Real Estate – Should Home Buyers Consider Energy Efficiency?

A home, or domicilium, is a place used as a private or semi-private residential space, usually for an adult, member of a family or group. It may also be a fully or semi-enclosed room and often will have both exterior and interior parts to it. Although the majority of homes will fall into one of these categories, there are homes that fit into more than one category. In fact, almost every single type of building can be considered a domicilium, though there are those few exceptions.

For new home buyers, the process of choosing the right home can be a trying experience. There are so many different kinds of houses, new ones to old ones, looking at them side by side can be overwhelming. In addition to the size, floor plan, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and other features, there are also the price, financing options, material (such as hardwood, brick or tile) used, style and color of the home itself. This article offers some helpful information that will help new home buyers as they begin their search for a new home.

One of the most important things that home buyers should consider when looking for a home is energy efficiency. Home buyers are encouraged to research the average energy usage rates for various house sizes. They should not simply choose a house that fits their needs, but instead should take the time to compare prices and options to find the home that has the lowest energy costs. Some suggestions include choosing a house with “green” features such as solar panels or other energy efficient appliances, choosing a larger house if at all possible, researching floor plans to see how much square footage can be covered with the various appliances and features, and selecting a location in an area with the most sunlight during the day.

Another way to save money is to hire an Energy Star home appraiser to get an assessment of what a house could potentially cost in the future. In the Miami Metro Area, most appraisers take into consideration the expected energy consumption of a family, as well as factors related to the location of the home such as proximity to the hot water tank, electric meter, etc. The appraisal, therefore, provides a fair idea of what the house would cost to run over its life, or in other words, the amount of energy it will use up at the end of its useful life. In the Miami Metro, most appraisers require an estimated number of years for which a house can be lived without consuming more energy than is needed. An interesting note from Jackie Huston, who works in the Miami Beach real estate market, regarding the future of energy-efficient appliances: “The best appraisal values will be higher in the future, because of the trend toward energy-efficient appliances, because people will want them and demand them. In the past, people didn’t care about energy efficiency; they just wanted a house with the biggest kitchen and the latest in appliances.”

According to Jackie huston, who does home assessments and home improvements in the Miami Metro area, the major factors that affect an appraisal value are things beyond the current owner’s control such as climate, location, exterior, and size. However, she said that the biggest factor affecting the future of home prices is the homeowners’ ability to pay for home improvements. “We’re already seeing it impact home values across the board; we’re also seeing it impacting new home buyers. We’ve had buyers that qualify for incentive incentives (in Florida, there are many), but they also have buyers that really can’t afford the upgrades in energy efficiency and home value,” she said. With the recent announcement by the FHA that it will subsidize up to half the cost of home repairs, and the federal loans now available, she expects the “pay to play” scenario for contractors will prevail.