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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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If you would have told me a year ago that I would be writing a blog on how to keep yourself motivated during times of uncertainty as most of the world would be on lockdown, I would have thought you were crazy.  But, here we are.


This has been a learning curve for all of us and if you are anything like me, a very hard lesson. Being a Realtor, it’s always go, go, go. ESPECIALLY during the spring months here in Winnipeg. Although the market has not come to a standstill, people are being more careful (rightfully so!), which means, I am spending a little more time, well, with me. 


At first, I went stir crazy, my usual routine was no more. My husband was now working from home, open houses canceled, clients taking a step back and reassessing and no social interactions from outside the home. So, what did I do? I panicked. We had just come back from our honeymoon in Bali, I hadn’t worked in 3 weeks and now the world is going on lockdown! I didn’t know where to start. 


It took me at least a week to realize, what I should have seen sooner, we have been given an opportunity to Get. Things. Done.  I finally decided to take advantage of the time we were given to focus my energy on bettering my business, tackling the list of to do’s and plan a FULL house renovation. Now, you may think that is a little on the extreme side, but accomplishing even little things everyday has been how I have made myself feel, for lack of a better word, normal.


If you are feeling any of the same emotions I had felt, you are not alone. With the world in a state of uncertainty, you are entitled to those feelings, but by accomplishing little things everyday hopefully you too can get a little normalcy back in your life. Here are some ideas to help you get started: 


Tackle that pile of odd jobs you have been putting off for years.

You’ve been staring at that patched wall now for what feels like a lifetime, today can be the day.  Head over to Home Depot (BUT remember to book extra time to wait in that infamous line), grab a can of paint and get it done! That pesky eave that has been leaking? Replace it! Every task you check off, give yourself a pat on the back.


Real Estate Tips for WinnipegPlant a garden.

Finally, the sun is shining. Why not get out there and build yourself a little vegetable garden. Taking care of your new-found hobby will give you something to get excited about every day!


Organize the basement.

We’ve all been there, you just keep piling and piling things into that storage room and think “I’ll get to it next week”. Well, that day has come. Get in there, go through those boxes you haven’t seen in 5 years… who knows, maybe once all of this is over a garage sale may be in order!


Yard Work.

Yes, I said it, spring has sprung and your yard looks less than ideal. Get that rake and go to town! Having an outdoor space that you can enjoy will make being stuck at home all that more enjoyable.

 

Spring clean.

Who knows what the heck has been living behind your fridge all winter? Make your home feel fresh and clean by doing a thorough deep clean. Next step, open up your windows and bring in some fresh spring air and relax.  


Redecorate.

House feeling dated? I know I’m not the only one with a Pinterest board remodeling every single room in my house… why not give yourself a few DIY projects to pass the time as well as spruce up your home!


Start and exercise routine.

Go for a walk, a bike ride or rollerblade. Whatever it is, start moving. Trust me, I know how tempting that couch can be, adding a little physical fitness to your daily routine will hopefully help boost your mood!


Winnipeg Real Estate and COVID-19Read a book.

That book your co-worker gave you 6 months ago is calling your name. Get inspired. Learn something new, or just read something that makes you happy.


We will always remember COVID-19 and how it impacted society as we know it. Days can all start to blur together without our usual routines, so let’s try our best to make each one memorable. On the bright side, it looks like things are starting to look up here in Manitoba! Hopefully adding a few of these things to your week will help getting you to that finish line that much easier.


To quote one of the best, “Just keep swimming” – Dory.


Top Realtor for River heights 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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We have had enough inquiries from fellow Realtors, clients, and partners as to what our Coronavirus Protocol is, so we figured we would post the letter that has gone out to our Sellers below:


As the COVID-19 virus continues to dominate the news, we too are determined to come up with a proactive solution to ensure the safety of our own clients. We are firm believers in everyone doing their part to #flattenthecurve. We are watching and planning non-stop. As a profession that spends time inside the homes of our valued clients, we understand that it is our responsibility to play a constructive role in supporting health initiatives.  In light of the recent cases in Winnipeg, we have reviewed the Novel Coronavirus Bulletin and our own practice. In light of the bulletin, we are now requesting that any agent your home follow the following protocol:

  • View the video of your home online in advance of the viewing (one further step to qualify the buyer in advance)
  • To not tour the home if any individuals in the party have traveled abroad within the last 14 days
  • To not tour the home if an individual feels unwell
  • To not touch anything in your home including the restrooms
  • If children are present to please hold their hands during the tour
  • To practice good hygiene: ensuring hands are frequently washed and in the absence of such to frequently use hand sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol base


If we are able to get our hands on hand sanitizer and gloves, we do plan to provide them to anyone touring your home. Stay tuned!


To encourage social distancing initiatives:

  • We will be postponing open houses to limit the amount of groups in your home at any given time
  • We will no longer allow overlapping showings.  We will ensure all showings are staggered.


Similar to the recommendations listed above, we are also asking our team members to stay home when sick and exercise an abundance of caution when visiting your property.


Other important notes:  All lawyers, as well as our contacts at the Land Titles offices have indicated they do still intend to process deals and title transfers as usual.  Many plan to enact their own social distancing policies which does mean that many will be working remotely.  Some lawyers have indicated that they may have paperwork couriered or emailed to their clients in advance so that clients simply need to sign and drop off completed paperwork to limit in-person communication.  Some banks have indicated they may need slightly longer for financing approvals as a result of working remotely. Please be prepared to see longer contingency periods on incoming offers.


Thus far, there has not been a significant change in the market.  Homes are still being listed daily and buyers are still actively out looking.  That being said, we have noticed higher volumes of cancellations for both showings and listing consultations.  Only time will tell what the impact on the market will be, if any.  But for now we are feeling cautiously optimistic.


COVID 19 and Real EstateAgain, we are watching this situation daily and will likely be making continued changes based on emerging instructions. As more information surrounding COVID-19 is made available by local, provincial and national authorities, we will strive to keep you updated on ways to maintain a safe environment within your home.


Above all else: Be kind to each other. We will get through it!



Realtor Jennifer Queen Talks Coronavirus#AgentJen


Jennifer Queen

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

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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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