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2020 and 2021 were both years of great change.  One of the most notable changes was how we began to look at, and use, our own personal residences.  Things that were once important, became much less important – like our commutes to work.  On the other hand, things that once weren’t that important, became much more important – home offices, home gyms, green space, etc. 


With these changes in lifestyle, we saw an increase in the amount of people looking for bigger spaces, perhaps further out of the city core.  Living within a 20-minute commute from work was no longer such a driver in motivation.  Now having functional space was.  Naturally, the tendency was for people to move further and further out of the city – many electing for suburbs near the perimeter, some electing for more rural properties.  


Now rural living is fabulous, and if you dream of owning acreage, or seclusion and privacy, or just a space for the kiddos to run, then this is an avenue definitely worth exploring.  However, it is not a decision that one would want to take lightly.  There are many challenges that come with that sprawling land.  Here are some considerations that often come up when we have clients considering these homes:


1. Winter Accessibility

We live in a province known for some harsh winters. If you are considering homes on private roads, you are going to want to talk to the neighbours, see if there are agreements in place to provide for the clearing of snow and maintenance of the road.  When it comes to your own personal driveway, an investment in a snowblower or even a quad with a plough are popular decisions. Keep in mind too, that we live in the prairies, and snow drifts can be quite substantial. It is not uncommon to have to shovel yourself out just to go somewhere in the winter.


Water Testing with Best Realtor in Winnipeg2. Water

If you are beyond municipal lines, you are going to be dealing with a well.  Sometimes shared with another neighbour, depending on your location, or a private well for your residence only.  These wells can have high levels of contaminants, some more notable being E.coli, arsenic, or even radon. When considering a home with its own well system, be sure your Realtor takes a water sample to be tested for water potability.  Well water can be less than appealing to drink, even with a satisfactory test result.  I have found that most people elect to purchase a water cooler and purchase their drinking water.  It is still important to know that the water you are using when brushing your teeth, having a shower, etc. is safe.


3. Septic Systems

There is a lifespan on any system within a home, and the septic system is not excluded from that.  There are two components to a septic system, and I’ll try to be as brief about it.  There is a tank component that is buried underground to collect sewage and wastewater.  This tank then connects to a septic field that eliminates the grey water and allows it to disburse safely into the ground.  Even with this removal of grey water, you will still have waste that collects in the septic tank.  For this, you will need to have a septic company come and pump out your tank every so often.  The frequency of which will really depend on your family size and water usage.  I would say the average pump-out for a family with a well-functioning system, is every 1-2 years.    It is worth noting though, that there are still some properties out there in which there is just a tank and no field – with nowhere for the grey water to escape, those tanks need to be pumped much more frequently.  There are also some communities in Manitoba in which there is no field, but the tank connects to municipal services, so the grey water is removed that way.  One more thing worth noting are ejector systems.  If you see a listing that notes there is an ejector system as part of the septic system, please talk to your Realtor about what that could mean for your potential purchase, as it could be a real crap shoot for you (sorry, had to).


4. Planning Ahead

Did we all have that friend growing up that lived far away, and once they would get home for the night their parents would say “we are not going back into town!”? I know I did.  It is of utmost importance to make those lists and check them twice – you don’t want to make a second trip to the grocery store!  Also, it is worthwhile investing in a backup generator. Rural properties do experience power bumps like the rest of Manitoba when a nasty storm hits.  However, rural communities are often the last to have their power restored as MB Hydro prioritizes based on population density.  Having a generator ready to go with some electric heaters would be ideal.  Or better yet, your home has a wood stove and you have stockpiled a huge pile of wood! But either way, it is important to plan for the worst, and hope for the best when it comes to rural living.


5. Trash and Recycling

Depending on the community, perhaps setting your garbage and recycling bin at the end of your driveway may or may not be an option.  In the event it isn’t, your next option is going to be transporting your waste to the dump on a regular basis.  Composting is another great option for rural living though as it results in nutrient-rich soil and will reduce the amount of the trash you are schlepping to the dump!


