Conservation Minnesota

Home buyers want energy efficiency, and Energy Fit Homes offers user-friendly solution

Posted by Megan Hoye

Earlier this year, the National Association of Realtors® 2015 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends (PDF) highlighted a growing demand for energy-efficient homes and indicated a need for more tools to help meet this demand. The survey found that 36% of all home buyers see heating and cooling costs as a “very important” consideration in their purchasing decisions. The survey also revealed an overall increase in the percentage of home buyers voicing concern about the efficiency of lighting in homes they might purchase.

CEE’s Energy Fit Homes℠ program is a perfect match for this growing emphasis on energy-efficient living.

As Minnesota’s first residential energy-efficient certificate for existing homes, Energy Fit Homes is diving in to its second year. Our conversations with local Twin Cities Realtors® have confirmed the NAR’s survey’s findings, particularly around the increased demand among young and first-time home buyers for energy-efficient homes with more environmentally friendly features. And these young home buyers are putting their money where their mouths are — 10% of buyers under 35 years old report purchasing their homes because of improved energy efficiency or green qualities. And although younger generations may be leading the charge for energy saving, the survey also showed demand spreading across age groups, including home buyers age 60-89 emphasizing the importance of heating and cooling costs in their purchasing decisions.

Similar certifications are more widely available for new home construction, but not for existing homes. And since nearly all U.S. homes sold on the market are pre-owned, most home buyers don’t have much (or any) knowledge about the energy efficiency of their next potential home. As more home buyers become concerned with making energy conscious purchasing decisions, there is an increased need to help identify relevant features and make a smart investment choice. Realtor® knowledge is something that home buyers already find tremendously valuable — 59% of all home buyers find a real estate agent’s ability to point out unnoticed property features or faults to be beneficial to their decisionmaking, second only to helping buyers understand the purchasing process.

As home buyers seek more and more ways to easily identify homes that will make for sound investments, they are also influencing the broader energy efficiency market. Any tools that help inform real estate professionals about a property also increase their value to clients. This is especially relevant when it comes to energy efficiency, because it is almost always invisible in homes — you need to use the right tools to measure and report it.

Energy Fit Homes helps fill this need by easily assessing and verifying the energy efficiency of existing homes. Certified homes must reach defined energy efficiency standards based on the performance and efficiency of their insulation and air sealing, heating systems, windows, lighting, and indoor ventilation and combustion safety. Through the certification process, Energy Fit Homes can help home buyers understand the energy efficiency of a potential home and can create an opportunity for Realtors® to showcase a knowledge of energy efficiency.

For more information on Energy Fit Homes and how to begin the certification process, visit mnenergyfit.org.

(Note: All data was taken from the 2014 and 2015 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends survey data.)

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