AUSTIN (Austin American-Statesman) – To encourage sellers and buyers to make their houses more energy efficient, owners of homes older than ten years will soon be required to conduct energy audits on their homes before putting them on the market.
The city ordinance, which takes effect Monday, will not require sellers to make any improvements, but it will require them to disclose the results to prospective buyers.
The ordinance also has provisions for multifamily properties and commercial buildings but does not apply to condominiums or mobile homes. Owners who have made certain improvements under Austin Energy programs in the previous ten years also can disregard the ordinance.
The audits are expected to cost $200 to $300 for a typical home of 1,800 sf or less.
The reports, which will cover issues such as how much insulation the house has and the condition of the heating and cooling equipment, must be done by auditors who are certified by the Building Performance Institute.
Violations of the ordinance will be a Class-C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Now, of course, this is Austin and not Houston. However, this is a trend that would appear to be making its way to our area. What does this mean to you? While the governing body will not require the seller to correct the items noted, you can be sure that the buyer will expect these items repaired and this will affect home prices. Sellers will have to start being pro-active to present homes that will “pass” the audit and will pass those costs to the buyer. If this helps conserve energy then it is a good thing but some of the changes are cost prohibitive and housing prices could raise far ahead of any energy savings brought about by the changes. We will all have to wait and see how this is handled in Austin to have a better understanding of the impact it will have here in the Houston market.