2021 - Amy Reflects on the Year for Personal and Professional Growth

As I sit here in my at-home office in St vital and reflect on what was 2021 and look ahead to 2022, I can’t help but feel grateful and a sense of relief.  Yes, 2021 didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to but I am finding ways to see past what wasn’t and celebrate what was.  I am going to share a few highlights from 2021 and what I see for myself in 2022.

2021 was a year like no other for me. Work was the busiest it had ever been and clients kept coming. The market surged and it just kept climbing (it still is). I struggled with a work-life balance (like any mom or dad working full time). Although I did my best, there were times that I felt I should have been elsewhere. When I was working, I should have been home and when I was at home, I felt that I should be working.

The past year definitely gave me a different perspective on myself. I found myself thriving and loving my work like never before. I always enjoyed real estate but 2021 showed me that I could take on more than I ever thought possible. I don’t want to get too deep into anything but for the last couple of years I have felt a little lost in life, like someone without an identity. Let me spiral for a second…… growing up I was athletic. I found a love for hockey and rode that wave all the way to university. So naturally being a highly competitive hockey player was my identity for a loooong time. But after I left university and hockey, I wasn’t sure what was left. I found my way into real estate a couple years later, but it took a couple years to find my groove. I became a Mom in 2018, which I always dreamed of being and then that became my identity, which I was very grateful for and wouldn’t change for anything. Being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t in the cards for me, so I went back to work after 11 months and it really wasn’t until after my son that I found the confidence to believe in myself and believe I could thrive in real estate. I really do think that I have found a career that I will be in for the rest of my life. That’s something pretty special to happen in a year filled with so much negativity!

Best real estate agents in WinnipegIn 2021 my son Gavin turned 3 years old. What’s that saying… Terrible Twos and Treacherous Threes. Need I say more? Yes, I absolutely love my son and often find myself watching him only to put a smile on my face. He is such an incredible, smart, funny, creative, methodical, particular, adorable, sweet, kind human being but damn the threes are hard! Everyday seems like a struggle. I know it is just a stage and he will grow out of it and I can’t wait until he does, but at the same time, I don’t want him to grow anymore. I want him to stay so young and precious forever – even if the attitude stays too – what a whirlwind of emotions.

My husband and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary (we’ve been together 15 years), which is pretty incredible considering we are both working from home AND we decided to take on a major renovation too (finish our basement, which we’ve been working on for 6 months now). Nothing like a challenge on top of a challenge on top of a challenge, am I right?

I surpassed all my work goals for the year and also achieved a RE/MAX award, 100% Club. 

There were so many other amazing things that happened in 2021 but honestly, it’s really about the little things for me. Waking up to the sounds of my son voice saying “Mommy, is it wake up time yet?”, morning coffee with my husband (in silence because I like my mornings quiet), one on one meetings with my clients where I get to know them a little more every day, helping families find homes where they will raise their kids, helping retirees sell their family homes and move onto the next chapter of their lives,  picking my son up from daycare and him wrapping his arms around me, Lego building, book reading, endless play time, supper as a family.

Now I am dreaming of what 2022 will bring. I haven’t officially made my goals yet, this real estate market is keeping me busy, I can only wish it will be the same as last year. Time spent with family, hopefully more time spent with friends, the ability to form new relationships and be able to do what I love to do, which I now know is to be the best Mom and Realtor I can be.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2022. Stay Safe Everyone. 

Great realtors in Winnipeg Manitoba#AgentAmy

Amy McDermid

Phone: (204) 470-5356


Buying Riverfront or Waterfront property in Winnipeg, Manitoba

I have had the pleasure of helping many people buy and sell homes on water within Winnipeg over the years, and it seems that the same questions often come up, so let’s go through them now!

Understanding the Challenges with Riverfront Living

Firstly, living on the Red River in Winnipeg, is very different from living on a lakefront or man-made lake waterfront home within Winnipeg. A river is constantly moving, oftentimes damaging or slowly eroding the riverbed. Secondly, and for those not from Manitoba, we are not built on bedrock here.  Our landscape is a full mess of what we call “Manitoba Gumbo” which is essentially sand, silt, and clay.  The stuff that rivers can more easily move around than bedrock or granite.  As such, maintenance of the riverbank is critical to not losing your yard over time. I want to preface this blog by saying that I am not an expert in this area – because I am not, at all! However, Logan and I do live on the Red River and we have sold a number of homes along the Assiniboine River, Seine River, La Salle, and Red River as well as the smaller creeks (Bunn’s, Omand’s, etc.) here in Winnipeg.  The degree and effort you are going to be required to put into your Riverbank Stabilization will greatly depend on the current or flow patterns coming past your property and which side of the river you are on. The Red River flows north, and depending on the curvature and current coming toward your property, the impact might be minimal. The river tends to remove soil on outside curves but it deposits it on inside curves. However, if you are on a heavier flowing area, the amount of work required for maintenance can be substantial. 

