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B.C. government prepares to impose real estate cooling-off period

Bidding wars don’t allow inspection, financing consideration
B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks to the legislature, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)

The B.C. government is moving ahead with its promise to impose a cooling-off period on real estate sales, to give people time to get home inspections and consider their financing before making a deal in a bidding war for scarce homes.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson tabled amendments in the B.C. legislature Monday to impose what she calls a “homebuyer protection period,” but it will be some months before buyers and sellers know how long it will be. The target for regulations that would set the cooling-off period and other terms is expected by some time this summer, after the newly created B.C. Financial Services Authority consults with realtors, home inspectors appraisers and legal and financial representatives.

Robinson, who announced the cooling-off change in early November, emphasized the need for home inspections, which were among the first casualties of multiple-bid home sales that have intensified in the past two years.

“In our overheated housing market, we have seen buyers feeling pressure to waive conditions just to be considered, and new homeowners discovering costly problems only after a deal has closed,” Robinson said March 28. “We want to make sure people buying a home have time to get the information they need to make a sound decision within limits that still give sellers the certainty they need to close sales.”

Helene Barton, executive director of the Home Inspectors Association of B.C., said the previous hot real estate market in 2016 resulted in many disappointed buyers who found significant problems with homes after they closed the deal, in some cases having to move back out shortly after moving in to make repairs.

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