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June marks my tenth year in real estate.  To switch things up this year, I’m going to report what I can remember from each year.  I find each year in real estate has at least one significant or impactful lesson to teach us.  So here we go!


Year 1 (2011):

Lessons: Relationships matter.  Be good to those that are good to you.  Walk away from those that just don’t appreciate you. The majority of my business this year came from ComFree listings (before they were a licensed brokerage – which means I wasn’t breaking any rules).  I had many hang up on me, but those that agreed to list with me turned out to be wonderful clients that I still work with today.! 

Sold 12 homes this year.

Fun story from this year: Sold my first acreage (72+ acres)


Year 2 (2012):

Lessons: Relationships matter (again).  Started to learn about the importance not only of keeping in touch with clients throughout the process of their home buying/selling process, but long after as well.  Many of the clients I worked with in 2012, I am still in touch with today.

Sold 38 homes this year.

Fun story from this year: One of the homes I sold had bullet holes in the side of it.


Year 3 (2013)

Lessons: Not all sales are happy sales.  Sold homes for clients that had previously bought in a happy time, but were now selling for sad reasons (death, divorce, job loss).  This career is full of ups and downs, and our job is to help people navigate our clients through the good times and bad.

Sold 47 homes this year.

Fun story from this year: I sold my own house this year.  Still regret it today (would have kept it as a rental)


Year 4 (2014)

Lessons: The importance of pricing (and ownership of bad pricing).  I had more listings expire this year than ever in my career.  Sometimes it is scary to have conversations about pricing with sellers – you don’t want to offend them, particularly if you were wrong.  Learning how to have those difficult discussions became paramount this year.

Sold 66 homes this year.

Fun Story: I had more homes expire this year than sold.  This line was super embarrassing and cringe-worthy for me to write! 



Year 5 (2015)

Lessons: Have a plan A, a plan B, and a plan C! From selling another personal residence, to having a slightly softer market, it became paramount to formulate multiple plans for selling. 

Sold 93 homes this year.

Fun Story: Logan and I had purchased a former (remediated) grow-op before I was in the business and chose to sell it in 2015.  We “sold” it three times before our third cash buyer came along and was able to close. We also welcomed our first child this year.



Year 6 (2016)

Lessons: Remember your “why”.  After the birth of our daughter, Everly, work-life balance started to become more important.  Parenthood also really emphasized the motivations for why families choose to move.  I thought I “got it” before, but I don’t think I fully understood the brain of a parent until I was one.

Sold 62 homes this year (maternity leave for four months).

Fun Story: I negotiated a complete deal at a table with clients while nursing a poopy baby.  Thank you to the lovely family that encouraged me to bring my baby along… your kindness and acceptance of my situation meant a lot to me.



Year 7 (2017)

Lessons: Be confident in your value proposition and the advice you give.  Stand firm in it and don’t back down.

Sold 107 homes this year.

Fun Story: I was pregnant (again) this year.  I also had to cancel an open house due to an incident of domestic violence as a bunch of walls and doors had been punched through.  Sad all around.



Year 8 (2018)

Lessons: The best interest of your clients always come before your own.  There were a couple of sales this year that involved careful consideration of a clients’ position.  Whether it be helping with some home renovations, doing some pro-bono work, or just advising not to buy or sell, there were a multitude of situations and reasons this year that warranted a different kind of care.

Sold 75 homes this year.

Fun Story: We welcomed our second child, Blaine this year.  He has a very piercing scream that would challenge the strongest eardrum.  I made many calls from my sunroom even when it was -30 outside just so I could sound “professional”.



Year 9 (2019)

Lessons: The importance of a team. Amy was off for most of this year as she was taking maternity with her son, Gavin.  So, we ended up hiring Ashton and Carrie both in late 2018.  Learning to grow and work as a team was so paramount to our future success.  We really missed Amy’s presence and were so happy to have her back toward the end of 2019.

Sold 154 homes this year.

Fun Story: Started listing my first luxury properties (or what I consider luxury property)… SOOO much fun to market!



Year 10 (2020)

Lessons: What we need, is really quite simple.  The year of COVID… where what was highlighted was the importance of such basic necessities – health, family, shelter and love.  We thought that real estate would be dead and that we would need to buckle down for a tough year.  It turned out to be the exact opposite, with record sales.

Sold 168 homes this year.

