There are fewer moments more exciting than being handed the keys to your newly-purchased house – and perhaps none more horrifying than discovering water damage and mold in the basement after you’ve moved in.
Uncovering such nasty surprises can be extremely costly – especially when buying an older home – which is why using a home inspector is considered a must during the buying process. But what if that inspector gives you inaccurate or confusing advice – or isn’t as qualified as you thought? Believe it or not, inspectors are the only real estate professionals involved in your transaction who are not provincially regulated – a fact that may be lost on many a rookie home buyer.
But there’s good news for buyers seeking an accurate bill of health for their home; the government of Ontario has announced new home inspector regulations to be implemented this fall.
Minister of Government and Consumer Services Marie-France Lalonde revealed new rules this week that will standardize the training, qualification and performance of home inspectors in the province. An independent administrative authority will now oversee licensing for inspectors, and will improve how inspectors communicate and share information with buyers.
“Our government is committed to protecting consumers, which is why introducing this proposed legislation remains a top priority for my ministry,” stated Lalonde in a release. “If passed, this proposed legislation will help to build a stronger foundation for the industry and even better protect consumers throughout the home-buying process.”
Currently, British Columbia and Alberta are the only other provinces to regulate the home inspector industry.
Important Consumer Protection
Given 65% of homes sold in Ontario each year undergo an inspection, ensuring the pros are properly qualified and giving good advice to buyers is a crucial step in consumer protection – and one the industry is welcoming.
Murray Parish, RHI and president of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors, says that while they still have to review the specific legislation, he’s optimistic the changes will improve the training and accreditation for inspectors.
“The new regulations will allow the government to license the industry, and create a level playing field,” he says.
“I’m hoping that the panel recommendations will increase the minimum education required – that they’re at least competent to do an inspection.” He adds that OAHI has provided such training since 1994 – but that the onus is currently on professionals to receive it.
Ask the Right Questions
The new home inspector regulations will also be an important development for realtors, who work closely with inspectors and recommend their services to their clients – and such referrals are used at least 50% of the time, says Murray.
Savvy home buyers are wise to shop around when choosing a home inspector. Murray says he often receives phone calls from those searching for a pro. “I get people cold calling in looking for an inspector and they have very good questions – they’ll ask how long they’ve been in the trade, their level of accreditation, the risks involved,” he says.
New Rules Won’t Cool Hot Toronto Market
However, he doesn’t believe the new home inspector regulations will change things for the Toronto real estate market, where buying conditions are so blisteringly competitive that the home inspection condition is often dropped from bids altogether. “In regards to the hot market in Toronto, it’s not going to impact it at all – the buyer will still be the one making the decision to have a home inspection,” he says. “The inspection market has dropped off significantly. We are experiencing the same concerns as our fellow Inspectors in British Columbia.”
Have you ever worked with a home inspector when purchasing a home? Tell us about your experience in the comments!