The Energy Audit Ordnance is now in effect in Austin, meaning that the vast majority of Austin resale homes require a licensed energy auditor to check a home’s efficiency when it is sold. What are the results so far, and how is the process working?
The Statesman has an article reviewing the statistics from the first 310 home audits. There are no real surprises in the findings – Austin homes have leaky ducts.
The average duct air loss was 22% in the sample, which sounds pretty awful. It is – air loss wastes energy used to run air conditioners and costs money. It also means the commissioning of new power plants.
The mandatory energy audits are raising awareness of the leakyness of our older homes, but are people addressing the leaks?
Are Austin homesellers addressing energy inefficiencies as part of the negotiations?
It’s too early to say how buyers are reacting to the audits, and whether they are asking for repairs or allowances. There’s an argument that says if a home is too far from the norm (allbeit a very leaky duct norm) then a buyer may ask for certain fixes or compensation.
What can a smart seller do to get more money for their Austin home?
There are a few ways of getting top dollar for your home and using the energy audit to your advantage. The first is to treat it like an inspection. Homes that are preinspected and have had the major inspection findings address will net more money. There are a few reasons why – one is that the seller can choose who does the work if they aren’t under contract with a buyer. They can even do the work themselves.
In my opinion, the same applies to the energy audit. If you do an audit in advance of listing and address the findings, your buyer will know that they are buying a premium home.
Another way of netting more from your home sale is to make it exempt from the audit, and show that it is already a cut above the rest. That could be by doing some energy efficiency upgrades e.g.:
- Three energy efficient upgrades in the last ten years
- Receive over $500 in Austin Energy rebates
What buyer wouldn’t want to buy a home that was quantifiably more energy efficient than all the other homes for sale and save on their energy bills?
Who is paying for the energy audits in Austin?
Like all things in real estate, it’s negotiable. What I’m seeing so far, and the advice that I’m getting from the Austin Board of Realtors is that it’s a seller expense. It can be included on the sellers’ disclosure as part of the additional licensed inspection section. If the results are good, this can be a positive marketing piece.
Despite the uproar about the mandatory energy audits, the results may be worth the expense. If this means that home buyers can figure out how to save a significant portion of their utility bill wastage by using rebate programs from Austin Energy, then perhaps we’ll see some results in the next few years.