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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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The Importance of being an educated Buyer.

Buying your first home is easy, right? You look at houses online, go to a few open houses, write an offer, talk to your bank and voila! SOLD. I mean, of course you know what an encroachment is, title insurance? Closing costs? Differences between a deposit and down payment? Right? Making sure you are truly educated at every step of the process is paramount to a successful transaction. After all, this is one of the largest purchases you will ever make, so doesn’t it make sense to know all the facts first?


I have worked with my fair share of first-time home buyers, helping them to learn along the way and trust me, you are not the only one who doesn’t know how this whole process works. Situations change, deals become more complicated, processes may seem a bit confusing, which is why I must emphasize the importance of asking questions.


Us Realtors, we have done these transactions millions of times, sometimes (and I do mean SOMETIMES) forgetting that this is your first time. If we are explaining things too fast or talking about some condition you’ve never heard of, STOP US! Never feel embarrassed if you don’t understand a term or concept, we LOVE educating our clients, not to sound cliché but, “There is no such thing as dumb question”.


This blog will not answer ALL of the questions that will come up during your real estate experience, but I just wanted to share with you some of the most FAQ I have received from buyers in the past, giving you a head start on your journey! Enjoy!


I went online and filled out a questionnaire with my bank. Am I pre-approved?

Simply, No. There is a big difference between a pre-approval and pre-qualification. A mortgage pre-approval is a detailed letter from your lender letting you know the amount they are willing to lend you as well as the interest rate that they are locking you in at. It may also have conditions attached to it that you must fulfill in order to be approved for the mortgage amount. Before receiving the pre-approval letter, you will have to provide your mortgage specialist/broker with the required documents as well consenting to a credit check. A pre-qualification on the other hand, is something you may fill out online through your bank or financial institution, no documents are required and there will be no credit check. Before a lender will approve your mortgage, they will need all of these documents, so by having a pre-approval you are already ahead of the game when it comes time to securing those funds.


Did I mention it gives you the upper hand in bidding wars? Pre-approvals allow you to move fast when you find the right home, especially if there is someone else thinking it may be theirs as well!


I just started my home buying process and came across a house I love online, I don’t have an agent, is there a difference between using the listing agent or a Buyer’s agent to represent me? 

This one may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by the amount of people who don’t know the difference.

The seller’s agent (or listing agent) is the real estate agent that is listing the property. You will normally see their name on the sign out front, or on the listing online. These agents represent the SELLER. They have fiduciary obligations to their client (the seller), meaning they must disclose conflicts, avoid conflicts of interest and maintain utmost loyalty, as well as providing duty of care and their general obligations. In short form, the Seller’s agent is looking out for the best interest of the Seller.


Now on the flip side is a Buyers Agent. How you choose your agent is your own choice, but I highly recommend finding someone you mesh well with and trust. Whether it be by going to open houses, scrolling online or just someone you know, it is important to form that bond early. A buyer’s agent has the same fiduciary and general obligations to a Buyer as a seller’s agent to the seller. Therefore, the Buyer’s agent is looking out for the best interest of the BUYER.


I want to see a house on the other side of the city, I don’t want to inconvenience my agent, should I just call the listing agent and set up an appointment?

ALWAYS CALL YOUR AGENT. Remember what I just said about Buyers Agency? They are there to look out for your best interests. The seller’s agent still represents the seller even if they are the one showing you the house. If you have an agent who you are already working with, TRUST ME, they want to show you the house, even if you think its an inconvenience for them, its not, so call them, please…. One more time? CALL YOUR AGENT.  All Realtors have access to all MLS listings; therefore, your agent can show you every single one of them. There should never be a situation where you would have to set up a viewing yourself with the listing agent. Leave it to them. There are exceptions if you want to use the listing agent as your own, this is called dual agency, but please ask them to explain this fully to you before signing any agreement.

 

I see there is an Open House happening tomorrow but my agent can’t make that time, can I still go?

Of course, you can! Tell the agent at the open house that you are represented, don’t worry, they won’t mind at all! That agent will then follow up with US instead of harassing (did I say harassing?) you for the feedback.


On a side not, if you are still looking for an agent, open houses are great opportunities to “interview” potential agents and see if they are the right fit for you. Most times, the agent doing the open house is not the listing agent. Ask them some questions, (there is a theme here).


We LOVE it! Who writes the offer? My agent or my lawyer?

Your agent. Whoever is representing you at the time will write the offer for you, with you present and explaining terms and conditions as you go. It is always nice to familiarize yourself with the Offer to Purchase prior to writing an offer as it can look a little intimidating at first. Ask your agent for a spare copy, they will be happy to provide one for you.


