Job Title: Real estate broker, Sutton Group-Nor-Vista Realty
Why He’s a Top 40: For leading one of the most sought-after real estate branches in the area and supporting young buyers
In the seventh grade, James Mabey had had enough of his “male-driven” Sturgeon County Junior High School – the type of place where students were made to do pushups in the hallway if they did something bad. He had to escape. The next closest school to his St. Albert acreage home was in Morinville, and his mother, Louise, was happy to drive him there every school day until he was old enough to drive himself.
Neither James nor Louise knew it then, but those 30 minutes together every morning in the car, bonding over sips of fresh coffee, were the beginnings of a business partnership that would result in Sutton Group-Nor-Vista Realty, one of the bestselling real estate agencies in the Edmonton area.
“A strange situation took me into real estate,” Mabey recalls, thinking back to a time of post-graduate limbo just after he obtained a marketing degree at McGill University. “Looking from a marketing approach, I never considered being a realtor.”
But when Louise, who was a realtor herself, developed breast cancer, he wanted to be there for her like she was for him 15 years earlier. He remembers thinking, “If [real estate] was something I could work with her on, and I’d have a bit of a head start, then it would be something worthwhile.”
Worthwhile it was. He believes what has given him an edge is that he’s a natural salesperson, though he doesn’t think of himself as a salesperson at all; he believes it’s his genuine interest in property, his ability to connect with people and a youthful age that makes him trustworthy to young, first-time homebuyers. In 2006, his rookie year in the business, he won Sutton’s Director Award for sales performance. The next year, he was given the Executive Award, which he has continued to claim every year since.
When Louise began her slow retirement two years ago, Mabey inherited her real estate broker position at Sutton. Now he leads the 28-person team, helping it meet their goals and facilitating good business practices. When he’s not arranging the buying and selling of homes from his St. Albert office, Mabey sits on the board of HIV Edmonton, initiating safe sex education – especially to new immigrants who consider the virus a taboo topic – because education “is the only cure.”
As well, in the spirit of encouraging new homeowners, he helps build affordable housing through Habitat for Humanity projects. His reasons are simple: “Everyone deserves a place to live.”