6. Maintenance

With a great amount of land comes a great amount of responsibility.  This might be obvious, but I will say it anyways.  The bigger the yard, the more responsibility.  Fence repairs, lawn maintenance, driveway maintenance, etc. can take a lot more time and money when in the country.  Consider investing in a riding lawnmower to cut down on some time.  However, that riding lawnmower will also need its own maintenance. 


7. Wildlife

Buying property in Manitoba that is ruralEven within city limits, we experience a fair bit of critters – rabbits, foxes, deer, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, mice, coyotes to name a few.  The same can be said for country living – but perhaps with greater frequency.  Sometimes, these animals can become quite a nuisance, if they are chewing their way into your outbuildings to seek warmth in the fall and winter months.  It is not uncommon to have a mouse in the house when it comes to rural living, and proper mitigation and monitoring is incredibly important to make sure nothing ever arises to the level of an infestation.



8. Property Lines

It can be next to impossible to know the lot lines when you are touring a rural property.  Oftentimes, many assumptions are made, like “you own to that tree line to the north, the ditch to the south, etc.”.  However, it would be a great shame to purchase a rural property only to discover there is a discrepancy between expectations and reality.  Getting a copy of the land survey is a great way to tell where the lot lines are and whether or not there are any encroachments, easements, or potential issues.  It is also important to have on hand to avoid any possible land disputes.  Sometimes a survey can be obtained through the previous owner should they have a copy of one.  However, the most accurate and up-to-date can be obtained by hiring a reputable surveying company to do a fresh survey for you.


9. Connectivity

I have shown many a rural property in which my cell service did not work.  This can sometimes be fixed by switching carriers.  Or, another option might be to purchase a cell phone range extender and have it installed on your home.  However, it may not be a perfect solution. I have had clients that could only commute via text if they were within their home in Wi-Fi range. Which brings me to my next point – Internet.  If you are planning to work remotely, then internet is going to be a HUGE deal.  Not all rural communities have the best internet options, although most are getting better (thank you, Elon Musk).  However, it is important to discuss with the local providers exactly what your options are, and what kind of internet speeds you can expect.


The Takeaway

I sincerely hope I have not deterred you, especially if country living is the dream.  Country living is hard work, but very rewarding too. There is a relaxing peacefulness to being away from it all. I have had many clients over my career move to the country and swear that they will never move back – and I totally understand why!



Rural realtor Manitoba #AgentJen


Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945
Email: Jennifer@JenniferQueen.com

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#AgentAmy’s thoughts over the last couple of months…


I read a news article in the Free Press recently about the amount of Manitoba’s taking steps to get their real estate license, my first thoughts were, "I hope they know what they are getting into." Here is a little bit of the Free Press article….


"In the 12 months ending in March 2020, 353 people enrolled to take the first module required in training to be a sales agent. Over the next 12 months, even with an initial dip due to COVID-19, it jumped to 817. In all of 2017, 2018, and 2019 combined, 1,066 people enrolled in module 1; since last May there has been 938 sign up.


The first quarter of 2021 saw 111 people get certified as new agents. Over the first quarter in the previous four years, an average of 48 realtors got started. Throughout the last three quarters, 225 new agents have printed business cards — more than any three consecutive quarters combined over the past five years."


I started in the real estate business about 9 years ago. I had lots of experience in sales but nothing that compared to the real estate industry. I worked for Jen as her unlicensed assistant for about two years and then decided to get licensed and become a Realtor. I have been a Realtor with RE/MAX for 7 years (this seems crazy to me)! I love my job, it is hard, time consuming, physically, and mentally exhausting, rewarding, fun, everchanging, among other things but real estate is not easy. It is talked about a lot in the media. The housing market and how crazy it is and then people just assuming that everyone in the business is making crazy amounts of money because houses are selling so fast and for some much over list price. What you need to understand is that yes, the housing market is crazy BUT it is extremely challenging to work in a market like this. We are working all hours of the day, making sacrifices as well as our families. We put our clients first and hardly take time for ourselves. Our focus is our clients because without them we are nothing in this business.


