Tag Archives: features

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“.

Examine Features Now To Sell for a Good Price Later

Home for saleWhen you buy a home, chances are high that you will eventually sell as your life changes over time. In the United States, it’s estimated that homeowners change residences every five to seven years.

So when you are house hunting, it’s important to keep resale value in mind. Some features you may find desirable may not appeal to others when the time comes to put the house on the market. That would hurt both your ability to sell the house and to get a good price.

As you start your search, consider these factors that will affect resale value:

Exterior Features

Location: If you find the property that offers most of the features you are looking for and it’s going for a bargain price, don’t rush into it. There may be a reason the house is selling for a bargain, so carefully consider where the property is located. When you resell, for example, couples with small children are likely to be searching for quiet streets, large yards and proximity to shopping and schools. Rectangular lots generally sell better than oddly shaped or awkwardly situated properties. For many buyers, the determining factor is the neighborhood.  A home in a safe area will always fetch a better price than the same sized home in or near a less desirable neighborhood. In addition to a low crime rate, many buyers are also looking for a high-achieving school system.

Maintenance: A beautifully manicured lawn with landscaping may have curb appeal, but it is likely to be expensive and time consuming to keep up. You may be willing to pay a premium for it but the next buyer may not. A house with little to moderate landscaping generally has the best resale value. More buyers will also choose a home with exteriors, decks or patios that are made of low-maintenance materials.

Swimming pools: Pools can pose resale problems. Safety concerns means families with small children generally avoid them, as do buyers in regions where a pool is used only a few months of the year. Buyers will also be aware of the maintenance pools require. Keep in mind, however, in some upscale neighborhoods a pool is almost considered an essential.

Size: Resale value is also affected by the size of surrounding homes. Don’t buy the largest home in the area — a large house in the midst of smaller houses generally will sell for a lower price than if it is surrounded by homes of a similar size. Conversely, small or medium-size homes near a larger dwelling tend to increase in value.

Interior Features

Bedrooms/bathrooms: Homes with at least three bedrooms usually have good resale value. The price goes up if the master bedroom has its own bathroom. In any case, the home should have at least two bathrooms and they should be updated for resale purposes.
Kitchens: The center of many homes is the kitchen, which makes it the most important room in the house. Look for modern appliances, a large pantry, plenty of cabinets, attractive and spacious counter tops and adequate dining space. If there is a family room or dining room, the kitchen should be nearby.

Storage and space: In general, lots of closets and well-organized storage space will entice buyers, as will plenty of natural light. Walk-in closets add to the appeal, and garages boost resale value, particularly if they fit two cars. A separate laundry room is typically a great resale feature.

Character: One all-important aspect that will help sell a home is its character. A home’s distinctiveness, however subtle, can charm a buyer. Small touches such as granite counter-tops, French doors, an antique fireplace, or a picturesque view through a bay window can often cinch the deal. The more character your home has, the higher the resale value.

When buying a home, it all comes down to this: Purchase a house that suits your immediate needs and desires, but keep an eye on its resale value. You’ll reap the rewards when it’s time to move on.

This article is by BizActions.