Home renovations offer the perfect opportunity to upgrade the functionality of your home, in addition to modernizing the design and feel of your space.


Here are five clever features you should consider including in your next renovation to elevate your home’s functionality.


1. Smart Systems


Today’s homes are smart. They incorporate technology to make our lives safer, easier, more energy efficient, and more enjoyable.

If you’re renovating, you’d be wise to include a smart system that can handle these tasks for you:


  • Lighting: Lights on a motion sensor can save on energy usage, and lights on automatic timers give the impression that the home is occupied even while you’re away on vacation.
  • Heating and air: Smart thermostats allow you to automate the temperature in your home and even control it from your phone. You can give the HVAC system a rest while you’re at work during the day, then turn it on remotely so the house is the perfect temperature when you arrive home.  
  • Multimedia: With voice activation, you can turn on your sound system, video call family, or start your favorite TV show by just stating orders out loud. Your house is at your command.
  • Home monitoring: Security cameras, noise detectors, and motion sensors can all be installed to help protect your home. Smart monitoring systems can send you a text alert if a potential problem is detected.

Smart systems have you covered!


2. Walk-In Showers


Not only do walk-in showers look sleek, but they are also a smart safety feature.

Many at-home falls happen while climbing out of slippery tub/showers. Walk-in showers dramatically reduce this risk by eliminating the need to climb over a wall every time you get in and out of the shower.


3. In-Wall Pest Control


If you’ll be opening up your walls, make a little extra investment in in-wall pest control.

In-wall pest control uses a network of small cables running through the walls to distribute pest control chemicals throughout the structure. Just spray the chemicals into the network entrance points regularly to maintain a pest-free home.  

  

4. Pull-Out Cabinets


Pull-out cabinets are a genius solution for homes with limited counter space. These cabinets tuck neatly under your existing counters, looking like standard cabinets. But when you need a bigger work surface, you can roll these cabinets out and use the finished tops to extend your counter space.

And these are ideal for more than just kitchens. You could also use pull-out cabinets in your home office, garage, and hobby room!


5. Clever Storage Spots


Traditional builds often leave some space wasted. Which is a shame because we all need more storage. Take a few notes from creative tiny-house builders who know how to maximize storage space:

  • Install pull-out drawers for shoe storage under the staircase where the space is too short to store much else.
  • Create a raised platform in the playroom so you can store lots of the toys in the space between the existing floor and the new platform floor.
  • Add baseboard drawers under kitchen cabinets to store thin items like baking trays, muffin tins, and cooling racks.

Don’t just settle for a more pleasing aesthetic with your next home renovation. Use these tips to improve the function of your home at the same time!


This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. This post was written by Michelle Clardie. Michelle is a professional real estate blogger, specializing in ghostwriting Realtor® blogs. Her engaging content helps real estate agents become more visible online, generate more qualified leads, and increase their revenues. You can learn more at www.michelleclardie.com.


 
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If you’re a gardener, or at least want to be one, there’s no time as amazing as early spring. This is when your plants are starting to wake from their long winter’s sleep. The white snow and frost flowers are giving way to green grass and emerging vegetation that seems to multiply like magic day after day.

Although a lot of people sit back and wait for their plants to do whatever it is that they do in early spring, others, like you, are eager to help them be all they can be this year.

The Results of Minimum Plant Care

Many homeowners just let their plants come and go as they please. Usually, they’ve inherited the vegetation from the former owner and have little interest in gardening. It’s ok, it’s not for everyone. But, due to this minimal care for the plants, many varieties will start to die off from neglect. A slow death is still a death.

Obviously, you’re looking to do a bit more to help your plants get off to a good start. Because of this, your landscape will be healthier, live longer and produce more ornamental flowers than those of the neighbor who would have preferred a lot of grass and no plants to tend.

First Thing’s First, Reduce Your Plant’s Risk of Early Season Fungus

There are varieties of herbaceous perennials like bananas, cannas and elephant ear that can survive the winter in many climates if they’re tucked in under a layer of organic mulch that’s two to four inches deep. While mulch protects them from drying out or freezing to death when it’s cold, once these types of plants start to grow in the spring, that life-saving mulch can become a real enemy.

