A True Client Story: The Challenges of Buying a Home From Thousands of Miles Away

by Team Broady on Tuesday, June 8, 2021
We had the pleasure of speaking with one of our clients who currently resides in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

We had the pleasure of speaking with one of our clients who currently resides in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Aaron Winterstern was recently involved in a purchase transaction with Team Broady. His was a rather unique situation, where he was looking to purchase a property together with his mother who lives here in Montreal. For him, he was looking at it from an investment standpoint, since he wouldn’t be living in the home, while she needed to find something she absolutely loved! 

Mark Broady: Aaron, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you were involved in this process.

Aaron Winterstern: Sure, thank you for having me. I was born and raised in Montreal, but I left in 2006 and I've been in the United States and abroad ever since. My mom recently sold her condo in Cote-Saint-Luc and was looking to go back to a single-family home in the West Island. For most of her adult life, she lived in Dollard, and she found herself missing suburban life and being close to her friends.

M: Your mom was a little bit on her own here as far as the purchasing and selling process goes. As her son, did you feel it was important to be there to help make sure she was making the right decisions? 

A: Absolutely! When she first came to me, she told me that she had a broker that approached her who was well known in Cote-Saint-Luc and who gave her great promises of what she could get for her condo. Although the sale of her condo happened very quickly, it kind of felt like she was being taken advantage of. I definitely wanted to get more involved with her purchase to help her get the most value and the best location for her golden years. 

M: I understand she started looking for properties in the West Island with that other agent who sold her condo - but it didn't work out so well. Can you tell us more about what happened? 

A: The sale of the condo worked out, and my mother did sell it with the other broker, but when I got involved in looking for the next home, I didn't like the interactions we had with that broker. At that point I suggested she look for another realtor to represent her - someone who specializes in the West Island. She then reached out to your team and met Catherine. We had a phone conversation, and it went really well. I'm thrilled with the experience we had. 

M: One of the things that Catherine introduced to both you and your mom was the idea of signing an exclusive brokerage contract to purchase. I'm curious if you were slightly uncomfortable with that idea at first? Can you tell me about how that first conversation went?

A: When she initially proposed that concept, I was a little taken aback and a little skeptical. I didn't see how it benefited us. But you know, we took that leap of faith and signed the contract, and I figured, worst-case scenario, there's an out for both parties. I thought it was worth trying since the previous broker was not that desirable, and Catherine came off as a genuine individual. So we signed it, and fortunately, it worked out very well. Throughout our dealings with her, she proved that she was honest, looking out for us, and always kept our best interests at heart. 

M: I'm glad to hear that because that's one thing that we try to address when we discuss these contracts with potential buyers, especially new clients who don't know us very well. If ever, things don't work out, and we don't meet your expectations, the contract can be terminated at any time. It’s really there to protect both parties. So how did you find Catherine's work ethic? 

A: I thought it was fantastic. As far as I'm concerned, she's the closest thing to a concierge broker. I think she was extremely diligent, she was available at almost all hours of the day, seven days a week, within reason and she showed us at least a dozen houses until we found the one we loved. 

M: At one point, you had submitted an offer on a property but had some doubts about it before it was accepted. At any time, did you feel pressured to go ahead and follow through with the offer, even if you were having second thoughts? 

A: No, not at all. There was that one offer where we got cold feet and pulled out, but she never held it against us. In fact, after that experience she helped us reconvene and reassess our core criteria and objectives. It happened to be an older property that required some updates. With Catherine’s guidance, we came to the conclusion that we were better suited for new construction. We then hit the ground running, and we found the home that best suited our needs, and we feel we've done very well. She was very patient and worked with us until we were comfortable. The bottom line is I didn't feel that she was pressuring us just to make a deal so she could make a commission. She was genuinely interested in helping us find a home that suited our needs.

M: Before this call, you mentioned that your experience with the real estate market in the US is quite different from what you discovered here. What were some of your biggest fears or concerns when you started to go through the process of helping your mom find a property?

A: Well, the Canadian real estate market is ridiculous. The prices and the level of competition are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I knew it would be an aggressive market, and we needed somebody who could navigate it for us, because I was doing this from thousands of miles away. I couldn't really see anything. So basically, Catherine was my eyes, ears, and mouth for negotiating and navigating that process. Luckily, in all instances, she took the time through Zoom or other methods to ensure that I got to see the property in more than just pictures. She would go room by room and basically show it and then narrate what she was seeing and even, in some instances, pointed out defects or things that I needed to be aware of. It was definitely valuable.

M: That's great to hear! As you know, there's a lot of ins and outs throughout the whole process. In your case, you ended up buying new construction right off the builder, so there's a “To-Do” list that you have to go through with the developer to ensure that everything is finished and make sure that all those things get done according to your expectations and satisfaction. Tell us a bit about some of those ups and downs and what you've experienced.

A: I learned that you need to get everything in writing and make sure that it's well documented. Catherine was very good at doing that. She made sure that everything was signed and accounted for. She even has a checklist of things that need to be completed before the entire process is done. She is absolutely fantastic! I joke with her and say she's not only a realtor, but a lawyer in the way she defended me against the builder. It was definitely a very favourable experience for me.

M: That's good. That makes us feel like we did an excellent job for you. 

A: 100%! 

M: For anyone who might be reading this interview, who might be in a similar situation, perhaps they're looking for a property or may be working with a family member that's also looking for property, is there any valuable advice that you could offer them?

A: I'd say know the market, know the comparables, get to know the municipalities and ensure you're purchasing for fair market value. But I would definitely, 100%, without a doubt, recommend Team Broady for anybody in Montreal or even a foreign buyer like myself that needs someone to navigate, advocate, and ensure that you get great service.

M: That's a solid endorsement coming from someone like you. Thank you very much again for your time. I wish you all the best, and we'll make sure that your mom gets nicely settled into her new home.

Are you in need of a real estate professional who can help you with the sale or purchase of a home? Don’t hesitate to schedule your appointment with Team Broady today by calling 514-613-2988 or emailing info@teambroady.ca