It is house hunting trip season! We normally start to see an influx of calls begin in February/March with planned travel into the City for house hunting trips in April - June. Or at least those are our busiest periods for the house hunting season! Everyone's situation can vary so don't feel bad if you aren't in this same timeline... but today we want to explain a little about the process and what to expect. Without further adieu, here is the script I wrote for a more recent YouTube video that we shot (will share that when it is edited).
Are you planning to move to Winnipeg? Rest assured that you have made a FABULOUS choice! Today, I’m going to touch upon what you need to consider for your upcoming House Hunting Trip (or as we often abbreviate it to – HHT)!
Our team specializes in relocations of all types. Whether it be for Canadian Armed Forces, Air Force, Naval or Army, RCMP, Executive relocations, etc. This is an area we are well-versed within. For those that need to check, we are on the BGRS approved Realtor list, and these relocations are something that we specialize in! BGRS alone is responsible for close to 15,000 moves across Canada, every year. They have very strict policies that must be adhered to, so knowing those rules and having a Realtor with that expertise is paramount!
Now for those that have been on a House Hunting Trip before, you know that it is a very rapid-fire and somewhat stressful process. For those that don’t, I warn you, a lot of the process IS trial by fire. Much of the stress is that a typical house hunting trip only lasts about one-week. This time, goes by so incredibly fast!
The timelines when you begin your search, typically looks something like this:
- Receive notice of your potential job and location change. If this is going to be a BGRS move, they often call it your posting message. Usually this is several months out from your actual start or reporting date.
- Register on the BGRS site (if this applies for your specific move). There are resources – including a Relocation Directive that are accessible to you in your portal.
- Decide what to do with your existing accommodations. If rented, that can oftentimes be as simple as giving notice to your landlord of your intention to move. But if you have a home to sell – you don’t technically have to sell it. You CAN keep it. For those in the BGRS program, there are some incentives to keeping your home too – it depends on the situation, but CFIRP rewards members when they don’t sell as there are cost savings inherent with not paying commission, lawyer fees, etc. Just a note – regardless of what you decide to do, you should be getting an appraisal for your existing home. The appraiser does not have to be from the BGRS supplier list, but we do recommend it as they often know the BGRS rates, and processes for filing.
- Consult the professionals. This perhaps could come in even before the steps above. Check the lists provided by your employer for a list of recommended Realtors. Have them consult with you on your current home and what is realistic for the market in terms of pricing, timelines. It is ALWAYS a good idea to get an idea of where you stand. You can also ask them for recommendations at your destination. Do some research too on Realtors at your destination. Now is a good time to connect and just begin collecting information on what the process looks like at your destination.
- Working out HHT timing. When possible, it is always nice to arrange for a door-to-door move. However, that isn’t always possible. For those in RCMP, usually you aren’t sent on your house hunting trip until you have confirmation that your home has sold. For those moving through CAFRD or CFIRP, you can schedule this trip at any point, even before your house is on the market. This is also why I recommended finding a Realtor that you are confident in, in the previous step. They can advise on timing. In Winnipeg, typical possession dates are usually around 1-3 months, but this can also be impacted by the seasons and school years. Getting recommendations from a Realtor as to what the optimal date would be for your house hunting trip based on when you are to report, will greatly improve your chances of success, while here!
- With these initial discussions, you will have hopefully gotten a sense of what the market is like at your destination. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to get a pre-approval in place. Depending on timelines, you may not necessarily want to file for a formal pre-approval at this time, as the rate holds are often only good for 90 – 120 days. BUT, you could have those initial discussions with the banker, start submitting all of the paperwork you need so that it is on file (and not packed up) when the time comes to file the formal pre-approval application. What I will say here, is it is important to have a lender that is familiar with the market you are entering. I know for us, Manitoba actually moves quite fast on financing – with 3-5 day responses typical on a financing condition on an offer. We’ve had clients from out of province with lenders that requested double or triple that, which has actually killed deals. This doesn’t mean you have to have a lender from Manitoba – but one that is confident they can meet those deadlines, is! If ever you need recommendations for a good mortgage broker here, just reach out as we are happy to put you in touch!
- Schedule your travel. Be sure to follow the proper procedures. To fly, you should be traveling more than 599 kilometers for MOST of the relocations we handle. However, each employer and situation can be different. Also, some employers will ask you to book your travel through their app or in-house relocation services. Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with that. You are also typically given a stipend toward a rental vehicle. I have had clients travel in and not take advantage of this as they preferred travelling together. While I do think the initial phases are nice to have within the car together, so that I can explain the city as we drive, whereabouts we are in relation to landmarks that I feel are important to you, where the schools are, etc. I ALSO think it is important for you to have your own vehicle while here. More on that later!
- Have your Realtor start sending you listings. Now is a good time to start tracking the market at your desired destination. Realtors can set you up on portals – with very minimal effort – and I know once you are setup on the portal from my end, you will be able to start tracking average days on market for the homes you like, what they are selling for, and start to get a feel for the different neighbourhoods. Being prepared to hit the ground running, when here, is important.