It’s vital that you pull back the mulch from your plants every few days to check for green growth above ground. Once you see it, hollow a moat out between the plant and the mulch. Make sure no mulch is touching the new growth and that the moat you’ve scooped is about two inches wide to allow for further safe development.

Several opportunistic fungi will take advantage of young, green growth that’s constantly touching something moist, like that mulch. There’s a fine line here, tread carefully.

Soil Testing and Amendment

If you have a garden plot and failed to fertilize it in the fall, now is the time to get to it. As soon as you can work the soil, take several samples and either use a home test kit to determine the condition of the soil or have them analyzed by your local university extension’s lab. The extension tests are generally around $10, but the cost varies by location.

Either way, you’ll have some kind of indication about the condition of your soil, as well as what you can do to fix any problems. For example, you may find that your soil is low in nitrogen, a vital nutrient for plants that grow a lot of leaves very quickly, like your lawn. In this case, you’ll follow the instructions for feeding the type of plant you intend to place in the tested area, using a precise amount of fertilizer, so as not to encourage long, spindly growth in those eager plants.

The same applies to other types of fertilizer, including balanced fertilizers like 10-10-10 and 15-15-15. Most established perennials are fine with fertilizer that’s mixed into the top two to five inches of soil, but always check before you get too wild with it. A few species may have unusual reactions, including but not limited to developing an overall burned or wilted look due to root destruction. Never apply more fertilizer than necessary due to the risk of runoff and pollution of waterways.

Turn the Sprinklers On!

Once the nighttime temperatures are consistently above freezing, you’re ready to turn the water back on. Your plants will appreciate the long, deep drink and you’ll be happy to not have to water each one by hand. Remember, when turning irrigation systems back on after being drained, do so slowly. Opening the valve too quickly can result in a high-pressure water surge that can rupture sprinkler heads or burst fittings.

Be prepared to turn the system back off if a surprise freeze creeps on, but waiting as long as possible to get the irrigation started again is also a fairly safe bet.

Check for Signs of Insect Infestation

As your plants start to bud, you’ll be able to tell if they’ve developed any problems during the winter. Generally, these are caused by insect infestations, but in ornamental and fruit trees, a whole range of fungal invasion is also likely.

Small holes in the trunks of trees and shrubs are likely caused by boring insects like clearwing moths, which spend most of their life cycles inside the plant. This makes them very hard to get rid of and often results in the hollowing of the interior of limbs and branches. Those hollow branches pose a major risk to anyone walking below, as they can reach a point where they are no longer structurally sound and suddenly break away from the tree.


Written By: HomeKeepr

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As the snow starts to melt, revealing the brightly colored flowers of crocus, and robins bop merrily around the yard, another cycle of the real estate market begins. If you’re considering listing your home this year, it’s definitely not too late to get started. March and April can be great months for putting your house in front of prospective buyers, but the summer months are also great times to sell.


Regardless of your timing, there are a few things you need to do right now to start getting ready to list. It’s not as simple as sticking a sign in the yard and waiting for the calls to roll in.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

You never know who will feel that special feeling people get when they find the house that is just right for them. But you can turn the odds in your favor if you and your home are both show ready long before you open up to potential buyers.


Before you sell your house, you’re going to want to run through this checklist.


Hire a Realtor. There’s a reason that 91 percent of home sellers used a real estate agent to sell their home in 2017: selling a home is a complicated process that really demands an expert. Just like you’d not try to DIY surgery, there are serious financial risks involved with selling your home without an education in real estate law.


In addition to being your safety net, a Realtor can point out items that you might not realize are big turn-offs to buyers, like dated lighting, so you can get started on the cosmetic stuff to make your home show at its best.


Have a home inspection. Wait. Isn’t a home inspection just for buying a house? No! You can have a home inspector out any time you want. Having a full blown home inspection before you put your house on the market gives you a chance to correct items that will likely come up for your future buyer when they have their home inspector out. Get ahead of issues and you’ll sell that house faster.


