and all of that that was challenging. Tell me how your career and your journey progressed.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Great question. Interestingly enough, that first deal that I got was the worst thing that could have happened to me because I truly thought this real estate thing is easy. I don’t know what everybody’s talking about. You just show up, the phone rings, you get clients. Hey. It really put me, honestly, behind the eight ball. I abandoned everything I knew about marketing and advertising.

I came in thinking, “I’ve got this plan. I’ve got that plan.” The reason I picked the brokerage I did is because they had, again, time era, they had postcards and flyers that I could use and have them print my name on them. Then I could deliver those and all this. I had the whole thing. Websites were brand new thing. I was on it. I’m like, “I’m going to get an individual website.”

I would call people and tell them, “Hey, if you want to search for properties, you can go to my website.” They did. It wasn’t like today where you’re, like, “Why would I go to your website? I got Zillow, I got Realtor.com. I can just go to Google. It doesn’t matter.” Truly, that put me behind the eight ball. I struggled a little bit. In my first couple of years, I did sell some homes, some of them by blind luck, and some of them intentionally.

I actually went through divorce. Interestingly, that husband that I had at the time, he and I never did buy an investment property. We actually ended up getting a divorce. I had a 3 and a 5-year-old. To provide some stability, instead of staying in the agent game, I started to work in the corporate marketing office for a Fortune 150 title company. I think that I can credit that so much for me being able to do well as an agent later on.

Basically, I did that, I worked for the title company for three years, and I actually left the title company to go back to the agent side in the fall of 2007. The market had already started to shift, we were already on a downward trajectory. I knew what I was getting into. I think, at the time, I had spent three years putting together programs for real estate agents to help real estate agents become more successful.

I did trainings, I did all sorts of things. I was, like, “Listen, I’m going to go do this.” Because I saw so many people struggling, and I thought, “I know what to do. I’m going to hit it. I’m going to go for it.” I did. I actually did well. However, I had two deals in escrow. I don’t know how many of you were around remember, but in 2008, we had that stock market crash in June of 2008. I had two deals and for a total of about $2 million in sales, which 2008, great numbers. Both of them fell out because of the crash. I was really counting on those deals going through. Then my own personal downfall ensued after that. Yes, that takes us to 2008.

Lindsay Favazza: Are we now at the $4? Are we now?

Jacki Semerau Tait: Oh, no. Worse.

Lindsay Favazza: Tell us how it got worse before it gets better.

Jacki Semerau Tait: At that time, I owned my own home, I had two girls going to private school. I had had success financially and things were kicking, and here we go. I still can remember a few months later, having to make the difficult decision to not be able to pay my mortgage. It was, “You either pay the mortgage, or you keep the lights on and food on the table.” I remember, in those times, like it’d never hit me that this could be long-term.

I just kept saying, “No, I know what to do. I’m fighting for it.” [crosstalk]

Lindsay Favazza: I’m fine.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Right. I’m showing up every day. I’m like, “I just won’t pay my mortgage this month. I’ll get caught up next month.” Next month came and I couldn’t get caught up, and so on and so forth. Eventually, I did, I short-sold, my house went into foreclosure. Instead of letting it foreclose, I did a short sale on the house, and I moved back in with my parents.

Here I come, I’ve got my kids, I’ve got my stuff, and quite frankly, my pride and all in tow, and I had to move in with my parents. Again, thinking, “Few short months, I’m going to get back up on my feet. This could be no time flat, we’ll be fine.”

Lindsay Favazza: Thank goodness you had that too. Thank goodness you had that to fall back on and their support. I’m sure they were happy to take you in and try to help.

Jacki Semerau Tait: My parents are truly great and I was raised by parents that family is everything. In our world, it wasn’t even anything that my parents necessarily– I don’t come from money. My dad was blue-collar, hardworking, middle class, my mom was a stay-at-home mom, but I was very blessed to have that situation, and so we could move in with them. It honestly ended up being two and a half years before I was able to move out. It was during that two and a half years that I took a little bit of a step back from real estate, and I was doing marketing.

