The following is excerpted from Sustainable Housing and Building Green (Dearborn, 2008) by Marie S. Spodek and Ken Deshaies.
Audits in the Real Estate Transaction
Energy audits are an excellent source of additional information to help sellers, builders, and buyers make quantifiable decisions when buying new appliances or a new home. Tenants also benefit because energy audits allow them to choose energy-efficient rentals. (VIDEO: Watch an energy audit in action.)
Role of the Real Estate Licensee
Essentially, licensees should be the “source of the resource, not the source of the information.” Real estate licensees should not hold themselves out as experts, and they should not promise savings or results from an energy audit. To avoid any hint of impropriety, agents should never accept a “referral fee” from any of these companies or sell any of the products without fully disclosing any relationship to the company. Even with full disclosure, licensees should avoid “requiring” the purchase of any product or service with which they are associated.
Useful for Sellers
Real estate agents should encourage sellers to consult the HES Web site. Based on life cycle and energy costs, sellers can determine which appliances to pack up and move and which to leave behind, avoiding moving costs as well. The site might help a seller to recognize whether an appliance or feature adds to or detracts from the asking price, especially in relationship to competing properties. Also, some of the information can be entered into multiple listing service (MLS) information that can be used by buyers and appraisers.
Buyers and sellers do ask real estate agents for hiring recommendations, however. Agents can provide several options but should avoid making any specific recommendations. Agents can say, if true, “Here is a list of energy auditors used by other real estate clients. Please ask for references and follow up by calling each of the references.”
Useful for Buyers
Real estate agents can help their buyer clients make better informed decisions in a quantifiable manner about whether to buy an energy-efficient home or a traditionally built home. Builders and their buyers can consider the impact that the latest in energy technology might have in order to decide what they want to include in their homes, especially when considering asking for some of the personal property such as refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, and so on. This analysis provides the data buyers need to make decisions and to decide on trade-offs, such as paying a bit more for a home with energy-efficient appliances with the expectation that they will have lower utility bills as a result.
This textbook is currently used across the country in continuing education classes for real estate agents and mortgage bankers. Please note that this book can be purchased through RECampus for professional development purposes; however, it cannot be purchased through RECampus for continuing education credit.