Ontario Announces Funding to help home owners improve home energy efficiency

Today, the Government of Ontario announced the creation of a new program to help Ontarians improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The province is investing $100 million from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to provide rebates for home owners who conduct an energy audit on their property and then complete retrofits recommended by the auditor.

Ontario REALTORS® have been strong proponents of voluntary initiatives that incentivize home owners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Most recently, OREA made new rebates a central recommendation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs during the committee’s pre-budget consultations. OREA’s two pronged recommendation also included inserting an energy audit into a standard, voluntary home inspection.

Ontario REALTORS® applaud this great initiative that will help Ontarians reduce their home’s greenhouse gas emissions, spur innovation and most importantly contribute to a greener, healthier environment.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of the Energy’s website.

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Ontario Announces Funding to help home owners improve home energy efficiency

Ontarians Optimistic About 2014 Real Estate Market and Economy

Ontarians seem hopeful about the provincial real estate market, according to new research conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). A third of Ontarians say the market will strengthen rather than weaken (21%) in 2014. Looking even further ahead – ten-year’s time – significantly more Ontarians believe the Ontario real estate market will strengthen (50%) rather than worsen (20%), speaking to the long-term investment value of owning a home.

“The research comes on the heels of an optimistic forecast by the Canadian Real Estate Association,” says Sean Simpson, vice president, Ipsos Public Affairs. “Consumers seem to be echoing a similar sentiment for the 2014 real estate market. Prospective buyers and sellers in particular are also more likely to believe the overall economy is strong, which may be why they’re considering buying or selling their home in the next two years.”

Two in three (65%) Ontarians who are at least somewhat likely to buy a home in the next two years believe the economy is in good shape, compared to just 53% of Ontarians overall who think the economy is ‘good’. Six in ten (59%) Ontarians looking to sell in the next two years believe the economy is ‘good’.

The study, the first of its kind for OREA, examined public opinion in Ontario on a variety of matters pertaining to consumer sentiment of the Ontario real estate market. The findings include:

Six in ten (59%) Ontarians believe the current real estate market in Ontario is ‘favourable’. Two in ten (18%) Ontarians believe the market is ‘not favourable’.
Two thirds (67%) of homeowners believe the market is ‘favourable’, compared to 47% who currently don’t own a home. Ontarians who said they are somewhat likely to buy or sell a home in the next two years are even more likely to believe the market is favourable (70% and 77%, respectively).
Homeowners are more likely to believe the market has improved in the last year (31% stronger vs. 21% weaker), looking ahead to the next year (34% stronger vs. 16% weaker), and in the next ten years (55% stronger vs. 18% weaker). Prospective buyers and sellers are most optimistic with a majority saying the market will be stronger in the next year (54% and 50%).

Regional Survey Highlights

Residents in the 905 area of the GTA are most likely to say their market is favourable (71%), followed by those living in Toronto proper (61%), Eastern (58%), Southwestern (54%), Northern (47%) and Central (45%) Ontario.
When looking at local economies, the GTA (63%) and Eastern Ontario (54%) have the most positive outlooks, while Central (37%) and Northern Ontarians (42%) are most pessimistic.
GTA residents are most ‘likely’ to buy (16%) and sell (17%) a home in the next two years. Residents in Northern Ontario are least likely (4%) to buy a home in the next two years, while Central Ontarians are least likely to sell (5%) a home in the next two years.

Full Ipsos Reid factum

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Ontarians Optimistic About 2014 Real Estate Market and Economy

Discussion Reopens Around Mandatory Home Energy Audits

Earlier this week Mr. Phil McNeely, MPP for Ottawa Orléans, introduced a Private Members’ Notice of Motion that would require mandatory home energy audits of new and existing houses at the time-of sale.

Mandatory home energy audits first came up in the context of the Green Energy Act in 2009. At the time, REALTORS® expressed their opposition to the proposal, favouring instead the government’s Energy Audit Rebate Program that encouraged homeowners to voluntarily assess the energy efficiency of their home. Like many Ontarians, REALTORS® would like to see greener and healthier communities, and we understand that energy efficiency and conservation plays a role in the legacy we leave for future generations. However, Ontario REALTORS® maintain mandatory home energy audits produce many unintended consequences that disproportionately affect home owners, and make homeownership seem less attainable.

For instance, when faced with less than ideal energy ratings on their home, home owners may face pressure to make costly retrofits or lower their listing price. Many Ontarians simply cannot afford to make these improvements and many Ontarians, especially seniors, simply cannot afford to lose their hard earned equity.

Proponents of mandatory, time-of-sale, home energy audits argue that they are an important piece of information that every home buyer has a right to receive. What proponents will not tell you, however, is that home buyers already have access to home energy information in the form of utility bills. Utility bills give home buyers a much more understandable (dollars and cents) explanation of the energy efficiency of a home. This information is vital not only to informing their buying decision but also in informing whether or not they can afford the property.

Ontario REALTORS® would point to the development of the home inspection industry as an example of how a voluntary service provided during the course of a real estate transaction has become widely accepted by consumers. We are confident that as energy prices increase and the energy auditing industry matures, more consumers will voluntarily use the services of an energy auditor.

We understand the principal of MPP McNeely’s private members bill; however, we respectfully disagree that an audit alone will incentivize homeowners to improve their energy efficiency. OREA feels that homeowners need added incentives to make investments in energy efficient retrofits, such as the former Energy Audit Rebate Program.

While we cannot support the proposed motion, Ontario REALTORS® are eager to work with the Mr. McNeely and the government to find other ways of promoting voluntary initiatives that encourage home energy conservation.

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Discussion Reopens Around Mandatory Home Energy Audits