If you’ve recently shopped for a home or listed your home for sale, one of the most advantageous characteristics of the home may have gone unnoticed. Even though the interest of potential buyers in the energy efficiency of a home has risen dramatically in recent years, the visibility to these features is still low. This is a common problem in the housing market. Homebuyers looking through typical house listings online or in print magazine or newspapers are rarely shown home energy improvements or efficiency characteristics of that home. It’s often something they have had to dig very deep for, sometimes not even getting an accurate answer from listing agents. While brand new homes can come with certifications from organizations like Energy Star, HERS, LEED and National Green Building Standard to show buyers their efficiency value, existing homes on the market don’t have these green labels.


The problem of “hidden” or undervalued home energy efficiency improvements extends beyond the buying phase of a home. These improvements often get the same overlooked treatment during home appraisals. Since energy efficiency and home energy improvements are relatively new, many home appraisers don’t have the training and knowledge to properly identify and value these improvements. This causes some headaches for homeowners who have spent time, energy and money making these improvements.


Energy efficiency is clearly something both current and potential homeowners care about. According to a recent National Association of Realtors survey, 87 percent of home buyers said home’s heating a cooling costs were important or very important to them, whatever the age of the house. Energy efficient lighting and appliances also are seen as major pluses, with roughly 70 percent of survey responders ranking them important or very important.


Fortunately, there’s something being done about the issue of low visibility to home energy efficiency improvements and features of homes. Starting next month, a national campaign addressing this issue is scheduled to get underway. This campaign is aimed at standardizing and improving the basic data used within the real estate industry to report energy improvements to existing homes. The report backing the campaign can be viewed here.


One major change highlighted and addressed in the report and campaign is the push to adopt and standardize green energy and energy efficiency fields in all MLS home listings nationwide. Out of the 850 MLS listing organizations, only about 125 currently list these fields. This change alone should have a dramatic impact on homebuyers’ knowledge of the energy efficiency characteristics of homes for sale. The National Association of Realtors’ will offer MLS organizations a prepackaged approach enabling them more easily to integrate green fields into their systems. Included in the program will be more than 40 additional energy efficiency fields and performance related revisions to the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) that is used by MLS and many other organizations to communicate standardized data about houses. Also included in the campaign will be a push for a new energy efficiency certification for improved existing homes much like the certifications given to efficient new homes. This certification, established by the Building Performance Institute Inc., will bring a higher level of visibility to important efficiency changes of existing homes and make these improvements much more marketable.


Experts predict these upcoming changes will also have a dramatic effect on home appraisals and the attention paid to the energy efficiency of a home during valuations. If you’re thinking of selling your home in upcoming years, or just increasing the overall value of your home, there’s never been a better time to start making energy efficiency improvements. We’d be happy to sit down with you to identify and recommend changes that can bring the most value to you and your home.