riverfront property in winnipeg manitoba

Oftentimes, the loss of lot is not something that people can foresee.  A super high-water year led to a group of residents along Dunkirk Drive losing large chunks of their yard in 2020.  Keep in mind too, that this is not something that insurance companies are willing to cover. In this particular instance, the residents all banded together to repair their riverbank at a cost of around $1 million. Another key consideration for those living along the river is that you often need permits from the City of Winnipeg to do any sort of riverbank stabilizing project.  As part of being approved for said permits, you often will need an engineer’s report that addresses the erosion issue.  These studies are quite costly and oftentimes take a significant amount of time to complete.  Not to mention the city permitting process adding to that timeline.  Some patience will be required here.

At the Mercy of Due Process

The next hurdle you are going to have is to actually address what the engineer’s report says.  I have seen circumstances where the recommendation was to add a significant amount of rip-rap (this looks like large stones along the riverbank).  This helps reduce erosion.  However, this can come at a significant cost.  I have seen some of the bills for this type of work and would say that $100,000 per household often seems to be the going or starting rate for the more significant projects.  Imagine spending that on rocks instead of some fun renovation within the home!

Interestingly enough, I have actually had a client that had the exact opposite issue brought to their attention from the engineers.  In their case, the home they were purchasing was putting too much weight on the land, and they were told to move the home back, away from the river, remove additional dirt from the lot and move it further back.  So, they did all of this work – moved their house further back, actually added onto it, removed dump truck after dump truck of dirt, and the erosion stopped.  I still don’t understand the actual logistics of how this theory worked, but it was cool nonetheless.  The property they built was absolutely beautiful.  Their neighbour, who couldn’t afford to “lighten” his yard unfortunately continued to experience the same erosion and has much less yard now.

There are things you can do though to prevent erosion on your own property without having to go all the way to hiring engineers and getting permits.  One of the cheapest and easiest options is to plant some trees.  Choose trees with deep root systems, that will hold soil in place and withstand some erosion.  There are also many shrub varieties that also offer dense and deep root structures that you can plant to as not to obstruct those river views.  Also, I see no harm in doing annual work along your property line to prevent erosion.  Perhaps some smaller forms of the huge rip-rap projects, brought in every few years just to maintain what you currently have, instead of having to try and rebuild lot that you have lost.


Personal Experiences from Living on the Red River

Just some other negatives from having lived on the Red River – Logan and I have almost always had dogs – often times Labradors which are water-lovers. There are many a time our dog has taken herself for a “dip” and coming out of the Red River is not the same as coming out of a clean lake.  There is often an additional bath required after this “dip”.  Also, the river moves fast – and it is terrifying when your children are young.  Our yard is fenced and our children know not to go outside of the fence unless there is a parent present.  We are also very hands on with the education and stress every time we go beyond the borders of the fence just how dangerous the river is. A lot of the time, you can’t tell if you are standing out on a dirt plank because the ground underneath has eroded.  So, if we are out for walks along the riverbank with the children, we stress the importance of staying several meters back from the edge. 

We have also discovered when applying for permits for work on the exterior of our home is that we have to go through two rounds of permitting.  First, we apply for permission from the City of Winnipeg to do our project.  But then we have to apply for a second permit from Waterways to get permission prior to commencing any construction.  These rules apply to anyone that is within 350 feet of the summer water levels of the Assiniboine River, Red River, Seine River, La Salle Rivers, OR within 250 feet of the summer water levels of Bunn’s Creek, Omand’s Creek, Sturgeon Creek or Truro Creek.  This is if you are within City limits.  This process changes if you are outside of the City of Winnipeg limits.