Get to decluttering. If you have to sell your home in order to buy the next, you’re going to be living in a showroom for the next few months. Take anything you don’t really need immediately and put it in a storage unit. Get it away from your house because pushing clutter around doesn’t really help anything. Declutter as much as you can bear to — it’ll make your house look bigger and more appealing to prospective buyers

Paint the front door. Your Realtor will probably drive home the importance of curb appeal, or how enticing your house is from the street (the curb). The better the curb appeal, the more likely potential buyers will come inside and look around. The interesting thing about curb appeal is how certain elements of your house affect the whole picture. Case in point, Zillow’s 2018 Paint Color Analysis found that a black or charcoal colored front door can bring in as much as $6,271 extra!


Spruce up the landscaping. Along with dressing the front of your house up a bit, make sure that your landscaping is up to par. Prune any unruly plants, replace perennials that may have patchy growth, refresh your mulch, give the lawn a mow. Now that your landscape is radiating amazing curb appeal, keep it that way until your home closes. If you need to hire a landscaper, consider it an investment.

Get copies of your utility bills. People will ask what kind of utility costs are associated with your home. Does it just burn through the natural gas? Does the electricity use seem excessive? This is another place where you can get ahead of potential buyers by putting this information together and giving it to your Realtor on the day you sign your listing agreement.


Deep clean like you’ve never cleaned before. And hey, maybe you haven’t, we’re not here to judge. Even though painting is a quick fix to renewing your home’s interior, deep cleaning is less expensive and can result in a better overall effect. For example, if you clean your windows, inside and out until they’re super clean, you’ll immediately notice how much more natural light penetrates the room.

Is There Time For All of That?

If you find yourself crunched for time, don’t make up for it by skipping important things before listing. Instead, call on your HomeKeepr community to help you find the people who can move your home sale along. Whether you need a cleaner, a landscaper, an organization expert or even a home inspector, we’ve got you covered. Your agent already has a list of recommended service providers who can help, let these experts free up some of your time as you get ready to sell.


Written By: Homekeepr

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** Article and all content has been written by Winnipeg Realtors and not Kelly Fernandez **


February sales up 6%


WINNIPEG - February sales of 724 show a 6% increase over February 2018 and a 10% rise in dollar volume at over $215 million. 1,447 new listings were added to the market in February which resulted in 3,735 active listings available for sale at the end of February. This healthy supply of listings represents a 10% increase over last year.
 
Year-to-date sales are up 8% over the same period in 2018 and 3% over the 5-year average. They are only 2% behind the record- setting pace of 2016.
 
“We have now had two back to back months of improvement in sales and listing gains over 2018,” said Kenneth Clark, president of WinnipegREALTORS®. “While early in the year and a cold one at that, it does show buyers are making necessary adjustments to mortgage regulation rules to complete a transaction. Some of the increase in listings, most notable in January with a 19% increase in new listings coming on the market, is that sellers are feeling more confident about taking their next step in the local housing market.”
 

Helping set the stage in 2019 for continued recovery from a slow start in 2018 is the fact mortgage rates are remaining historically low with no expectation of another interest rate increase in the next few months and possibly later in the year. Affordable prices remain intact with more than half of all condo sales in February selling for under $200,000 and nearly half of single family homes selling for under $300,000. 


A highlight of February was the strength of residential -detached or single family home sales happening outside the city of Winnipeg. The 152 sales represented 30% of the total amount sold in February. While the Steinbach MLS® area led the way with 28 sales, it is worth noting WinnipegREALTORS® has recently welcomed rural real estate offices to its membership from Winkler, Gimli and Lac du Bonnet.
 
Single family home sales of 505 increased 6.5% in February when compared to February 2018. Condominium sales were up as well with 107 sales, a 5% increase over February 2018 and 10% greater than the 5-year average of 97 sales.
 
Other MLS® property types which outperformed February 2018 with double-digit percentage increases were commercial, single- attached and duplexes. The 34 single-attached sales represented close to 5% of total MLS® sales in February where residential-detached and condominium sales captured 70% and 15% respectively.
 