I was doing marketing consulting for small businesses and for some other realtors and some brokerages. All of that happening and basically, it wasn’t just me, this was a global thing, great recession of 2008, it started in 2008, now we’re in 2009 and I am doing marketing while other people are making those difficult decisions of, “Do I make payroll or do I pay this independent contractor?”

I had a lot of outstanding items, I had accounts billable out there, but nothing was being received. I woke up one morning and I would constantly check my bank account and I just remember waking up, checking my bank account, and I was overdrawn on one account, I was at a flat zero on another, and I look in my purse and I had four single dollar bills to my name.

I remember, in that moment, just going, “This is the sum of your net worth,” although, truth be told, I was in so much debt that that’s not even true, it was like, “No, this is the sum of your available funds.”

Lindsay Favazza: This is the available funds that you have at the moment.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Exactly.

Lindsay Favazza: So scary.

Jacki Semerau Tait: It was terrifying. At that time too, it was right before my kids were going to start school, I had to take them out of the private school that they were in, and they were going to start going to public school, and so of course we had to get school supplies and we had to get school clothes for them. My parents were gracious enough to get the school supplies for them, but I needed to provide school clothes, and I truly had no idea how I was going to do that.

That day, I had a business meeting at Starbucks, and I still remember walking into this particular Starbucks, ordering a venti water because there was no way I’m spending my last $4 dollars

Lindsay Favazza: $4.99 on a coffee.

Jacki Semerau Tait: I ain’t spending $4 on an expensive cup of coffee, and now I have nothing to show for it but a caffeine buzz. I did, I sat down with this person who was a business associate but also a friend. He looked at me about halfway through, and he’s, like, “What’s going on?” He’s, like, “You are not yourself.” I tend to hold my cards close to my chest. I don’t like to open up about that kind of stuff. For some reason I did and I told him about how I couldn’t afford school clothes and I’ve got all these outstanding bills and they’re not coming in.

I don’t even think I told him about the $4. I just was like, “I can’t afford to get the girls school clothes.” He actually gave me some money, and said, “Go buy your kids some school clothes.” Part of this whole story in coming out of it, one of the lessons right here, I’d like to stop the story and say, listen, look for the helpers. They’re out there and sometimes it’s not about money. Sometimes it’s about other things but people will come alongside you and help you out.

I think in our Western culture society, we are raised to believe we can do it all, have it all, know it all, be it all. We don’t need anybody’s help. We’re strong, we’re powerful, bah, bah, bah.

Lindsay Favazza: Until we break.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Yes. I truly believe that we, as human beings, have lost the nuance of that we’re meant to come alongside each other and be each other’s yin to the yang from time to time. When we are walking around in our weakness, it’s a false narrative that you have to work on that weakness and just fix it and become strong and be good at everything. Sometimes your weakness exists so that somebody else’s strength can shine.

Lindsay Favazza: I love that.

Jacki Semerau Tait: In that moment, that was a lesson that I learned and moving on down the road, I was able to buy my kids school clothes. I had enough left over to buy them dollar cones at Baskin-Robbins.

Lindsay Favazza: Nice.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Yes. I tried to pay him back later when the money came in, and he goes, “Oh, don’t want your money.” He said, “Pay it forward.” I’ve had the opportunity to do that over and over again financially, but that is also part of why I come and I tell this story. Because we don’t end there. The trajectory goes up and not to give a spoiler, but life is good today.

Lindsay Favazza: Yes, exactly. Let’s get into the spoils. Let’s get into how did things change from there? What were the next steps? Now that someone handed you that olive tree, really, that olive branch, how did you get it to be a tree? How did you take that and make sure to grow it and get back on your feet?

