The “Nation’s Housing” by Ken Harney is an award winning housing and mortgage lending column that is published by the Washington Post and syndicated to scores of leading newspapers across the nation. The May 5, 2012 column, “Buyers Should Add an Energy Audit to Pre-Purchase Inspection” explores that potential that home energy ratings can have in the housing market and introduces the concept of homebuyers adding a home energy rating contingency clause in home purchase contracts.
The column finds that home energy ratings may be the best-kept secret in home real estate”. For a couple of hundred dollars, a potential buyer thinking about writing a contract on an existing house can ask for a formal energy audit along with the standard inspection clause. That audit, in turn, can save the buyer thousands of dollars in future operating costs, and pinpoint the specific features of the house that need correction to improve efficiency.” It asks the question of shouldn’t energy audit contingency clauses in purchase contracts be as commonplace as home inspection clauses?
It quoted Leland DiMeco, a Boston real estate professional, “Shoppers loved seeing the energy audit, the upgrades and the seller’s full disclosures.” Mr. DiMeco described a case where he convinced the seller of an 87-year-old New England colonial that had significant energy leakage and efficiency problems. The seller agreed to do a HERS rating, then spent money putting spray cellulose insulation in the attic, replacing the leakiest windows, upgrading interior lighting and replacing some low-efficiency appliances. The house sold six days after listing for $50,000 more than any nearby, energy-wasting comparables. According to Mr. DiMeco, doing the HERS audit “turned out to be a great marketing benefit for the sellers.”
Mr. Harney cautioned that realty agents who primarily list houses and represent sellers say buyers seldom ask for them. Nor do sellers, who prefer to avoid giving purchasers ammunition to make lower offers during negotiations or costly demands for repairs before closing.”
The column points to the growing infrastructure of certified RESNET auditors and raters along with RESNET agreements with two of the largest home inspection networks to begin offering lower-cost energy efficiency surveys and performance audits as add-ons to standard inspections.
It concludes, that “Once this becomes commonplace, there may be little need for separate contract contingencies for energy. Energy efficiency will just be part of the package.”
To view the column click on The Nation’s Housing