Upcoming classes help homeowners and real estate pros understand value of energy efficiency

Published on Alaska Dispatch News (http://www.adn.com)

Barbara Ramsey, Clair Ramsey

June 21, 2015

It is not often that you are able to look to the future and back to the past as events change around you. This is happening now as the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. pushes forward to show that there is a greater value in energy-efficient housing.


Starting in July, AHFC will offer a number of statewide classes to educate appraisers, lenders, builders, real estate practitioners and the public about the hidden values of energy-efficient homes. Appraisers and real estate practitioners can earn continuing education credits by taking these classes. In addition, appraisers will gain qualifications and knowledge needed to address a growing number of buyers who want “greener” homes. Likewise, real estate practitioners will gain better understanding of ways to differentiate, market and sell energy-efficient homes.


Class topics range from a general overview to a more specific appraiser-oriented understanding of the six hidden features that make a home greener. A greener home has more than proper site selection and construction materials; it also generates savings from water and energy efficiencies, improves indoor air quality (for comfort and livability) and differs in overall operation and maintenance.


The move toward greener, more efficient homes started in 2008 with the home energy rebate and the weatherization programs. Since then, according to the AHFC 2014 annual report, more than 51,600 homeowners have participated in these two programs.


The energy rebate program has given one-time rebates of up to $10,000 to more than 21,500 qualifying homeowners for energy improvements to existing and new construction homes. Homeowners received an average rebate of $6,889 (which

includes reimbursement for the pre- and post-rating fees); they also saved an estimated $1,464 annually in energy savings. The changes are documented with post-rating energy certificates showing the improvements.


The weatherization program also helped more than 14,800 low-income homeowners make their homes more energy-efficient and comfortable, saving them an estimated $1,300 annually in utility costs. Together, both programs helped homeowners save more than 533,000 barrels of oil annually.


Energy costs can make up a large portion of an Alaska family’s budget. For example, the following are average annual energy costs for 10 communities noted in the AHFC 2014 annual report: Kotzebue, $8,821; Nome, $8,457; Tok, $8,371; Fairbanks, $8,106; Bethel, $8,065; Dillingham, $7,561; Kodiak, $6,156; Juneau, $5,737; Ketchikan, $5,260; and Anchorage, $2,785.


When the energy rebate program first started in 2008, many homeowners focused only on the monetary value of the rebate as a way to partially fund needed improvements. Then, as weather got colder, homeowners began to notice improvements in home comfort and air quality, along with lower utility costs. Unfortunately for those early homeowners, when time came to sell, appraisers weren’t able to quantify a difference in a home with, or without, energy improvements. Energy efficiency wasn’t as easy to see as granite countertops in the kitchen.


In 2014, AHFC developed an appraisal tool that uses a database of knowledge of more than 75,000 homes. This database allows appraisers to show the added value for energy efficiency savings based on other comparable energy-efficient properties. The AHFC classes will teach attendees what the tools are, and how to recognize the added

value of a green home.


Consumer demand and changes in construction have also slowly shifted society towards recognizing the hidden values in greener homes. As more people become aware of these savings, when it comes time to sell a property, having an Energy Rating Certificate will help sellers differentiate their home from those who haven’t.


Plenty of homes still could benefit from the energy rebate and weatherization programs. Plus, loan programs can help fund the upfront cash needed to make the necessary repairs for the Energy Program. What better encouragement for homeowners who haven’t started through or completed the process than to know that improving energy efficiency will make a difference -- during their ownership of the home and when time comes to sell.


Barbara and Clair Ramsey are local associate brokers specializing in residential real estate. Their column appears every month in the Alaska Dispatch News. Their email address is info@ramseyteam.com.


Source URL: http://www.adn.com/article/20150620/ramseys-upcoming-classeshelp-homeowners-and-real-estate-pros-understand-value