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Winnipeg Home
Buying Guide

08 July 2024
10 min read

10 Simple Steps for Buying a Home in Winnipeg

So, you’ve decided that you’d like to purchase a home in Winnipeg, but what comes next? Although finding your dream home is exciting, it can also be complicated and overwhelming. So we’ve put together 10 simple steps to simplify your journey towards home ownership.

Step 1

Save for your down payment
& other upfront costs

If you are thinking of becoming a homeowner, you will need to start saving up for this very important purchase. You will need to consider the following costs:

Down payment

To buy a home, you will need a minimum down payment of 5%.

Important

If your down payment is less than 20%, you will need mortgage default insurance.

Mortgage Default Insurance is a legal requirement with a down payment less than 20% and your financial institution will arrange this insurance for you. You can pay it up-front or add it to your mortgage. Mortgage default insurance will cost between 2.8% and 4.0% of your total mortgage, depending on the size of your down payment.

First time home buyer?
There are programs to help you buy your first home:

The Government of Canada has created several programs intended to assist those who are looking to purchase their first home. Several of these programs can also benefit those who have previously purchased a home, but have not lived in a home that either they or their spouse or common-law partner own in the last four years.

Read more

• Using the Home Buyers' Plan, first time home buyers can withdraw up to $35,000 from their RRSP to put towards their down payment, and repay it over a 15 year period.

The First-Time Home Buyers' Incentive offers qualifying participants 5% of the purchase price (10% if you’re building). Note that you will still need your own minimum down payment of 5% and that you cannot exceed 19% down payment with this program. After 25 years, or when you sell your home, whichever comes first, you repay the incentive based on the current value of your home. Or, if you prefer, you can repay it at any time, without penalty.

• The Home Buyers' Amount is a tax credit of up to $5,000 that qualifying home buyers can claim on their tax return.

• Building or doing extensive renovations? You may qualify for the GST/HST New Housing Rebate, which allows you to claim some of the GST you paid for a home you purchased from a builder.

Closing costs

Expect to pay approximately 1.5% - 2% of the home’s purchase price in closing costs, which include legal fees and land transfer fees. You must pay these costs when you take possession of the house.

Home inspection

Getting a home inspection before putting an offer on a home is a good idea. A home inspection can cost $275 - $500+, depending on the size of the home.

Appraisal costs

The financial institution may require an independent appraisal of the home. If an appraisal is necessary, it typically costs around $300.

Moving costs

Don’t forget about moving costs as they can add up quickly if you’re hiring professional movers.

If you don’t have enough saved yet, creating an account specifically for your future home purchase and setting up a regular pre-authorized deposit can help you save for a home.

Step 2

Know your price range

A good rule is to only go see homes that are well within your price range and avoid getting attached to any single home.

With Cambrian’s Mortgage Affordability Calculator, it takes just two minutes to learn how much home you can afford. Using this calculator will not affect your credit rating.

Try our Mortgage Affordability Calculator to see how much you can afford and what your mortgage payment would be.

Mortgage payments

Use our Mortgage Affordability Calculator above to help estimate what your mortgage payment will be.

Apart from budgeting for mortgage payments, it is also important to budget for ongoing costs, such as:

Monthly utilities

Include heating, hydro, water, internet, phone and cable costs in your estimate.

Property taxes

Research the property taxes in the area. Also note that property taxes vary by home. Real estate listings often include property tax information and are a good place to look.

Home and contents insurance

Talk to your insurance provider or go online to get a quote.

Condo fees (if you’re purchasing a condo)

Monthly condo fees vary by condo and are typically included in the real estate listings.

Estimated living expenses

In addition to regular living expenses, make sure you budget for contributions to your savings and any loan or credit card payments you may have.

Home maintenance costs

Things break and need to be replaced in a home and you’ll want put away money to pay for it. Plan to put away at least $5,000 a year towards ongoing home maintenance. You would also need to evaluate when larger expenses may be required such as replacing the roof, windows or furnace and how much those would cost.

Renovation costs

If you want to buy a fixer-upper, you’ll need to consider the cost of home renovations. You may need to add an additional amount to your mortgage, which will increase your mortgage payment.

Step 3

Get pre-approved

Important

If your down payment is less than 20%, you will need mortgage default insurance.

Getting pre-approved means that a financial institution has reviewed your financial situation and have determined the maximum amount of mortgage you would qualify for. Your Cambrian advisor will provide you with a written letter detailing the pre-approved mortgage (maximum mortgage amount, conditions, etc.)