Pros to living on Winnipeg Riverfront

living on waterfront property winnipegPros of living on the Riverfront in Winnipeg are great though, here are just a few:

  • The neighbours – we are on a deep river lot with neighbours on either side, but I find that riverfront lots often tend to be wider and more spread out, so we feel like we have a ton of space and privacy from our neighbours. We particularly enjoyed this during the early stages of COVID where we could walk to the end of our yard and then along the riverbank for hours without seeing neighbours.
  • The views. The river offers lots of beautiful scenery – beautiful glistening sunlight reflections on hot summer days, or huge icebergs to watch float on by in the winter months.  We are east-facing so we also enjoy some of the most beautiful sunrises in our house.
  • The wildlife.  Living on the riverbank means you are likely going to encounter a fair bit of wildlife.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t see a deer, daily.  I think every time we sit down at our table for a meal, at least one deer will walk by.  There are very few predators within city limits, so the deer seem quite comfortable walking on by even when we are outside.  We do on occasion see the odd fox or coyote trying to track down one of the neighbourhood bunnies.  Also, and this could be added as a con, but we do get some nuisance animals. We have seen a number of raccoons (although we haven’t had any negative experiences with them).  However, we – actually our dog – have had a nasty bout with a skunk on more than one occasion.
  • Fishing – truthfully, we have never done it.  But I see people pull up in the green spaces in our area to fish the river and it seems to be the same group that comes back again and again, so I am assuming we could likely catch some fish right from our backyard. I grew up on Lake of the Woods though, so river fishing is a foreign concept to me.  Perhaps one I will explore one day!
  • Recreation activities – our family’s fitness or recreation activities thus far have been mostly walking along the trails of the river.  However, I have witnessed neighbours putting a kayak in and getting what I would assume is a good workout in! But be careful with this.  You need to know the river, the current patterns, and you need to be a strong kayaker.  Also, please always wear a life vest.  That water can move fast and I’ve heard of even the most seasoned kayakers getting into trouble.
  • Travel – We have never done it, as we are scared of hitting dead logs in the river as we travel, but I always thought it would be so cool to hop in a boat and drive down to the Forks.  Maybe one day!  I have had clients just across the river from us that kept a dock in the river all summer, and would hop in their boat frequently and go for a cruise!


Pros of living on a Lakefront or Waterfront Property in Winnipeg

lakefront property in winnipeg manitobaNow these pros and cons work for riverfront property in Winnipeg, but there are further benefits to owning a Waterfront home in Winnipeg on a man-made lake.  Not only would you get all of the above benefits, but when you are on a slower-moving body of water, there are additional perks:

  • In the winter, you can build an ice skating rink right on the water surface.  Something that is often not possible on parts of the river due to the quick flow and thin ice.
  • Putting a kayak into these bodies of water also isn’t nearly as scary.  The water movement is much more controlled so even those less experienced kayakers can paddle in piece.
  • Less overall maintenance.  A Lakefront property in Winnipeg on a manmade lake does not require anywhere near the riverbank stabilization that a home built on the river will need.  With basic, annual maintenance, you should be able to enjoy your shoreline for years to come.
  • Less building restrictions – if you aren’t on one of the aforementioned rivers, you have one less layer of permitting that you will have to go through too!

I hope you have found this foray into Lakefront property for sale in Winnipeg, useful.  There is much to know, and many considerations to be made.  Again, I say all of these horrible and scary things about riverfront living in Winnipeg, yet I live on it.  So either I am crazy, or to me, the beauty and peacefulness is worth the headache. You be the judge!  If ever you are looking for help in finding a lakefront or riverfront property in Winnipeg, please reach out.  We are happy to help and we will speak from our honest experiences!

Realtors specializing in riverfront property winnipeg#AgentJen

Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945


Should you Sell Your House Privately? Tips from a Realtor!

It's a question I get asked often - should I sell my home on my own and save the commissions, or should I list with a Realtor?  I get asked this enough and have also seen enough people lose a significant amount of money selling on their own, that I figured why not write a blog about it!?  I'm sick of seeing sellers step over dollars to save pennies. So here are my tips for how to sell your home privately.

Full disclosure: you ARE on a Realtor’s Blog here, so while my opinion on the subject may be biased on why you should hire a Realtor, I also don’t want anybody out there getting taken advantage of, or worse – getting sued, so I am going to try and put together a must-know guide on how to sell your house on your own.

Another request: If you intend to sell your house on your own, please do not call a Realtor to ask them to come and walk through your property, give you a valuation and tips for preparing the home for sale.  That isn’t fair to them.  You are in effect saying you value their expertise and skill, but not enough to pay for them.  Just. Don’t. Do. It.  If you want a valuation, I highly recommend reaching out to an appraiser.  They will charge you upfront for their assessment - but then you have some comparable sales for your property and aren't leaving yourself exposed to underpricing or worse, overpricing!

So let's start there: Pricing. 

