Montreal Gazette real estate edition November 20,2013 by Megan Martin
When Rakel Saad and her family first came to Canada from war-torn Lebanon in 1976, they lived in a small apartment. After a few years, her parents had saved enough to buy a fixer-upper duplex, which they renovated and sold.DARIO AYALA/ THE GAZETTE Century 21 Vision real estate broker Rakel Saad outside one of her client’s homes for sale in Côte-St-Luc.
They also purchased a few other properties along the way; most were renovated and either rented out or sold. The entire process — buying, renovating and selling — spiked Saad’s interest from a young age.
“I was always interested in properties,” she said. “Then once the Internet came along, I began spending most of my free time looking at listings on the MLS.”
When she was 17, Saad began working full time at her father’s textile business while going to school, first at Vanier College and then evening classes at McGill University. At the textile plant, she undertook a huge range of responsibilities including managing production, supply chain and human resources, and later purchasing and sales.
“In the early 2000s, most of our manufacturing clients were going bankrupt or closing up shop, and it became clear that the textile industry in Quebec had run its course,” Saad said. “By 2006, my father was ready to retire, and it was time for me to choose another career path.”
At that point, Saad said it was her parents who stated the obvious.
“‘Why don’t you become a real estate broker?’ they said. So I decided to take the course in 2010 and have been a licensed broker working at Century 21 Vision on Monkland Ave. ever since.”
Saad, who speaks four languages, specializes in residential real estate, mostly single-family homes and condos. The majority of her transactions are in the CôteSt-Luc, Hampstead and Côte-des-Neiges– Notre-Dame-de-Grâce areas, but like many brokers, she follows her clients’ referrals to other regions of Montreal as well.
“I basically grew up in Montreal, so I’m very familiar with most neighbourhoods,” she said. “I also adore researching, so I take the time to investigate everything about a particular property or neighbourhood, which my buyers tend to appreciate; they know they can count on me to tell them about the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Saad credits her strategy of approaching each transaction as though she were the client as the driving reason behind her success as a broker.
“I pay attention to every detail, and buyers know they can trust me to get them the best value for their money,” she said, “At the same time, my selling clients know I always put their interests first, and they appreciate my honesty and integrity.”
Saad says having the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people from different walks of life is one of her favourite aspects of the industry.
“Each client has their own story and a real estate goal, which I do my best to help achieve,” she said. “Being a broker allows me to help people at different stages of their lives: young couples looking for their first condo, growing families in search of a bigger home, empty nesters who are moving into a condo and seniors contemplating their next move.”
Many of Saad’s clients are seniors whose children have moved away. In addition, outof-towners often entrust her with the sale of their parents’ property.
“I take care of every detail, from ordering the certificate of location, to showing up for every single visit, to accompanying the vendors to the notary,” she said. “I do so while keeping their children up to date on everything that’s happening, providing peace of mind to everyone involved.”
The result has been an extensive amount of referrals from within the senior community.
“I love spending time with my older clients, I learn so much from them,” Saad said. “My first client was actually a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor, and she was the sweetest lady who still believed in human kindness, even after all that she’d witnessed. There are a lot of life lessons in working with people like that.”
Being able to build and solidify personal relationships with her clients is what Saad considers to be the mark of true success.
“I don’t base my success on the bottom dollar,” she said. “Building lasting professional relationships is priceless in this industry; having people’s trust leads to repeat and referral business.”
Over the next five years, Saad hopes to continue building her business at Century 21.
“I can’t see myself anywhere else,” she said. “The team is wonderful and nothing can beat the recognition that is associated with the Century 21 brand. It’s a truly international real estate company.”
Saad said she envisions her client base growing wider in the near future, as her referrals lead her to a larger geographical area.
“But one thing will always remain the same,” she said. “My clients’ best interest will still be my only motivating factor.”