It’s a saying most everyone is familiar with: strike while the iron’s hot.

Now is the time to strike if you’re looking for a new home, said 2018 WinnipegREALTORS® president Chris Dudeck.

“With over 3,000 MLS® listings (3,037, to be exact), there’s definitely an opportunity for home buyers,” he said. “There’s a real opportunity to get a jump on the market and find a hidden gem.”

But that window of opportunity is a relatively short one, the asssociation president added.

“The spring real estate market usually starts to heat up around mid- to late-February, so now is the time to start looking.”

Why is that?

“By starting early, you’ll deal with way less competition,” said Dudeck. “With a lesser number of buyers looking, you can go through homes without feeling pressured, and perhaps find the home that’s right for you at a great price.”

It’s important to note that the key to finding the right home lies in enlisting the services of a knowledgeable REALTOR®.

“Sometimes buyers don’t know what they don’t know (and) that’s why it’s so important to find a Realtor who will guide you through the market.

A Realtor can not only help you explore the opportunities that are out there, but help you identify the one that suits you best,” added Dudeck.

Make no mistake about it, there are bona fide opportunities out there in the housing market.

With selection at a high level, buyers can find the home that best suits their needs and budget, whether it be a condo, duplex, townhome, detached single-family home or even a mobile home.

Sales numbers through the first two weeks of January have been solid, noted Dudeck.

“They’re actually up about 10 per cent over last year, with new listings up by around 10 per cent, as well. There’s great value to be found in all kinds of properties.”

That’s why it’s important to make a move now if you’re serious about finding a home.

At the same time, it’s important to keep an open mind about where you want to buy.

“A lot of people get focused in on a particular area that they want to live in,” said Dudeck.

“While that’s understandable, I think it’s important for buyers to realize that there are good homes in all kinds of neighbourhoods across the city.”

Again, it’s critical to rely on a Realtor’s expertise in this instance.

“A Realtor will guide you to explore different neighbourhoods — ones that are nearby the one you want to live in, even ones a bit further out,” said Dudeck.

“You can’t afford to lose sight of the quality homes that exist in other areas.”

In other words, buyers, if they don’t mind buying a bit further out, can find a home that provides them with more bang for their buck in the form of more space, amenities and, in many cases, a smaller mortgage, which is important in the new era of the mortgage stress test.

At the same time, buyers, particularly first-time buyers, can also move up in the world.

“By getting into the marketplace, you’re no longer paying rent. Instead, you’re gaining equity and appreciation.

“And by purchasing a home, whether it be a detached single-family home, side-by-side, townhome or condo, you stand to capitalize on the market increase over the next five years or so,” added Dudeck.

What’s the bottom line here?

If you’re in the market for a home, take advantage of market conditions that are about as close to ideal as they’re going to get.

“There’s a bit of a window — about a month or so — before the real estate market starts to heat up,” emphasized Dudeck.

“If you’re looking for a home, find a good Realtor, and don’t be afraid to explore other neighbourhoods and different property types.

“As I said earlier, now is a great opportunity to get a jump on the market and find a hidden gem.”

Association past-president Blair Sonnichsen said that there are many affordable housing options available that Realtors are able to indicate to buyers.

In 2017, Sonnichsen said that, with the help of Realtors, it had “become apparent … that buyers were making adjustments within certain property types to attain their dream of acquiring a place to call home.”