Realtors working with famillies in Winnipeg

I have had some time to think (some, not a lot) over the last couple of months and what I really want to say is Thank you – short and sweet haha! I want to say thank you to my husband Chris, who works Monday – Friday 9-5 but he does not stop there. There have been countless nights where I am not home for dinner and/or bedtime and he makes sure our son is well fed, happy, loved, read-to and asleep, as well as working tirelessly on our basement renovation. I give him the gears a lot but he is my rock and I couldn’t have made it where I am today without him. We have been through a lot in the last 16 years, its hard to imagine what the universe will throw at us next.


I want to thank my son Gavin, for being the best little boy we could have ever imagine. You are independent, determined, strong willed, smart, caring, loving, adorable, I could go on forever, but you get the idea. I love you with everything I am, and it breaks my heart every time I have to leave the house and you say “Mama, you have to go to a work appointment?” To which I say “Yes, I do” and you proceed to cry. He does not cry so much anymore, which makes me sad because now my leaving is normal to him. I cherish him every chance I get. I also want to thank my parents, who are always there to support me, and I will always be grateful for that. You taught me that hard work will get you far and to always be proud of myself. This past year and a half has been challenging in so may way but not being able to see my parents and sister and her family has been one of the hardest things (they live in BC). The end is in sight, and I can not wait to see you all soon.


I also want to thank Jen Queen, who has always been an inspiration to me. She is one of the smartest, hard working, generous people I know. She has built a booming business in a very short amount of time. I was a little hesitant to join her one-person team 9 years ago, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, so thank you for believing in me. She has also built a solid team, that supports one another, which I believe is a key to success.


Best realtor working in Winnipeg#AgentAmy


Amy McDermid

Phone: (204) 470-5356
Email: Amy@JenniferQueen.com

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Things always happen at the worst time, am I right? You’re one month out from listing your home and your furnace breaks down, GREAT! What do you do? Calling around to some local companies you learn that you don’t need to fork up the $4500.00 all at once to replace the furnace, you can RENT the furnace and pay a monthly fee. Well isn’t that ideal, you are planning on selling anyway, so you should only have a few months of this fee to pay and the rest is the new owners’ problem. Even better, the buyers will be ecstatic to learn that they have a brand-new furnace that they don’t need to worry about for the next few years! Win, win. Or so many sellers think.


Lately, I feel like I have been running into this situation more and more often. I am not sure if the equipment rental companies are just getting better at persuading unassuming clients to be part of their scheme or if we just need to do a better job of educating people about what this means for them when selling their home.  Unfortunately, usually by the time we come into picture, the damage has already been done. So, what do we do now?


How much money should you spend on a homeLet’s start off with what these rental companies aren’t telling you.  Simply, you (or the next owner) will end up paying more than DOUBLE what the furnace would have originally cost once the rental contract is over. Ok yes, once again if you are selling who cares, so let me keep going. The average life span of a new high-efficient furnace is roughly 25 years… and these contracts only last usually 8-10 years. Now remember, this is a rental, so when the contract is up you no longer have a furnace. Therefore, you just paid double to use the same furnace for less than half of its lifespan. So to put it into perspective, if you buy the furnace it will cost you $4500.00 up front and you will have it for at least 20 years; if you rent it you will end up paying close to $10,000.00 all in and only have it for 8-10 years. The math is simple, and the buyers will see that too.


So here it is, for some buyers the extra cost for a rental is a huge expense on top of all the other costs of owning a house, especially for something that most homes already include. Add on to that, the fact that they are technically purchasing a house without a furnace (as it is an extra cost to have one). When comparing to other homes that don’t have this added cost, your home will start to appear less ideal. Unfortunately, what this means for you is that we will either need to adjust the price you are asking for the home to take into account these costs, OR you will have to buy out the contract, and trust me that doesn’t come cheap. Most buyers’ agents’, will advise their clients to not take on the rental and to ask for the contract to be bought out prior to possession. So that initial $4500 you tried to save by renting, BAM it just doubled.


Now of course I am over generalizing, all rental contracts are a little different and the price to buyout may change slightly, but they are all much more than the original cost to buy. Now here is the real problem, some people unfortunately think this is their only option.  A lot of households don’t have the savings set aside for an emergency for these types of situations. BUT there are other programs that can help. Manitoba Hydro has many programs that can help homeowners with these upfront costs and upgrades while charging you very little interest. For more information on theses programs please visit:  

https://www.hydro.mb.ca/your_home/residential_loan/


I have focused mainly on furnaces in today’s blog since they carry the largest price tags, but in real estate we see all kinds of rental contracts. Some other common rentals we see are hot water tanks and air condition units. I have even experienced all three at one listing! That’s one big extra expense for a potential buyer!