Looking ahead to March, all three levels of government are releasing their annual budgets. The City of Winnipeg unveiled their operating and capital budget on March 1, 2019 with a proposed 2.33% property tax increase. The provincial budget comes down on March 7th while the federal government will release theirs on March 19th.
 
Noteworthy this year is there has been a strong push from the real estate industry to urge the federal government to provide relief to millennials who were disproportionately affected last year by the mortgage stress test.
 
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has already acknowledged this reality and has indicated he is looking to provide young homebuyers with better means to own a home. A national survey conducted last year by Abacus Research for the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) on housing affordability showed 85 per cent of millennials and new Canadians want to own their own homes. CREA CEO Michael Bourque says, “The idea of renting for life does not appeal to either group.”
 
“The combination of a wide choice of affordable properties to purchase in our local marketgives us an advantage over more expensive housing markets in the country,” said Clark. “However our first-time buyer market in 2018 did experience a noticeable drop off in sales activity so any relief from the federal government’s budget would be welcome here too.”
 
“Our REALTORS® are professional and informed,” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®. “They make it their business to keep on top of any new developments that affect the housing market.”
 
Since 1903, WinnipegREALTORS® has assisted its members in achieving high levels of excellence in organized real estate by providing superior tools and services that enhance and build a vibrant real estate industry. Representing over 1,950 REALTORS® and other industry related professions active in the Winnipeg metropolitan area, WinnipegREALTORS® promotes the value of a REALTOR® and organized real estate. WinnipegREALTORS® provides its members with essential market information, professional development sessions, networking opportunities, marketing products, an effective industry voice and strong leadership to further their professional success.
 
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by CREA and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.
 
For further information, contact Peter Squire at (204) 786-8854. 


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** Article and all content has been written by Winnipeg Realtors and not Kelly Fernandez **


A record start to 2019


WINNIPEG - January MLS® sales of 634 increased 11% over the same month last year and 8% over the 5-year average for January. Dollar volume rose 12% to $175 million. The 1,783 new listings entered on the MLS® in January also resulted in a double-digit gain of 19% compared to January 2018. 
 
“This is the best start on record for January in our local real estate market,” said Kenneth Clark, president of WinnipegREALTORS®. “However, as they say, one month does not make a year so we remain cautiously optimistic.” 
 
On a positive note, mortgage rates are remaining historically low with the Bank of Canada signaling a wait and see approach on any interest rate increases this year. Buyers have also had over a year to adjust to the B-20 mortgage regulation rules which came into effect January 1, 2018. 
 
“The noticeable bump up in new listings includes some of those move–up buyers last year that decided to remain on the sidelines to figure out what they could afford to buy based on the new mortgage regulations,” said Clark. “Helping make it easier for them to enter our housing market this year is a combination of a healthy supply of available listings to choose from at affordable prices.”
 
No better example of affordable prices came by way of the condo sales activity in January 2019. In what is more the exception than the rule in our local market, there were 34 sales under $150,000 compared to 12 in January 2018. A number of these units sold for as low as $31,500 with total square footage of less than 500 square feet. 56% of total condo sales went for less than $200,000.
 
No better example of affordable prices came by way of the condo sales activity in January 2019. In what is more the exception than the rule in our local market, there were 34 sales under $150,000 compared to 12 in January 2018. A number of these units sold for as low as $31,500 with total square footage of less than 500 square feet. 56% of total condo sales went for less than $200,000.
 
For comparison purposes, 22% of residential-detached or single family homes sold for less than $200,000. On the other end of the price spectrum, the highest-priced single family home sold for $910,000 while a condominium sold for $832,229.
 
WinnipegREALTORS® just held its annual forecast breakfast and indicated that sales should outpace 2018 while prices will remain stable. The condo property type in particular is experiencing an elevated supply of listings going into 2019, so will be one to watch closely. 
 
