Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Home Buyers' Conditional Offer Law

This is a letter I sent to Michael Bryant, Ontario MPP today:


Hello Mr. Bryant,

I’m a member of your riding, St. Paul’s.

For the past two months, my wife and I have been searching for our first home. We are very determined to stay within the city of Toronto for our home to avoid a lengthy commute and enjoy the benefits of the city.

That being said, competition for houses in Toronto is furious. We have already made three offers that have not been accepted. On all three offers, we had a minimum of a home inspection and financing conditions. All of the offers that were accepted over ours were ‘firm’ offers, i.e., with no conditions.

We feel that home inspection and financing conditions are very important to us, as they provide basic protections to the largest purchase we will ever make. But we are not at the point where we have to consider dropping all of our conditions in order to obtain a home.

I’m writing to you because I think there should be a law requiring that all home offers must contain a home inspection and financing condition. Market forces should not be forcing consumers to lose their basic protections, which I believe those two are.

There are many examples of laws which correct unwanted market forces, like the minimum wage law, price gouging laws, and anti-monopoly laws. I believe that this law should be one of them.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.


Tom Robertson


I'm probably just burning from our last loss of a house, but we were really so close and our financing condition, which we were very reluctant to drop, was the only thing that lost us the house. Very frustrating. I still see this as a pretty good idea for a law though. It's a basic consumer protection law, isn't it?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Emergency Traffic Direction

Braving my way to work this morning after last night's blizzard I noticed that many of the traffic lights were not functioning. Surprisingly, Toronto's otherwise aggressive drivers were handling it quite well - treating it like a four way stop as per the traffic laws in these situations.

But it still reminded me of the power outage of 2002 when several volunteers stepped up to direct traffic. Keeping traffic moving and under control is really important in a crisis like that and I think it helped keep a sense of calm and order for those 24 hours.

Obviously, the police discouraged these traffic volunteers, as they had no real training or authority to do it and could be making things worse. It's a valid point, but there's obviously a need for those kinds of services that the police didn't fill, not to mention a general interest from some sections of the public to volunteer for it.

So that made me think, instead of discouraging people from directing traffic during crises, why not go the opposite route, and train volunteers before a crisis, and issue them a license? They could be given special vests or something to wear, and have the understanding that they'll only direct traffic when called upon the city to do so. They could then be assigned the most important or gridlocked streets to help out in. Sure, they're not being paid, but neither were they when they were volunteered before. I'm sure the kinds of people who volunteered would love being treated like heroes and given semi-official status.