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Buyer Diaries: Winnipeg

  • Welcome to Winnipeg! My fiance and I are in a very similar situation as you two. We have decided to build a home our selves (infact going to hopefully sign the papers today) You can get a beautiful, spacious home in Winnipeg for under $350'000.00 in many neighbourhoods. I've never posted on here before but if you need any insight or help feel free to message back and we can find a way to exchange contact information. Good luck!
  • It took me from June 2011 to Feb 2012 to find a home in Wpg that met all of my wish list. I looked at over 65 houses and bid on five before getting the perfect house. My existing home in River Heights sold in a flash when I finally put it on the market. My advice, if you want everything on your wish list, you will need to look for a long time and be prepared to bid high. Be patient. $350 for an updated house in your chosen areas is a tall order.
  • We just purchased our first home in old St. Vital. It took us six months and seven offers before we found this one. Our preferred neighbourhoods were also River Heights, Charleswood, and Tuxedo (as well as old St. Vital).
  • To add - we found that finding/bidding on thoroughly updated homes in those areas extremely difficult and fiercely competitive. It might be more prudent to find a solid home with all your needs and some of your wants, and do the cosmetic updates yourself. The talk of a housing bubble is a bit unnerving for new buyers, but the rental market in Winnipeg is pretty hot too!
  • Hey everyone! Interesting read on what to do in a hot market!
  • Welcome to all the new Winnipeggers. I relocated back to the city last August and went through exactly the same conditions, fears, wants and "dang it, it sold in an hour!!??" moments. We were very fortunate to be the high bidders (?) in order to buy our RH home in such a demanding market.
  • Having said all that, this is the time of year the market opens up. A great realtor will help (And I'm not in the biz, by the way) as a couple of houses we saw the day before they were listed. Insider info good. Also, there are great schools in RH and the main reason we moved there. Good luck with the hunt. p.s.My wife is a foodie and published cookbook author - I will be sure to pass on the link to your blog.
  • Hello and congratulations on your move to Winnipeg!
    Interesting read on how hot the Winnipeg real estate market still is.
    I feel for you as I went through this 2 years ago when I moved from Ontario to Winnipeg [company transfer] and purchased a home there. I was rocked with the stark reality of paying over $35K or 12% higher of the list price after viewing over 30 homes and losing bidding wars on six other offers I had made [it took me over 6 mths to find a home]. I cannot blame the home owners for wanting more for their properties, but I do blame the Real Estate agents for creating such frenzy when it comes to 1 or 2 designated dates for showings and a set offer date to generate further competition among buyers. The realtor visits the home, they advise their client to list moderately lower than the sellers intended asking price to get the traffic in, and then hold out for a bidding war that yields exceptional offers! Start to finish, 7-10 days later the listing Real Estate agents are running to the bank in complete excitement and disbelief! Of course, Winnipeg is not an island as this is a nationwide phenomenon and has been for the last 5 to 7 years! Interestingly enough, Winnipeg remains excluded among the hottest markets in Canada! Wow, hard to believe!
    Now that I got that off my chest; my comment is now more for the interest of the couple moving from Halifax to the Peg. There is hope!
    After moving, working and living for 18 months in Winnipeg I get the nod to move to corporate head office in Montreal, leaving me to list my home premature of its value; or so I thought. A fresh coat of paint, some minor renovations and 5 bags of mulch thrown in the garden and I walked away with 15K in my pocket! Again, the realtor scored big time! Hard to imagine in 2 years the property yielded $50K in profit of its first list price! I have moved for the company about 7 times in the last 10 years and have never lost in real estate and I believe you will not either. If I may suggest; strongly consider desirable location for resale, if not exact at least close by. Purchase something that needs some work; cosmetically and perhaps even marginal construction work. Like finishing the basement, new flooring [you can find re-engineered laminate at a very reasonable price these days and all you need is a saw and hammer to knock them in], painting, and then light landscaping for a personal touch! Things to be on the lookout for long term value and good resale; roof and shingles are young [if not expect to spend anywhere from $5 to $7K replacing it], basement seepage, and type of heating/air conditioning [that it is somewhat modern as that is what people are looking for].
