The professional side of James
James spent his childhood in Stellenbosch and later matriculated from Menlo Park High School Pretoria, where-after he returned to Stellenbosch to study Law at the University of Stellenbosch. He never practiced Law and opted to take up a unique career opportunity with Toyota South Africa as one of their first Graduate Management Trainees. His career grew rapidly over the 10 year period he spent with them and received great exposure and experience in the corporate business world.
Wanting to revisit his plans for the future, the next year was spent on a sabbatical traveling all over Europe and Southeast Asia, also opening his eyes for international opportunities. During these travels, he got exposed to Dubai and when a great opportunity there presented itself; he decided to join the Toyota and Lexus group of companies in Dubai as Marketing Manager. After another 10 years, he decided to semi-retire back to South Africa and purchased a guest house in Paarl, which he still owns today.
Whilst operating the guest house, another major automotive group in the Middle East approached him to head up a new company in Abu Dhabi, Premier Motors. Premier Motors is the sole agents for premium brands like Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, Land Rover and Ford. James filled this position for 9 years and it grew into one of the largest and most profitable motor companies in the United Arab Emirates. After almost 20 years in Dubai, James decided to return permanently to South Africa at the end of 2014.
James at home
James is married to Irina, who is originally from Siberia in Russia, and whom he met in Dubai 9 years ago. Irina is very fond of South Africa, particularly Pretoria, which is where they decided to call home upon their return from Dubai. Irina has a passion for gardening and loves to experiment with various flowers and plants, in addition to her freelance career as a Fashion Designer. They visit France annually, where Irina also sells most of her designs. They love traveling, both local holidays as well as exploring unique places. James has a son of 32 (James Junior) who resides in Namibia, which is also one of their favourite destinations.
As for hobbies and in addition to his passion for the real estate business, James enjoys playing golf and to spend time with his family and friends.
James & Property
As we have now gathered, James does not let an opportunity pass by, and clearly he is not one to sit and simply enjoy a quiet life. James kept in touch with a friend, Debbie Stevenson, Licence Partner of E&V Broadacres. Not too long into his “retirement”, he phoned her up to gain some insight into the property industry, what E&V was all about and what the business model entailed.
From here on things moved rather quickly. James met with Craig Hutchison, the CEO of Engel & Völkers and as fate would have it, the Pretoria New East territory was available. Within a month the deal was sealed and he took over the Silver Lakes Licence in January 2016. Since then James has acquired 2 further licences for the adjacent areas to have a diverse and large footprint in Pretoria New East, stretching from Moreletta Park down to Silver Lakes.
The property industry seems to run in James’ blood. His Mom (88) and his “best friend" owned real estate company called Gem Properties in partnership with two friends. So it comes as no surprise that when James registered his business, he named it GemProp Real Estate (Pty) Ltd t/a E&V Pretoria New East.
Outlook on the industry
James believes that even with the current economic climate, investing in property often presents unique opportunities for investors and buyers alike, whether residential or commercial. James started investing in property at a young age, with help from his parents. He convinced his parents to purchase a townhouse in Stellenbosch; at that stage it was purchased at R 18,000 and today it is worth R 3 million – proof that there is just no investment that grows as much as property does. Over the years, he has built a diverse property portfolio, reflecting his belief and confidence in property investments.
When asked about his outlook on the real estate industry James says it’s a very exciting industry, challenging but rewarding in the sense that knowing you and your team are fulfilling people’s expectations and dreams. It is very rewarding when you exceed clients expectations in finding their perfect property, whether a rental, a first property or their dream home.