Buying a Home in Winnipeg – The Complete Guide A-Z

From pre-approval to picking up your key!


Buying a home in Winnipeg is likely the largest investment you will ever make. It’s a very involved process, meaning that a lot of professionals are part of the process. You will need a lawyer,real estate agent, home and life insurance experts, home inspector, moving company and more.

Step 1: Start with a strong foundation in the quest to buying a home

Just like the property itself, your quest for buying a home in Winnipeg (whether its a condo or a house) should be started on a firm foundation. This means that you should select the person who is involved in pretty much every step of the buying process. Most buyers know that being pre-approved for a mortgage is very important, so you might think the first person to contact is a mortgage professional?

Not so….. the most important person in your home-buying process is actually your Real Estate Agent!

Plus, a well-connected REALTOR® will be able to make recommendations for a qualified home inspector, a trustworthy moving company, and a great life insurance expert for you.

But you might be thinking, “Why would I need a real estate agent? I can find homes for sale on my own!” Lets take a look at the answer to this very important question:


While it is true that buyers can certainly ‘find’ homes online, and check them out by either going to Open Houses or calling the Listing Agent to show the property directly, there are a number of very valid reasons for buyers to work with their own REALTOR® when buying a home.

Benefits of using your own Agent when buying a home

  • Save Time
  • Save Money
  • Added Convenience
  • Represents YOU
  • Fee included in purchase price

Having your own real estate agent, who is looking out for YOUR interests, and treats you as a CLIENT comes with many advantages. You (as the buyer) can same a lot of time, money and aggravation by simply working with one agent in your quest for buying a home in Winnipeg.

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As mentioned above, your real estate agent is involved in nearly every part of the home-buying process. Therefore, selecting the right agent is of ultimate importance. Here are a couple of things you can do:


Chances are, someone close to you has just gone thru the process of buying a home in Winnipeg, and can give you feedback about their experience with their REALTOR®. If they had a great experience, get the name and consider him/her for the job.


Check the agents name on google, and also check to see if he/she is listed and accredited by the local Better Business Bureau.

Buying a Home in Winnipeg – The Complete Guide A-Z Latest Posts Winnipeg Home Buying News & Tips  Autumn Bathroom Buying a House Condos Foundation Heating System Home Inspection Home Insurance investment Kitchen Mortgage Lending Open House Winnipeg
Check out your agent when buying a home

Some basic tips

You want your agent to be:

  1. Experienced in the area and price range
  2. Experienced in the style of home  (house vs. condo)
  3. Well connected with other relevant professionals
  4. Technologically saavy
  5. Easily contacted by text, email or phone


Step 2: Selecting Your Mortgage Lender

Here is what NOT to do:Call a bunch of banks, credit unions and mortgage brokers, and say “Hi, whats YOUR best mortgage rate?” Why not?

Because it is a useless exercise! Mortgage lenders reserve their best rates for their best customers, and as they have no way of knowing if YOU fall into that category, they can not possibly give you an accurate rate over the phone.

Oh, they’ll quote you rates alright, but whether or not you actually qualify for that rate will depend on your credit rating, which requires a credit check.

Here is number 2 on the ‘Don’t Do This’ List: Don’t go to 4 lenders and ask them all to pre-qualify you. Why?

Each time a lender checks into your credit history, your rating actually takes a little negative hit!

Here is another reality: Most lenders are fairly competitive, and the actual difference between their rates quite often boils down to fractions of a percent. (Yes, over the life of the mortgage that CAN add up to thousands of dollars, but I’m here to suggest that there are other factors that may actually be of greater importance). What could be more important than a few grand? Well, for one thing, the penalty a bank or lender charges when you try to get out of a mortgage early!

Watch those penalties

Mortgage Lender penalties for getting out of a mortgage early will charged $30,000 for closing the mortgage out a couple of years early. Ask THOSE home-owners whether the 0.15% they saved on the mortgage payments was actually worth it.