People keep warning me about these things called “Closing Costs”, how much should I set aside for them?


Anywhere from 2-2.5% of the purchase price of the home. These closing costs include (but aren’t limited to): Lawyers Fees, Land Transfer Tax as well as Title Insurance.


I’m putting down 5%, my lender told me I have to pay CMHC fees, more fees!? What the heck are those?

This should be explained to you in detail when you are going through the pre-approval process, but I will give you a quick explanation here. If you are putting down less than 20% of the total purchase price as your down payment, you will be getting what is called a high-ratio mortgage. These mortgages have attached to them mortgage default insurance, which you will commonly hear being called CMHC Fees. These fees are not an upfront cost to the buyer but built into your mortgage. CMHCC Fees insure the lender in the case of the borrower defaulting on payments. They are calculated depending on the purchase price of the home as well as the amount you put down. Rate Hub has a great Mortgage Default Insurance Calculator.


What is a deposit? Do I have to come up with MORE money!?

A deposit is a portion of your down payment paid on the day you write the offer. This deposit acts as security for the seller, and lets them know you are a serious buyer.  Your deposit will be held in the listing brokers trust account (some exceptions) after acceptance of the offer. Once all conditions written in the Offer to Purchase are fulfilled, the deposit will form part of your down payment, meaning you will only pay your lawyer the remaining balance of your down payment at closing.  Now, if the conditions aren’t satisfactory to you, the deposit will be returned to you in full without interest. With that being said, there are situations where the listing brokerage will have every right to withhold that deposit, please ask your agent for examples of situations where this may arise.


I’ve heard of this thing called Title Insurance, do I need it?

I personally love Title Insurance, it’s a one-time fee you pay at closing that protects against losses arising from problems related to the title of your property. What does that mean you ask? When you are buying a home, you are registering your name to the title of that property. You want your title to be free from all defects that would prevent you from total ownership such as, unpaid liens from previous owners, encroachments not registered to the title or fraudulent ownership. Title insurance covers you from a number of risks, even if the defect existed prior to you purchasing the property. It normally costs anywhere from $200-$400.  You can always ask your lawyer to explain this further.


Home Inspections? What are your thoughts?

It depends on the situation. For the most part, I always recommend buyers to do a home inspection as they provide a tremendous amount of information in regards to the property. They will look at the structure, the roof, the utilities, the electrical etc. and they will likely get a whole lot dirtier in the process than you will from just a simple tour of the house. We will gladly recommend you to some of the best home inspectors around! Home Inspections normally cost roughly $500.00 and will last anywhere from 2-4 hours. 


I did say that it does depend on the situation though. There are some cases, such as when dealing with multiple offers, where a Home Inspection might affect the strength of your offer. Make sure you have all the questions you need answered before going forward, and always remember we are only here to guide you in this process, you always make the final decision.


I have only just skimmed the surface of what there is to learn when buying your first home. Never be afraid to ask the important questions and remember,


“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life” – Confucius 


Jennifer Queen Team Agent Ashton#AgentAshton

Ashton Augert

Sales Representative

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

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Are you thinking of buying a house? Then this blog is for you! 

You have decided to start the process of buying a house! YAY!  WHOOHOO!


That is serious business and it is also very exciting.  The question is: Where to start?

Now you may respond with “um have you heard of the internet?” and you would be right that is a great place to start, or is it?  Below I am going to run through my 6 steps for purchasing a home from start to finish.


In my opinion the absolute first step in your journey to purchasing your first property is simple:

1. GET A PRE-APPROVAL!!

How do you start looking for treasure without a map to follow? Think of the pre-approval as the paper you use to draw the map, without the preapproval you have nowhere to start. 


It doesn’t matter if you know what kind of house you like, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want or that you definitely need to have a hot tub.  These things mean nothing if you do not know what dollar amount a lender will actually give you a mortgage for.


Mortgage PreapprovalWhere to go for a pre-approval? The best answer is to do a little research. Most places will do a pre-approval for free, but not all.  You can get a pre-approval from almost any financial institution. Banks, credit unions and mortgage brokers will be more than happy to entertain taking you on as a client.  If you need some names and places give us a call and we can direct you to someone who will help.  Keep in mind this can get in depth.  They are planning on giving you a significant amount of dough so they are going to ask for a lot of documentation and background info.  Don’t worry about what is in your financial past, it is better to be honest than to get a mortgage you can’t afford.


Alright you have a pre-approval! SUCCESS!! That is a big step and the right place to start.


Now what? Realtor.ca? KIJIJI? Points2home? Real Estate News?

YES!!


