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Buyers Energized By Utility Costs

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Posted On: 11/01/2017

“We’ve found the perfect home! It has above-code attic insulation!”

You don’t hear that phrase, or anything like it, because we focus on more eye-catching features, like new kitchen cabinets.

But research shows that buyers pay more for energy efficient homes.

One study this year by the University of Texas (UT), for instance, found that homes sold between 2008 and 2016 in Houston with an energy-efficient certification sold for six percent to eight percent more that a comparable home without the certification.

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Many newer homes built after 2007 have a “LEED” certification, and some existing homes have been upgraded to achieve and “Energy Star” designation, and there are local energy efficiency certifications.

Today, “Buyers of all ages” are interested in energy efficiency, if not for environmental reasons, for energy cost savings, says Laura Stukel, of L.W.Reedy Real Estate, Elmhurst, Ill.

If a home has low utility bills, that increases affordability, making it “important information for a buyer,” says Pamela Brookstein, of non-profit Elevate Energy.

A couple of years ago, the Chicago multiple listing service (MLS), was upgraded to allow real estate agents to easily import costs directly from utility companies.

Since the 1980’s, a Chicago ordinance required buyers receive annual utility costs at closing.

“Now many agents put the costs right into the MLS,” Stukel says. Ironically, “Even if costs are high, I’ve seen it be a positive to buyers,” she adds. “That’s because they feel more confident about affordability.”

Even when the MLS doesn’t allow for agents to import costs from utility companies, agents say it’s advantageous to mention energy-efficiency, whether it’s a certain feature, like new windows, or if a home has earned an energy certification.

“It’s usually placed in the ‘public remarks’ because this is a section [of the MLS] that is generally uploaded” to other real estate website, says Raylene Lewis, agent with Century 21, College Station, Texas.

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