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Nearly twenty years ago, James Wright was wrapping up the sale of a charming century home, nestled on 90 acres of land on the northern edge of Merrickville, with an excited pair of buyers.
Based on James’ expansive knowledge of farmland and country estate properties, the proud new owners of this exclusive country estate were thrilled to have had James’ assistance in facilitating the deal.
They were so pleased with James’ services in fact, that today, 20 years on from that original transaction, those same buyers knew exactly who to call on when they decided to list their beloved 100-acre property on the market.
Speak to the highly-decorated, award-winning Ottawa Realtor® James Wright for more than five minutes and you’ll find he’s got an endless supply of anecdotes like these — the result of a brilliant 40+ year career at the top of Ottawa’s real estate economy.
While all of James’ charming stories from his nearly half-century-long career could fill a book, he’d be much too modest to ever let that happen.
Instead, we’ve managed to convince James that this is the correct time and place to let our readers know more about who he is, how he established his acclaimed Ottawa real estate empire, and his views on what the future of the Ottawa real estate industry holds.
Who Is James Wright?
A practicing real estate sales representative since 1979, James Wright is the founder of Ottawa-based real estate team, The Wright Team. Today, The Wright Team has grown to include seven team members, including his two daughters, Jessica and Sarah.
Get acquainted with our entire team at The Wright Team by visiting our Meet Our Team page here!
It’s hard to picture James doing anything other than shaking hands, answering phone calls, earning the trust of clients, and traversing across all ends of the greater Ottawa area to complete real estate transactions. After all, it’s been his career for over 40 years.
Before all of that, however, James’ first profession was as an equestrian in his native England. In fact, it was his love and involvement with horses that originally brought him to Canada, where he assisted many avid horse enthusiasts based right here in the Ottawa valley.
It didn’t take long for James to realize that his vast knowledge of equestrian and farmland properties was highly valued in the area, with many friends and acquaintances within his circle relying on James for help and advice on the subject.
This motivated James to take up a position in the real estate business, where he started off by listing horse farms and farmland properties in the more rural parts of Ottawa, dealing primarily with fellow “horse people.”
His Start In Real Estate
Although James is a natural at almost anything he takes up, he credits a huge amount of his success in real estate to his mentor, Neta Clarke. Neta was the owner of a private real estate brokerage based in Manotick in the ‘70s, and the first female President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board.
In the late ‘70s, when James Wright decided to make his transition into real estate, he sought out Neta and her brokerage and asked if she would take him on. By 1979, James was practicing his new career at her brokerage, learning everything he could about the industry directly from her.
James admired Neta for more than just her career abilities, however, paying close attention to her tenacity and acts of generosity within the community of Manotick. James closely related to Neta’s qualities and values, finding parallels between her approach to real estate and his to the equestrian world. James learned how to apply those qualities to his blossoming real estate career first-hand from Neta.
However, Manotick in the late ’70s was no easy market. The community was much smaller than it is today, and most everybody already had a personal connection with a Realtor®, leaving little opportunity for James to make a name for himself.
“It was really difficult getting started in 1979 because Manotick was a small community and there was always someone who knew [a Realtor®] through the curling or golf clubs,” says James.
Although Manotick was small, James knew it was just a matter of time until more and more people would discover the community, however, which spurred him on to take the initiative and make bigger moves.
“I knew things were starting to build in Manotick at the time, so I decided to go to the builders, who were new kids on the block like me,” James explains.
When the construction of larger developments was just starting to become more popular in Manotick, James jumped on the trend and began cold-calling their builders.
James knew that just like him, these new developers and builders were new to the Manotick area and wouldn’t already have pre-established connections in the community. Before long, James was organizing the sales and development of these new Manotick communities, marking the start of the widespread success he has today.
To this day, James’ business is still built around buying and selling all types and sizes of Ottawa property, commenting that “your day can start off showing condos in the city and the next day you could be out showing a horse farm or a property near the country.”
Want to learn more about what the community of Manotick is like today? Visit our Manotick Neighbourhood Guide here!
The Family Business
The accomplishment that James is perhaps most proud of is that he’s been able to use his successes in real estate to create a business and environment where he gets to work alongside his daughters every day.
