Planning for your House Hunting Trip to Winnipeg!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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)!
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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
  18. 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. 
We also put this into a video format for you, should you be interested:

Top Realtor in Winnipeg talks about your house hunting trip#AgentJen

Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945


What is the market like right now?

I get asked this question a lot right now, from friends, family and plenty of potential clients,

What is the market like right now?

Heading into the Christmas season and the new year is typically a bit of a slower spot in the Winnipeg real estate market, however in 2020 it wasn’t and now again in 2021 it is not looking that way.

The market situation we have here is that the mortgage rates are still fairly low compared to recent years which is allowing purchasers to leverage more money towards a purchase. The other big factor in the market is that there are limited options for houses, as the inventory on the market is coming and going so quickly it requires quick decisions and often an increased purchase price significantly higher than the list price to secure the property.

In the past few months (not unlike the past year and a half) many of my clients are competing with 5-20 offers on each home that they decide to write offers on.  While I understand this is not the same for every property on the market it does represent a large proportion of the options available to many clients. If it is a single family detached home that presents well and appears to have little to no required work necessary then you will generally see offers flooding the property on the offers date. This is also the first year in my career that I have been involved with multiple offer situations for purchasers and vendor clients when working with Condominium sales!

So, what do I say? Honestly, I tell people that it is CRAZY! The prices we are seeing some houses sell for literally blow my mind.  As a professional Realtor my job is to analyze the market and identify what properties should be worth in the given market, but many times there just isn’t a number that you can place on how badly someone wants a home. I have personally had clients offer on up to 10 houses, losing them all in multiple offer situations. Doing everything in their power to make offers more attractive: over list prices, no conditions, vendors ideal possession dates, and still being outbid by tens of thousands of dollars. It usually comes to a point in the process where they just say we will pay just about anything to get this house! And that is one of the reasons we are seeing such large price increases in our market.

When you are up against 10-20 offers there are not a lot of options to make your offer stand out.  It usually comes down to purchase price, as the other top offers in consideration will more than likely be written without purchase protection conditions and anything else the vendors want.

What I am saying is that the vendors do hold a lot of the cards right now, making it a strong seller’s market.  BUT with all of these bidding wars and increased prices happening I will say that I find many buyers to be more in tune with the process and more educated.  There are still clients who are new to the home purchasing game and those ones are generally a much longer learning experience than they used to be, but there are a lot of people who have been paying attention to the market over the last year and understand what is required to secure a property right now.

Some things that are not selling quite as well right now are:

  1. Flips. If people can see that you purchased a property a year ago (I think the shortest turn around I have seen for a flip is 3 WEEKS!) did some work to it, didn’t pull any permits and the work done looks sloppy then they are not inclined to offer quickly. Alternatively, if there are permits in place, and the work is done well then people will pay a pretty penny for them.
  2. Homes with serious structural issues.  A fact in Winnipeg is that there are a lot of homes that require some form of structural repair.  They can be big or small, but due to our substrate there are a lot of homes that have some need for a structural or foundation repair.  This dry year only proved how many actually do need some work.
  3. Overpriced homes. As I said above people are much more attuned to the market, and if a property is trying to stretch a list price in the current market they are not moving as quickly, the issue here is that a lot of vendors are going with extremely low list prices instead, which also adds to the amount of offers coming to a home as there are many people who can not actually afford the home if it was listed more accurately to begin with.

So, would I recommend buying a house right now? I guess it’s a bit of a complicated question, if you are the type of person who is a major saver and likes to get a deal then 100% NO, this is not the market for you. If you are in need of something different for your family or life situation and you need to purchase a home then again, it’s not exactly a great time, but Winnipeg’s market has never really had a BEST time to buy a house.  We are typically pretty stable and slightly increasing year over year. Here are some tips to help with the purchasing process right now:

  1. My best advice would be to get a good feel for the market early if you are going to be purchasing.  Watch what homes are listing for and what they are selling for you likely need to be in contact with a realtor to get the inside scoop on the selling prices.  But knowing them will let you see the difference between what things APPEAR to be selling for and what they are ACTUALLY selling for.
  2. Have a solid deposit saved up.  While your deposit goes towards the down payment for your home purchase, having a larger deposit to give with your offer gives the impression that you have strong finances and may shoot your offer to the top of the pile.
  3. Speak with your lender! Let them know the situation, while a pre-approval is good giving an in-depth assessment of the home you want to purchase and asking for a quick 1-2 day turn around may give you an edge if it is necessary to have a financing condition on your offer.
  4. If you need a home inspection to feel comfortable then pay the money up front to do a pre-inspection on the home prior to writing an offer.  It will allow you to get all of the information that you would get from a typical home inspection but you would be paying it out of pocket whether you get the home or not.  It will allow you to make a more informed decision on how much you would be comfortable paying for the home and will likely alleviate any surprises on possession day. Also, an offer with a home inspection condition right now is like a kiss of death, the vendors will likely move to another offer if they see that you have a home inspection in your offer.
  5. Write a letter. If it is the home you feel to be the perfect home then write a letter to the vendors, it doesn’t always work as there is very rarely a vendor who will choose a nice letter over $10-20K more dollars, but if your offer is one of the top offers it could push it over the edge as the winner.

Again, I will re-iterate that the market right now is CRAZY but if you want to talk more about your options for buying or selling, I would be happy to take your call, text or email and have a candid chat about what could work best for you.

Top realtor in Winnipeg Logan Queen


Logan Queen

Tel: (204) 226-1261


How 2020 Impacted the Real Estate Market

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


Ashton Augert

Phone: (204) 781-1767

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Our website has been designed with the intention of providing you access to the Best Realtor in Winnipeg -by this, we mean the best Realtor for you and your needs, although we do strive to be the best real estate agents in Winnipeg based on our customer service, follow-up care, and customized services for our clients. Not only that, but we offer access to agents that specialize in every quadrant of the city. We have a real estate agent for Sage Creek, a real estate agent for Windsor Park, etc. So if you are looking for a neighbourhood expert, just contact us to see who would be the best match for you and your search! If you are looking for a top realtor in Winnipeg, then look no further. You have found us!

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Jennifer Queen Personal Real Estate Corporation