Pricing is one of the most important considerations that you need to make.  It will either attract or repel purchasers.  Overpricing can be an absolute insult to a purchaser and result in more days on market, price reductions, and ultimately selling your property for less than you should have gotten.  Underpricing can result in not achieving the numbers you should, or in giving the perception that there is something wrong with the property.  There is a very narrow window of price tolerance with buyers, and finding that number will be paramount to your success.  Look at what comparable properties in your neighbourhood are listing at.  Look at your upgrades vs. theirs.  What about square footage, basement finishes, garages, etc?  Be sure to properly adjust for those different features.

Preparing Your Home is PARAMOUNT

Selling a home privately and stagingNow first thing is first.  When you are selling your home, you do want to prepare that canvas so that it is picture ready.  We usually send through our stager at this point, to walk-through room-by-room with you and give advice.  BUT I just checked and there are many how-to videos on YouTube advising just what types of projects you should be undertaking, or how to dress up a room for staging.  In general, the most effective staging will:

  • Improve the flow as you walk through the property
  • Present a blank canvas for your purchaser so that they can envision themselves living there
  • Reduce buyer objections
  • Result in a higher net price to your bottom line

Some key points in the staging process are often depersonalizing within the home, removing clutter, improving traffic-flow with optimal placing of furniture, and organizing.  Also, as a rough rule of thumb, no more than 3 items on any flat surface, and anything smaller than a cantaloupe should be eliminated! Sometimes you should bring pieces in – which we often do.  If you have friends or family that could loan you pieces, that is a great place to start.  Or, a lot of the inventory our stagers carry is from Home Sense – as they have beautiful options in there!

Importance of good photographs 

Next up, you need to get great pictures.  A word from me to you: your cell phone will likely not take these pictures.  Cell phone technology has gotten much better over the years, and the pictures are better than a lot of our former cameras – but you need GREAT quality pictures.  Oftentimes with a wide-angle lens so that you can see the corners of the room as well as all the detail within the room.  So that those viewing your home online can make their own assessments as to whether or not their furniture would fit, what type of windows are in the home, what type of flooring is pictured, whether or not your bedroom has an appropriately sized closet, etc. The list goes on – but the number of things that buyers are determining from your pictures prior to choosing to tour it are significant.  So, don’t lose those buyers by having poorly taken pictures.  I learned this early on in my career after attempting to take some of my own pictures for my listing – I am not a skilled photographer – and I should pay someone to highlight our listings in the best possible light.  You will NEVER regret having good pictures to use for your listing.  The majority of buyers (62%) rely predominantly on the pictures from the online listing - they won't even read your ad copy. So don't cheap out here!

Get on the Video Trends!

Pictures are done – but have you considered video yet? You may have noticed that the world is transitioning toward video.  The apps with some of the biggest growth recently are TikTok (short form content), Instagram (both short form via Reels but also longer form content), as well as YouTube (long form content).  This isn’t just a one-off.  This is truly because more and more people are choosing to consume their information via video, and to “stop the scroll” you need something that is eye-catching and animated.  Also, when it comes to advertising on these platforms, the algorithm is much more favourable to video than it is to static images. So, your marketing dollar and reach goes much further when using video.  Now, just another suggestion.  Completely ignore everything I have said if you are incapable of producing a good-quality video or if your video is simply going to be a slideshow of pictures to music.  That will not entice your buyer enough to watch your video and will likely even turn them off.  In this case, it would just be better to scrap the video altogether.  BUT, if you are willing to expend the money on a good videographer to piece together a video that effectively shows the features of the home as well as layout, then I would say the investment is well worth it!

The Ad Copy is ALL about lifestyle and important detail!

After pictures and video, the third most scrutinized thing in a listing is the actual writeup for your listing. Be SURE to have really good ad copy written up. You are going to want to keep this short and sweet.  Making it too long means the buyer will lose interest as they read.  Having it too short though means you have likely missed important details.  Put together a list of the upgrades you have done within the home in the last 10 years.  If you’ve done many, you might want to eliminate some of the more innocuous details (ie. Painted bathroom 3 years ago).  Again, the goal is to not overwhelm the buyer. This is also a good time to highlight what it actually “feels” like to live within the home – you are going to want to touch upon some points that evoke emotion within the buyer.  For example: “curl up in front of this natural gas fireplace on the coldest of winter nights”.  Highlight some of your favourite parts that you have enjoyed about the home here. Home buying is an incredibly emotional process for buyers, so giving a vision of what their life could look like if they lived here, is paramount.