2. RESEARCH AND BUILD A WISHLIST!

Go online.  Look up things on social media.  Do some research on property types.  Do you want a house? Is a Condo more your thing? Are you handy? Do you want something that is a fixer upper or something you don’t have to do anything to? You may not be able to get everything on your wishlist within your budget, but you should definitely have an idea of what it is that you need.  2 or 3 bedrooms? Two storey or one? Do you need a bathtub?   There are a lot of factors of a home that you may or may not even know that you wanted so look around. Getting an idea of the important things will help guide you when you start to look at properties in person.


3. FIND A BUYERS AGENT!!

I cannot stress enough how important this one is.  You can’t drive past 2 bus benches in this city without seeing the name of a real estate agent and the companies they work for and you should have seen plenty of agents’ names while doing your research about property types. So look into some agents.  A lot of us have our own websites with biographies and other information.  Maybe there is an agent with a similar background to you, maybe your friend’s mom or dad is an agent.  Go to some open houses and talk with the agents hosting them.  The person there is not always the listing agent and in most cases would love to help you on your journey.  It doesn’t matter how you find the agent you want to work with, as long as you do choose someone to represent you.


Pick an AgentMy best advice in this is to be honest with whoever you talk to.  Telling an agent you are working with someone when you are not doesn’t really help anyone.  If you are looking on your own and are not yet represented then say so.  You don’t need to be scared about telling the truth.  At the end of the day we all want to make good working relationships and not everyone will mesh with every agent.  There is someone out there who you are going to feel will best represent your interests.  Tell the agent you are just starting your search and you are not ready to commit to anyone specifically.  Ask for a business card and if you like how they interacted with you, maybe you will ask them to represent you.


As an aside if you are just a neighbor who wants to see the home, say so.  We are hosting an open house anyway so you are welcome to come in, and the best way to feel like the agent is just being themselves with you is to be honest, we can see when you walk up to a property from across the street.  


Ok now you have picked an agent to represent you, AMAZING!!  Have a real honest conversation with them about your wants and needs, and what you can’t live without.  The agent can begin assisting you in your search. Our backend system saves you hours and hours of research as it scours the MLS for anything set up in your own curated search.  They will be the ones drawing the directions to the buried treasure. Not to mention, listings on our system can pop up 2-3 days before Realtor.ca!


It’s time to pick some houses to see.


4. VIEW HOUSES!!

Ask your buyers agent to set up showings for houses you want to view.  This may be one of the most important pieces of information I can give you. Once you pick a buyers agent contact them to do everything.  Every Realtor in Winnipeg has access to every property that is on the MLS so if you see a house you like you should contact YOUR agent, not the listing agent. Thinking they are too busy so you will book with the listing agent is not cool and could get your agent into some hot water.  If you pick someone to represent you, LET THEM.  That is what they want. They want to get to know you, how you feel about the houses, what you like, what you hate.  It helps us fight for your best interests when you do pick a house you love.


Now get into some houses! All of the online areas are great resources but nothing and I mean NOTHING can simulate the way you see a house in person.  The smell, the feel, the textures, the room sizes.  I really do mean nothing is the same in person as it is online.  The #1 comment I get when I host open houses is: “it looked different in the pictures.” And it’s true.  A camera cannot simulate the way you experience a home.  You may think that you like the idea of a two storey home, but when you view it you hate the stairs.  Maybe a carpet looks grey in a picture but it is powder blue in person.  You NEED to see a home to know if you like it, and perhaps love it.


So you have found a house that you LOVE, it has everything you wanted and it’s in your budget, now what?


5. WRITE AN OFFER!

The map is getting closer and closer to the big X.  It’s time to talk with your buyers agent and write up the offer.  They will know what all of the comparable homes in the area have sold for, whether there is room to negotiate or not (maybe it is an offer date and a competition) and how to get your offer from conditional to FINAL.  Your agent will negotiate on YOUR behalf.  Your best interests are what they are working for.  They are going to fight tooth and nail to get you the best price and terms.  This is the reason they got to know you in the first place.




6. CLOSE THE DEAL!

Now it is the home stretch, time to work hard and dig up that treasure.  Your offer was accepted and it is time to finalize your conditions.  Remember the Pre-approval? Well now the lender has turned that into a Mortgage.  Did you request a home inspection? Time to do it, and if you did it will be the best lesson in how to maintain a home and worth every penny in my opinion.  Finalize all of your conditions and the home is yours.  Your buyers agent can help you with the particulars of closing the deal completely by suggesting insurance providers and lawyers to finalize the paperwork.


CONGRATULATIONS!! You have purchased a home. In 6 steps you have been the dream client and found that buried treasure, well done!!!



AgentLogan#AgentLogan


Logan Queen

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

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