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7 steps to win a bidding war in the Winnipeg market (without over-bidding)

November 3, 2022
min read

Learn how to win a bidding war and increase your chances of securing the home of your dreams.

A house with a "For Sale" sign

If you’re set on buying a certain home, you may find yourself caught up in a bidding war. And if it’s your first time buying a home, the prospect of a bidding war can be daunting.

There's nothing more frustrating than finding the perfect home, only to lose it to another buyer!

Jeannie Sasley, a Realtor in Selkirk, says that to win a bidding war, you need the following:

  • Mortgage pre-approval letter.
  • A large deposit when making your offer.
  • No conditions or very limited conditions.

In this article, we’re looking at the current real estate market in Winnipeg, and the different ways you can make your offer stand out.

The Winnipeg real estate landscape

According to the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board, in July 2023:

  • There were 1,365 total sales.
  • There were 4,298 active listings.
  • The average price for a residential detached home was $406,209.

With that in mind, follow these 7 steps to improve your chances of winning a bidding war:

1. Know what you can afford

Before house hunting, take a close look at your finances and prepare a monthly budget you can comfortably afford.

Be sure to include the new expenses associated with owning a home (including property taxes, utilities, mortgage payments, and ongoing maintenance of the home).

This will ensure you don't stretch your budget too thin between your mortgage payments and other household expenses.

Cambrian's Mortgage Affordability Calculator can help you estimate how much home you can afford to buy. Take two minutes to complete our Cambrian Mortgage Affordability Calculator today! Using our calculator will not affect your credit rating.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

"It is extremely important for a client to be pre-approved for a mortgage by their financial institution before house hunting," Sasley says.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage establishes you as a serious home buyer. You’ll know exactly how much home you can afford so that you can move quickly when a house you want comes on the market.

3. Be flexible with the possession date

Another thing Sasley suggests is to give the seller the possession date that they want. She also suggests noting in the offer that the possession date is flexible, indicating that "this shows that the buyer is flexible and easy to work with."

The better you can align your offer with what the seller is looking for, the greater the chances they may accept it - even if it's not the highest offer.

4. Make a large deposit

What is a deposit? When making an offer, a deposit can be included as part of it. It’s a sum of money the buyer puts down to show their commitment to purchasing the home.

Once the sellers accept your offer, they will hold the deposit until the sale is finalized. The deposit goes towards the price of your home.

A deposit shows the seller that you are serious about the home and that your financial situation is stable.

Consider including a large deposit as part of your offer – at least 5% of the purchase price – to position your offer more favourably.

Speak to your realtor and read the Agreement of Purchase and Sale carefully to understand the conditions for refunding your deposit should the sale not go through for reasons on the part of the seller or the buyer.

5. Consider writing a letter

If you've fallen in love with a home, you can write a letter and include it with your offer. In the letter, you can write about what the house means to you.

For example, is this the community you're hoping to raise a family in? Or are you looking to make this your very first home?

Some sellers may want their family home to go to another family who would appreciate it the way they have. A personal letter may give your offer an edge over other buyers.

6. Do your home inspection before making an offer

Getting a home inspection can save you a lot of money in the long run if the home inspector discovers a major issue. It's also worthwhile to understand what repairs you should be budgeting for should you purchase the home.

However, in some cases, including a home inspection as a condition of the offer can be enough to take your offer out of the running. Sasley suggests doing the home inspection before writing an offer and not making it a condition.

If this is not possible, keep the home inspection time frame short, so the seller can move on quickly if you are not going to move forward with the purchase.

Choose your home inspector before starting to house hunt so that they’ll be available at short notice.

7. Be patient

House hunting can be an emotional process. To avoid overbidding, ensure you understand the typical price per square foot of similar homes in the area and quantify the value each unique feature holds for you. Then, you can put together an offer that reflects that value.

Although it may feel like a long process, Sasley encourages house hunters to "stay with their realtor, stay focused on what you can afford, and you will get a home."

For more tips for house hunting tips, explore our Guides to Buying a Home in Winnipeg or Selkirk. Happy house hunting!

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