Tag Archives: energy efficient

What’s in a Name? Energy Efficiency in Real Estate

Energy-efficient real estate and housing is a top priority for consumers; buyers and builders just call it different things.

An energy-efficient home when buying or remodeling is a top priority for 50% of interviewed consumers, and thus home builders often cater to and strive to build those types of houses. But the consumer and the builder often use different terms to describe sustainable, green and environmentally friendly real estate.

environmentally friendly real estate

This infographic is from CAR.org.

Understanding Window-Efficiency Ratings

window

Quality windows will ensure that your home realizes great savings over time through increased energy efficiency. But understanding the ratings and terms for good quality, energy efficient windows can be a little daunting.

The first step is to know how to compare the efficiency of windows. The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has developed a nationally recognized rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows so that consumers can easily compare their window options. The other major label that you need to look for is the U.S. Department of Energy’s blue-and-yellow Energy Star label. This will tell you whether a product meets important standards.

Now that you know what ratings to look for, the next step is to understand what those ratings mean. There are two major traits that you need to observe:

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Going Green in Your Home

Green homes are all the rage and it got me thinking about the cost of not just building ‘green’, but of converting to green in our existing homes. Being able to list your house as a ‘green’ home must still be a novelty these days. One reason is that it can be expensive to switch to green, but there are reasonable contributions that the average family can easily make toward green living.

go greenOf course, people go green for different reasons; for some of them it is just a common sense solution to allergies suffered in the family. But why do other people choose to put themselves through this hassle. It is not money, we know that much; going green usually costs more, not less.

When you decorate the home, if you want to think green, use paint that has either no, or low, VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). Also if you plan on re-sealing sealing wood doors or floors etc, latex has no pollution factor to worry about.

If you decide to remodel, you will find many appliances on the market that will help you to go green. Most appliance companies now offer at least one green choice. Both energy-efficient washing machines and dish washers offer cycles which operate with less water. There are also low flush toilets with the same feature, and all of these options will give you cheaper bills to pay, both on hydro and on water consumption.

Switching into a green frame of mind can sometimes have a gradual escalation. Soon you may find yourself buying environment friendly soap powders and cleaners and then you can feel even more virtuous!

8 new-home trends for 2012

A recent article by MSN Real Estate focused on a survey by the National Association of Business Economics, covering new-home building trends in 2012.  Read further to get the gist of the article, and head on over to MSN’s website for more details.

The housing industry has taken a beating these past few years, but a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. Housing starts are expected to increase 10% in 2012, according to a survey by the National Association of Business Economics.

Not surprisingly, though, the Great Recession curtailed many of the extravagances that buyers desired before things went south. Homebuyers want different things from their homes today. The watchword is flexibility — things such as rooms that serve multiple purposes and homes that can accommodate either “boomerang” children or aging parents.

We talked to homebuilders and industry watchers to find out what will be behind the front doors of homes built in 2012. How do these features compare to your wish list?

Easy access

  • Single-story homes
  • Grab bars in the bathroom
  • Fewer stairs and more ramps

A bigger garage — for more than just cars

  • To accommodate storage and avoid clutter
  • “Man caves” — additional family area

The ‘resource center’

  • Fewer rooms dedicated to one purpose
  • Nooks for household work or homework areas

Homes within homes

  • About one-third of American adults are living in the same household with another generation
  • Increase in dual master suites / apartments

Really ‘green’ homes

  • Greater energy efficiency
  • Solar panels to power the house

Home plans that fit today

  • Direct access to laundry areas/rooms
  • Large pantries off the garage for bulk items from warehouses
  • Drop zones for keys, mail, cell phones

The house that flows

  • Open floor plan — increases the perceived size
  • Great rooms opening to the outdoor areas

Infill is in

  • “Infill” homes within existing towns
  • Emphasizes affordability, public transportation access, job centers

 

All of this information is from MSN Real Esate’s article. Read more of this article by Christopher Solomon, of MSN Real Estate here: “8 New-Home Trends for 2012.”

Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value

Under the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, estimated energy-consumption expenses for a house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

When you apply for a mortgage to buy a house, how often does the lender ask detailed questions about monthly energy costs or tell the appraiser to factor in the energy-efficiency features of the house when coming up with a value?

Hardly ever. That’s because the big three mortgage players — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, which together account for more than 90% of all loan volume — typically don’t consider energy costs in underwriting. Yet utility bills can be larger annual cash drains than property taxes or insurance — key factors in standard underwriting — and can seriously affect a family’s ability to afford a house.

energy efficientA new bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill could change all this dramatically and for the first time put energy costs and savings squarely into standard mortgage underwriting equations. A bill introduced Oct. 20 would force the three mortgage giants to take account of energy costs in every loan they insure, guarantee or buy. It would also require them to instruct appraisers to adjust their property valuations upward when accurate data on energy efficiency savings are available.

Titled the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, the bill is jointly sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, and Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia. Here’s how it would work: Along with the traditional principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) calculations, estimated energy-consumption expenses for the house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

For most houses that have not undergone independent energy audits, loan officers would be required to pull data either from previous utility bills — in the case of refinancings — or from a Department of Energy survey database to arrive at an estimated cost. This would then be factored into the debt-to-income ratios that lenders already use to determine whether a borrower can afford the monthly costs of the mortgage. Allowable ratios probably would be adjusted to account for the new energy/utilities component.

For houses with significant energy-efficiency improvements already built in and documented with a professional audit such as a home energy rating system study, lenders would instruct appraisers to calculate the net present value of monthly energy savings — i.e., what that stream of future savings is worth today in terms of market price — and adjust the final appraised value accordingly. This higher valuation, in turn, could be used to justify a higher mortgage amount.

For example…

Read the rest of this article is by the Los Angeles Times: “Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value“.