In January, Portland became one of a few cities in the nation to require energy efficiency scoring for homes in a real estate transaction. The new requirement was extremely emotional – with vociferous opponents and proponents. Surprising to us, there was some fierce opposition from the real estate industry. The arguments were mostly concern for the elderly or poor who have little funds to upgrade their homes, or pay for one more item before being able to sell their homes. The argument was made that they might be penalized for having a low score, or that energy efficiency upgrades might become negotiation material. Although the concern is legitimate, our view noted that long term appreciation for Portland homeowners has been quite kind, regardless of their energy efficiency updating. The rule also allowed for low income exemptions.
The big picture point that seems to get a little lost in our implementation woes is the overall fantastic influence this rule could have on our energy footprint as a city. The reduction of emissions from homes and businesses is critical to meeting the city’s 2050 climate action goals. Of Portland’s total carbon emissions, residential homes contribute 20% – our municipal buildings contribute an additional 24%. BUILDINGS are 44% of the carbon emissions in Portland – that’s big!
As agents, we’ve spent years consulting on home improvements. Jen and Ron are a fantastic couple doing amazing retirement planning. For many years we did an almost annual visit to their home, followed by a dinner out, ice cream or a beer. Each year they asked which home improvements they should focus on for maximum return on their investment. It saddened us that energy efficiency NEVER hit the list prior to 2018. We believe strongly in energy efficiency, trust us. We live in a well-insulated home with efficient appliances. However, year after year we’ve toured buyers through homes where the modestly updated kitchen won hearts over the expensive energy efficiency packages. Jen and Ron were asking how to woo that buyer. Now we embrace having a way to show value for this work done – we can’t wait to say YES, add the insulation and you’ll be rewarded!! Also, congrats Jen and Ron for a fabulous home sale and a launch into their next life phase.
We’re just now adjusting to the addition of this information in a real estate transaction. There are several companies well established in energy scoring for homeowners, since many homeowners are interested in making their home more efficient and more comfortable year-round. In addition, many new companies have popped up to include energy scoring in their services – some do only energy scoring, others have added it to a scope of service which might include home inspection services. We’ll have a learning curve in implementation of the scoring in our home preparation process.
We’re just dipping our toe into the waters of the negotiation question. Will the score become a negotiation point? I’ll save that subject for future comment – time will tell!