Reach and Exposure - Time to Push that Ad Out!

how to sell a house privately in manitobaYou have your house prepped, you have it professionally photographed, you have a great video and good ad copy.  Now it is time to start rolling out your advertising!  A word to the wise – over 92% of buyers now say they originally found their home online.  The remaining 8% is a mix of print advertising, for sale signs, word-of-mouth or other/miscellaneous.  As a result, you are going to want to split up your advertising budget accordingly.  Now, the BULK of the people saying they found their listing online do say that they used the MLS ( system, but you likely aren’t going to have access to that if you are truly selling your home privately.  If you are using brokerage houses though to list your property while you handle the rest, such as FairSquare Winnipeg (formerly Purple Bricks Winnipeg and prior to that, ComFree Winnipeg), then you will have access to the MLS system.  Just keep in mind that then you aren’t selling your home privately.  These are licensed brokerages and you are signing a listing contract to be entered into the MLS and paying a set fee to do so.  I will touch upon this a bit further later.  Listing in the MLS alone isn’t enough though – you are going to want to use other digital marketing as well as social media marketing to your advantage.  The reach that you can get, just from a $100 ad spend is significant if you know how to use Facebook Business Manager for targeting both your Facebook and Instagram accounts.  I would advise spending more than $100 – it is just the amount of exposure and targeting that you are able to do per $100 far surpasses any other digital marketing option (in my opinion). Also, put that listing everywhere – put it on Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji,, etc.  Take advantage of all the free advertising too.  There are over 100 Websites that you can advertise your house for free on as well as other strategies, but I won’t get too technical here.  Feel free to call me for a list.  I would also still advise getting a professional sign outside your home, as it is a low-cost option that may result in a call – and heck, you never know!  The wider you spread that net, the more likely you are to find your buyer (or hopefully, multiple buyers)!

The Importance of the Showing Experience

Now if you can, clear out.  Get OUT of the house and out of the way for your buyers.  I know this may sound alarming, but the biggest complaint I have had from purchasers when showing them Privately Offered, or ComFree or Purple Bricks or now FairSquare listings in Winnipeg, is that the sellers are home and it makes them uncomfortable to tour the home.  I know, you think you are being helpful by telling them how the new heating system worked, or what your favourite part of the home is, but buyers oftentimes feel this is too “pushy”.  They are used to inspecting and touring at their own pace, and having the owner right there really interrupts that flow.  Truthfully, I have found some of the quickest tours with buyers to be the ones in which the seller is home – because those buyers just can’t get out of there fast enough.  If you are able to make arrangements with buyer’s agents prior to showings, or you are able to install a lockbox on the property (can be purchased at Canadian Tire or Home Depot), that is oftentimes the way to go.  Now, that being said – you also need to be sure you are only letting QUALIFIED buyers into your home.  This is where I guess things could get awkward.  If the purchaser has their own agent that is discussing the tour with you, they will have verified a pre-approval and the identity of their purchaser, so there is some confirmation there.  However, if you are dealing directly with a purchaser it may be awkward to ask for proof of a pre-approval letter prior to showing, but in all honesty, I would still request it.  You are allowing complete strangers into your home, so it is important to vet them properly.

Are Open Houses Worth It? 

Decide if you want to host an open house.  A lot of private sellers do host these, however what we have found, particularly during COVID when we went for long periods of time without open houses, is that they are pretty ineffective at finding qualified buyers.  A lot of the traffic through the open house seems to be neighbours, or people out on a Sunday drive that just happen upon the listing.  The statistic prior to COVID was that 1 in 50 homes might sell from an open house, but I think that statistic is likely far worse.  That being said, it is a good option to get additional exposure for your home should you not be great at presenting an online presence.

Offers start to come in!

You’ve had some showings.  Depending on the market, you may have set yourself up for an offer date even.  But just how long to hold off those offers, or how many showings you should have before reviewing offers is something that is neighbourhood specific, time-sensitive, and seasonal.  Look to the MLS, see what other listings are doing.  Are they holding a showing window period of 5 days?  10 days?  What seems to be working?  You won’t be able to see the prices people are getting from the public MLS, but you might be able to see what kind of traffic your neighbours are getting, just how quickly the sold sign goes up, and you could approach them just to get a feel on activity and how things went.  You also want to be careful to not hold an offer date on the same day as a competing listing.  There is strategy on whether or not you should book your offer date before or after a similar listing and it will depend on how yours shows in relation to the other.  But determining an appropriate offer date to review offers, is paramount to your success.