The point I am trying to drill into you today is that whichever type of rental you are considering, please take a second to think and do the math.  It may just save you a lot of money in the end, and always remember we are here to help!


Top real estate agent in Winnipeg#AgentAshton


Ashton Augert

Phone: (204) 781-1767
Email: Ashton@JenniferQueen.com

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Looking for some ideas for kids activities during this period of Social Distancing? Download our List of 101 Activities You can do at Home with Your Children.  How many have you done already?  How many do you plan to do?


Download the PDF HERE.


We hope you are all safe and well during this time.

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Welcome to Winterpeg! If you have lived in Winnipeg for a length of time then you can understand why the nickname Winterpeg sticks with our great city.  If you are new here you may have heard people joke that Winnipeg can get cold in the winter and our winters are the longest season.  Now you may have prepared for this and have come ready with long johns and a warm parka but have you considered some of the implications of purchasing a home in the winter months?  There are going to be certain parts of a home that you will want to know about when purchasing that will not be readily visible in winter, for example a roof covered with snow.


To help out with a purchase in Winnipeg between November and March I will lay out a few pros and cons of purchasing a home in the winter season.


Pros

1. Less competition

Winnipeg is known for having a pretty stable market with a mix of both buyers and sellers markets throughout different areas of the city.  When buying a home in the winter months there tends to be less competition as you head into the new year. As people prepare to settle in for Christmas there is usually slow down with their searches of homes and start to wait until the next year. Families who are searching for homes usually slow down their searches until the end of winter because they do not want to move their children in the middle of the school year. This can be a great time for you to purchase! If you happen to find a house that you love then the odds are good that you will have less competition than you would have if you were searching for a home in the spring and summer months. 


2. Listings

Buying a home in Winter in WinnipegAs the year comes to a close you tend to see less movement on the MLS.  Houses are listed less and the ones that are tend to stick around a bit longer than usual.  Just because most people choose to list in the Spring and Summer months doesn’t change the fact that some people still need to list in the winter.  Maybe they have purchased another house and need to sell the one they are currently in, maybe they need to downsize, the point is that houses still need to be sold in the winter but with less competition from buyers this can lead to a better bargaining position and may help you get a better price for the house you want.


3. Purchase price

Winter months can have an effect on the purchase price of a home.   As listed above there are many factors that will depend on the sale price of a home, but generally the longer times on market in the winter and less buyers looking for homes usually give you the ability to negotiate easier than you could in the summer months.  It is not always the case but usually people are willing to negotiate more to ensure they can enjoy the holidays not worrying about the sale of their home.



Cons

1. Viewings

Something that is harder to come by in Winnipeg in the winter months is daylight.  With most people having to view homes in the evening and the sun going down around 4:30pm it makes viewings in daylight more challenging.  Daylight is important for viewing a home, there are things that you will definitely miss about a property when viewing it in the dark.  Whether that be the paint colours showing up different or portions of the property you simply miss because it is too dark.  Seeing a property in daylight is an important part of the process.


2. Snow cover

Winter House Hunting in WinnipegWhen purchasing a property there are things you want to be able to see around the home when viewing it and a heavy amount of snow can hinder this process.  Shingles covered in snow cannot be seen, grading and landscaping can be completely covered by a blanket of snow.  Disclosure statements are especially important when purchasing in the winter as you will need to have the comfort of knowing what you may have to deal with in the spring.


3. Outdoor fixtures

When purchasing a home in the winter it is important to get the proper information and documentation on outdoor fixtures of the home.  When I say outdoor fixtures I mean things like the central A/C system, hot tubs (if included in the sale), pools, etc.  These are systems that cannot be tested in winter, a winterized pool may look fine but come spring could show signs of necessary repair.  An A/C unit cannot be tested in the winter as it will cause damage to the system.  There are ways to protect yourself when writing an offer to purchase in regards to outdoor fixtures so always ask your Realtor how to insert the proper conditions.


