Why does a One Horse Town Need Two Brokers?

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I was on holidays a little while ago.  My husband and I went to visit some family in Manitoba, the province neighboring Saskatchewan.  For any who may not be aware, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are predominately farming and rural communities with a few major city centers.  There are many small towns in both provinces with populations less than 1000, and some even less than 100. 

a typical prairie grain elevator

It just so happens that some of our family has relocated to a small town in rural Manitoba that almost no one (even those who live within an hour’s drive) has heard of.  Oddly enough, this small town of 70 people, is experiencing a boom in its own right.  Just within the past year 2 couples and a family of 4 have moved into this small town.  Adding 8 people to the population is an increase of over 11%.  This is fairly unusual and not likely happening in every other small town in Manitoba or Saskatchewan.  Before this influx of newcomers, the most recent arrival in that small town was probably over 10 years ago.  (Check out the fire hall – it doesn’t look like it gets alot of use!)

Small town fire hall

As we toured through the neighboring communities I began wondering: Who is selling the real estate in these tiny towns?

I have had the enviable pleasure of living in small town Saskatchewan for two years.  The town I lived in was a bustling metropolis compared to where we visited a few weeks ago, with a population of almost 3,000 compared to 70.  Apparently a town with a population this size is enough to support two real estate offices, plus the odd real estate agent from the larger city nearby who listed a property here or there. 

I would love to know how a real estate agent can survive in the real estate business in small town prairie real estate market?  When the average home price (at the time I lived there) being below $10,000 and a basic commission of somewhere around 6%, you can deduce that the profits aren’t pouring in.  In addition to this, the Town Office is engaged in selling off empty lots to any who want to develop for $10 a pop, provided that a structure is in place within 2 years of purchase.  That’s pretty stiff competition for the real estate agents when things are already priced so low.

We hear a lot lately about the down-market in many areas, but I wonder if any of these small towns have ever had a booming market?  Perhaps real estate agents could glean some useful tips from those who have been in small town real estate for a few years that could help those who are experiencing tough times where they live.  Anyone care to share??

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