I have always been wary of the SPIS. It makes me uncomfortable for a number of reasons.I know I am not alone in my concerns and the use of the statement is a hotly debated issues in brokerage offices across the country. Some agents favour its use because it not only gives the buyer comprehensive information about the property, but also may give them security in being able to rely on the information contained therein.
From the buyer’s perspective, I would never rely on the SPIS solely, it is no replacement for a home inspection. The statement is based on the seller’s knowledge and understanding, who is likely not a professional and cannot give proper opinions with regard to the state of the property the way a qualified home inspector can.
From the seller’s perspective, I hesitate using the SPIS because it opens you up to a great deal of liability. You are asked to complete statements that you may not be qualified to answer. If you complete it to the best of your ability but you are incorrect as to the state of some aspect of the property, this could open you up to liability.
For the realtors, I caution against its use because it also opens up an entirely new avenue of liability for you. There has been a great deal of case law across the country regarding these types of statements, and in Ontario in particular where the seller and/or listing agent are held liable for representations made in the SPIS.
Bob Aaron wrote a comprehensive paper on this topic a few years ago. It is somewhat outdated as there has been more recent case law since then, but it is very useful as it highlights the dangers and pitfalls associated with using the SPIS. You can find it here: http://aaron.ca/columns/aaron%20SPIS%20paper.pdf