Ontario’s Plan for Mandatory Energy Audits

OREA_Logo_full_colour_HIGH_RESIt is kind the case of one hand giving and the other hand taking away. The federal budget this year gave a tax break to home buyers by giving them a tax credit for some of the closing costs when buying a home.  And the provincial government is considering implementing a mandatory home energy audit for sellers before they can complete the sale of their home.

The Ontario Real Estate Association says this:

“This mandatory government regulation will impose a significant cost on home sellers. As with most Canadians, we don’t believe in green at any cost,” said Gerry Weir, President of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “It’s not the initial cost of these audits that concerns us,” he said. “Rather, the results of these audits will be used by home buyers as bargaining chips to significantly reduce the final selling price.

“Today’s economic downturn is a terrible time to introduce this measure. Home sellers are already worried about lost equity in their homes. A move like this, which will reduce their value even further, will not help them in any way,” Mr. Weir said.

REALTORS® favour government encouragement of energy efficiency in homes through expanded tax breaks and other measures.

In addition, REALTORS® point out that there is no one standard for energy audits. Different firms arrive at different assessments of the same house. “EnerGuide ratings of an existing home can and do vary between energy auditors, depending on the assumptions they make and the extent of data they collect on the building’s actual construction,” Mr. Weir said.

Not everyone is opposed to this government intrusion into the marketplace.  Elden Freeman, founder of the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers says, “considered over the long term of owning a house, the opportunities for improvements that audits can reveal ultimately pay for themselves several times over.  Take into account that both the audits can reveal ultimately pay for themselves several times over.  Take into account that both the audits and the improvements are both government-subsidized and it becomes clear that home audits are an opportunity for savings and asset enhancement.

The jury is still out on this new initiative.  Not sure it is a good idea, let your MPP know.  It is undergoing public consultations now before it is put to a final vote.