Options when reviewing offers

You will receive your (hopefully) stack of offers – and now you have options.  You can either: Accept, Counter, or Reject. Just a few words of caution here: be careful how you negotiate if you are countering offers.  Be sure to not extend more than one counteroffer at a time – because in Manitoba, you can essentially sell your home twice (and I don’t think you have two of the exact same homes to sell)!  It is good to be versed in what conditions are normal and the regular timelines for these conditions – so that you know if something seems out of line.  Oftentimes having a good real estate lawyer that can advise on this would be a great start. While it is not common for properties listed with a Realtor, it might be in your best interest to insert a condition that benefits you to allow for lawyer review.  The last thing you want is to sign a contract without being sure what every single line-item means.

Other Important Considerations Affecting the Market

Top Realtors in Winnipeg ManitobaI prefaced this email with my bias toward hiring a Realtor, and I still truly feel that is the best way. But here are some items I just want to touch upon, so that the whole “selling privately” experience isn’t a surprise for you.  In January of 2022, it became mandatory that buyers sign Buyer Service Agreements with their Realtor.  Within these service agreements is usually a pre-stated amount of commission that the buyer agrees their Realtor should be compensated with upon closing.  This is normally covered by the seller as part of the proceeds from the sale.  However, if the Seller is unwilling to cover these fees, this agreement often states that the buyer is to cover the commission themselves – and may make private sales less attractive for the buyer as it represents a larger cash outlay for them.  If I were a private seller, I would personally advertise a commission to cooperating buyer’s agents, and perhaps factor that into my listing price.  My understanding is that the brokerages that list homes on the MLS for a flat fee give similar advice and do recommend offering a cooperating commission.

I also have come to learn over the years that people are most concerned with REMAX Realtor Commission Rates – and that they may be some of the highest as we are one of the larger brokerage houses and are known for heavy marketing, etc.  I would argue that this isn’t the case, and rather that our commission structures are competitive.  I would also say that our marketing reach is likely some of the most extensive given the platforms that REMAX Winnipeg has built.

There are circumstances where people do not wish for their house to be listed so publicly – sometimes death, divorce, etc. In situations like this, we recommend Exclusive Listings.  This keeps your house off the MLS listing service, but still allows your Realtor to provide real estate services to procure the sale.  You can opt to not have a for sale sign, and to handle the whole sale a bit more discreetly under this method. If requiring more discreet, exclusive listing Winnipeg services is what you are looking for, I would STILL recommend hiring a Realtor – as their reach and exposure even just from their network will likely net you more even without being on the MLS.

As a final statistic, and keep in mind this comes from the National Association of Realtors, but on average those homes listed privately do sell for approximately 18% less “FSBO homes sold at a median of $260,000 last year, signi´Čücantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $318,000.”.  Source:  Oftentimes, it is for lack of exposure, improper pricing, or buyers factoring in the cost of paying commissions out of pocket regardless. 

Prior to being a Realtor, I always thought I would sell my home on my own.  However, after being a Realtor and navigating both buyers and sellers through the process thousands of times, I would say that those working with a GREAT Realtor, always seem to come out ahead. Just my two cents.  If you've read this far, thanks for taking the time. If listing with us sounds of interest to you, great!  Please feel free to reach out.  If the for sale by owner route sounds better to you, I truly wish you well on your journey!  There is no one-size-fits-all approach for anything in life, and you have to make the decision that is best for you!

Happy Selling, folks!

Best Realtor in Winnipeg Manitoba#AgentJen

Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945


Things to Consider Before Buying a Condominium in Winnipeg

We recently had the realization that we talk an awful lot about home buying and selling, but have touched upon condo buying and selling very little on this blog – But YES, we help people buy and sell condominiums, too, and we are actually very well versed in it!

Now keep in mind that the process for buying or selling a condominium varies from province to province or state to state, so what I will be going through on here is from a Manitoba perspective, but much of the theories are still the same.

So, without further adieu, let’s get into it!  First of all, the condominium market is a VERY different market from our residential market.  In Winnipeg, we are currently experiencing a very strong seller’s market when it comes to houses.  However, when it comes to condominiums it could be likened to a balanced or potentially even a buyer’s market.  For condos, there is a lot of inventory, it does tend to sit for longer, and oftentimes we see several price adjustments before a unit finally sells.

Why is our Condominium Market more akin to a Balanced or Buyer's Market? 

