Real estate firm listens its way to 50 successful years
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 06:00 am
Bermont Realty isn’t the only real estate company in the city, and is by far not the largest but the business can celebrate its 50th birthday this year because its people are patient listeners, says owner Guy Hebert.
“You have to be able to listen to your clients, to their questions, and be patient and work with your clients,” he says. “The key is to be able to listen to what they are looking for. It very often changes as you continue your search with them.”
Bermont Realty was founded in 1963 by Bernard Montpetit, a local realtor who created the business’ title as a composite of his first and last name. In 1970 he hired Hebert, who was 20 years old at the time. Five years later, Montpetit offered Hebert the chance to take over the company.
The company has since been a staple in the community, providing real estate and property management services to St. Albert and surrounding areas. Hebert says the job was an opportunity to do something different but he never expected to stay with the company this long.
“Originally, I was an accounting clerk for the City of St. Albert,” he said. “I was very fortunate to work with (Montpetit) and then he gave me the opportunity to buy (the company).”
In the mid-1970s, the market was stable and Hebert says housing prices jumped in ’77 and ’79. Bermont Realty grew from a staff of four to 11 employees. Today, 16 realtors work out of the small office on the top floor at 14 Perron St., including Guy’s son Pierre who joined the company in 2003.
Work hours for realtors are long and they have to know how to schedule their time, Pierre says. Most homebuyers look at homes in the evening or weekends so throughout the day realtors work on inspections and evaluations, meet with customers to discuss prices or compare property listings, and visit local events and showhomes.
Sometimes customers view 50 houses, sometimes only two or three before they settle on a property, Pierre says. In times of high demand, the biggest worry is scheduling appointments with different customers because they want to treat them all as equals, he says. He adds that realtors need to schedule time off in the quieter months, as the work can be overwhelming in the busier seasons.
“There is a great flexibility in this career in terms of your work day and you are working with different clients with different needs all the time,” he says. “The difficulty would be the long hours sometimes, when you are busy and days tend to be a little long.”
Guy says they like St. Albert because it’s a great place for families, schools, activities and community sense. People who move here enjoy those aspects too and clients often become friends, or repeat customers, which makes for much of the business’ success, he says.
Location is another key aspect to the business’ survival. Bermont Realty has been located in downtown St. Albert since its early beginnings.
“It has been a very good location for us, the buyers and the sellers. And it’s central to St. Albert. A lot of positive things happen here,” Guy says.
At 63, he adds that he is far from retiring but Pierre will take over the company one day.
“We get along, we are both the same kind of personality and character. There is no fighting, no bickering,” says Pierre. “We are quiet, we listen a lot and I guess we are patient and kind of take things easy-going.”