“Knowing which questions to ask with a myriad of terms and conditions to consider, is best left to a REALTOR®- an experienced negotiator who is objective about the buying process,” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®. “Our REALTORS® are there to serve your interest in achieving the best outcome for you.”
 
Since 1903, WinnipegREALTORS® has assisted its members in achieving high levels of excellence in organized real estate by providing superior tools and services that enhance and build a vibrant real estate industry. Representing over 1,950 REALTORS® and other industry related professions active in the Winnipeg metropolitan area, WinnipegREALTORS® promotes the value of a REALTOR® and organized real estate. WinnipegREALTORS® provides its members with essential market information, professional development sessions, networking opportunities, marketing products, an effective industry voice and strong leadership to further their professional success.
 
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by CREA and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.
 
For further information, contact Peter Squire at (204) 786-8854. 


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** Article and all content has been written by Winnipeg Realtors and not Kelly Fernandez **



Home values remain consistent in 2018


WINNIPEG - In comparison to a near record year in 2017, 2018 held its own with sales down 5% from 2017 and 6% from the best year on record in 2016. Sales of 12,773 are down less than 3% from the five – year average and 1% lower than the 10-year average.
Annual dollar volume on the other hand of $3.77 billion decreased less than 4% from 2017 and is up nearly 3% from the five-year average.
 
The 23,834 listings entered on the MLS® in 2018 rose 2% over 2017. There are 3,235 listings available for sale at the end of 2018.
 
“Keeping things in perspective, with some of the headwinds we faced in 2018 with higher interest rates and more stringent mortgage qualification requirements, it should be no surprise that 2018 fell short of our best years on record,” said Chris Dudeck, outgoing president of WinnipegREALTORS®. “Simply put, we believe fewer buyers were able to qualify and successfully complete a purchase they wished to make in 2018.”
 
Dudeck added, “I see 2018 as more policy-induced retraction, albeit a modest one, than changes in key market factors from 2017.” Market metrics are closely aligned between the two years. For example, in terms of achieving a total sales price dollar value ratio close to total list price dollar value in 2018 for single family homes which sold, the annual ratio compares very favourably – 98.48% versus 98.59% in 2017. Another metric to note is average days to sell a home or condo in 2018 only took one day longer than 2017.”
 
Sales transacted in both single-family homes and condominiums were only one day off the number of days on average it took to sell them in 2017. One of the main reasons the WinnipegREALTORS® market region was less affected in comparison to some other housing markets is its favourable housing affordability.
 
The December 2018 RBC Housing Trends and Affordability Report indicates “ownership costs remain well under control”. The measure of 31% for the third quarter (the percentage of median pre-tax household income required to service the cost of mortgage payments, property taxes and utilities based on the average market price of the aggregate of all housing types) is very close to the long-run average of 29.5%. The RBC Report states: “The slowdown in activity in 2018 has been orderly with demand and supply remaining in balance overall, although the condo segment showed more visible signs of weakness.”
 
Speaking of prices, the average residential-detached or single family home sales price in 2018 was $321,945, a very modest increase of 2% over 2017.
 
The chart below shows how each of the geographic areas within Winnipeg performed with respect to their average home sales price as well as the area representing rural municipalities. All areas saw slight increases over 2017 with the exception of the southeast area where its price equaled last year’s result.
 
Two MLS® areas least impacted by buyer challenges were the southwest zone of Winnipeg and the rural municipalities surrounding Winnipeg. The former saw sales decline under 1%, while the latter rural zone decreased 1% in comparison to sales generated in 2017. The rural zone continues to represent the highest percentage of sales of all MLS® areas at over 26%.
 
Over half of the residential-detached sales in 2018 occurred under $300,000 with another 28% selling from $300,000 to $399,999. The 9,287 sales represented nearly $3 billion in dollar volume with the most expensive home selling for $2.6 million.
 
Nearly 90 % of all condominium sales in 2018 were under $350,000 with the $150,000 to $199,999 price range the most active with 27% of total condominium sales. There were 1,638 transactions worth $391 million. The highest-priced condominium sold for $1,200,000.
 
