Introducing our newest Member, Melanie Clarke of Sotheby’s International Realty. Melanie focuses her business in the Laurentian’s and is proud to represent some of the most luxurious homes in Québec. Her enthusiasm, drive and passion for real estate allow her to advise and educate her clients on the area’s many investment avenues.
Whether you are looking for your primary residence, a secondary retreat or land to create and build your dream home or would like to explore investment opportunities. Melanie works closely with each client to ensure they receive exceptional representation and support with the highest degree of professionalism when buying and selling their valued properties.
Melanie has had the opportunity to work in management, sales and marketing for a high-end hotel chain with international clientele throughout the United States, Europe and all over the Caribbean for 7 years before deciding to reside permanently in the Laurentians. Very active by nature, she also taught scuba diving in some of the most beautiful ports of call during her time overseas. Back in Canada in 2006, she specialized herself in high-end real estate and was recruited by Sotheby’s international while getting experience in rental real estate as an investor herself. This allowed Melanie to develop expertise, which is very representative of the Laurentian market.
Tell us a little bit about your background before you entered the industry.
Before I decided to move to Quebec, I travelled extensively with my now husband. We were working as professional scuba divers throughout the Caribbean. We used to work for Royal Caribbean, and I was doing special projects with them. We had a sailboat in Florida and a great life, but eventually, we wanted to set some roots.
My husband is originally from Quebec, and I’m originally from Ontario. I have always had the desire to learn French. We decided to move to the Laurentian’s because we had some friends here and loved the area. We’re very active individuals, and this area gave us many opportunities to enjoy outdoor sports.
When I came to Quebec in 2007, I was looking for something where I could be dynamic and challenged and where the landscape was always changing. Real estate appeared to be a career that offered what I was looking for so, I took my course. Fast forward fifteen years later, and here we are.
What brought you more specifically to Sotheby’s?
The Laurentian’s are made up of many different municipalities. After I got my license, I decided to sign up with a local real estate agency. Within the first month, I realized it wasn’t for me. I was looking for something a little bit more international where I could use my contacts and have a broader international base.
I started talking to some people, and I was geared toward Sotheby’s. After I had that conversation, the next day, I went to the office. That was in 2008, and I’ve been with Sotheby’s ever since. I specialize in luxury secondary real estate in pretty much all of the Laurentian territories. Over here, people come up from Montreal who are looking for secondary properties. We have a large market that’s coming from Ontario, and we also have a large international market that’s coming in as well. I cater to everyone, my clientele is very diverse.
What would you like to see yourself doing in the next 5 to 10 years?
Well, real estate has been very good for me. It’s been an extraordinary journey. Learning about the industry, growing as a person and getting up to this point has been very rewarding. Moving forward, I want to continue to make sure that I use discretion and integrity, which have always been a founding part of my business. I see myself continuing on the path that I’m going on and continuing to grow while providing my clients exceptional service.
What advice would you give to your younger self or to a younger realtor who wants to get into the industry in Quebec?
When you come into this industry, you definitely have to have a hard work ethic. You have to be dynamic. You have to listen to your clients. It’s very important to understand their needs so you can hone in and cater to their specific requirements. Do not give up; stay positive and learn from your mistakes. It’s not an easy industry, and competition is fierce. You must make yourself available while finding a balance with family, but it is hard because your work schedule will always change. You’re at it the first thing in the morning until you go to bed. But do not give up because you blink your eyes, and after a few years, you’ve gained all of that experience. The more experience you have, the easier it gets and the more pleasure you get from having this exciting lifestyle.
What is something that motivates you to keep going?
I’m an overachiever. I’m a person that always likes to have new challenges. Once I learn something, I’m always looking to the next thing. It’s ingrained in my blood. It’s in my DNA to always want to take one step further and go one step higher. It’s just the way I’m built. Motivation comes from just everything around me. I get motivation from my family and friends, from my clients and their inspiring stories. So I get my motivation from many, many different sources around me.
What do you see as being a good investment for people to make when it comes to Quebec real estate and where do you see it going in the next year?
There’s no question that the market is shifting. The last two years have been exceptional times, which we have never experienced before. The financial crisis in 2008 was really difficult for us in the Laurentian’s. We had a few difficult years in a down market. What I found from that experience is that when people are buying intelligently, when they invest in quality real estate right from the start, the value of those investments will always hold. So for example, if you’re looking for lifestyle properties, waterfront is always going to be key. And it’s not just any waterfront, it’s quality waterfront. If you purchased right, it may go up a little bit and may go down a little bit according to the market conditions, but your investment will hold.
It is hard to speculate exactly how a possible recession will unfold and if there will be a significant drop in lifestyle properties. If the market does dip, it will create opportunities for investors. We have to respect the cycles.
Also, if we take a look at the geopolitical problems and everything that’s happening on a global scale right now, it will be interesting to see how, in time, the value of properties will rise in the future. At the base of everything, we have so much to offer. We have beautiful, pristine forests. We have clean water. We have safe and stable communities. If everything is managed properly and development does not get out of control, this area will continue to offer a sound investment for our children to enjoy in the future.
How do you keep your inner balance?
The thing that keeps me balanced is being active. I do yoga a few times a week, I go to the gym, and I make sure that I’m present — when I’m with my kids I’m with my kids. That helps keep the balance. It is a hectic, rigorous schedule and you need to have that release in order to keep inner peace and keep healthy. It’s key for longevity.
Do you have a routine that sets you up for the day?
It depends on what the tasks are for the day. That’s what I love about real estate; every day is different. And it’s very hard to plan because people’s schedules are changing. I have my list of priorities and take care of those first. If there are no major urgent priorities, I’ll go to the gym for an hour first thing in the morning. In real estate, you can easily work 24 hours a day. I’m up early and I’m always ready to go. It just depends on what needs to be done, and I just do it.
I concentrate my business on a 45 to 50-minute radius of Sainte-Agathe. It is crucial to have knowledge of all of the different lakes, all of the different areas, and all of the different developments. Because when people are looking up North they might say, for example, “I’m looking for a waterfront property,” but, what kind of waterfront property are you looking for? Are you looking for a navigable lake or a non-navigable lake? Do you want a small lake or a big lake? How important is the quality of the water, fishing? Do you want that lake to be five minutes from a grocery store or do you want to be more remote and private? It depends if you have little kids or teenagers and how easily the property is accessible. I’m very comfortable with everything now, but it took years to obtain this knowledge and experience.
How have you built your resilience in the industry?
Honestly, challenges come with always having to be available. I’m very close with my clients and want to ensure that if they have a problem, we take care of it immediately. And how I tackle that is to be surrounded by people who support you and want you to thrive in your journey. For example, I couldn’t do anything without my husband. He’s an integral part of my business. He has my back with the family. And also, my team. I’m surrounded by people that help keep me resilient.
My work ethic and the service I give to my clients have helped me gain recognition and excel in my reputation. It’s allowed me to create this amazing database of loyal clientele.
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