Ottawa home inspectors burnt by hot housing market
Some people forgo home inspections to break into frenzied housing market
Some Ottawa home inspectors have been hit hard by a serious loss of work in the hot housing market as many people submit offers on properties without conditions, including inspections.
Mike White, who owns HomePro Inspections, has been inspecting residential properties for the past 16 years, but said recently his business has been sliced in half.
"It's tough, the problem with it is the unpredictability. You don't know what you're going to have week to week," White said.
Canada's housing market has seen its busiest year ever in 2021, according to a recent report by the Canadian Real Estate Association, which also said average selling prices climbed to new highs.
Unfortunately for White and other home inspectors in Ottawa, that boom has led to a bust for their business.
White said things started going downhill in the middle of 2019 and dropped further by early 2020.
Home inspectors leaving the business
"I have heard of several people who have retired early, probably because business has dropped off and expenses have gone up," he said.
Peter Weeks, president of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI), said home inspectors across the country are feeling the pinch.
Weeks, who has been in the business 20 years and also inspects homes in Ottawa, said about almost one-third of new home inspectors who applied for a membership with CAHPI this year ended up leaving the profession.
"To be honest, I was even debating it myself because my numbers were down and you have to make a living," Weeks said.
He remains confident things are turning around, and encourages those looking to get into the profession to continue their education.
"In the Ottawa area in particular I would say it's becoming more of a balanced market ... there are offers coming in with [the] condition of financing, with the condition of inspection," Weeks said.
Insurance rates going up
Weeks estimates inspections are being done on one in every four properties sold nationally, but he said that percentage is much better than it was even six months ago.
Len Inkster, executive secretary of the Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors, said the rising cost of insurance presents another challenge for home inspectors.
That problem has plagued small businesses across the province, and Inkster said home inspectors are no exception.
"The only thing that can do is push prices up and if they push prices up, [inspectors] get less work and it's a sort of downward spiral," he said.
Meanwhile, White said he plans to continue hanging on to his profession, a career that has become a bit like riding a roller coaster.
"Right now I've got the next three or four days completely solid booked, and I don't know if that's going to continue or if the next week it's going to disappear again ... it's really unpredictable," he said.