- Pack for your trip! If you need advice on the weather and how to dress, let us know! For the purposes though of your house hunting trip, there are a few items that we WILL need you to bring. There are three things that we have agreed on within our team that are necessary: 1. Shoes that you can easily slip on and off (I know this sounds silly, but when you are seeing 30-40 houses in 2-days time – tying and untying shoes can become exhausting. 2. A piece of government-issued photo identification. We are REQUIRED to identify you for anti-money-laundering purposes when writing our offers. 3. A cheque! Nobody has cheques anymore, and we know that. If this is you, there is always a workaround. BUT, when submitting offers in Manitoba, we do provide a deposit along with them. It can be a personal cheque, too. The amount of the cheque you submit with your offer tends to vary based on the price of home, so reach out to us in advance so we can advise on how much should be set aside when planning this trip.
- Send us your top 10-15 listings (ideally in ranked order). We like to load the tours for the favourites quite heavily on the first few days, so that you’ve seen all of your favourites off-the-hop. This process isn’t just a process of selection, it is also a process of elimination – so seeing as many as possible, as quickly as possible, helps get quick clarity on the market when here. Also, do Google drive-bys of the favourites. Sometimes homes look great on paper, but when here you discover they back onto a highway or cemetery (true stories from the past)!
- Arrive! Day 1 is often eaten up with travel, travel delays, getting your rental cars, checking into your accommodations, etc. Depending on your scheduled arrival time, we will sometimes book showings for this day. If we don’t have any showings scheduled for Day 1 though, I highly recommend starting to drive the city. Check out the neighbourhoods you think speak to you. Figure out commute times and what that drive would look like for you. Oftentimes, we can already eliminate a good chunk of the homes you are seeing once you are here and have driven the neighbourhood, physically. Hopefully things look as you thought they should from your google drive through.
- Day 2 and 3 we like to load up on showings. Day 2 is usually the heavier day. If I can, I try to schedule 12-14 showings in. I ONLY recommend this for relocations though. I admit, this day I tend to book more abbreviated tours. We are essentially doing quick walk-throughs with a plan to revisit the favourites and do a more thorough look should any rise to the top during these tours. Day 3 is often visiting the ones lower on the list, or any new market entrants, and then revisiting the favourites from the day prior.
- Strategize. Much of your success will come from understanding what parts of the process will lead to success. Also, knowing the local rules and ebbs and flows of the real estate market, are important. For example, if there is an offer date in Manitoba – that IS the date. There are no bully offers here – the Seller cannot review your offer until the day stipulated on the MLS. It is also not common here to do a pre-possession walk through of the home, either.
- Submit an offer. I’m not saying that you MUST submit an offer by day 3, but I would say it is not uncommon for this to happen. Sometimes if people haven’t found a home by the end of Day 3, they start to panic. BUT, do not fret. It happens, and sometimes it means we need to re-evaluate the search. Sometimes a neighbourhood might just not feel right once here, or the timelines can feel overwhelming. If you haven’t found the home by Day 3 though, this might be a good time to drive some neighbourhoods, get a feel for your surroundings, and re-evaluate what you are looking for and revisit your original goals in your future home. If you DO submit an offer on Day 3 – your timing couldn’t be more ideal. This will give us time to schedule a home inspection while you are still here, so that you can be present for it. At the time of writing this blog, we are in a Seller’s market. In competition, it can be difficult to have an offer accepted with a home inspection condition. But we can always discuss the option of doing a pre-inspection, prior to submitting an offer. This way you have the benefit of doing the home inspection, without risking losing the house in a bidding war because of the condition. The negative though is you may still not win the bid, and the home inspection will be for not.
- Get connected with a lawyer and insurer. These are usually a bit lower on the priority list, mostly because the process of finding the right home is the biggest challenge. But once a deal finalizes, we are going to need insurance in place prior to possession or the lawyer won’t give you the keys. You will also need to know which lawyer you wish to use. Check with your employer to see if they have a list of approved suppliers. BGRS does have a list, and we can also give advice in this regard.
- Have fun! The last few days of your travel tend to be lighter in terms of the stress/planning process. Now is a good time to check out the Winnipeg landmarks. We can advise on all of the hot spots and popular destinations that we think would be worth a visit, while here.
- Key handover is done by the lawyers in Manitoba. Again, pre-possession walk-throughs are not a common occurrence here, as odd as that sounds. Your lawyer will give you keys with specific instructions on when you can access the property, meter readings, and the process for reporting if there are any issues. Because we aren’t privy to a lot of these discussions, we often won’t know when you plan to access the property. BUT we do WANT to be there. So please keep us in the loop, so we can visit you
- Don’t forget to file your paperwork! There are a lot of reimbursable expenses that you can often claim, so be sure you are uploading your receipts according to your employers policies!
A few other points - everyone's search varies. Don't feel bad if you do things out of this order, or if the timelines just don't work for you or your situation. We customize our plans for the client, not vice versa. There is no true mould that you must fit into!
A few other reminders, too:
- Remember closing costs. Depending on the arrangements with your employer, some will require you to pay the fees up front and then reimburse. Some will have direct-billing so you do not have to front any funds. If you want a list of typical buying costs in Manitoba, let us know. We have a resource assembled for you.
- Also let us know if you would like a copy of our home buying guide. It goes over these costs and the buying process in greater detail than what I’m able to cover here.
- We have also prepared a house hunting trip guide – with a brief overview of some neighbourhoods, a little bit more detail of each step along the way, some supplier recommendations, hotel recommendations, restaurant recommendations, and more!
- If you haven’t already, be sure to watch some overviews of the neighbourhoods we service on our YouTube channel. These are high-level overviews of the various communities throughout Winnipeg.
Phone: (204) 797-7945