British Columbia

Hot Vancouver real estate market needs post-bid 'cooling off' period, says association

The Home Inspectors Association of B.C. is calling for the province to implement a mandatory post-bid "cooling off period" so prospective homebuyers can get a property inspected before they purchase it.

Home Inspectors Association of B.C. says only 10% of homes are now inspected before purchase

New homeowner Kevin Girard says he paid just under $1 million for this house in East Vancouver that he bid on without a home inspection. He says the house was in such disrepair it took six weeks and $20,000 before he felt safe to move in. (CBC)

The Home Inspectors Association of B.C. is calling for the province to implement a mandatory post-bid "cooling off period" so prospective homebuyers can get a property inspected before they purchase it. 

The association says homebuyers are increasingly bypassing inspections to win bidding wars in the red-hot housing market in Metro Vancouver. 

"The market is so hot, if you put that subject in, you're not going to get a house," said Vince Burnett, president of the Home Inspectors Association of B.C.

Home Inspectors Association of B.C. president Vince Burnett says home inspections are down 75 per cent from last year. (CBC)

Burnett said he used to do about 350 home inspections a year, but now that number is dwindling. He said as few as 10 per cent of homes are now inspected before purchase — down more than 75 per cent from last year.

"The market has changed substantially over the last six months. People are scrambling to purchase homes because there's a shortage of them," he said. 

His organization is putting pressure on the provincial government to make policy changes.  

"We're trying to push the seven-day cooling off period, where a person has seven days to get a home inspection done, and if he decides that he can't afford the repairs, they can walk away," he said.

Burnett sent his concerns in a letter to Housing Minister Rich Coleman three weeks ago, but said there's been no response yet.

Home inspections a 'luxury'

Realtors in the province are also feeling the heat.

Sean Holden with RE/MAX Real Estate Services says up to 22 buyers are bidding on one house at a time in Metro Vancouver.

He said he warns his clients if a house needs work, but said asking for an inspection will probably mean they won't get the house of their dreams.

"There is just not the comfort anymore to have home inspections. We don't have the luxury with the demands of such competitive offers," he said.

$20K worth of repairs

It's a situation new homeowner Kevin Girard is all too familiar with. 

He recently bought a two-storey house in East Vancouver for almost $1 million that was in such bad condition he felt it was unsafe for his two-year-old daughter to live in.

Kevin Girard says his house was a disaster when he moved in, but during the bidding war to buy it, he couldn't afford to do a home inspection.

"There were holes in the wall, some of them had electrical in them. It was just a disaster — the kitchen was just a mess, there was garbage in the backyard, it was just disgusting," he said.

But Girard said there were so many bidders when he went to put in an offer that asking for an inspection was out of the question.

After he bought the house, he discovered a number of other issues he said had been covered up for the open house. 

"There were many areas where clearly someone had just tried to put lipstick on a pig, so to speak," he said.

For example, he said some of the drywall was soaked and full of mould and someone had just drywalled over it.

Girard said it took six weeks and $20,000 before he and his family were finally able to move in.

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