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High-Performance Home Appraisal Guide

High-performance homes are becoming more and more popular, but is the market up to date with appraisals for these specialty homes? Builders, sales agents and homeowners can take several steps to ensure local appraisers, lenders and the general public about what makes your durable, energy-efficient, healthier home stand out from the competition.

Step 1:

Make sure to highlight the home’s high-performance features when marketing the home. This can be done by advertising, educating, teaching, highlighting and displaying these high-performance features.

When advertising, make sure to include the features that make the home more comfortable, energy-efficient and water-efficient. Point out how these will help lower utility bills. For tips on verbiage to use or ideas on what to highlight, check out Home Performance Counts.

Educate and teach others about the results of an Energy Rating Index (ERI) which includes the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score or Home Energy Score (HES). All sales agents and sales staff should know what an ERI, HERS and/or HES rating means and how to articulate the ratings to consumers and others in the industry.

Features such as independently verified green home certifications should be highlighted in the marketing materials. The National Green Building Standard is a great example that should be put on flyers and web pages. During open houses, display the ERI, HERS or HES ratings and an explanation of the potential energy savings. Also, display certification plaques that show the home is approved by the National Green Building Standard.

Step 2:

Buyers should choose a lender who is familiar with high-performance homes. Local mortgage lenders who have a separate appraisal panel of trained professionals with experience valuing high-performance homes are critical to get the value your above-code home deserves. It is important for a lender to choose an appraiser that is on the Appraisal Institute’s green registry. This way both the lender and appraiser will not be hesitant to appraise the home higher for its energy-efficient upgrades.

Step 3:

The sales contract for a high-performance home should include Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. What this means is the high-performance features that are behind the walls and cannot be seen will be included. This documentation will help the appraiser fully understand the higher price when it comes to an above-code home.

Step 4:

Just like interviewing a sales agent, interview the appraiser before you choose them to appraise the home. Not only ask about their appraisal experience but also ask if they are familiar with ERI scores and HERS ratings. Find out what classes or courses they have taken on high-performance valuation.  The Federal Housing Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all require that the appraiser has requisite knowledge prior to accepting the assignment, and the only way to enforce that is to ask about their knowledge and experience upfront.

Including these steps in the appraisal process will ensure a high-performance home will be given the right amount the home is worth. Choosing a sales agent who is versed in energy-efficient homes will help buyers with the home buying process.

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