Hopefully this has been a quick guide to purchasing a home in the winter.  There are plenty of great reasons to get out there at look at some homes that have been on the market for a while, especially if you want to be in a new place before Christmas.  If you have any questions about buying in winter or want to know more about what to look for give us a call we would be more than happy to lead you in the right direction.


Logan Queen Top Winnipeg Realtor

#AgentLogan


Logan Queen

Tel: (204) 226-1261
Email: Logan@JenniferQueen.com

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The Real Cost of Purchasing a Property

Thinking of buying a house? Most buyers already know there are costs associated to purchasing a home (apart from the obvious purchase price) but what are those costs exactly?


In the real estate world, we refer to these costs as “closing costs”. These closing costs account for all of the extra fees, taxes and more that are required at the time of closing to ensure the property transfers ownership. On average, we tell our clients to set aside 2-2.5% of the total purchase price of the home to cover these closing costs. What this means, is that if you are purchasing a home for $350,000.00, with a 20% ($70,000.00) down payment you would need to have $8750.00 aside PLUS your down payment to close on this property. If this comes as a little bit of a shock to you, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one! Good news is, after reading this article you will be an expert in what to expect when it comes time to writing that big, scary cheque on possession day!


Just a tidbit of advice before I get started, mortgage lenders will usually want proof that you have the amount needed for closing prior to approving your mortgage financing, so having a rough idea how much you will need will help you understand how much you can afford.


THE BREAKDOWN:

Lawyer Fees:

This is the most variable cost of all of the closing costs. Lawyer fees well vary depending on which lawyer you use, the amount of labour needed, what documents are required and much, much more. The majority of real estate transactions go pretty smooth once they are with the lawyers (we have already done the majority of the back and forth!) and if this is your case, you should be budgeting for roughly $800-1200 for these costs.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are NOT using a real estate agent to write the offer, these costs will be significantly higher.


Title Insurance:

We have spoken about title insurance in the past but here is a quick summary once again. Title Insurance is required by most lawyers and lenders when closing on your property. This insurance has replaced the need for a survey of the property. It covers you for encroachments, easements and building permits that were not disclosed to you prior to you purchasing your home. Buyers MUST do their due diligence to ensure this information was not readily available to them prior to them purchasing the insurance. Title insurance will cost between $250-$400 depending on which provider you use.


Land Transfer Tax

This is the big one. This is a provincial tax that is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price of your home. The calculation is a little complicated as it depends on the price of your home. As the purchase price of the home increases, the percentage paid increases as well.  If you would like to see a more accurate calculator you can go to ratehub.ca and go to Land Transfer Calculator and input your information. In Manitoba there is also a registration fee for $70.


Property Tax

Depending on what time of year you are taking possession, and how the previous owners were paying their taxes, you will have to reimburse the sellers for the amount paid already. If they are part of the TTIP program, you will only be reimbursing them for the portion of the taxes they paid for that MONTH after the property transferred. If they paid their taxes in one lump sum in June, you will need to reimburse them for the portion of the YEAR after the property transferred to you. As you can see, this amount can be substantially different depending on how they paid and when. Therefore my advice to you is be prepared to have to pay as though they made one lump sum and there will be no surprises!


Commission

Normally, the buyer does not pay any commission to their real estate agent. The price of the commission has already been built into the purchase price and is paid by the sellers. There are situations where the sellers are not willing to pay commission, when that happens, there is a fee agreement drawn up between the buyer and agent for an amount or percentage agreed to by both parties. This is very rare but does occasionally happen.


Mortgage Default Insurance

This one is an honorable mention, this is not technically a closing cost but it is something to be aware of when purchasing a home. Mortgage default insurance is associated with any mortgage where the buyer has put down LESS than 20% (also called an insured mortgage). This mandatory insurance is tacked on to your mortgage, thus not an upfront cost.


Other costs:

We have covered the fees that will be required on the day of possession but I just want to touch on a few others that may come up during your move!

-          Moving Truck

-          Boxes

-          Internet/Cable set up

-          Renovations 

-          Locksmith

-          Cleaning companies/supplies

-          Storage Locker (depending on when possession is)

-          Painting


Like I had said at the beginning of this article, this may all seem a little overwhelming and not mention expensive. Being aware of the costs to be expected will hopefully take away some of the surprise and prepare you for the realty for what it cost to buy. 