In 2008, his daughter Jessica obtained her real estate license and became a Sales Representative for The Wright Team. Soon after in 2012, James’ daughter Sarah followed suit. In fact, the Wright family began to show signs of this perfect partnership even before this when both of James’ daughters displayed a keen interest in the real estate business by starting to work across various brokerages through their high school and university years.
“I find it very rewarding,” says James. “Knowing that the family is there feels great.”
James’ focus has always been the customer service and client-facing side of the business, and through the years growth has come by osmosis, with many clients finding the Wright Team by word of mouth or referral. By self-admission, James is more of an old-school Realtor®, saying “there are parts of the business I really love, like being with listings and buyer clients, being out on the road, speaking to people.”
The organizational side of things, however, is where Jessica and Sarah’s expertise comes into play — and with an eye to the future, James has empowered them to take on managing the digital, administrative, and marketing side of the business in addition to representing their own buyers and sellers.
“If the girls weren’t there building the business, I’d be lost,” James admits. “It’s hard to give up the ropes, but I’m the sort of person that I don’t need to be in total control of things.”
That being said, slowing down and considering retirement isn’t even a thought in James’ mind — especially given that his original mentor, Neta Clarke, worked in the real estate business well into her 90s.
“I’ve got no plans on quitting,” says James. “I love it and it’s a huge part of my life, and I see our business continuing to grow.” Instead, James’ goal is simple — to try and “keep our business prominent in the way that it should be.”
See a brief timeline of The Wright Team’s story by visiting Our Journey So Far page here.
Thoughts On The Future
After practicing real estate for over four decades, James has learned a lot about setting expectations having lived through the ups and downs of Ottawa’s real estate market first-hand. With that said, nobody could have expected the reach of the COVID-19 pandemic to have had such a global impact as it did.
“To begin with it was very scary for everybody,” James explained. “We didn’t even know if we could show a house let alone sell one — we had to find out how to navigate this.”
Still, James and The Wright Team persevered as always, having learned from his storied career and past experiences that the highs and lows of Ottawa’s real estate market don’t last forever.
“I think in the dot com days when the housing bubble burst, everyone thought Ottawa would fall down the tube and the market would crash,” he says, “but Ottawa survived and companies have come back and gotten stronger, bringing confidence to this city.”
While he knows there will still be bumps in the road to come, James is optimistic about the health of Ottawa’s real estate market, and the city in general.
“I see the market still staying strong in Ottawa,” James suggests. “There’s a lot more growth here than ever before and it’s long overdue. We’re the nation’s capital with a lot to offer.”
As for his own future in real estate, James is looking forward to the industry returning to some sort of normalcy soon. No matter how much red tape is required to show a home, or how much of the job has moved online, real estate will always be about creating memorable in-person experiences.
“I still feel that real estate has to be the see, the feel, and the touch,” James says. “It’s got to be that emotional feeling when you walk through a home — when you go in there, you have to feel if it’s right for you.”
Despite the vast amount of high-quality photographs, videos, virtual walkthroughs, and other digital marketing assets his team creates for each listing, James still feels “clients really have to see inside a home in real life.”
Perhaps retaining that romantic sentiment about real estate, despite all of the difficulties he’s had to face over the past year or so, is what’s served as the foundation for his remarkable career.
For James, buying and selling real estate is more about people than properties. To him, his clients always come first, which is why they always come back.
“I’ve got clients that have been looking for the correct home for over two years,” says James in a personal anecdote. “It’s not that their sights are set too high, it’s just that the right home for them hasn’t shown up yet.”
James has always been more concerned about his clients’ personal needs than his own.
“It’s not about the numbers, it’s not about the volume — I never even look at how many homes we sell.”
No matter what your real estate experience is or how long you’ve been active in the market, James is always eager and excited to meet new people and start new conversations. If you’d like to speak with James or a member of our team directly about real estate, we try our best to make that as easy as possible. You can start by contacting us here and letting us know what your future Ottawa-based real estate goals look like.
Find out more about what it’s like to work with James and The Wright Team by reading our genuine client testimonials here.