We dodged a bullet there, right folks?
Or, am I wrong? Do some of you out there want all properties listed for sale in the province of Ontario to have a forced energy audit before they can be listed?
This might be a new topic for some of you, so let me explain the program, trace back the roots, and then show you the final(?) nail in the coffin…
Is now a bad time to share a great column by the legendary Rex Muphy?
In Tuesday’s National Post was this beauty:
For those who are too busy to click on the link, here’s Rex’s intro:
The question is: Who has authority to decide Canadian energy policy?
Governments or Green-machine protesters?
That is the question: Which bunch will it be, Canada’s parliaments, or those who self-appoint as the green guardians of whatever place on Earth — usually in Canada — they choose to exercise their very particular kind of media-and-protest-pressure politics? Will it be government? Or Green end-of-days monomaniacs? We had an answer on Sunday when Kinder Morgan announced that the relentless harassment of its proposed pipeline has moved to the company to the very edge of outright cancellation.
And it wasn’t government.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline project is very likely going the way of Energy East, Northern Gateway and Petronas. Jobs by the tens of thousands, energy security and support to the whole Canadian economy have been turned to dust due to the righteousness and fervour of one-issue fanatics. Up till Sunday, the Trudeau government’s preferred role was to sit mute and complacent as an indifferent spectator to the concerted attacks on the Canadian energy industry, while vaingloriously proclaiming its “global leadership” on the global-warming file.
I love Rex Murphy, unapologetically.
In a very strange time in society, where everything that everybody says is offensive, Rex continues to say whatever he wants, and I respect that about him.
I don’t know enough about the Trans Mountain pipeline, so I won’t comment.
But I do know that when a dozen vegans decide that it isn’t okay for the other 7 Billion people on the planet to eat meat, and they decide to protest outside an entrepreneur’s restaurant that employs thirty people, they, what? – expect that the dozen of them and their opinions should be adopted by the rest of the world?
It’s such an awkward time in society, and I have no idea where this is all going.
In any event, the “proper” way to slaughter a deer wasn’t the point of today’s blog, nor was the potential cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
It was, rather, the “Home Energy Rating & Disclosure Program,” that was going to be tied to property listings, but not, it would seem, is not.
I never thought it should be tied to property listings, for what it’s worth.
But then again, I have a deep mistrust of the Provincial government after what’s gone on during the last fifteen years, so when they propose essentially any new program, my spidey-sense starts tingling.
I wrote about this back in 2016, and to my surprise, I think a small majority of readers supported the HER&D Program, essentially coming to the conclusion that “More information is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
I felt like, after that 2016 blog post, that I stood corrected.
Here’s the 2016 post, in case you’re curious: Home Energy Rating Disclosure Program: Yay Or Nay?
I looked back at the comments, and this one still makes me laugh, two years later:
So what happened with the HER&D Program?
Why will it no longer be tied to property listings, as was the plan?
Well, if you ask the Ontario Real Estate Association, it’s because of them.
Here’s an email I received, along with the other 70,000 Realtors in Ontario:
We did It!
We have successfully fought back against the Home Energy Rating and Disclosure (HER&D) program.
Since 2016, OREA has been fighting to stop HER&D.
If implemented, HER&D would require a home seller to conduct an energy audit before listing their home. The program put home owners of older homes, like seniors, at a huge disadvantage. Receiving a low energy score on an older home could cost an owner thousands of dollars in hard-earned equity.
The program also unfairly forced REALTORS® to post the energy score on the MLS® listing. There are other methods for selling a home, and yet only the MLS® was targeted.
After a lot of hard work from your government relations team led by Chair John Oddi, we have successfully fought back against this proposal!
This week, we got a letter from the government which stated, “The province has decided not to proceed with the implementation of a HER&D program at this time.” This means that the province has listened to OREA and put the brakes on HER&D.
While this is another big win for REALTORS®, this issue has been a wakeup call. Governments at all levels are struggling to address issues relating to climate change and the housing sector is being asked to play a part in that work.
We must be thoughtful and propose alternatives to programs like HER&D, or we will be steam rolled by them.
We will continue to provide you with updates if this issue progresses.
To get involved with more issues like this, that matter to your business and Ontario home owners, visit www.ontariorealtorparty.com and sign up to the Ontario REALTOR Party. When you want a government to make the right choice for your business, there’s nothing like strength in numbers.
2018 OREA President
A wee bit much, no?
A little too much gloating, back-patting, and self-congratulations?
Yeah, it’s not my cup of tea either.
It’s way too political, and there’s too much rhetoric. The original “letter” from OREA to the Ontario Ministry of Energy from back in 2015 was a bit too grandiose for my liking as well. You can read that HERE if you’re interested.
That letter was 28-pages long, and not to sound a bit too Jerry Maguire here, but they had me at “hello.”
“Don’t force home energy audits – encourage them.”