Well, we first started seeing this slowing of the market in 2014 and 2015.  Much of this was due to incoming legislation that was to take effect February 1, 2015.  There were a few key parts of this new legislation that really changed the landscape of the selling process for condominiums.  The first, was the change in what we called the “Cooling Off Period”.  Prior to this, all purchasers were given 48 hours to review the condominium documents and they could change their mind for any reason.  With the new legislation, this time was now extended to 7 days.  Now 7 days is a really long time in the real estate world for one to change their mind. Say a new property came up that was more appealing, it gave the buyer ample opportunity to explore that opportunity and perhaps, change their mind.  It cannot be waived, it is mandatory. Also, to add insult to injury, now if there was a “material change” to the condo rules, this cooling off period would actually be reopened and the buyer would have yet another 7 day period to change their mind, without any penalty.  If they back out, they get their deposit back. So say you sold your condominium 2 months ago, the buyer is planning to move in in a few months and you’ve already packed your house up.  Pretend your condominium corporation now announces that they have made a new special assessment as it turns out, the roof is rotten and they need all of the unit owners to chip in $3000 toward this new project.  You then go to notify your buyer and hope that they still decide to proceed.  It’s kind of brutal – a sale doesn’t necessarily mean a sale. We are all waiting on baited breath until that possession occurs.

The second thing that changed was the requirement for corporations to do reserve fund studies every five years so that a corporation knows where they stand, financially.  Prior to this, condominium boards were determining themselves just what kind of funds they should have set aside for upcoming capital projects. Now however, they were required to hire professional companies versed in assessing appropriate reserve fund amounts to come, view the property, and assess upcoming capital expenditures for the corporation.  Guess what this revealed!?  Almost every condominium project showed a reserve fund balance that was UNDERFUNDED.  I have yet to see a complex that had the reserve fund balance that was recommended within their reserve fund study.  Once these studies started to come in, many boards increased the monthly condominium fees to try and bring their balances up to the professional recommendations.  What this started to mean though, was that fees for most condominium projects went up significantly – much more significant than a 3% inflation rate.  Some complexes instituted special assessments – which is oftentimes a one time fee, but more substantial – say that $3000 example I gave above. 

Now, it isn’t unreasonable to say – all homeowners -whether it be a house or condo will incur unexpected costs.  A furnace can go, a roof can leak, etc. and those all represent a large cash outlay.  What I find people to find most upsetting though when it comes to condominium ownership, is they have less input over the final outcome. It is a voting process in which perhaps things don’t always go your way.  You are making plans through consensus, and if that sounds awful to you, condominium ownership may not be for you!

There were a number of other document changes that came into effect in 2015, the majority of them just to do with the sheer number of documents that are required before that 7-day cooling off period can begin, but the two most notable changes were the extending of the cooling off period and the reserve fund study requirements – which often led to escalating monthly fees.

Other Factors Impacting the Market: 

There have been a couple of other changes worth noting here too.  Around this same time, we were also instructed that we could no longer advertise condominiums as 55 plus.  It became a human rights issue – as in, you can’t discriminate based on age.  I do still see this in rental apartments, and I’m not sure how they are allowed to do it there, but in condominium world, this became a huge no-no.  Condos that once advertised as being exclusively a 55 plus community, now saw younger residents moving in. But gone are the days of advertising 55 plus condos for sale in Winnipeg!

Another factor that has been eating into our condominium market in Winnipeg, is the number of new construction options.  Regardless of where you live, you are going to find condos for sale in South Winnipeg to north, east, and west.  There has been a ton of development, which often is more desirable than the older, pre-existing options. Oftentimes, because the monthly fees in those new complexes are far lower than more established (read: aging), complexes.  Condos in Winnipeg are slowly cannibalizing one another, in terms of resale value.

Another factor that seems to have impacted the resale of condominium is the baby boomer behaviour.  As a Realtor, I am finding more often than not that my clients are either opting to just live in their homes for longer – the idea of living in a condominium is far less attractive to them, OR, they are oftentimes selling their home and moving into an apartment – so that they have more free cash flow from their home sale.

Steps to Selling A Condominium

Anyways, that is enough on why I think the market is oversupplied – at the end of the day, it is what it is.  What is important though is the plan you formulate to sell your Winnipeg condominium.  So, let’s start with where your Realtor comes in.  The first step, is to have your Realtor come and do a comparative market analysis. This is where they look at comparable properties, make adjustments based on the amenities of your unit, and go through a valuation process.  For me personally, I always give more weight to the units within the same complex.  I find that even neighbouring buildings might have completely different management, amenities, and condo fees – so the more you can compare from within the same building, the better.  Sometimes that isn’t an option, and you have to expand out to other complexes – which is totally okay, too. 