Why would you close out early? Although you may not think so when you are buying the house, a lot can happen in a 5-year span (possibly the length of the lock-in mortgage). Maybe you get transferred with your company, or maybe there are cut-backs and you get laid off, having to sell your home. Or maybe marital separation, death or illness pop up.

Fact remains that a lot of unforeseen circumstances can come up within 5 years, and if you have to get out of a mortgage early, make sure it wont cost you an arm and a leg to do so.

So what is the right way of selecting a lender? Lets look at some of the major differences:


Brokers pride themselves of having access to the largest selection of mortgage products possible. If the lowest rates still ARE your primary concern, rates by mortgage brokers are often unbeatable. But….I recall a bumper sticker in the 1970’s which read : Ass, Gas or Grass…….nobody rides for free!

And so it might be with the ultra-low rates. Most often, your lender is someone in another province, with whom you’ll never be able to talk or meet. And again, watch those closing-out penalties before you sign


The large banks used to get business based on their names and reputations. You had to give up any kind of convenience, have you tried PHONING a branch lately…grrrr), but people felt safer and secure that their mortgage was with a ‘too-big to fail’ type of institution.

Nowadays, some of the banks, notably The Royal Bank and TD Bank, have hired and trained Mobile Mortgage Specialists. As the name suggests, these mortgage experts come to your home or work to meet and discuss. In my experience, they even take phone calls from their clients after hours, adding to the convenience factor. And in most cases, their rates are fairly competitive.


Credit Unions offer a mixture of some of the best of both of the above. Very competitive rates at a local establishment. Easy access and friendly knowledgable staff. Best of all: Many credit unions allow their branches to make the mortgage decisions. So once you are pre-approved by the branch, they will NOT have to check with a head office in Vancouver, Toronto or elsewhere, (as is the case with the big banks). Credit Unions offer a great alternative.

This is also the time to start talking about the “Closing Costs for buying a house in Winnipeg”.


Now that you’ve been pre-approved, it’s time to start the fun stuff. Set up an appointment with your real estate agent and bring your pre-approval letter (if the lender gave you one). Together, you will set up a search for your perfect home. Winnipeg REALTORS® use a computer program called “Keystone Matrix” which makes buying a home in Winnipeg a lot easier.

With this program, you can search (and receive automated listings) for your specific type of property. Only want bungalows in Transcona? No problem. Only want condos with at least 2 full bathrooms and a minimum of 1,100 sq feet? Done!

Just remember, like any computer program, Keystone Matrix is very precise. If you specify ‘a minimum of 4 bedrooms’, you will NOT receive homes with 3, even if you decide that you can add a 4th bedroom to the basement. This is why, if you change your mind or alter your requirements, you must let your agent know so that he/she can also change the search parameters.

You will receive emails on a regular basis, which will deliver links to all the available homes in your search. The information on these listings is also very detailed. It will include tax info, room measurements, property measurements, and an abundance of photos to help you narrow down the list of potential properties to view.


You’ll be receiving those new listings as soon as they are activated. Look thru them daily, and contact your agent when you are ready to view one (or several). Here are a couple of pointers:


In a perfect world, you will let him/her know that you’re ready to look at some properties at least one day in advance. Some of the homes may be occupied by renters, who, in Manitoba, have the right to be notified at least 24 hours in advance. So if you are ready to look at homes on a Saturday afternoon, for example, ideally you’ll let your agent know by Thursday evening, so that he/she can begin the process of notifying the owners or tenants of these homes you want to see.


Ideally, you’ll go out and see 4 to 5 homes. Any more than that, and they will blend in your mind. “Which was the house with the great kitchen?” or “Was that the one with the smokey smell”?


Unless you are in a big rush to buying a home right away, your main purpose during these showings is to eliminate the bad homes from your list, and narrow down the search to a few of your favorite properties. So you should keep notes on the best homes, and set those aside for a 2nd look, perhaps in a day or two.