That’s what was written on the first page of the letter, and I whole-heartedly agree.
Another reader on my 2016 blog post commented:
“In a hot, sellers’ market like Toronto currently, there will be certain energy audit firms who will become known in the market for doing slap-dash audits for cheap prices. And what is the buyer going to do — complain? However, I disagree that the solution to this is more regulation of home energy audits. So long as it remains a sellers’ market, cheap useless energy audits will now be the price of listing a home. When the market is more balanced — or if and when buyers really feel an energy audit would be useful — then quality energy audits will be used.”
And once again, I agree.
I’m not a fan of government (over?)regulation, and a “forced” energy audit, tied to the sale of a listing, doesn’t sit well with me. It never did.
But the idea of “more information” is something we can’t ignore would help consumers, and just as I continuously voice my objection to TREB and CREA’s archaic structure and set of self-serving rules, I think any information on a home’s energy rating can be a tremendous asset in this market.
When I list a home for sale, I always pay for a pre-inspection, and I use Carson Dunlop, who is a high-end, brand-name firm. There is one inspector that I know and trust, and who has a respected name in the industry. I make copies of that inspection and leave them on the dining room table of the house for sale, and I upload a copy of the inspection to the MLS listing online.
The more information that’s available, the better.
The more comfortable a buyer feels, the better job I’m doing for my seller.
So when it comes to the HER&D Program, I see the value, no question about it.
I just still don’t think they should be forced, and the idea that a property cannot be listed for sale in the Province of Ontario without the audit doesn’t sit well with me.
The idea of a “mandatory” energy audit has been around for some time.
The Green Energy Act, 2009, made the audit a potential reality.
“Ontario A Step Closer To Mandatory Energy Audits,” wrote noted real estate lawyer and columnist, Bob Aaron in October of 2009.
The details back then were a bit more loosey-goosey than they were when the idea gained some momentum in 2015.
From the column:
Section 3 of the new legislation is the only part of the law that has not yet received royal assent, but when it does it will give anyone who is making an offer to purchase a residential property the right to receive an energy audit from the seller. Regulations, which have yet to be released, will describe the type of information and reports the purchaser is entitled to receive.
The new law allows the government to establish rules setting out how energy audits will disclose the energy consumption and efficiency ratings for the house.
The Green Energy Act also states that, before accepting the offer, the seller must provide the prescribed information, reports or ratings to the buyer.
As we all know, the Provincial government eventually tidied all that up, and gave us the HER&D Program in 2015.
Objections spewed in through 2016 and into 2017, and I remember reading this article in the Financial Post last summer:
Here’s an excerpt from that article that seems oh-so similar to Rex Murphy’s tone in the first article:
Earlier this month a coalition of environmental advocacy groups headlined by the Pembina Institute released a set of 10 demands directed towards the federal and provincial governments regarding the construction industry. The group says these changes are necessary if Canada is to reach its overly-ambitious (some might say impossible) 2030 targets under the Paris climate change agreement.
While this energy policy manifesto covers many aspects of residential and commercial buildings, the item most likely to affect current homeowners is its call for “universal benchmarking and home energy labelling across the country.” In other words, mandatory energy audits. While new homes across Canada may feature “Energy Star” federal government certification or similar programs, this new proposal goes much, much further by making an energy audit a requirement for every house to be sold, including older dwellings.
Mandatory pre-sale energy audits are being promoted as a harmless bit of information for home buyers and sellers. “It’s just another way for a home to be valued,” Karen Tam Wu of the Pembina Institute told the Canadian Press. That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another: This will become yet another time-consuming and costly requirement laid at the feet of harried home owners. Alongside all the other myriad legal, financial and practical issues that must be sorted out prior to listing a house, you may soon have to add the need to arrange a bothersome home energy audit to the list.
If governments follow up on this demand, the impact will be felt by everyone who owns a house. And with audits typically priced at $400 to $600, this is not an insignificant obligation (although rebates sometimes cover part of the cost). This burden will inevitably fall hardest on modest-income homeowners. Mandatory energy audits will also punish owners of older, less energy-efficient homes. If you own a heritage home today, be warned that your house will become harder to sell in the future, as disclosure of energy costs becomes yet another item to be obsessed over by prospective home buyers along with local schools, commuting routes and potential neighbours.
Okay, so clearly this is an opinion-piece, made obvious with the words “demands” and “manifesto.”
And I believe that if I looked hard enough, I could find another dozen articles that fall into the “nay” column, and a dozen that shout “yay.”
So let me open up the floor here, folks.
When I wrote about this in 2016, it seemed a lot of people were in favour of the mandatory home energy audits. Do you still feel the same way?
Or would you say that you love the idea, but you don’t feel it should be mandatory?
Or do you make a special trip to Nova Scotia each and every year just to dump all your plastic water bottles in the sea?
Have your say…