Art of the Deal



Winnipeg Realtor® Matthew Nicolas’ approach is one predicated on creating deals that fit like a glove

By Kelly Gray

When it comes to condos in Winnipeg, one name seems to stand above the rest. Matthew Nicolas is with Sutton Group Kilkenny Real Estate and over the past four years he has become the go-to guy for sales of strata properties. Over those years Matt has seen his sales earn some of the highest prices per square foot and as a result he earned the Winnipeg Real Estate Board’s prestigious Gold Medallion in 2013 as a pro with sales in the top one per cent of his industry.

Behind it all is a driven personality that has him up early crunching numbers instead of breakfast cereal. “I live for the deal. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. The excitement of putting together new developments or coming up with the right package for a client is what really keeps me going,” he says, remembering a point in his life about five years ago when he came home from his nine to five job to tell his wife he was thinking about a career switch to real estate. “She looked at me and told me to follow my heart. I did and I have never been so happy.”

The same can be said for a long list of clients who have sought his help selling or seeking the perfect condo. And while he has experience in the full range of real estate, Nicolas has become a specialist in condo properties where he has developed as well as sold some of the most recognized condominium addresses in the city. Today these addresses include locations in all sectors of Winnipeg where he works to create housing innovation as well as good fits for residents and the community.

For example, Pointe North Station in the Maples is a mixed-use development where professional offices will occupy the ground level in commercial condos and the upper floors will feature residential units in a 47-suite contemporary package. What he is selling in North Pointe Station is a decidedly recent approach that looks back to older style development where blended community allows people to live, work and play in their local areas rather than drive long distances to the office or gym.  “When I look around I can see that our urban sprawl is creating a city that is not focused on healthy lifestyle and life/work balance. I definitely like urbanization over sprawl. We have great neighbourhoods in the heart of Winnipeg like Osborne Village, Corydon, and West Broadway where there is the kind of population density that works well for meaningful projects that help positive lifestyles flourish. I want to be a catalyst for this kind of change,” he says, noting that real estate flows in his veins thanks to a family background that saw his grandfather develop a number of multi-family projects back in the ’70s. “I want to take this to a new level,” he says.

Indeed, over the years Nicolas has watched Winnipeg grow up and move forward in housing and urban amenities. “There was not much going on downtown in the 1990s and 2000s. Then came the MTS Centre and a concerted effort to revive the core. Now, thanks to the right kind of development we are seeing an expansion of housing in the Exchange with exciting projects from Waterfront Drive to Portage Avenue. That dense urban feel is starting to exist in the downtown neighbourhood. Community is developing and people are buying into condos where streetscapes are lined with cafes and entertainment venues.”

According to Nicolas, the condo market is currently driven by two key elements. “There is a demographic shift where consumers are finding the old family home is just too big for their current needs. For these people the idea of slimming down to the luxury and simplicity of a condo makes sense. Condos remove a lot of the complexity of home ownership which lets people get on with more important things in their lives,” he says. “The second facet is the younger buyer who does not want to sacrifice lifestyle. A condo allows these people to have it all – a home in the centre of the action that doesn’t take all their financial resources to meet monthly payments. They want something left for travel or amenities.”

Nicolas looks to his experiences living in centres such as Edmonton and Toronto where the condo market is far more established. He is also well travelled and has been able to interpret projects he has seen in locations such as Vancouver or New York and offer a Winnipeg approach that is new and unique. Capturing this vibrancy, Nicolas and his partners are involved in Urban Glo, a new project set to rise at Picardy Place and Chestnut Street in the Wolseley neighbourhood. This “in-fill” development will take the traditional Winnipeg community to new heights with nine loft-style units that feature nine-foot ceilings, unique lighting and a very modern edgy feel. He suggests this site is reflective of his willingness to listen to the market where young urbanites are crying out for properties that exude modern finishes and speak to a demand for something new and out of the box. Another example is 62M on Waterfront Drive. This is a 40-unit condo development that offers 610-square-foot suites that are located in the heart of the city with stunning river views and access to the full slate of urban amenities that is the Exchange. More, Nicolas is involved with Creek Bend Hollow, an exclusive community on the southeastern edge of Winnipeg. On offer is a gated riverside development with room for 17 detached condos in bungalow formats that extend from 1,500-square-feet to 2,200-square-feet on river lots with walkouts.

To get it all done, Nicolas has built a strong network of professional supports from legal to architectural. As well, his staff at his Sutton Group offices includes dedicated marketing and client service personnel that have been hand picked for their knowledge and skill sets.

“My approach has been to create a one-stop shop where all the services one needs to buy or sell is located in one place. The goal is to create the deals with real value and then offer the supports to get things moving. Sometimes we have sold out a project in a week thanks to our approach that I think is quite a bit different from what one typically finds in real estate. At the end of the day, it’s all about value and then communicating this to the market,” he says. “Winnipeg has a lot of room to grow and I want to be one of the main forces moving the city in the right direction.”