Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More on Ontario's "Green Energy Act"

Local MPP Jim Wilson and the Conservatives continue to vigorously oppose the Liberal's proposed Green Energy Act known as Bill 150. The following is the latest excerpt from MPP Wilson's office:
"As I wrote previously, if Bill 150 passes, it will drive energy costs up by shifting the risk of cost overruns and scheduling delays in the energy sector from private developers on to taxpayers. It also eliminates the last remnants of a competitive marketplace by allowing private developers to build anything, anywhere, anytime, at any price. When I was Energy Minister, our Progressive Conservative Government said "never again" to that approach. Those who remember Darlington or the $38 billion in accumulated debt from the old Ontario Hydro know why. Unfortunately, it appears as though Mr. McGuinty's Liberal government is now saying "one more time!"But the most controversial aspect of the Bill that directly impacts every homeowner is the requirement in Bill 150 for every home sold to undergo an energy audit. It will cost about $300 and will consider everything from your shower head to your furnace. If one isn't up to snuff, be prepared to fix it. The average cost of repairs? Based on past examples it's going to cost thousands and thousands of dollars.
Gary Weir of the Ontario Real Estate Association noted "the results of these audits will be used by home buyers as bargaining chips to significantly reduce the final selling price". This could be particularly worrying for seniors relying on the equity in their home for retirement. Same for first time home buyers who will now need more money to buy their first resale home."
I have not read the Bill in it's entirety but certainly intend to. I do not however agree with the stand taken by my own provincial real estate association (OREA) on the matter of "...these audits will be used by home buyers as bargaining chips to significantly reduce the final selling price".
The onus to correctly establish the price on a home whether it be as the listing agent for the seller or if we are prepring an offer to purchase while representing a buyer falls to those of us in the real estate profession. We as licensed and knowledgaeble REALTORS® must price properties correctly to both market conditions as well as the condition of the property inquestion. As a Market Value Appraiser (MVA) I look for characteristics in a property which will help establish a fair market value for a property. If I have done so correctly and accounted for such "Green Energy" difficiencies as old windows, an out-dated furnace etc. then hiow much of a "bargaining chip" can a buyer legitimately hold. Granted we are not energy auditors but it doesn't take a genius to recongnize a property that might me a high energy consumer. The stand taken by OREA suggest the old saying applies "let the buyer beware." That attitude not only ignores the growing need for us to reduce our energy consumption but exposes REALTORS® to legal actionfor not protecting the interest of our clients.
Strangely enough, Ontario REal Estate Association is embarking on a multi-million dollar expansion of their office in Toronto and are doing to to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards which I am sure is adding significantly to the cost. Would that not appear to contradict their own stand about home energy audits?
One last comment about the concern of MPP Wilson and the Conservatives about the impact to property owners re: the energy audit. In 1995 the then in power Provincial Conservatives passed into law a Bill which resulted in rental condominiums such as those at Blue Mountain reclassified from residential to commercial property tax status. As a result, a condo with a $3,000 annual tax bill saw that amount increase to approximately $7,800! The Conservatives were not too concerned about a homeowner's rights and costs then so are we now to believe they have seen the light? Somehow I for one am not buying it.
Green Energy Act, mandatory home energy audit or not, my mandate is to continue working diligently to ensure that my knowledge and skills as a REALTOR® are utilized to their full extent when pricing properties and representing my client's best interests. Politics simply doesn't enter into that process nor should it.

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.