Justine is learning the real estate trade from the best—her mother
By Virginia Rasch
Justine MacDonald is part of a trend of young professionals in the Cranbrook area who grew up here, moved away and then came back.
“I moved back for a reason,” she said. She has a tight group of friends. All moved away and then came back for the fabulous lifestyle and settled in to start careers and families.
In her mid-twenties, Justine is a Licensed Realtor® as a partner with her mother in the Sandy Smith Personal Real Estate Corporation, and she has lived in Cranbrook since 2001.
Being born into an RCMP family, Justine has lived in many places because of her father’s line of work and because of school, work and travel, including a hockey scholarship in Chicago.
As only a mother can point out, “moving away from home makes you grow,” said Sandy.
Justine is the techie in the mother/daughter team
Justine joined Sandy Smith Personal Real Estate Corporation in 2013 and got her real estate licence in 2014. She brings a great deal to the family real estate business, and one of the primary assets is that she’s of a different generation. That translates to a strength in technology and the latest tools used in the real estate industry.
“Efficiency has been my focus,” said Justine. “When we started working together I said, ‘We need to streamline this business.’ There are tools out there—you just need to know how to use them.”
New technology has been a game changer in the real estate world, especially when it comes to buying a house remotely.
Real estate agents now use 3D virtual video tours, electronic signatures and listing portals to make buying and selling easier. Justine is the expert in these tech tools.
“I could learn from Justine because she’s more of the techie,” Sandy said, “and I’m more of the old school, which balances this team out. I’m more likely to pick up the phone and talk to people because there are lots of people who still want that. She’s more likely to text someone. We find the balance between the two generations.”
Thus, the mother/daughter team can meet the needs of any generation and its preferences, and the clients get better service.
“We’re efficient,” Sandy said. “Clients are getting two fors.”
The integrated team approach at Sandy Smith Personal Real Estate Corporation
Who does what in this family real estate business in Cranbrook?
“We both do it all,” Justine said. “We’ve prided ourselves on being almost interchangeable when it comes to our clients.
“We want to make sure that we’re on the same page about every single client and every single deal. If she’s unavailable, people know they can call me and I’ll know exactly what they’re talking about. Us both being responsible for all the different aspects of our job has made it better service for our clients.”
How do they accomplish this mutual knowledge?
“We talk a lot,” said Justine. “We communicate back and forth multiple times a day. We share emails.”
Sandy also appreciates her daughter’s easy-going demeanor in the sometimes stressful world of real estate.
“If conflict or stress arises, she’s good at that,” said Sandy. “She stays calm. She’s good at multitasking and conflict resolution.”
“Buying a house is probably the biggest investment our clients are probably going to make in their lives, and it’s pretty stressful,” said Justine. “So the more calm we can be, the more information we can give them, the better we can direct them—it makes such a huge difference.
“One of my favourite things is when clients say before we get off the phone ‘that made me feel so much better.’ ”
“Justine’s always been grounded and well-rounded. She has a great sense of humour and a very good listener,” Sandy said.
Is it a challenge working with your mother?
Justine laughed, “We’re fortunate because if we have a problem with each other, we can just say it because we are family and then move on.”
They’ve worked together as a team for seven years so far. “She hasn’t fired me yet,” joked Sandy. After Justine tossed the same line back to her mother, she said in seriousness, “We both love it.”
Justine MacDonald’s background
Born into an RCMP family in Edmonton, Alberta, Justine moved many times in her childhood. She’s always been athletic and played both soccer and hockey. She received a scholarship to play hockey at Robert Morris University in Chicago, where she studied architecture and CAD drafting.
Her diverse life experiences included travelling internationally and working at staffing with Interior Health.
“The biggest thing that probably helped out for real estate is playing sports growing up and knowing so many people,” Justine said. “Real estate is a big referral, word-of-mouth, people-knowing-who-you-are kind of a business. People knew who I was. … Name recognition and knowing who you are really help with your connections and referrals later on.”
Sandy said her daughter has always been a people person.
“Real estate is a knowing-people business with all those connections and referrals,” said Sandy.
Cultural sensitivity is an important part of the world nowadays. Justine lived in the Arctic during her early school years. In an Inuit school, she was the minority and learned the language. “She learned from a young age to be adaptable,” Sandy said.
Justine’s volunteer work has included Cops for Kids, the Niedermayer Hockey School and community fundraising with Royal LePage. With her technology expertise, she serves on the tech committee for the Kootenay Association of Realtors®, the regional professional association in the East and West Kootenays and the Boundary region in southeast B.C.
Justine cherishes the diverse outdoor recreation opportunities in the East Kootenay. She especially enjoys hiking, golfing and camping.
“I know where the hot springs are, the best lakes and where to go camping and things like that,” she said. “We did these things when I was a kid with the family. It’s part of why we moved here.”
Justine is married and has two canine hiking companions—a Newfoundland and a Yorkshire terrier.
A valued and trustworthy real estate agent in Cranbrook, B.C.
Growing up around real estate has given Justine an understanding of the importance of great customer service and professionalism. She also enjoys meeting new people. But what does she enjoy most about working in real estate?
“I like how everyday is different,” she said. “You never know what your day’s going to look like. You don’t know if you’re going to be listing a house or taking photos or dealing with an offer or showing houses from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day. It’s always a challenge, which keeps it fresh.”
Having a mother as a mentor has its benefits too.
“I’m very grateful for having this role because I’ve learned so much,” said Justine. “There are newer and younger Realtors® who don’t have the opportunity to learn from someone who's been in the real estate industry for 21 years. It’s huge.”
But the last word goes to the mother:
“She’s a very valuable asset to this team,” Sandy proudly said.
Licensed Assistant/ Realtor®