When you buying a new or previously-owned home, consider not only the price of the home, but also the operating costs of owning the home. Energy consumption comprises a large portion of home operating costs and a typical energy efficient home uses 20 – 30% less energy than a comparable standard home.

A study released in February of 2013 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says one of the most important qualities new home buyers want is an energy efficient home. They add, “Nine out of ten buyers would rather buy a home with energy efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2% to 3% less.”

The Federal Housing Authority’s (FHA) Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) credits a home’s energy efficiency in the mortgage itself. EEMs give borrowers the opportunity to finance cost-effective, energy-saving measures allowing borrowers to qualify for a larger loan amount and a better, more energy efficient home. EEM’s are available through FNMA (Fannie Mae), Freddie Mac, HUD and FHA.

Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs) are used to purchase existing homes that will have energy efficiency improvements made to them. EIMs allow borrowers to include the cost of energy efficiency improvements to an existing home in the mortgage without increasing the down payment.

Questions to Ask Yourself While Home Shopping:

  • How old is the HVAC system? If it’s older than 10 or 15 years, you might need to replace it soon.
  • How old are the refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine? If they’re more than 10 years old, they will probably need to be replaced soon.
  • Are the windows single or double paned? Better yet, are they energy efficient windows?
  • Do you feel a draft coming around the doors?

Need a real estate agent experienced in buying “green” homes?  Visit our Contractor Directory for a listing of real estate agents that are trained and certified to help homeowners buy and sell green homes.

Need a lender experienced in EEMs?  Visit our Contractor Directory to find a qualified lender.

Need an appraisal for your “green” home?  Homes with energy efficiency and renewable energy features necessitate specialized appraisals from qualified professionals.  When scheduling an appraisal for a green home, make sure to request an appraiser trained or certified on appraising green homes.  Visit our Contractor Directory for a listing of NC appraisers trained on energy efficient home valuation.

Is your MLS “green”?  Across the country, Multiple Listing Services (MLS) are being “greened” with energy efficiency and renewable energy fields.  What does that mean?  Homes with energy efficiency and renewable energy features can have them added to a home’s listing to provide visibility to the home’s increased value due to these features.  Greening the MLS involves regional organizations that operate MLS directories including these items in their listings, much as they would for nearby schools, pools or other desired features.

Want to learn more about greening your MLS?  Check out these resources:

Working with the DOE’s Better Buildings Home Energy Information Accelerator, the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) published a resource to educate MLS organizations about the growing number of Automated Energy Models (AEM’s). These models predict a home’s energy usage by using public data such as square footage, location, and heating and cooling systems. CMLS’s Green Sheet on AEM’s answers questions that MLSs likely have about these tools.