This allows you to make an offer immediately when you find a home within your pre-approved amount. When your offer is accepted, we will formally approve a mortgage for you based on the details of the home you are purchasing.

Lock in your mortgage rate
with Cambrian’s Best Rate Guarantee.

On the date that you apply for a Cambrian mortgage, you automatically get our Best Rate Guarantee.

a) If you buy your home or transfer your mortgage within 4 months of your application date
We look at the fixed mortgage rates we posted from your application date to the date we fund your mortgage (or possession date ifearlier), and give you the lowest fixed rate* (for the mortgage term that you select). 

b) If it takes more than 4 months from your application date to buy your home or transfer your mortgage
We look back at the fixed mortgage rates we posted during the 4 months preceding your mortgage funding date and give you the lowest fixed rate* (for the mortgage term that you select).

*Terms and conditions apply to Special Mortgage Rates and Offers

Apply online in 15 min
to lock in today’s fixed mortgage rate
  • Online applications are reviewed within one business day.
  • Credit decisions are made locally ensuring a quick turnaround time.
Book a meeting online to speak with a Cambrian advisor
  • Meet via video, phone or in person.
  • You can meet with any of our available advisors at the time that suits you best.
Step 4

Define what is important to you

Winnipeg Realtor Blair Sonnichsen recommends that home buyers start by looking inwards. “Ask yourself a few questions: ‘What do I like to do?’, ‘What is my lifestyle?’, and ‘What amenities do I want to be close to?’”

Blair’s suggested priorities

Once you know the lifestyle you want, determine how much it is going to cost to get a home that allows you to live how you want, and then choose a neighbourhood that meets your needs. “Buyers should be shopping by lifestyle, price, and location – in that order,” Sonnichsen says.

01
Lifestyle
02
Price
03
Location

Choose the type of home

Are you looking to purchase a single-family detached home, a side-by-side or a condominium? Knowing what type of home you are open to is important, as there are different considerations with each. Learn how purchasing a condo differs from purchasing a house.

Age of the neighbourhood & home

It can be exciting to move into a freshly built home in a new subdivision. A new home is move- in ready, and you won’t need to worry about home improvements and renovations. For many, it’s a great fit, but there are some important things to keep in mind.

In newer communities, amenities such as schools, recreation facilities, libraries and public transportation may not be in place yet. This means you would need to rely on a vehicle to drive to these amenities, and children may need to travel outside your neighbourhood to go to school.

On the contrary, a more mature community will have many amenities in place and close by but there are other challenges to consider. An older home might need upgrades or repairs, which will add costs over and above the purchase price. You also need to either do this work yourself, or hire professionals.

Knowing what type of home you are open to is important, as there are different considerations with each.

Instead of buying new, consider a purchase plus improvements mortgage, which will allow you to buy a fixer-upper and turn it into the home of your dreams.

Pick your top neighbourhoods

When buying your home, you are probably planning on living there for a while, so it is important to understand what is available around you. Buying a home without looking into schools, shopping centres, recreational facilities and public transportation is a mistake many first time home buyers make. This mistake can be costly – both financially and in terms of the impact it has on your lifestyle.

Before long, the neighbourhood you choose will be your community so make note of your lifestyle, prioritize what you’re looking for in a community and explore local neighbourhoods you are interested in. To help with this Cambrian has compiled a bit of history, and information about the neighbourhoods in Winnipeg and Selkirk. Explore the Winnipeg neighbourhoods where we live and work.

Step 5

Find a real estate agent

If you choose to work with a real estate agent, they will be your partner when searching for your first home, so it is important to work with someone who understands your goals and knows the market.

When searching for your realtor, Winnipeg Realtor Blair Sonnichsen suggests looking for the
following characteristics: capable, competent and caring.

Capable

A good rule is to only go see homes that are well within your price range and avoid getting attached to any single home.

Competent

Look for a realtor who is competent and knowledgeable about the area you’re looking in as well as the type of home you’re wanting to buy. A good realtor will have in-depth knowledge about the market, the neighbourhoods you’re looking in and will be able to help you write an offer that is in line with the value of the home.

Caring

Lastly, look for a realtor who is caring and focuses on helping you to choose a property as opposed to selling you one. You’ll be living in your home for many years so it’s important tobuy one that meets your needs!

When buying a home, the realtor’s commissions are deducted from the selling price of the home. Generally the commission is about 4 – 5% of the total price, with half going to the buying agent and half going to the selling agent.

Step 6

Understand Winnipeg’s
real estate market

Comparable properties

In terms of neighbourhood, a home in Seven Oaks is going to be priced very differently than a home in a more central location, such as downtown. The cost per square foot is generally going to be more expensive in a downtown condominium than it would be in the suburbs, for instance.