Fun Story: I gave birth to our third child in June of 2020… and was negotiating in between contractions. The poor agent on the other side of the transaction was so uncomfortable with this that he called my broker for the transaction.  I may have sent out a DocuSign for signatures from the hospital bed…




Well, there you have it, 10 years of lessons, sales, teamwork, amazing clients, and so much joy from this profession.  No two days are alike and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Thanks for reading this far!!  I look forward to another 10 years


Best realtor in Winnipeg, Jennifer Queen talks experience

#AgentJen


Jennifer Queen

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

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The year 2020… should I say anything more? Thinking back to last spring, I really didn’t know what this would mean for the Real Estate market here in Winnipeg. The news seemed all but damming. With more people working from home, wages and jobs being lost, and restrictions on how we could conduct our everyday business, I really thought we were in for the worst. Turns out, I was very, VERY wrong. More buyers than ever were being qualified to buy as the interests rates plummeted, people’s priorities were changing in what they were looking for and house prices were going through the roof (no pun intended). 2020 was one of the strongest markets in recent history.


How did that happen you wonder? You would think job cuts and restrictions would mean less people buying and more people staying put, but that isn’t exactly what happened. People who had job security were saving more money as they weren’t going on trips and spending on entertainment, and buyers looking to get into the market saw their chance as interest rates hit an all time low. The demand was high, and the supply…. well the supply was slim to none. While Buyers saw an opportunity, a lot of sellers (especially at first) were hesitant. The fear of a market crash was looming and a world wide pandemic was here. Letting strangers into your home wasn’t on the top of everyone’s list, and who could blame them! The high demand and lack of supply tipped the scale in favour of a seller’s market and the rest is history. Bidding wars, high sales prices and emotions flying, COVID-19 impacted the real estate market more than we could have ever imagined.


The market itself wasn’t the only thing that changed, what buyers were looking for also changed. The COVID-19 restrictions turned our everyday lives’ upside down. All of a sudden, gyms were closed, restaurants were closed and we were spending 99% of our time at home. So naturally, people’s wants/needs in homes changed along with them. These are the areas where we saw the biggest change:



Home Offices: No surprise here. With a lot of the population now working from home, home offices have been on the top of the wish list. What this means is buyers are now looking for homes with either a finished basement or an extra bedroom to set up their home office in.


Houses with pools in WinnipegBigger Yards & Pools: Buyer’s are gravitating to larger outdoor spaces. Less travel, means people are spending more time in their own backyards. Why not make them your own private getaway? Here in Manitoba, pools weren’t always a priority as it is winter 7 months of the year. Not to mention there is a large population of Manitobans who own a secondary vacation property (cottage etc). Due to the travel restrictions we saw a big uptake in the demand for properties with pools.


More space in general: Spending more time at home with our family (although we love them) can make your house feel tight! One of the biggest requests we had in 2020 when talking to buyers is that they “just need more space!”


Home gyms: Between binging Netflix, snacking and zoom calls it’s nice to have a place to let out some of that pent-up energy. With gyms closed and as the temperature drops and we aren’t able to spend as much time outdoors, we have seen a large increase in demand for homes with space for a small home gym.


Detached Homes: We’ve seen a shift from properties with shared living spaces due to COVID-19. Properties with shared amenities saw a dip as health concerns grew.


As we gear up for a what we expect to be a similar 2021, we are taking into consideration a lot of these changes. Not only in what buyer’s are looking for but how to navigate the market in general. We are expecting another year full of bidding wars and high sales prices as there is no evidence of interest rates rising anytime soon. If you have been thinking about selling there is no better time, if you are planning on taking advantage of these low interest rates and buying, we are here to guide you through it.


So, buckle up, we are in for another busy year!




Best Real estate agent in Winnipeg, Ashton Augert

#AgentAshton


Ashton Augert

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

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Having a backyard oasis is one of my life goals! My family and I have  been spending  A LOT of time outside! My husband and I are currently trying to transform our backyard into something beautiful so I thought other might be able to benefit from our experiences. Now that the worms are gone we can finally start tackling some of our projects. This year we are planning some big exterior projects; shingles, soffit, fascia, eavestrough, grading, and a garage. In past years we have painted our exterior stucco trim and all, grading, added flower and vegetable gardens! I know our summer is a short season but undertaking the projects little by little you will be able to achieve that beautiful backyard oasis! 


Here are a couple exterior projects to help you add value and enjoy your outdoor space!


