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SIOR Spotlight: Stephanie Maye, SIOR

Updated: May 14

In this conversation with Stephanie Maye, SIOR, Co-founder and Broker of Record of Maven Commercial Real Estate, we learn about her journey from farm life in the small town of Cookstown, ON, to the heights of commercial real estate while settling in Barrie. Here, Stephanie reveals the unique path that led her to excel in this competitive field, highlighting the influences and decisions that have defined her success. Her story is a vivid illustration of ambition, resilience, and the pursuit of passion in commercial real estate.

Let's start with your story. What inspired you to pursue a career in real estate?

Stephanie: Growing up on a cash crop, egg, and dairy farm in Cookstown, ON, as the eldest of nine kids, I watched my dad monitor the commodity markets to decide when to sell our crops. This made me aware of the investment side of things. This early exposure to business and investment was significant in shaping my interests. I signed up for my own Forbes magazine subscription and also loved driving around looking at real estate in my teens—while other teenagers were reading fashion magazines, I was drawn into the world of business.

Ironically, although I loved learning, I didn't go to university because I was eager to start working.

The sense of community and a level of understanding and trust are what I enjoy most. Being in SIOR means instant recognition from the broker community—we just get it. It speeds things up because you know an SIOR member is credible.

After high school, I got a job at Air Canada, working as a ground attendant and coordinator in Station Operations Control. However, a colleague introduced me to Robert Kiyosaki's book 'Rich Dad Poor Dad.' That book ignited a vision for so many possibilities—that you can use real estate to build wealth.

My brother and I bought our first property together when we were 20, with our mom co-signing. Shortly thereafter, at 22, I obtained my real estate license. By then, I had met and married my husband, and we lived in another small town, Fergus, ON, where I sold country real estate. This meant dealing with all types of buildings, including houses, farms, and the occasional small industrial building. My favourite clients were investors and business owners.

How did you get into the commercial side?

Stephanie: The pivot to commercial real estate came at a challenging time. After eight years in country real estate, with two little kids at home, I realized the 24/7 real estate lifestyle was unsustainable for my family. It was a critical moment when my husband fell seriously ill, and I was so wrapped up in my work that I initially didn't take his illness seriously. That was a wake-up call. I needed to reassess my priorities—my family needed me, and I couldn't continue running in all directions for my clients while neglecting them.

Be bold. Boldness means realizing that you're as valuable as anyone else. It means getting in front of the people you need to speak with, regardless of who they are.

The answer came in a dream. I had been considering leaving the industry, but in the dream, I heard the suggestion, “You could do Commercial Real Estate”. Upon waking, I started putting all the pieces together: I could work more in line with my kids' school schedules by working more standard hours. The question of whether our town was large enough to focus only on commercial real estate was a definite 'no.' The thought of moving to Toronto didn't appeal to us, as farm kids. By then, my brother was also in real estate, focusing on Residential Real Estate in Barrie. Since we were considering moving closer to our extended family, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I didn't want to work FOR my brother, nor compete AGAINST him in residential real estate, so by pivoting to Commercial Real Estate, we could complement each other's services in the Barrie market. The most important factor for why pivoting to the commercial side of real estate was the right direction, and why I scored 100% on the commercial course when I originally obtained my license, was that I deeply appreciated the risk tolerance and analysis investors and business owners go through to make their decisions, and I wanted to be part of that and experience it myself.

So we moved to Barrie, going from a population of 6,000 to 140,000 people, and that was a big enough pool to begin my specialization path. I dived in with both feet, fully committing to commercial real estate by joining a commercial real estate brokerage that represented a large portion of the market, and also referred all my residential clients away. I truly believe that specialization is the only way to succeed.

Your first industrial transaction, what do you remember about it?

Stephanie: It happened before I pivoted when I was 25. My husband and I bought a little industrial condo unit to rent out. We didn't know what we were doing, and I remember thinking there were a lot of dreamers out there with no money during the lease-up process. So, I flipped it to an owner-occupier to understand the process better.