    One last thing; I just received the news that I am to take another transfer out of Montreal and believe it or not, back to wonderful Winnipeg after just one year! And so…. the saga continues.
    Hmmmmm, I wonder if we will be neighbors. LOL! I wish you both well and welcome to Winnipeg, you will love this beautiful city! I know I did and will again!
  • Welcome to Winnipeg....I'm a mortgage broker in the city and am wondering if you have a pre-approval on a mortgage already? I'm seeing clients writing with no conditions and paying above asking price as well....the market here is quite "scorching" as you say....Good Luck! Victor From Dominion Lending
  • My Husband, Corey and I are now in Winnipeg and we are excited about finding the perfect home for us. After our first attempt in March, without success, I think that we are ready for the challenge now that we are not pressured for time. We have been seeking advice from my sister (a real estate agent in Toronto, Maria Amati), our former agent from Halifax, and our new agent in Winnipeg. We have a better idea of how to be more prepared in a seller's market versus a buyer's one. Some of the things we are looking for in our new home are:
    -at least 3 bedrooms
    -2 bathrooms
    -updated kitchen - I have a food blog and I need a large updated space to create delicious dishes.
    -open concept for entertaining
    I am excited about the house hunting adventure in our new city.
  • My wife, Angela, and I are moving to Winnipeg from Halifax, Nova Scotia, which was a strong housing market, but not as scorching as the Winnipeg market we are about take on. We took a six day house-hunting trip back in March, without success. Many of the houses were selling with multiple offers, no conditions and at prices well above the asking (we saw 15 to 20% over asking in some cases). We are excited by the challenge of finding the perfect house for us and hope that through this forum we will be able to convey our experiences and maybe get some tips from readers about their own experiences in the Winnipeg housing market, so we can find the right house for us at the right price in the right location.
  • We have now moved in to our rental house in Winnipeg, albeit with a lot of organizing and unpacking left to do. We will be resuming the house hunting this week, while trying to get past the realization that we will have to move all of our belongings again when we find the house we want to buy (and that we are able to win in a bidding war). I stopped in at work today and spoke to a few of my new colleagues about the housing market in town. They all agreed that it is a crazy time, including the two who are selling their houses and accepting offers tonight. For those not familiar out there, the house is generally listed for a week before the offer acceptance date, where all offers are reviewed and the highest bidder (without conditions like an home inspection) is chosen. It truly is not a buyer's market and with all of the talk of bubbles bursting, interest rates rising and house price corrections, the idea of settling in to a rental and waiting it out seems very appealing at times. In fact, Rob Carrick's article in today's Globe and Mail discusses that exact option. On the other hand, I have spoken with many people who have sat on the sidelines in Winnipeg waiting for a slowdown or the "right time to buy" for years, watching house prices appreciate and they have missed out on what were, in hindsight, many golden opportunities. I don't know which is worse, taking a risk that the bottom will fall out of a supercharged market, with all of the worry and potential downside, or the risk of missing an opportunity to reap all of the benefits of owning a home in a market which, if it holds up, could be very lucrative.
  • After a busy first week in the city, settling in to our rental, enjoying the sunshine and exploring our new surroundings every day, we attended a few open houses this weekend. Although they were all in our price range, with multiple upgrades, there is only one that has us considering putting in an offer. We definitely want to sleep on it, but it does have everything we are looking for at a reasonable asking price. Unfortunately, it didn't give us that "we have to live here" feeling, so we already don't foresee going above the asking. After reading through the comments for the Vancouver and Toronto Buyer Diaries blogs, we definitely realize that we do not envy buyers in those cities.
  • We have been noticing many more listings in our price range this week on MLS that we are hoping to see. I guess the season is kicking in to high gear. Ann, thanks for sharing your experience. We are hoping not to have to see quite as many houses as you did, but as we look at more and more, we will think of your experiences and remember that the perfect house for us is out there and we will find it eventually. Nathan, we have not looked into new construction yet, but it just may be a viable option. I am interested to find out how it works out for you and your fiancee.