PaintJust like the interior of your house, paint can be a great way to spruce up curb appeal without breaking the bank. Keep it neutral and add that splash of colour with flowers, planters or a freshly painted front door! A great tip if you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on exterior paint, visit some paint store and ask about their mis tints. They sell them at a reduced rate and you might just get lucky! My husband and I did this a couple years ago and ended up getting a white mis tint! We were able to tint it any colour we wanted for a ¼ of the price!


Landscaping This is a big one. Landscaping and grading are very important. While a level yard and pretty gardens make your yard aesthetically pleasing, they also serve a very important role in the overall maintenance of your house and foundation – water management. You always want to make sure you have positive grading, which helps direct water away from the foundation. Installing gardens around your foundation helps absorbs excess water and adds extra curb appeal!


Add or Fix Driveway Adding or Fixing a driveway isn’t always the cheapest renovation but it will go a long way. If your home already has a driveway, make sure it is clean and eye appealing. There are companies in Winnipeg that help fix uneven driveways so just because your driveway has a couple cracks and dips in it make sure you researching and look at all your options before you hire a company to tear up the old driveway and add a new one!


Decks and patios Adding a deck or patio area to your backyard is an important step to creating that oasis! Having a deck or patio area is a valuable addition to your home and can act like a second living space during those summer months. It is a great space for entertaining, eating,  playing, relaxing, etc. This is something my husband and I don’t have and I dream about it all the time! Hopefully we can find some room in the budget this fall or next spring.


Top Real Estate Agent in Winnipeg

#AgentAmy


Amy McDermid

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

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June marks my seventh year in real estate!  This is hard to believe, as it feels like just yesterday when I received my letter from the Manitoba Securities Commission!  Although in this time I have had two babies, received my MBA in Marketing from the University of Manitoba, bought and sold my own home, become an aunt two times over, and got my broker’s license.  So I guess more time has passed than I realize!  Anyways, to commemorate this anniversary, I thought I would put together a list of the seven things I have learned in my seven years in real estate:

 

1. Real estate is a relational business, not a transactional business

People truly don’t care what you know, until they know that you care. For the first few years of my career, I was so focused on being professional.  Rigid would be a good way to define my personality in the early days. Sorry to these clients, it must have been very boring to work with me! Realizing that you can be professional while also being personable was a game changer.  Now, sharing my life with my clients, as they share their lives with me has made my job much more enjoyable, and resulted in many long-lasting relationships!

 

2. There are two ways to build the tallest building in town

I know, this sounds weird, but there are two ways to look at business: 1. You can tear down all of the businesses around you to become the tallest building, or; 2: You can just build the tallest building.  This can be a tough industry as my colleagues or friends within the business are often my competition, and an industry set up such as this can lead to dissension amongst peers and sometimes downright dirty tactics to obtain clients.  But karma exists. Always choose to build the taller building.

 

3. Build a solid team around you

Amy started with me after my first year in the business.  It helped that she had some knowledge and experience already in real estate.  However, had she not, recruiting her still would have been an easy decision.  You see, I truly believe that anything can be taught.  However, character cannot be learned. So build your team with quality people that want to see you succeed, and the rest can be figured out as you go! As we have continued to grow the team, and form partnerships with others, this strategy has remained at the forefront and it has not steered us wrong yet!

 

4. Communication is Key!

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.  A lot of the time silence is mistaken for inactivity.  Whether it be good news, bad news, or even no news, keep in touch with your clients! Sometimes it may be uncomfortable, but people will appreciate you for making the call.

 

5. Honesty is the best policy

For most people, a home will be the largest asset they ever own.  So be honest in your dealings with the public.  Throughout the buy and sell process there are a lot of questions and decisions that will come up, so delivering truthful information is key so that buyers and sellers can make informed decisions.  Sometimes the truth isn’t what people want to hear, and delivering it can be painful.  But your clients and fellow Realtors will thank you for it in the end.

 

6. Education is paramount

Goodness, the things that I didn’t know when I started are scary to me.  But the only way to learn is to latch onto every education opportunity you can find.  Whether it be following a home inspector around, to tricking other Realtors to go for lunch with me so that I could pick their brain, to enlisting in webinars from other Realtors, to reading a new book, to enrolling in courses (online and offline), or to deciding to take up an MBA in marketing mid-career, there is an abundance of things that we can all learn.  Always be willing to share your knowledge and education with others as well. 

 

7. Trust that life usually works intelligently

Over prepare then go with the flow. If things don’t seem to work out at first, there is usually a good reason for it. Things will inevitably go sideways.  Buyers will get declined for financing, home inspections will fail, you will have clients get outbid on a property.  But after doing this for several years, I have learned that if it is meant to be, it will be.