Buyer Etiquette

Please keep in mind that you are a guest in someone else’s home. Here are some rules of etiquette to keep in mind (Audio)

Buyer Etiquette to keep in mind


Open Houses

Open Houses are a great way to start.  Even when you work with your own real estate agent, you are always welcome to attend Open Houses, just make sure you let your agent know.  Also let the Open House Agent know that you are already working with your own Buyer Agent.

Buying a Home in Winnipeg – The Complete Guide A-Z Latest Posts Winnipeg Home Buying News & Tips  Autumn Bathroom Buying a House Condos Foundation Heating System Home Inspection Home Insurance investment Kitchen Mortgage Lending Open House Winnipeg
Open Houses are a great start when buying a home


You’ve selected a home, and it’s time to make an offer. To give you an idea of what offers look like in Manitoba, below this section you will find a down-loadable copy of a Residential Offer to Purchase. These offers are standard among all real estate agencies, wether you use Remax, Century 21, Sutton, Royal LePage etc…

Your real estate agent will go over the offer and he/she should be explaining all the different sections to you. For the offer you will need to bring several things

  • Deposit
  • Photo Identification

Your agent will guide and advise you on the proper and most advantageous deposit amount. The amount may depend on circumstances: perhaps you are best served with a smaller deposit? Or maybe it makes your offer look stronger if you deposit a larger amount? Speak to your agent about this. A regular cheque (on a local account) is sufficient, you do not need a certified cheque.


Down-loadable Residential Offer To Purchase Form

Everyone who is involved in the purchase (if more than one person) should be present, and bring identification. Under new Government guidelines, if the deposit cheque comes from a 3rd person ( such as a parent who is helping a young couple) , that 3rd person will have to be identified as well.

Here is a down-loadable copy of a Residential Offer to Purchase used for Winnipeg home purchases.

Step 5: The Follow-Up


Let me make this clear…. In this section we are talking about Life or Mortgage Insurance, NOT property insurance. The latter (property insurance) is necessary to insure the property in cases of fire, theft, vandalism etc,,,, and this type of insurance is mandatory if you are buying a home with a mortgage. The reason is simple: Since the bank owns somewhere around 90% of your home (depending on the size of your down payment), the bank (or lender) needs to protect their investment.

However, Life Insurance or Mortgage Insurance is NOT mandatory, even though I have heard stories of some financial institutions trying to persuade their clients to buy mortgage insurance.

In my humble opinion, the buyer is usually better served by buying Life Insurance from a qualified life insurance provider/expert, instead of mortgage insurance. For a full description of each, see this article. Here is a summary of the differences between the two. (For a referral to a trusted Life Insurance Expert, contact me anytime)


The time between when the offer is accepted and final, to the time when you take possession of your new home, you will have plenty of things to prepare. Assuming you’ve signed the mortgage agreement, here are the next things you have to do:


Just let him/her know that the offer papers will be faxed to them by your real estate agent. Of course, let your REALTOR® know who your lawyer of choice will be.


Take the MLS listing information to your home insurance company. Quite often, the insurance company will have additional questions and will contact your real estate agent for answers. Another great reason to have your own agent when buying a home.


Depending on the season, you may need to hire the moving company several months in advance. Having an ‘odd’ possession date (something other than the 1st, 15th or last day of a month) can be to your advantage. Moving companies are usually less busy (and less expensive) on odd dates, such as the 12th of the month, for example.


Make sure that you let your landlord know about your plans to move out. Actually, you need to check your lease agreement to make sure that you CAN get out early, without penalties. Other options might include the ability to sublet your apartment to a friend or relative, but discuss all of these options with your landlord.

Step 6: Possession Date


In some cases, the buyers lawyer may actually give him the keys a day early, but always with instructions to not enter prior to the specified time.

The home officially becomes YOUR property according to the time and date set out in the original Offer to Purchase. DO NOT enter the home before the specified time and date. If the offer shows possession date/time to be the 18th of April, 2018 at 09:00 am, the buyer is NOT permitted to enter the residence before 9:00 am on that date.

When you buy a home in Winnipeg, the process works like this: The buyers lawyer will send the money to the sellers lawyer (in trust), at the same time the sellers lawyer sends the keys back to the buyers lawyer, (also in trust).