Once you have arrived at a price and strategy, the next part, which in my opinion is the most important, is preparing the house for pictures.  The goal is to paint as neutral of a canvas for a buyer, so that they can envision themselves living there.  I’m not talking about removing all of your belongings and selling it vacant – rather, staging the space so that it is welcoming and inviting and so the buyer can envision themselves within the space.  For this part, we send through our stager and she goes room-by-room with you to assess what should stay, and what should go (she says “edited”).  Oftentimes we bring some pieces in to dress things up and add to the appeal.

Once the unit is properly staged, it is time for pictures and video! One of the biggest concerns of a buyer, are that a unit is going to be dark.  So having all lights on, all blinds open, and oftentimes strategically placed mirrors (part of the aforementioned staging), to brighten the place up as much as possible.  We can make things super light in pictures, but it is much harder to “brighten” a dark unit in video.

Around this same time, we should also be discussing the condominium documents required for the sale.  Remember when I said that the cooling off period can’t begin until you have handed ALL of the required documents over to the purchaser?  It’s no joke.  And I promise that you will get an offer on your property quickly, if you don’t have those documents prepared.  It is inevitable!  I prefer to organize the condominium documents myself, just because it is something I deal in daily, I know what I am looking for, and I am versed in identifying what is and isn’t necessary.  Some buyers want to handle the documents themselves, and that’s okay too.

Condominium Documents Required for a Sale in Manitoba 

The condominium documents that you should be preparing is extensive – the list is 18 documents long.  You will likely have some of the documents already in your possession from when you purchased – but there are documents that are time-sensitive such as the Disclosure Document, Financial Statements, Budgets, etc.  Keep EVERYTHING the condominium complex sends to you – it might seem innocuous at the time, but trust me, when you go to assemble these documents you will be so glad that you kept everything.  There will be some documents that are unavailable – but in general, you will need to produce about 12-15 of the documents on the list.

As a Purchaser, Pay Extra Attention to the following items:

If you are a purchaser receiving this list, there are some things that you should be on the lookout for:

  1. Condo Fees – there will be fees that often cover general expenses, maintenance, management, any amenities in the building, as well as a contribution to the reserve fund. Things to question: Just what is included in these fees and what will you be responsible for paying for separately? Are the fees in line with the fees you have seen on similar projects?  High condo fees are oftentimes signs of past mismanagement.
  2. Special Assessments – in the disclosure document you are provided, it will oftentimes discuss whether or not there are any further upcoming special assessments.  Sometimes, if there is word of an upcoming special assessment, but nothing has been formalized yet, you won’t find this in the disclosure statement though. There are other ways to find this information out though.  Asking for past meeting minutes or talking to other unit owners are great ways to get additional detail.  IF there is a special assessment coming, discuss it with your Realtor.  It COULD be a sign of mismanagement, or it could be something within reason.  Oftentimes, you can negotiate that the seller pays for this special assessment too.
  3. Reserve Fund Study – This is one of the required documents and provided your complex is at least 3 years old, one should be provided to you. These reserve fund studies are also required to be done every 5 years.  Give this a thorough read through – it may be long and dry material, but it will talk about the building, it’s condition, and foreseeable projects.  In the back, it will usually provide three different proposal amounts for ideal reserve fund balances and how to reach them.  Look at the balance of the reserve fund stated in the disclosure and compare to this.  Is the corporation on track to set aside the appropriate amount?  If not, it could mean escalating condo fees or special assessments.  The newer the building, the lower the reserve fund contribution portion, but as the building ages those payments should increase.
  4. Voting Rights and Ownership Interest – This is one more tidbit covered in your disclosure document.  It talks about just what percentage of ownership within the complex, but it also talks about your voting rights.  Most complexes split the percentage of ownership based on your square footage of ownership within the complex.  Say there are 100 units in the building, all averaging 1000 square feet.  But your unit is 1200 square feet.  We could say that your percentage ownership is 1.2%.  However, voting rights don’t always stay the same from complex to complex.  One complex might give you 1.2% of the voting rights.  You pay your special assessments, condo fees, reserve fund contributions based on that amount.  However, other complexes will give each unit the same amount of voting rights – so if there are 100 units and you own 1, you could instead have 1% of the voting rights, even though your percentage ownership, and thus fees, are higher.

I am going to stop here, mostly because this has become one of the most long-winded posts on our blog, EVER.  But there is a lot more to share about both buying and selling a condominium, and I may need to expand upon that in other posts.

But let me know if you found value in this.  If you are enjoying information on condominiums, I am always happy to write about this in greater detail!

Best Realtor for condominiums in Winnipeg Manitoba#AgentJen

Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945

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