Features also drastically affect the price of a home. “For example, a home backing onto water is something the majority of Winnipeg homes will not have, therefore it will be more expensive than a home without this feature,” Winnipeg realtor Blair Sonnichsen says.

Look at the condition of major repair items such as the roof and furnace, which should be inspected by a professional prior to purchasing the home. Other features that affect the value of the home include driveway and/or garage layout, outdoor amenities like a pool or shed, and any special views such as park view or river view.

You can choose to do this research yourself or rely on the expertise of a realtor. If a buyer has not done their research, they may not understand the influence these amenities have on the price of a home, meaning they may under-bid or over-bid.

Status of the market

When the Winnipeg housing market is hot - or a sellers' market - bidding competition is high. Making the terms of the offer to purchase beneficial for both you and the seller can make the difference between securing your dream home and coming up short.

We recommend:

  • Getting pre-approved for a mortgage
  • Requesting a possession date that meets the needs of the seller
  • Keeping your offer as simple as possible (without taking on too much risk)
  • Compromising on what you are able to

Read 7 Tips to Win a Bidding War in the Winnipeg Market (Without Overbidding).

Step 7

Make an offer

When you’ve found a home you’d like to make your own, it’s time to make an offer. In a hot market, buyers should be ready to compromise in the offer, but keep in mind that there are some things you shouldn’t compromise on.

When purchasing a home it is important not to remove protective clauses that are there to protect you, the property and your financial institution.

Blair Sonnichsen

Winnipeg realtor

The following conditions are important to protect you:

  • Requiring a home inspection as a condition to purchase
    (if you haven’t done one prior to making an offer)
  • Requiring property disclosure statements
  • A clause indicating that the offer is conditional on securing financing

While you want to make an offer appealing to the seller, there are many ways to do so without compromising your protection, such as not asking for appliances and getting a home inspection prior to making an offer. And most importantly, stick to your price range and work with your realtor to make an offer that you can comfortably afford.

Step 8

Protect your investment
with a home inspection

Hiring a home inspector to do a thorough review of the home, from foundation to roof, and report on what they have discovered, can be very beneficial in the long run.

A home inspection is the best way to protect your investment and make you aware of the full condition of the house.

Klaus Moeller

Winnipeg home inspector

“When you get to view a potential home, you only get 15 – 20 minutes and you’ll only be looking at superficial items to make sure it looks nice, and if you don’t have experience, you won’t know what to actually look for.”

Foundation issues are a common problem in Selkirk because of the large range of temperatures and amount of ground water this region has. A home inspector looks for cracks in the foundation and signs of water infiltration during the inspection.

While looking at a home, carefully examine the windows, furnace and roof, as well as the foundation. Replacing or repairing these items adds up quickly, so it is important to keep the condition of the home in mind when viewing it. Consider whether replacing a dated roof or purchasing new windows is a project you would be willing to take on and if so, make sure you can afford it.

In a hot real estate market, consider getting a home inspection prior to making an offer on a home, instead of making it a condition of your offer.

Learn how to choose a home inspector and what they should look for in Winnipeg homes.

Step 9

Secure your mortgage

At the financing stage you are going to have an important decision to make: choosing the right mortgage for your financial situation, either variable rate or fixed rate.

Today’s Rates

*All rates subject to change without notice.
3 Year Closed
5.30
%
Variable Open Mortgage
6.95
%
5 Year Variable Closed Mortgage
6.05
%

When choosing a mortgage, rate isn't everything. Terms, flexibility and personal advice are equally important considerations when choosing a mortgage.

For example, some mortgage brokers offer deeply discounted mortgage rates that come with very limited options to repay the mortgage more quickly or pay it out prior to maturity. Often you must also pay a broker fee when getting a mortgage through a broker, which can cost 1% - 3% of the total cost of your mortgage. Alternatively, some brokers are paid directly through a fee from the financial institution. Because of this, it may be in the broker’s best interest to get you a mortgage at a specific institution, which may not align with your own interests.

As a credit union, our purpose is to save our member's time and money.

With this in mind, Cambrian offers a 4 month Best Rate Guarantee, quick mortgage approval and personalized advice from advisors who intimately know our Winnipeg and Selkirk communities. You can also choose to pay up to an additional 20% of your original mortgage balance every year, without penalty. Make one lump sum payment or make additional payments throughout the year.

Step 10

Move in

Congratulations – you’re a homeowner! Your next big decision: which local pizza joint to order from on moving day.

Want to learn more about buying a home?