  • We ended up not putting in an offer on the house we saw this weekend. After sleeping on it and having many discussions with friends in the city, we are more firm on the idea of holding out until we find a house we love. Although this means we will have to make a big offer to ensure we get a house when we find it, I have spoken with friends who said they got caught up in the need to buy a house right away and ended up settling and are now regretting not taking a bit more time. Unfortunately, I was unable to get logged in to the Google + hangout with Rob Carrick today, but the video is available and contained answers to a lot of good questions about mortgages and housing. My wife is heading out tomorrow with our real estate agent to see three houses that look promising and she will be posting on what she sees tomorrow night!
  • Does anybody know what this is?

  • There were gaps between the moulding and the ceiling all the way around the room. Is this the sign of a problem or of poor workmanship? Either way, we'll pass on this one.

  • I love the idea of adding some modern touches to this retro kitchen.

  • I went out with our real estate agent this afternoon and saw four houses. Two of them were definite NOs and I am bringing Corey to see the other two tomorrow. The definite NOs had some "characteristics" that we aren't prepared to take on. The first one had a finished bathroom and living room in the basement, but between them was completely unfinished, which is not ideal for us. We are not afraid to take on renovations, especially if it might mean boosting the resale value of our house, but after spending a year doing renos in our last house, we are hoping to only take on minor weekend projects. This one also had some kind of system that I would love some help identifying. The second "no" had very definite water issues with the garage roof, and had a gap between the ceiling and crown moulding, which is a bad sign to me. The two "maybe" houses were lovely, each in its own way. The first reminded me of the set of Mad Men, with what some would call an outdated decor, but which screamed potential to me, with tiled countertops and very old appliances accenting a very large kitchen. With a few modern touches mixed with the retro feel, it could be amazing. This house is priced at $299,000. Every room spoke to me in the same way. The second "keeper" is a big, beautiful, bright house with a window on every wall that just felt refreshing and is move-in ready. It is listed a bit higher at $329,900, but we'll see if that makes it less likely to be involved in a bidding war. I can't wait to show Corey my finds tomorrow afternoon.
  • I went with Angela on Friday to see the two "keepers" she saw this week. They are both within our budget, are close to work for both of us and but require some updates and repairs, which we will have to consider along with the prices. The offer date for both houses is the middle of this week, so we do have some time to consider them further and to look at a few more places. In fact, we are headed out to a few open houses this afternoon to see if there is anything that sways us away from those houses.
  • I am heading out to see three more houses of them has a bomb shelter. I will share when I return.
  • We moved to Winnipeg 7 months ago, it is a seller’s market if you looking for comfortable, modern accommodation. Waverly West is a good place to look for newer homes in midrange. Even 1 year old homes seem to have been made in a hurry with some quality problems, more so than in Ontario where there is more protection for home owners. Be aware of quality of the house even if you may not be able to inspect it by an expert before taking procession due to the nature of the housing market.
  • Welcome to the crazy real estate market of Winnipeg! My partner and I have been looking for nearly 2 yrs in the same areas. We've been working with a great realtor but still have not found "the" house, even though we're willing to do cosmetic work (new kitchens/new bathrooms) and build a garage if there is none or it's a single. Most issues we've come across and are not interested in dealing with are the leaky/damp basements and sinking foundations in River Heights and some parts of Tuxedo - but we love those neighbourhoods! Because they're so central we don't really feel like compromising on the area. We've put offers on homes and have come close to getting one but lost - so the hunt continues, but cautiously as we feel that the market will correct itself sooner than later! Good luck with your search!
  • Check out Woodhaven. It's across from the Grace hosptial and a great community. My only other comment is on your picture of that kitchen... STAY AWAY (FAR AWAY) from tile counter tops. They are a pain in the butt and dirt and food gets stuck in the grout. You will end up hating it. I speak from experience
  • Yesterday I discovered Deer Lodge. It is a neighborhood that is five minutes to my new job and six minutes to Corey's place of work. It had the same beautiful tree lined streets, character homes, and the pride of ownership was very evident as we drove through. The houses in this area were built in the fifties and they are not over the river system, so the basement was dry and refinished. There was no old nob and tube wiring, and the home has been updated throughout and is move in ready. It has no offer date set and we are able to get an inspection if we want to proceed. Corey is going to see the house tonight and in the meantime I patiently wait and hope that the house will not be sold. This house is listed at $300,000.