 

 

Looking back, it all seems like it went by so fast!  It has been quite a ride, many happy and hilarious memories have been made, and many life milestones achieved. I wouldn’t have it any other way and can’t wait to see what the next seven years will bring!

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A survey of Canadian real estate agents in 2013 indicated that smoking can reduce a home's resale value by nearly 30%.  But this does not have to be the case!

About 88% of real estate agents surveyed said it is more difficult to sell a home previously occupied by smokers. Those same agents said about 27% of their clients will not even consider buying a home in which a smoker has lived. So what do you do if your house smells like smoke and you want to sell it? How are you going to attract a buyer for your property?

 

Have you seen Febreze’s new commercial, about people that have gone “nose blind”?  I have sold my fair share of homes that have been smoked in, where the owners stopped smoking months prior to the sale and believe that in doing so, they have eliminated the smell.  Unfortunately, this has rarely been the case.  The feedback that we receive from subsequent showings is often that “the smoke smell turned off the buyers”. The smell of smoke lingers, and depending on how heavily smoked in the home was, it may need more remedial action.  Third hand smoke is also a term growing in popularity, and as a result, society’s further aversion to the smell of smoke. Here are my top tips to eliminate the smell:

 

Stop smoking in the homeGetting smoke out of your home

I know, it sounds obvious.  Yet so many people think that just one cigarette here and there won’t have an impact – but they do.  There is a compounding effect with each additional cigarette.  And you can’t eliminate something you keep bringing into the home.  Take it outside for now.  Hopefully your home sale isn’t in the middle of winter!  If it is, I promise this step will be worth it!

 

Air it out

Open windows, get fresh air coming through the property if this is in the spring, summer or fall.  If the weather is too cold outside, then you may have to resort to other tactics. Put a couple of drops of vanilla extract on a new furnace filter, and remove the old one.  Have your ducts cleaned.  Then switch your furnace fan setting to “on” instead of “auto”.  This constant movement of air throughout the house goes a long way. The same goes for bathroom fans, kitchen exhaust fans, etc.  Bring that fresh air in and force that stale air out!


Clean it all! 

Cleaning Smoke HomesAny soft surface in your home is likely holding a ton of the smell.  Get your carpets steam cleaned by a professional. Let them know in advance that you are trying to eliminate a smoke smell, as they often have special mixes for circumstances such as these.  Pull down those drapes, wash them if you can.  If you can’t, air them outside for a few days. Hard surfaces still need to be washed too – wood banisters, metal décor or light fixtures, etc. can all be wiped down with a mixture of vinegar and water.  

 

From the Windows… to the Wall!

Wash those walls.  Tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) and water are a powerful combination and will remove a lot of odour, but not all. But at least it is a start! TSP is also good for breaking up the nicotine molecules so that yellow grime will wipe away.  You will also want to wash the windows as the nicotine residue can make them look foggy or stained.  Not something you want to draw attention to when selling!

 

Baking SodaCleaning with Baking Soda

Don’t forget the power of one of the most common odour neutralizers – baking soda!  Just a regular dusting of this on soft surfaces can make all of the difference.  Baking soda naturally neutralizes odors and does so by bringing acidic and basic odor molecules into a more neutral pH or state.  Just sprinkle, and then wipe or vacuum it up, depending on the surface.

 

Spray or Plug-In Air Neutralizers

Please, don’t do it!  There is nothing worse than walking into a home and smelling the fresh chemical scent of Febreze or a similar product.  While these products do advertise that they eliminate odours, I have yet to find a buyer who is not offended by the strong smells that come with these products.  If you want to use these products to eliminate odours, do it when you do not have showings scheduled.  Spray the surfaces and let them air out before any traffic comes through.  Doing it immediately prior to a showing however, will leave buyers questioning what exactly it is that you are trying to cover up.

 

Baking Scents

Baking Scented CanclesYou don’t have to be a great baker, to get some amazing scents.  While buyers seem to find chemical or odour-covering sprays offensive, they do tend to respond positively to baking-scented candles (vanilla scents are usually very safe).  Alternatively, a little bit of vanilla extract put in an oven-safe dish with a bit of water, and then baked for just half an hour will create some delicious (and believable) scents!  Better yet, buy a roll of Pillsbury cookie dough and bake half a dozen cookies before each showing. Bonus points if you leave them on the table for your favourite agent!