Jacki Semerau Tait: I love that. I continued to work hard, look for opportunities, and eventually, was able to get back up on my feet. I moved out of my parents’ house, got a three-bedroom apartment. I remember, it felt like a palace. After everything, being in this little three-bedroom apartment was, like, “Whoa, I can’t even believe this.”

Lindsay Favazza: So much space.

Jacki Semerau Tait: So much space. It was an upward trajectory. I still had bumps in the road. I don’t want to give the impression that, like, “Oh, and then life was rosy, and we fixed it, and we’re good, and high five.” No, no, no. There got to a point where I was almost evicted from that apartment because the opportunities that I had followed, I was working with a tech startup, and we lost our funding. We lose our funding, which means I lose my stipend, and here I am yet again.

Now I take my real estate and my marketing experience and I start to work with a mortgage lender, representing a few of their top loan officers by helping their real estate agents with their marketing. I got to marry all of that together, which was really great. That was a fun gig, to be honest. Then we had an opportunity to move out of the Scottsdale area in Arizona and move to Flagstaff.

By this time, I’m remarried, my kids are teenagers. My now husband and I packed everything up. We moved to Flagstaff. He had a second home in Flagstaff for years. We spent time here and whatnot. We did, we moved to Flagstaff. Here’s the great thing. I had been coaching agents. I had been training agents. I had been working with them on their marketing. I said, “Listen, I’m going into a brand new market where I know three people, two of whom are already realtors. I need to prove that the things I coach work, or I am going to prove that I don’t know what I’m talking about and I need to zip it with this whole coaching business. Either way, it’s great.”

Lindsay Favazza: Either way, sink or swim.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Sink or swim. Basically, I truly became my own case study. I came up here. I put the systems to work. I put the relationship-building tactics to work. My first year up here, I sold $7 million in real estate. Which, we’re talking 10 years ago, and that was a pretty significant chunk for just hitting the ground running. Fast forward to today, 10 years later, I’ve been top 1% of Realty ONE Group nationwide for the last five years and counting.

I lead a team of agents now. I got too busy to just be me. I started by bringing on one agent, et cetera, et cetera. Now we’re at six agents and a transaction coordinator. I also am coaching agents. I still coach, now I’m doing it thanks to Zoom. I get to do nationwide coaching, but I also train our newbies in our brokerage. I train all the newbies that come in. We’ve got about 700 agents in our brokerage, 11 different offices. When we get newbies, I coach those newbies through. I pair them with a local mentor and then I work with them there. There’s the full spectrum.

Lindsay Favazza: Full spectrum. I love it. You mentioned being a top 1% realtor, and I want to hone in on that a little bit because I think, a lot of people, that’s what they’re striving to do. That’s what they’re trying to be, number 1 in their market. They’re trying to be number 1 in their company, in their office, whatever that is. What are some of the habits? What are some of the things that a top 1% realtor should have in your perspective?

It’s funny, we’ve seen agents come into our company, and they start, they’re brand new to the business, and I say to myself, “That person’s going to kill it.” Then they don’t. Or the opposite happens. You get that impression. You’re like, “Yes, this isn’t going to be for them.” Then all of a sudden, they’re a top-producing realtor in their market. There doesn’t seem to be any real rhyme or reason to a personality type to anything like that. What is it? What is the habits? What are the things that make someone successful that they do? Not who they are, because we clearly can see that it could be anyone that can do it. What are the habits they have to have in order to become successful?

Jacki Semerau Tait: First and foremost, Lindsay, you keyed in on the fact that it is the habits. 100%, it’s your habits. Whether you’re in real estate or any other gig out there, it’s the tiny daily habits that create the large successes. You hear people talk about “Overnight successes.” There’s no such thing. You hear people talk about, like you just said, where an agent comes in and we can’t really tell by their personality, but all of a sudden, they’re a top producer. All of a sudden, people from outside the brokerage who weren’t there for their journey are, like, “Where did this wonderful person come from?”

