This piece was submitted by Alan Carson, President, Carson Dunlop
It’s time for Canadians to get out of the perpetual government waiting room of a cooler housing market and take matters into their own hands -- and here’s one way to do just that.
We’ve just about heard it all when it comes to how to cool down the housing market. Increase supply to decrease demand, complicate the transaction process for international buyers, create legislation to fix things once and for all –- the list goes on.
While COVID-19 and a widespread reluctance to engage with the market in early 2020 seemed to temper things a bit, we’re still in the midst of a blazing hot real estate market that became a main point of discussion during this year’s federal election. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was grilled on why we have yet to make housing affordable for the majority of Canadians and what his (and all candidates’) plan was to handle this moving forward.
Conflicting views continue to dominate this conversation.
With this, we saw the Liberals propose a Home Buyers' Bill of Rights, which promised to make the home buying process 'fair, open, and transparent.' Included within this announcement was a mention of 'establishing a legal right to a home inspection to make sure that buyers have the peace of mind that their investment is sound.' Most may have glossed over this insertion looking for some of the more seemingly impactful inclusions, similar to the way most buyers and sellers gloss over the home inspection process during a transaction. This is a mistake.
As multiple offers are being submitted within hours of listing and real estate agents usually allowing offers to come in over a few days becoming the norm, home inspections may have slid off the priority list for some buyers.
Foregoing a thorough inspection before putting in your offer can make it more appealing to the seller, and in today's market, it may be your only chance at buying a home.
Knowing this, buyers have decided to move ahead without an inspection, which in many cases, has cost them tens of thousands of dollars. At Carson Dunlop, one of the longest-standing home inspection companies in the country, home inspectors have discovered chronic wet basements, mould in attics, structural problems, and unsafe wiring in properties of those who initially chose to waive an inspection.
For sellers, a slowdown in home inspections has meant that lofty listing prices may be under less scrutiny, an understandable conclusion. However, what many sellers don’t realize is that offering a pre-listing inspection report attracts more confident buyers, while also reducing their liability for undisclosed issues that are discovered post-purchase. We’ve seen sellers eagerly sign all paperwork and close, only to discover that their roof and basement had issues that even they were unaware of. Suddenly, what could have cost $500 to detect and disclose now costs thousands in costly post-sale litigation and negotiation.
For both buyers and sellers, a thorough home inspection, with an adequate time of 2.5 hours typically, ensures trust and genuine transparency as it provides an understanding of what exactly is being purchased and sold.
As a leader in the home inspection profession for the past 43 years, Carson Dunlop has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the inspection process. During a time when Canadians are already paying unprecedented prices for a house, a home inspection is one simple, low-cost tactic performed by an unbiased expert that will save them money during the process (along with potential legal headaches).
Unlike most strategies put forward, this is something that we can do ourselves. While buyers cannot make sellers complete pre-listing inspections, post-purchase inspections can help to learn how to operate your house and what improvements are necessary, understand the cost and the timelines for repairs, and ultimately protect your investment, maximizing the safety, performance, efficiency, comfort, and durability of your home for generations to come.
With a Liberal win, we are once again in the perpetual government waiting room, hoping for some semblance of a housing market strategy – such as this Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights. Until then, we must take matters into our own hands and do what we can ourselves to make for a more fair and cost-effective transaction process. The home inspection is one of the easiest and most beneficial ways to do so. With the prices of homes across the country continuing to rise year-over-year, it seems like sheer negligence to do anything else.
Push for the inspection. Increase transparency in your purchase or sale. Slow the market down by even just a few moments, and we’ll all be better for it.