 

 

Go Bowling

While I have not tested the legitimacy of this claim, I have had some clients swear by leaving activated bowls of charcoal around the house, to absorb smells.  Alternatively, bowls of vinegar throughout the house can supposedly do the same thing.  With a step as easy as this one, what’s the harm in trying, right?

 

Paint

I know, up until now my suggestions were more on the mild side.  But let’s be honest, even following all of the steps above will likely only make a dent in the smell.  Purchase a high-quality primer such as Bullseye or Killz, they are both known to eliminate/lock-in odours, to prevent anything from seeping through.  If you’ve followed the previous wall-washing step with TSP, then the adhesion of these primers to the wall is even better.  Most experts recommend at least two coats of these primers, as nicotine has a nasty ability to seep through with time.  I realize, it sounds like a lot of work but there is an upside to this recommendation. Interior paint increases your resale value and has an approximate return on investment of approximately 40%, according to a recent study by HGTV.  But please go with neutrals – greys and beiges, or get wild and go greige!

 

Bringing out the Big Guns

There are other products designed to eliminate smoke and other odors (usually pet) from a home, but these are slightly more intense.  I will note some of the ones that my clients have had success with below:

Odoban

Odoban for Cigarette SmellsThis product can be purchased at Home Hardware and Giant Tiger in Canada.  It can also be purchased online through Amazon.  It is often used for fire restoration procedures, and works.  It is sprinkled on to surfaces (soft and hard). Always do a test spot before putting it on any fabrics though!

 

Air purifiers

I have had some success with these machines in the past.  However, there does seem to be a direct correlation with the cost of the machine and the quality of air it produces.

 

Biocide systems room shocker

Biocide Room ShockerI have had clients that had success with this product in the past, however be forewarned.  You set off the fogger, and need to leave the house for a period of time.  I believe in their case it was 2 days, which was fine as they were moving into the home from an apartment.  When you return home, the smells are supposed to be gone.  They said they could smell chlorine, but that was about it. For a 1700 square foot home, they set off six and had great success. They did think it was slight overkill and think they could have gotten away with setting only four off. Be careful not to leave them directly on carpet.  In my clients’ case, there was a nasty bleach-looking stain left behind where they left one of the boxes directly on the carpet.  Their advice was to place a plate under them.  They can be purchased online.  Biocide’s online description: Room Shocker exclusively uses the revolutionary ClO2-DMG Technology that delivers the super odor eliminating power of chlorine dioxide, also known as ClO2. ClO2 is a gas that can penetrate deeper and more effectively than non-gas products. The ClO2 molecules are attracted to the negatively charged odor molecules like a magnet is to iron. It seeks them out and destroys them like a smart bomb. Whether you are dealing with the foul odor of cigarettes, skunks, pets, paint, vomit, urine, rotten food, fish, mildew, mold or even chemicals, Room Shocker will eliminate it permanently.

 

Big D 341 Odor Control Fogger

Another strong chemical product.  Similar in theory to the Biocide systems room shocker – but I have not had clients with experience in using these.  However, their online reviews are quite positive.  You have to buy these online as well.

 

Ozone machines

Ozone Machine for Smoke RemovalThese can be controversial as they are removing the smoke from the air, but leaving their own carcinogens behind.  If all your hard labor didn’t remove the smoke odor as much as you would like, it’s time to bust out the big guns and follow the lead of restoration companies. You can call restoration companies and ask to rent one directly from them.  You will usually need to rent it for a couple of days.  Alternatively, you can purchase one – but they aren’t cheap! These machines emit ozone molecules that attach themselves to the surfaces in the room.  These machines should only be run in empty rooms, away from humans and pets, and be sure to air your house out after running them.

 

Hiring the Pros

There are business that specialize in removing odours from your homes.  But they come at quite a cost, and will use many of the tactics mentioned above.  I have heard quotes anywhere from $2000 - $15,000 depending on the remediation package chosen.  I would say this option is more for the most serious of cases.  I can only think of one house in my career that I would have recommended this as the proper solution.

 

 

Following these steps will hopefully remove the bulk of the smoke smell.  Although, I have had some clients so sensitive to smoke, whether it be because of an extra-powerful sniffer, or serious allergies, that just will never consider a smoked-in home.  However, taking these measures will hopefully reduce the smoke smell enough that the average buyer will not turn their nose up (sorry, couldn’t help but use a pun) at putting an offer in!

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