Mandatory Home Energy Scores are coming to Bend in July. As a Certified Residential Appraiser, Oregon Certified Home Energy Assessor, Owner of A Quality Measurement, and Earth Advantage Approved Trainer, I have witnessed the impact of the Home Energy Score on the real estate market in Portland. When the score was introduced, I was worried that it would hurt the value of older homes, like the one I live in, that were built before the implementation of higher codes. However, after our company has conducted over 4,000 Home Energy Scores and studied the market as an appraiser, I can confidently say that the market has not been significantly impacted and the score is doing good things.
Studies conducted across the country have shown that buyers are willing to pay more for homes that are more energy efficient. However, these studies mostly focus on new green homes, homes built better than code, or homes with solar. With existing homes, the challenge is to distinguish between condition and energy efficiency. If a home has a new furnace and new windows, it will likely sell for more and it will likely have a better Home Energy Score. However, we don’t know if the higher sales price was caused by the improved condition of the home and the buyer enjoying nice looking new windows and a furnace that can be more reliable or the energy savings. It’s likely the higher price is mostly due to condition of home and not the Home Energy Score, but it depends on the home and what type of buyers.
In Portland, the market has not changed measurably due to the score, and buyers are not using the recommended improvements to negotiate repairs or concessions in real estate contracts. This is because agents see negotiating Home Energy Score improvements as a nonstarter. Sellers who have homes with lower scores should not worry. Remember, the score recommends upgrades on mechanical systems only when they have reached the end of their serviceable life. The magic of the Home Energy Score happens after the home is sold.
After conducting over 4,000 scores, our company often gets calls from buyers who have recently purchased a home and are looking for advice on making some of the improvements recommended on the Home Energy Score report. These calls show that even without changing the real estate market, the scores are helping to start conversations that can foster changes in behavior that benefit the homeowner and the community.
If you want to live in a very energy-efficient home, you don’t need to buy a new home or even a certified energy-efficient home. It is easy to upgrade your home to use much less energy. I’ve used the Home Energy Score to upgrade my score from a 4 to a solid 10. During that time, my energy costs have gone down, even with adding consumption from charging two electric cars at home. Also, my home has become healthier and more comfortable as a side effect of the energy-efficient improvements.
The Bend Home Energy Score is not likely to kill the Bend real estate market, as it has not significantly impacted the market in Portland. Real estate agents should embrace the score, use it to be even more of a trusted advisor to their clients, educate their clients about how to use the score, and not worry too much if some clients don’t care about scores or if some homes get a low score. Buyers have a right to know the energy consumption information, just like buyers of cars have a right to know MPGs and buyers of food have a right to know nutrition. Remember a home is likely the most important purchase of a lifetime and there should be complete transparency.
If you have questions or concerns about the Home Energy Score please Contact Us, we enjoy talking about the score and are happy to give perspective from our experiences. Lucas Warren, Manager of A Quality Measurement Bend, has done over 1,200 scores personally and is by far the most experienced Home Energy Assessor in Central Oregon with a wealth of information to share. We are also happy to come to your office and provide free real estate agent CE. Just ask.