Can you recall the most challenging deal you've worked on in your career so far?

Stephanie: 90% of every deal is very challenging because of the numerous stakeholders, legal/political factors, and, of course, the financial details that need to align—but I love it! One of the more challenging deals involved searching for a minimum 25-acre parcel, industrially zoned, within a 15-mile radius of my client's existing operation. They didn't want to jeopardize their suppliers and labour force by moving too far, all at an affordable price. After a 2-year search, we secured 82 acres for them for $13M in a neighbouring municipality. This parcel had two zonings, including 50 acres of industrial. These designations had been in place for decades, and the municipality hadn't updated them, so my client was able to move their operation there due to grandfathering rules. They were very pleased!

What's the most significant trend in commercial real estate right now, and how are you adapting?

Stephanie: From my vantage point, a larger proportion of capital is moving into secondary and tertiary markets than ever before. Our daily challenge is advising on the zoning and servicing of lands still used for agriculture. Barrie and surrounding municipalities in Simcoe County are in "if you build it, they will come" mode—to accommodate the geographic boundary pressure on the GTA because of the surrounding Greenbelt.

To adapt, I'm actively engaging with local governments to shape policies that welcome growth and help businesses understand the potential of these markets.

What's your most valuable personal asset that you believe has taken you far in this industry?

Stephanie: I'm always seeking to understand and continuously learn. I ask and ask until I get it. I don't always grasp things quickly, but I persist until I do. I believe you must do this, especially when working with businesses. Every business is different, with its own requirements and regulations. You have to ask focused questions to uncover what's important and what's at stake.

What motivated you to join SIOR's Canada Central Chapter?

Stephanie: My decision to join was largely influenced by the quality of individuals within SIOR. Collaborating with an SIOR designee, who first brought me to these events, showed me the group’s openness and generosity, fostering collaboration and facilitating deals. The high professional standards upheld by SIOR members were also a significant factor in my decision.

What do you enjoy most about being part of SIOR?

Stephanie: The sense of community and a level of understanding and trust are what I enjoy most. Being in SIOR means instant recognition from the broker community—we just get it. It speeds things up because you know an SIOR member is credible.

I also really value the resources that SIOR offers and its reach. The networking mixed with education is the best. The quality of panelists and speakers at SIOR events is exceptional. The educational programs and networking opportunities provided by SIOR have been instrumental in my professional growth.

Who are your biggest inspirations and supports?

Stephanie: My faith in Jesus Christ is my anchor. My husband, now also my business partner as co-founder of our brokerage, Maven Commercial Real Estate, has been a tremendous source of support over the last 20 years. My first broker in real estate, an experienced investor and developer, taught me the trade ropes. Having my brother as a fellow brokerage owner in the real estate industry has been wonderful. Additionally, the friendships and professional relationships I’ve cultivated with other Realtors have been incredibly supportive, offering advice and support generously.

What advice would you give to young professionals, especially women, who are new to the industry?

Stephanie: Be bold. Boldness means realizing that you're as valuable as anyone else. It means getting in front of the people you need to speak with, regardless of who they are.

And then, don't quit. Persistence is key. Keep picking up the phone and keep at it. Calling seven times gets you noticed—it helps people realize you're serious. Around the twelfth time, prospects realize you're trying hard and are more likely to take your call.

If you have an appetite for knowledge and the willingness to put yourself out there, continuing to do so without quitting, you will do very well in this industry.

On International Women's Day, what does the theme "Inspire Inclusion" mean to you?

Stephanie: "Inspire Inclusion" means assuming your inclusion is a given. Insecurity is natural, and I know many women struggle with feeling part of the game. My advice is to maintain professionalism and let the quality of your work speak for you. That's what stands out and makes a difference.

Stephanie Maye's experience is a testament to the impact of dedication, learning, and adaptability in shaping a successful career in commercial real estate. Through her journey, Stephanie embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship, providing a guiding light and actionable advice for future generations in the industry. To read more stories like Stephanie's, visit our blog.



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