Buying a home in Winnipeg#AgentAshton


Ashton Augert

Phone: (204) 781-1767
Email: Ashton@JenniferQueen.com

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Helping people purchase homes is my specialty yet there are a few things that always come up when dealing with first time home buyers.  One of these things is buyer’s representation.  I get asked all the time “why should we have a buyer’s agent?’ and it is a good question.  Most of the time there is a Realtor representing the home so why not just use them? I am in the industry so the answer to me is clear but I will try and give you my best reasons why I think you should have your own agent for your home purchase.


1. Individual representation

When you see a house you like, whether that be online, at an open house or driving by a sign there is usually a Realtor representing the sale of that home, the Listing Agent.  What you need to know is that the Listing Agent’s initial duty is to the person or persons selling the home.  If you approach the listing agent and ask them to represent you they now have 2 choices: one is to treat you as a customer; and two is to treat you as a client.  If the agent chooses route one then they are still acting in the best interest of the Vendors selling the home and not actually working in your best interest. They may assist you and do owe you honesty and integrity in their dealings, but at the end of the day their loyalty is to the Vendor.  If they choose option two the problem then arises that the agent is now representing both parties, and how easy is it for them to work in the best interest of one party without harming the other? The answer is it’s not simple.  The agent almost acts as mediator between the two parties to come to a mutual agreement. This is one reason why I would recommend picking your own agent before you take interest in a property.


2. Better purchase price


I am asked all the time:  “won’t I get a better deal on the home if I work with the listing agent?”  The answer is almost always no.  If a home is on the MLS there is already a contract signed with the vendors that agrees to pay a buyer’s agent from the proceeds of the sale.  If you decide to purchase through the listing agent all that means is that they receive both the selling and buying commission of the sale, yet as you can see from point 1 that it does not necessarily mean they are representing both sides in the best way possible.  Your best chance of getting a better deal on a home is to have your own agent who is a skilled negotiator and knows the market.  They can fight for what you want.  There is no cost to buyers for using their own agent.


3. Do I need to sign a contract to buy?

This one is a bit trickier as some provinces will not allow people to purchase a home without having what is called a “buyers contract”.  What these contracts do is tie you to a single agent for a home purchase.  Now you may ask why, and the honest answer is: to protect yourself.  You can meet with and interview any realtors you want and if/when you find someone you like you can choose to sign a contract.  This will contractually obligate the agent to help you find a home.  These contracts are not required but IMO are highly beneficial.  Any agent with a signed buyer’s contract is going to work hard to get you what you want.  If you are just seeing things with multiple agents willy nilly, then it is harder for any of them to take you serious and really get you where you need to be for your purchase.


4. Second pair of eyes

Charting the waters of a home purchase can be a daunting and there are a lot of things to look for.  To most people, a home purchase will be the largest purchase in their lifetime.  Yet, we often make these buying decisions in a matter of hours.   Usually people have 1-2 showings before putting in an offer and maybe have a home inspection after that.  That’s it.  Maybe 4-5 hours for something you are going to live in 24/7.  Choosing a buyer’s agent will help you see things you may not think about.  While you may be looking at the sizes of the rooms, the colours, or the layout I will be looking for the potential problems and things that you may overlook.  You have to remember that you are looking at a home and sometimes that emotion can blind you from the necessary diligence needed when going through a home.  Until it is your home it is a house and I will treat it as such.  I will be brutally honest about the flaws, the potential issues, things that need to be fixed.  In any given month I am touring anywhere from 50-70 houses.  I know what to look for and how to write contracts that keep you covered.


I truly think that every person when buying or selling a home should have their own representation from a licensed Realtor.  The benefits to you for protection, knowledge and experience can only be given in its full potential from your own Realtor.  If you have any questions about anything you read above or want to chat more about how a Buyer’s agent can help you, please reach out, this is my specialty after all!



Buyer Representation Agreements

#AgentLogan


Logan Queen

Tel: (204) 226-1261
Email: Logan@JenniferQueen.com

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