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Will an Energy Audit become a Mandate for Sellers?

May 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Puget Sound Region, Selling

The City of Seattle is proposing that all homes in Seattle go through an audit which will score the address on its carbon footprint and energy efficiency.  So far, the program is only being proposed as a mandate on residential homes and small multi-family transactions.  If approved, the performance of the audit would require sellers to disclose the  results to prospective buyers.

Inspiration for the mandate comes from the city’s desire to be a leader in greenhouse gas reduction.  Jurisdictions in California, Oregon, Texas, and Colorado are also discussing the idea.  However, there is a list of concerns regarding the transaction itself which could prevent the idea from becomoing legal:

  • Mandate places another burden on an already complicated, stressful and costly process.
  • Preservation of cash and ease of transactions are critical.  Additional dollars often are scarce for both the buyer and seller.
  • Buyers are already struggling to afford their first house or move-up house.
  • Sellers are seeking to preserve equity at a time in our history when low or no down payment options have meant that sellers have very little equity in thier home.  Sellers’ equity enables the purchase of a more expensive house or, for seniors, cash to supplement savings and fixed income.
  • Both buyers and sellers value a transaction free of last-minute obstacles to closing.
  • At such a time when the program expands to not just require an energy audit, but also require energy improvements that raise the energy performance score, we would expect to see reduction in homeownership options for middle-income earners within the city.
  • Concerns that the proposed audit mandate will expand to include a requirement that energy improvements are made to the residence as a condition of sale.

Currently, SKCAR (Seattle King-County Association of Realtors) is urging Realtors to use this as an opportunity to encourage their clients (sellers) to do the audit voluntarily.

Here’s a Do it Yourself Home Audit if you’re interested in testing your own energy usage.

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