    I want Corey to experience the house on his own so I did not mention the new garage or the awesome wet bar in the finished basement.

    Although we both LOVE River Heights, we are still hesitant to overbid for a house with no conditions to protect us. I will keep you all posted as we continue......

    Thanks for the tips RaveeNet and P.Jackson!
    Still Looking, I wish you all the best with your search! Now that the market is saturated with listings I hope that the search will be much easier for all of us.
  • I'll be moving to the 'Peg in July, and am terrified of having to pay so much for a house that needs work. I'm moving from the US where prices have crashed, so it's surreal to me to have bidding wars. Anyway, my preferred location is Wolseley, with a preferred price of $250,000. Stop laughing.
  • We love Deer Lodge as well! It's a fantastic neighbourhood, and offers many of the same amenities as River Heights - but at a much better price point. As you mentioned, the homes in Deer Lodge are mostly mid-century, so certain 'features' like knob and tube wiring, old stone foundations, radiator heating, etc. aren't an issue. River Heights is also notorious for foundation problems. That said, we love and live in River Heights right now, but spend a lot of time in Deer Lodge (going to Assiniboine park and walking to Sargent Sundae and Bruce and Bourkevale park). Since you work on that side of the river, consider Westwood as well. It's a really well kept neighbourhood with mostly mid-century homes - and also at a good price point.
  • @Karissa Good luck with your hunt in July. Will you be in Winnipeg before July to do a house hunting trip? If you need a real estate agent just let me know....ours has been really great!
  • @WPGdweller Thanks for the tip! I love the idea of walking to the park and stopping on the way for ice cream at Sargent Sundae! I will look at Westwood this afternoon and will keep everyone posted on my finds as often as possible.
  • I lived on Overdale in Deer Lodge. Wonderful neighbourhood. Love Woodhaven as well. Good Luck!
  • We have looked at a few houses this week. One, which Angela described below, had almost everything we are looking for: close to work; room for expansion; a garage; etc. There were two drawbacks, however. The first is that every wall and ceiling seemed to have a different covering. It seemed that over the years whatever paneling was on sale at the hardware store was put to use. One wall would have a weird texture and the next would be a painted-over wood paneling. While the house was a good size, I know I would have been tearing down the paneling on every wall and putting up drywall. The other thing we were not happy with was the size of the kitchen. Even when we considered what it would be like if we opened up a wall, we felt that the kitchen would be too small. I have mentioned before that many houses in town are being listed lower than their anticipated selling price in order to generate buzz and multiple offers. What is happening, now that there seems to be more inventory on the market, is that the sellers are still listing low to create interest, but if the house goes past its offer date (1 week after it is listed) they increase the price to try to get the price they want rather than a low-ball offer. I can't say that I have ever heard of a place where the price of a house goes up as a result of not getting an offer. It is like supply-and-demand in reverse. We saw a listing for 275,000 that got no bids go to 300,000 the day after the offer date. A second one jumped from 325 to 350 immediately. A third house was actually pulled from the market after not getting the hoped-for action. We were considering an offer, but we were not impressed with hearing that "the owners are taking it off the market tomorrow, so it is now or never," as we didn't want to feel pressured into making an offer on a house that we were not completely sure of. Overall, it was an interesting week, but still no success.
  • Hello Corey...sounds like a frustrating week! We're looking in Winnipeg as well, and have seen similar shenanigans. I feel like the real estate industry here is crying out for regulation. The asking price means very little. We feel manipulated every time we look at a house.
