Last year, in our first post of its kind, we looked forward to see what 2019 would bring?
We made a few predictions last year, and looking back, it appears we got some right, and some wrong. We predicted that too!
So what did we get right?
- We predicted that Licensing would proceed on a slow track to completion.
Well, slow was the operative word. What we’ve managed to do is have three ministers at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The first one, Todd Smith, lasted all of 5 months, before being replaced by Bill Walker. Mr Walker was himself replaced after 7 months by Lisa Thomson. On each transition, as we did with the Liberal Ministers before them, we reached out to each new minister to pledge our support toward Home Inspector regulation. Unlike each of the Liberal Ministers, communcation from the P.C. Ministers has been deafeningly silent. We managed to get a meeting with Bill Walker 3 weeks before his replacement, but sadly nothing from his pre-decessor nor the current Minister. While changes to other consumer facing regulations, such as the Ontario New Home Warranty Program and Real-Estate Business and Borkers Act have had some movement, the Home Inspection Act, 2017 has sat dormant on the sidelines, allowing for a number of loopholes in the other consumer protection regulations to go unaddressed. We will continue our efforts to reach out to the Ministry in 2020 to try to move the regulation process forward. Currently we believe we are the ONLY Association that is supportive of this regulation.
- We predicited a loss of between 15% and 25% of practicing Home Inspectors in Ontario.
While this prediction was based upon the regulation process, it unfortunately looks as though we were pretty accurate with this prediction. The Home Inpspection profession in Ontario lost around 18% of its practicing members in 2019, most of them seasoned professionals. The reasoning cited by those we spoke to was the policy of many Realtors dissuading clients from having home inspections, the use of limited scope inspections for lisitng marketing, the increasing costs of providing a professional service and the cut price, unregulated inspectors in the market.
- We predicted that membership in the Home Inspection Professional Associations would be challenged in 2019 and the folding of at least two nationally focussed Canadian Home Inspection Associations in 2019.
Well we got this two-thirds right. All Ontario provincial associations saw a reduction in real membership in 2019 with a reduction of between 10% and 25% membership from each association. We also saw the impending dissolution of the Canadian Association, the Professional Home and Property Inspectors of Canada as it is to be merged with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors. PHPIC will close officially in June of 2020.
- We predicted Home Inspectors would be seriously financially challenged in 2019.
While we’ve heard of a few success stories from a number of our members, the vast majority of Inspectors have seen increases in costs and lowering of income from Home Inspections. Insurance premiums have gone up, with the introduction, by Hub International, of a cross-the-board minimum of $1m/$1m coverage. We are still perplexed as to why this was forced on Inspectors when we know that most lawsuits against inspectors are proved to be frivolous and when negligence is found, the costs of the cases, including defence costs, are normally less than $150,000. We have written to Insurers and the Insurance regulators to ascertain why we cannot obtain, as a group, the loss-run on our industry, which would show, one way or another, whether these increases and mandatory minimums were justified.
- We predicted that Drone regulations would prevent Home Inspectors (and Realtors) from using drones for aerial services for Real Estate Transactions.
Well, once again we nailed part of it. Drone regulations were implemented, which makes it illegal to fly a drones without proper training, licensing and authorisation. It appears from Realtor listings and some Home Inspector facebook pages, this hasn’t prevented either home Inspectors or Realtors from using drones for marketing purposes. We STRONGLY advise Home Inspectors who do not have the proper authorisation to fly a drone in urban areas and/or near airdromes to stop. Conviction under these regulations is a Federal Offence, and carries strong penalties.
- We predicted OntarioACHI would have mork work in conjunction with the regulators in 2019.
Our work with Transport-Canada on the Drone regulations, with TARION on the PDI and Warranty consultancy services and our efforts to get RECO to understand the nature of the Home Inspection Standard with respect to Realtor marketing has been proof of the efforts here.
What do we see for 2020?
It’s been a long-time coming but at long last we can say that we have a 2020 Vision!
Going forward, we see the Home Inspection Profession in Ontario evolving. As an association we will continue to work towards the most stringent self-regulatory actions, but we will add to that a means to encourage support for newer inspectors and a mentoring program that ensures consumers cna rely on the fact that any inspector certified by OntarioACHI either is already a fully qualified professional, or is being mentored by one.
We see more consolidation in the home Inspection profession with respect to Canadian Associations, either at the Provincial level or at the National Level. With money getting tighter for all Inspectors, sensibel decisions need to be made as to where to spend there dues. Will it be on mulptiple association membership, or will they start to select only those associations that work in the jurisdictions of the Inspector?
We think that Nationally in Canada, CAHPI will gain more strength because of their National outreach. Here in Ontario, OntarioACHI will continue to grow because of the work we continue to perform that helps Ontario inspectors specifically, both in promotinng our high professional standards, but in the way we help Inspectors to increase their earning potential.
As for regulation, our past experience has shown us to be cautious. Anyone who understands what a Professional Home Inspector can actually do for the consumer will recognise that in order to truly protect the consumers in Ontario who are thinking of purcahsing property, the Home Inspection Act, 2017, an all-party supported act at the time of assent, is the best way forward.
Proclamation of the Home Inspection Act, and the completion of the regulatory framework allows the other regulators, such as TARION and RECO to work with our profession in an official capacity. This will allow them to close the loopholes in their respective regulations that leave the doors open to nefarious operators in the Construction and Realty industries who would take advantage of the loopholes for their own benefit.
At the same time it offers strength to the profession when dealing with Insurers and other professions who see us as an easy target for their benefit. We still believe in last years prediuctions of probable cost of licensing, and the level of cull in the market of Inspectors who won’t make the initial cut, but that will work in the best interests of the Consumers and the Profession in the long-run.
Another prediction we have is in the expansion of the Home Inspectors portfolios. While concentrating on the regulation process and ensuring Home Inspectors within and applying for the Canadian-Certified Home Inspector certifcation are the best in the profession, we will also be looking at ways to take advantage of the new opportunities looming on the horizon, such as net-zero home requirements and other earning potential for our members.
We will continue in 2020 and beyond to work with the regulators to ensure Professional Home Inspectors in Ontario are respected, and in turn respect the consumers the serve. In addition we have projects that will require us to work within Ontario with the Minstry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and of course the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. We will continue to work with TARION and RECO as well as keep in contact with the CMRAO in our efforts to ensure regulation of the Home Inspection Profession in Ontario proceeds with all haste, but with care also.
We will also continue to work with CAHPI at the National level to ensure that any National focus for our profession is circulated to other Provincial groups and agencies.
If the past has taught us anything, this coming year is going to be challenging, but for those who are prepared to invest in their future and the future of the Professon, it’s going to be a fun ride.
The Board of OntarioACHI wish you all a very merry Christmans and a Happy, Safe, Health and Prosperous 2020.