Real estate associations and groups have begun to release their data and analyses from 2013, and it’s evident that the Canadian real estate market is doing well, and that this trend is expected to continue. With home prices and sales up almost across the board, save for certain anomalous regions, many are throwing the notion of a “soft landing” out the window.
One of the areas that saw the most growth was the luxury home market. A recent article in Macleans, citing a document produced by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, reported that “luxury home sales in most of the country’s biggest cities rose higher than expected…Calgary saw the highest year-over-year sales growth, with a 33 per cent gain, followed by Vancouver with 19 per cent and Toronto with 13 per cent.”* In light of the dramatic increase 2013 saw in sales of luxury homes and the projection that this trend will continue we felt it was important to address what to expect from the Home Inspection when you’re buying a luxury property.
Luxury Homes Vs Residential Homes: What’s the Difference?
A property usually receives the designation of “luxury home” when it meets requirements related to:
- Listing price - luxury homes are typically at least a million and a half dollars
- Size - luxury homes are at least 4,000 square feet
- Features - luxury homes may have any number of amenities including pools, spas, or wine cellars (to name just a few)
Your average residential home, especially one that is located in an urban area, does not meet these requirements. It may hit the million dollar asking price, but that is usually due to location; for the most part these homes definitely do not possess comparable square-footage or amenities. The difference in these types of properties equates to a difference in the type of Home Inspection they need.
What to Expect From the Home Inspection
A Home Inspection isn’t an invasive or destructive exercise; it’s a purely visual investigation of a property at a specific point in time. It is intended to identify components of the home that are significantly deficient, unsafe, or near the end of their life. The inspector will provide a general overview of the home, focusing on performance rather than cosmetic, code, or design issues.
In a recent Toronto Star article, columnist Mark Weisleder suggested that Home Inspections may require what he calls a “team approach”. He argues that homebuyers should consider the different systems their home may have, such as well and septic, chimney, and HVAC. Weisleder believes there is a benefit to having these areas inspected by a specialist in addition to the Home Inspector, claiming that “when you are about to make one of the largest purchase decisions in your life, it is important to have as much information that you need in advance. A Home Inspection team may supply the answer.”**
Though Weisleder penned this article because “when you now consider that the average price for homes in the GTA is now over $500,000, and with a majority of homes being over 20 years old, it may be time to take a…team approach when it comes to inspecting a home prior to any purchase decision,”** we feel the idea of using a team speaks more to the way luxury properties should be inspected. That is not to say a “team approach” isn’t valuable with the average home, but that it is an absolute necessity for luxury homes.
Due to the sheer magnitude of these types of properties and the extent to which they are customized, the need for specialists to examine them in conjunction with the Home Inspector increases. Weisleder notes the fireplace "should be inspected by a qualified wood energy technology transfer professional once a year” and that “homeowners should have their furnaces and HVAC systems checked once each year.”** Most luxury homes have multiple fireplaces and furnaces – as well as many more extravagant features which also require regular inspection. For example, a pool should be inspected twice a season (upon opening and closing). The complexity of these types of homes calls for a more complex Home Inspection, one that includes a “team approach”.
How Do You Achieve a “Team Approach” to Home Inspection?
The Carson Dunlop Specialty Services program provides clients and real estate partners with fast, easy, and cost-effective access to qualified specialists, so they can conveniently arrange for a Home Inspection and additional property assessments with a single phone call. Specialty services can be added before, during, or after the inspection. Carson Dunlop client care representatives will manage the booking, coordination, and payments of any of the inspections you require.
While we feel that a “team approach” to the Home Inspection is necessary when purchasing a luxury property, it is also beneficial when buying a smaller-scale home, especially when it has unique features, like well and septic system or wood burning stove and fireplace. To discuss the complete list of Specialty Services we offer, and what would be valuable for your home, please email us or call 800-268-7070.