  • I can identify with the frustration, Corey. No question. We have been looking for almost three months now and the market has now reached the point where the only homes hitting the market are the ones with major issues that wouldn't sell in markets that demanded home inspections and second looks, and the agents have shirked whatever ethical duties they've sworn to uphold. In one very telling episode, we had walked in on an open house where the agent was staffing the home. In addition to not being able to explain the extent of the foundation work that had been undertaken because she did not understand it, she made a very telling comment while shrugging her shoulders: "Caveat emptor is a very big thing in our business". This experience more or less sums up the business, and I do real estate development for a living. Agents have little to no education about what it is they are selling. Their goal is to hurry a process along where the main objective is to either hide or minimize major issues in the home and then when the process is complete, walk away with no legal responsibility for the major investment they've just sold you. Buyers in today's market are entirely at the whims of a cartel of agents who are constantly in contact with each other on offer date negating the benefits of a blind tender and since nobody ever sees the bids, agents are frequently calling winning bidders and implying they are close, but need to come up a little, thus fraudulently driving the market higher. The most unfortunate part of all of this is that there seems to be little interest on behalf of the province to protect the consumers of this notoriously underhanded industry.
  • We just purchased a house in Winnipeg last week. We've been watching the market for a couple years but had to wait until we both had stable jobs to buy. We knew exactly what we wanted, found it and jumped. We got it for 10% over asking but it is what we are comfortable paying. Find a house you love and offer what you think it is worth to you. If you get it wonderful, if you don't then don't worry about it.
  • The market is crazy in Winnipeg. It reminds me of the market when I purchased my first home in New St.Vital in 2005/2006. However, based on the small (business) market size and the new higher valuation of homes, a house purchase carries a significant short term volatility risk in Winnipeg. If the expected time in Winnipeg is only between 3-4 years (minus 6 months to actually find a house plus possession), assuming there is no work related support to purchase & sell a home, and realizing that there are other moving/closing/selling costs down the road, renting "may" be the better financial option over the next 3 years. My opinion is that a house (with it's significant cost) should be a long term hold to avoid dips in the market and what can be devastating financial loss when requiring to absolutely sell after only a few years.
  • The over/under pricing stuff is annoying. But determining a general value for a house based on local comparables is not difficult. If you feel manipulated by the pricing structure, your real estate agent is not doing their job by informing you of expected values and filtering properties outside of your budget.
  • Hi Corey, what you are describing is exactly what has happened in Toronto and Vancouver. Listings have swelled recently, and alot of them seem to be staying on the market longer due to this greed. When you consider we are in the lowest rate environment this country has ever seen with monster amortizations, one of two things could be happening 1) People aren't buying houses because they don't have money (doubtful) 2) People are getting sick and tired of the RE game, how overpriced houses are and the tactics that realtors use. If I were you I would just keep renting, you won't find what you are looking for in the areas you are looking for unless you wait until the winter.
  • After looking at over 50 homes and bidding on 5 homes and losing out each time. I decided to take control of the situation. I didn't wait until the accepting offers date to submit a bid. I bid on the first day of showing. Yes, your realtor has to present the offer to the other realtor and the other realtor has to present it to the owner. I was finally sucessful with my house in River Heights. Once my offer was submitted, they had to tell other viewers that an offer was in. Other offers followed I'm told, but mine was accepted.
  • I remember when I bought my house in Woodhaven. My future ex-wife and I loved it immediately and basically went to the car and wrote an offer on the hood of the car. Our agent walked in and presented it right there. The market was heating up at the time and we gave them a short clock for accepting it. Normal conventions be DAMNED! Feel free to put a 4 or 6 hour expiry on your offer. Two can play at that game.
  • We experienced this phenomenon as well - we were interested in a River Heights home that was listed for 425K and had two offers on offer day. We decided against putting in an offer because we figured it wouldn't be strong enough anyway. Imagine our surprise when we learned both offers were rejected, and the price was increased by 25K the next day. I ended up knowing the buyer (a vague acquaintance), who purchased the home at asking without any conditions.
    Looking at local comparables is useful, but with the current housing market the price of comparables is being pushed ever upward.