It’s not about that. It truly is the habit. First and foremost– and I should say, let me back up, it’s not just the habits, it’s the habits and the systems. First and foremost, when you’re brand spanking new in real estate, or let’s say you’re listening to this right now, and you’re like, “My business is a hot mess. There’s no consistency. I don’t know what to do.” If there’s one thing I can say, just stop and fix your systems. That is going to be the number 1 thing you can do. You’ve got to have a CRM, a database of some sort.

I highly recommend having a real estate-specific database if at all possible. I have worked with agents in coaching before where I literally will ask them, where are your people? Where is your database? They hold up their iPhone and say, well, they’re in my contact list.

Lindsay Favazza: It kills me too. We have agents that join the business who have been selling for years, have tons and tons of clients top of their market. I’ll say to them, “We’re going to get your list so that we can send out a mailer to them.” They’re, like, “I don’t have that.” What? It’s incredible to me how they do so well without it, but you got to have it, like get that all in a place.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Honestly, and I’ve worked with those agents as well. In fact, I remember when I was doing the coaching, working with the lender, I met with a top-producing agent in Paradise Valley, Arizona, which Paradise Valley, Arizona is like the Beverly Hills of Arizona. It’s the rich people place. It’s the high-dollar real estate. It’s all of that. When I met with him and we looked at his systems, they were a mess.

He actually brought me in to fix just to set up an email newsletter. It was a lot of work just getting all of his people together in an Excel spreadsheet, making sure we had proper email addresses. When I looked at him, I look at, like, he is just go, go, go. He throws some stuff into systems here and there. He hired somebody who he just throws some stuff at and then she would get some things organized.

Really, we had to go way back and go, “Before you brought this person on, let’s look at all of that.” We were able to get that up and running. Here’s the thing. We all have our gifts and we all have our talents, right? Let me just back up for a second, and just say, first and foremost, get your system set up, have your CRM. I literally run my business by, every morning I wake up, I use Follow Up Boss, and Follow Up Boss sends me an email of what I need to do that day.

It’s all built by the things I put in there. Every time I talk to a contact, I have them in my Follow Up Boss. I make a note, and then I put a follow-up task for later, whether that’s maybe we just had a conversation. Maybe we didn’t even talk about real estate. Maybe it was somebody I was just calling to touch base. “Hey, how are you doing? How’s life? How’s the kids? Did you just have a graduate? How’s your dog doing? Geez, I saw on Facebook you had to put your dog down. I’m so sorry.”

Whatever that conversation is, we have that conversation, and it’s like, “Hey, great catching up with you.” Even if it ends there, I still put a follow up to touch base with them in three to six months, whatever the case may be. There’s always somebody to follow up with. If you get into that system, now, I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to wake up and pull up my CRM and say, “Oh, well, who do I call? I know I got to make calls today, but who do I call?” No, Follow Up Boss is telling me who to call.

This is the first step that I can tell you is to get that system set up. Now the habits become making the calls. When you are doing these habits– I do like to tell people about this particular study that a group called Curaytor did. Curaytor, I’m sure maybe you’ve heard of them. Big in marketing for real estate professionals. They did a study, and what the study boiled down to is that, for every 100 phone calls you make, 29 people are going to answer. Of the people who answer your call, half of those are going to have a conversation with you. They judged conversation by how many people stayed on the phone with you for 30 seconds or more.

Now you’ve got about 14, 15 people who are having an actual conversation with you. From there, they found that, of those 14, 15 people, 2 will book an appointment with you. Now I’m looking at this, going, “Let’s take those numbers, and say, “If I want to set one appointment a week, according to that data, I have to make 50 calls.” 50 calls gets me to 1 appointment a week. If I can make one appointment a week, we’ve made 52 appointments for the year.

Now let’s just say I’m awful at closing. Then this is to me, I’m, like, “Let’s take this down to the ridiculous.” Let’s say, of those 52 appointments, you literally only get half of those people to work with you. I think you could do more, but let’s just say you’re, like, “I’m awful in front of people. It’s not my talent,” whatever. You get half of those people to book with you. Whether it’s a signed buyer agreement or a signed listing agreement. One of those two things—that’s how we’re going to judge success in this situation.