“I am proud of how our REALTOR® members worked so hard this past year to meet both buyer and seller expectations given that were more financing issues to overcome.” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®. REALTORS® operate in an ever-changing real estate industry and continually update their knowledge so their clients are supported through the buying and selling process.”
 
On February 6, WinnipegREALTORS® is proud to be hosting its Annual Forecast Breakfast. This high impact event provides more insights and details on what is happening in the local housing and commercial market with a look ahead to 2019.
 
Could a 2019 federal election set the stage for some much needed support for millennial buyers? Keynote speaker Benjamin Tal, deputy-chief economist of CIBC World Markets, is back by popular demand and will not disappoint
 
Since 1903, WinnipegREALTORS® has assisted its members in achieving high levels of excellence in organized real estate by providing superior tools and services that enhance and build a vibrant real estate industry. Representing over 1,950 REALTORS® and other industry related professions active in the Winnipeg metropolitan area, WinnipegREALTORS® promotes the value of a REALTOR® and organized real estate. WinnipegREALTORS® provides its members with essential market information, professional development sessions, networking opportunities, marketing products, an effective industry voice and strong leadership to further their professional success.
 
 
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by CREA and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.


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** Article and all content has been written by Winnipeg Realtors and not Kelly Fernandez **


November holds firm for this time of year


WINNIPEG - November MLS® sales of 864 are right in line with expected sales generated for this month. Sales decreased less than 2% from November 2017 and below 1% from the 5-year November average. This now makes for two months in a row of solid sales for the fourth quarter and this time of year.
 
“Buyers and sellers are making the adjustments necessary to complete sales and end the month off on a positive note,” said Chris Dudeck. “We have reason to remain optimistic that December will finish off strong and conclude a year where sales have moderated from the busiest years on record in 2016 and 2017.”
 
Year-to-date sales of 12,235 are down 5% from the same period in 2017 while dollar volume of $3.6 billion decreased 3% from 2017.  Sales are closely aligned with the three previous years to 2016 which is WinnipegREALTORS® best year on record at 13, 632 sales.
 
To reaffirm and dispel any notion that the real estate market is not a year round activity, new listings in November at 1,400 increased 8% over November 2017.
 
“While some get caught up in holiday shopping with retail outlets teeming with foot traffic, there are many more shoppers looking at our real estate offerings in the MLS® market,” said Dudeck. “There are over 4,000 listings to choose from as we head into the last month of the year.”


In November, while residential-detached or single family home sales of 610 were down ever so modestly at less than 2% or just 11 sales. Condominiums had one of its best Novembers on record at 122 sales, a 10% increase over November 2017.
 
Price range sales activity in November for these two main property types shows how both compared to large housing markets in the country are more affordable and within the local market how condominiums offer less expensive options for buyers.
 
For residential-detached sales, all price ranges from $150,000 to $399,999 were in double-digit percentages with the $250,000 to $299,999 highest at 19%. Together they captured 70% of total residential-detached sales.
 
On the other hand, condominium price ranges which were all in double-digit percentages went from $100,000 to $299,999 with the $200,000 to $249,999 price range most active at 26%. They represented 81% of total sales.
 
In terms of how long it took on average to sell these properties in November, residential-detached properties was 38 days, one week quicker than condominiums. The highest home and condominium sale prices were $1,600,000 and $644,255 respectively.
 
“Taking stock of your year should include reaching out to your REALTOR® to ascertain where you are as a homeowner or one looking to buy in the next year,” said Marina R. James, CEO of WinnipegREALTORS®. “REALTORS® know the market and can advise you accordingly.”
 
Since 1903, WinnipegREALTORS® has assisted its members in achieving high levels of excellence in organized real estate by providing superior tools and services that enhance and build a vibrant real estate industry. Representing over 1,900 REALTORS® and other industry related professions active in the Winnipeg metropolitan area, WinnipegREALTORS® promotes the value of a REALTOR® and organized real estate. WinnipegREALTORS® provides its members with essential market information, professional development sessions, networking opportunities, marketing products, an effective industry voice and strong leadership to further their professional success.
 
 
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by CREA and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.


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