  • This week was quite slow for us on the house-hunting front. Angela and I have both thrown ourselves into our new jobs, leaving little time or energy at the end of the day to look at houses. We have been reading all of the responses to the Buyer Diaries posts and have been very thankful for all of the advice from those of you who have been through the process before. We have friends in town this week for their own house hunting trip, so we have passed on tips from all of you, as well as our own experiences. After attending their first open house in Winnipeg, they told us that even though they had talked to numerous people about the market in town, they didn't really understand until they were in the midst of it. Having been immersed in the chaos and shenanigans for a few weeks now, we have already lost some of our outsider's perspective, which can be dangerous when talking about waiving home inspections, price increases of 25 or 50 thousand dollars and homes priced at a third of a million dollars, which may not seem like much to those in Toronto or Vancouver, but which is still a significant amount of money to us and to most Canadians. The Globe recently showed what can be bought for $200,000 , which reminded me to pay careful attention to what a home is actually worth, as opposed to what people are willing to pay.
  • So despite all of our posts about how difficult it can be to find the right house at the right price in Winnipeg, we just heard from friends that managed to do it in a couple of days. They have been following our posts and asked a lot of questions before coming to town this week for a house hunting trip. They looked at ten houses over a couple of days and put in one offer, winning by going $21,000 over the asking price and beating out two other bidders. A running theme that we have heard here is that big deposits and big downpayments can be deciding factors for a seller trying to determine which offer to accept. Our friends' experience was no different and they were encouraged by their agent to increase the size of their deposit to help have their offer accepted. As is the norm in Winnipeg, they did not include an inspection condition in their offer and they were asked to remove the condition of financing, which they complied with. In the end, they found a house in a great neighbourhood, close to work for both of them and at a price that they are happy with. As for Angela and I, we are still looking, albeit at a slower pace, and are encouraged by yet another story of someone finding the right house and actually managing to purchase it. We will continue our search and we are appreciative of all of the suggestions and comments, from readers of our posts and the opportunity to discuss various facets of the real estate game with experts from the Globe and Mail. We are convinced that the right house for us is out there and that we will find it eventually, armed with more knowledge and better insights into our journey.
  • Interesting thing is that, legally, offers should be looked at and accepted or rejected before moving on to the next offer. The market has grown to an 'open them all and pick the best offer' situation, which is not only not ethical, but illegal (according to my former RE agent stepdad). But, since no one calls the RE Board about it, it continues. an agent friend recently presented the only offer on a sale, and the owners countered with $30K OVER the listing price! not sure how we've gotten to this point, but it's ridiculous! (By the way, the Bourkevale neighbourhood in St. James is wonderful too! :) ) Good luck!
  • It's probably good for the sanity to throw yourselves into work for the time being. If only for the distraction from your big problem! I'll probably be doing the same, because I just decided to move back home to Winnipeg after twelve years in Ottawa (aging parents need help). I'm shocked!! Like a zombie WA
  • I understand your frustration. I have found finding the right realtor makes the process better. I have used the same realtor to purchase two revenue homes over the last five years and have always got a good price; however, the homes needed some work but they were in good neighborhoods. Getting a realtor who will help you look for issues in the home and find the home you want rather than pushing you to write an offer on a home that you do not really want.
  • Charleswood, Tuxedo, or River Heights with three bedrooms and a nice kitchen for under $350,000...I wish you the best of luck!
  • Do NOT buy a house without a home inspection. PERIOD. Winnipeg is an older city and there are loads of issues with older construction. It's a small investment that will save you lots down the road.
  • Hi guys: good luck house-hunting! Have you considered the north part of Wpg? Ie. Garden City, The Maples, Amber Trails etc? I am a St. James girl who married a north-end boy. WOuld NEVER have considered a move north as I had heard all the horror stories. To my GREAT surprise, we live in a very nice neighbourhood in Garden City. Friendly neighbours, good schools, kids playing outside. I love it and would never move south again. The benefit of Wpg is that nothing takes more than 45 minutes to get to. From Garden City to Westwin airbase, it is a 20 - 25 minute rush hour. Something to consider....
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