The keys are released to the buyer when the sellers lawyer is satisfied that all the money has been transferred.

Once the buyer does have the right to enter, he should check the condition of the property immediately. Make sure that all items, which are included in the sale (such as appliances, draperies etc) are left in the home. Check the basement for any recent leaks. Start the furnace and/or air conditioner (depending on the season) to make sure it’s working properly.


Even though the seller is supposed to release all the keys to the buyer, you simply dont know if other people had made copies in the past. It is prudent advise to change the locks on all doors (or at least, call a locksmith and have them re-keyed).


Some sellers clean the home before turning it over to the buyers, but this is NOT a requirement. Start with a fresh slate, and steamclean the carpets before bringing in all the furniture.


Who knows if thats ever been done? Call a reputable duct cleaning company and have the ducts vacuumed out. Need a referral for this, call me.


If you’re in an area which is ‘served’ (and I use the term loosely) by super mailboxes, you will need to attend at the local post office and arrange for one of those boxes to be assigned to you. You may NOT be receiving the old owners box, but rather be assigned a new one.

Interested in Buying a home in Winnipeg?

Buying a Home in Winnipeg – The Complete Guide A-Z Latest Posts Winnipeg Home Buying News & Tips  Autumn Bathroom Buying a House Condos Foundation Heating System Home Inspection Home Insurance investment Kitchen Mortgage Lending Open House Winnipeg

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  1. I never knew the importance of a Realtor and how they are responsible for overseeing and facilitating the whole home buying process. Great educational content. You the man!

  2. Great A-Z guide for buying a home! You made every complex easy for your clients. I’m very happy with your service and you helped me a lot to find the perfect home for me and my family, thanks!

  3. Select the right realtor is very difficult now a days. I wish I could find you before. One of my friends suggested your name and I think I came to the right place! Thanks.

  4. Wow, I wish you had been my Realtor when we were purchasing. Our agent was basically useless. She would take us to a home that we found on our own. When we did finally decide to buy she refused to talk to the home inspector, or the Mortgage Broker. She said it wasn’t legal for her to do so. We were uneducated, and she took advantage. I would recommend this article to any home buyer. You made it very clear what to expect and what to do! Thank you for your expertise.

  5. I have actually made my own Personal Complete Guide for Buying a House here in the Philippines, though some mentioned will vary here. Yes, one of the things I did was to change all the locks, though I usually purchase everything by cash method. As I don’t want to deal with lending companies. You can rarely find people here to have there house insured as only very few and limited people can afford this type of insurance. As the matter of fact, insurance from the underdeveloped countries seems to be there last priority. Sad to say.

  6. This is indeed a complete step. I am glad to have found this article which not only gives the information on the complete buying process as well as the mortgage process in Winnipeg. I agree that having a well-connected realtor is a must. This is an amazing article for all the home buyers.

  7. A home in Winnipeg sounds like a place I would want to stay. It is true that a realtor makes the process easier. I wish the article included their available realtors and rates. It would make choosing whom to go with simpler.

  8. Good stuff! But regarding finding a lender, here in Florida/USA, you can have multiple credit inquiries all within 14 days and they only count as one single inquiry, so your credit doesn’t tank. AS LONG AS THEY’RE ALL WITHIN 14 DAYS. Is this also true in Winnipeg?

    • Thanks for the comment, Ryan. Although I am not a mortgage expert, I dont believe the same holds true here…. its advisable to choose a lender (or two, at most) and get pre-approved just once…

  9. Although this is an extensive article, it can never answer all the questions a buyer might have. If you have any questions, please dont hesitate to put them below, or to contact me anytime.

  10. […] Buying a home in Winnipeg is likely the largest investment you will ever make. It’s a very involved process, meaning that a lot of professionals are part of the process. You will need a lawyer, real estate agent, home and life insurance experts, home inspector, moving company and more. More info via Winnipeg’s Real Estate Blog […]


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