If I get a signed buyer agreement or a signed listing agreement in half of those 52 appointments, I have 26 real clients for the year. Now I know most realtors are not closing 26 deals a year. National Association of Realtors says the average realtor closes six transactions a year. I promise you, if you’re doing 26 transactions per year, you are going to crush it.

There’s your six figures. In the beginning, when you start this process, you’re going to have to build upon it. You’re not going to come out of the gates and it’s not a perfect scenario. It’s not like you’re, like, “Jacki, I made my 50 calls. I got no appointments. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m moving on to the next.” Be consistent. Maybe this week you make your 50 calls and you don’t get any appointments, but next week, you make your 50 calls and you get two.

Maybe it takes you a month. Yes. Maybe it takes you a month worth of making 50 calls. Here’s the other thing. Guess what? If you don’t get the results, and you’re, like,”So the 50 calls a week, I’m not getting anything.” Bump it up. Do 100 calls. Whatever the case needs to be for you to meet your goals. That’s where I want people to at least start. Do that habit. 50 calls a week. You will. You won’t be able to help yourself, but to be successful.

Lindsay Favazza: I love this. This is great advice. We’re already at 30 minutes, which is shocking to me. I just looked up and went, “What? How did that happen?” My last question to you is really to help us to figure out how we can work with you. Because there’s probably a lot of agents that are listening that are thinking to themselves, “I need her to coach me.” Give us your elevator pitch. Give us how we can find you, what we can do to, if it’s an agent that’s listening, that wants to take their business to the next level, how do they get in contact with you?

Jacki Semerau Tait: Thank you for asking. First and foremost, I have a gift for your audience. If you go to byreferral, which is byreferral.com, you can put in your information. I have a free download, and it’s a four-step mastery guide to working with your sphere of influence. These are truly the four things that I do on a consistent basis to build my relationships in real estate that has led me to a business where my personal book of business is 92% referral based. Yes, that’s it.

Lindsay Favazza: Perfect.

Jacki Semerau Tait: If you go to byreferral.com, you can download that. That’s also going to put– here’s who I’m not. I don’t email you like all the time. It really just puts you in the loop to be notified when I’m going to launch my next group coaching session. You may hear from me right away, you may not hear from me for six weeks, but I will contact you when I am going to do my next group coaching. From there though, if you’re, like, “You know what? That I’m not really that interested,” but you want to see some of the other things that I have to offer, you can just go to stepstostrength.com.

That’s my Linktree that’s got literally like everything. You can find my YouTube channel. I do a YouTube channel with my husband called The Empty Nester Life. You can link to my books that I’ve written, whatever. You find everything there.

Lindsay Favazza: We also have all your links down here. They can find you that way. We’re going to put all the links that you just mentioned and everything into the show notes, including your book. We’ll make sure to link that in the show notes as well. If you learned a lot today from Jacki, I do recommend reaching out to her. She’s a wealth of knowledge. So much information today. I think we could have done three full episodes on everything that you have to offer. Maybe we’ll have you back. We’ll do a little extra.

Jacki Semerau Tait: I would love to do that.

Lindsay Favazza: Thank you so much, Jacki. Thank you so much to our listeners for listening to this episode of the Agents Who Crush It in Real Estate. We’ll see you guys on the next one. Have a great one. Thanks, Jacki.

Jacki Semerau Tait: Thank you.

Thanks for joining us on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. We hope you’ve learned some valuable takeaways. Be sure to take action and grow your business. You can check out the Episode Notes and more content from the show at CrushitinRE.com/podcast. And if you’d like this episode, and you’d like to hear more stories, please share with others, post on social media or leave a rating or review. To catch all the latest from Anthony you can follow him on Instagram at Crush It In Real Estate on Facebook and YouTube. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.