Home Seller’s Checklist: the Energy Audit

When it comes time to sell your property, you’ll definitely want to do what you can to get it to sell quick and for top dollar. That’s not an easy feat, and why there’s an entire profession devoted to buying and selling real estate. The fact of the matter is, there are many things which go into getting a home ready to sell. It starts with taking an unemotional, objective look, and smart sellers opt for a pre-inspection. A home inspection reveals problems which can then be addressed and prevents those same problems from becoming a roadblock.

The inspection report is then placed in a conspicuous place so potential buyers touring the home can read it and know those problems no longer exist. This makes for a great marketing tool and gives buyers more peace of mind. Another wonderful marketing tool is offering a home warranty, which costs very little and also gives the buyer an assurance which helps a great deal in getting a serious purchase offer.

One thing that sellers often don’t think about is the home energy audit. Especially in places where it isn’t required by law, as it is in some places. Because of our location, being in a continental climate in Michigan, the central air conditioning system can get a good workout during the summer months, and, the heat gets a workout during the winter. The problem is, you probably aren’t sure that your home is energy efficient and buyers will definitely be thinking about their monthly expenses.

Return on Investment

In general a home energy audit ranges in cost from $200 to $400 and there are private companies, as well as utility companies, which offer this service. It usually takes a couple to a few hours but that money and time is well spent because it can bring a nice return on investment.

“It may be the best-kept secret in residential real estate: For a couple of hundred dollars, a potential buyer bidding on an existing house can ask for a formal energy audit along with the standard inspection clause. That audit, in turn, can save the buyer thousands of dollars in future operating costs and pinpoint the specific features of the house that need correction to improve efficiency. It might also be a tipoff to a sobering reality: This house is an energy guzzler.” —Los Angeles Times

Just like good home staging, which enjoys an average return on investment of 343 percent on only $500, an energy audit is an investment into the marketing and selling of your home. It makes a lot of sense, being able to market your home as an energy efficient property is a definite advantage that will give buyers a big reason to put your home at the top of their list. After all, if you were given the opportunity to pick between two similar homes in size, price, style, and features, and one was proven to save energy, while the other wasn’t, you’d buy the one that comes with less utility costs.

Benefits of an Energy Audit

Of course, the largest benefit of performing an energy audit is learning what’s picking your pocket and will do the same to the next owner, but, there are other benefits. One being the motivation to upgrade old energy-zapping appliances. While this will add more costs to selling your home, you’ll get a return on that investment because real estate statistics clearly show that far more buyers want a “move-in ready home” rather than a project home.

Another benefit of having an energy audit completed is avoiding potential legal trouble. When you sell a home, you must adhere to state law, which requires you as the seller to disclose all the things which are wrong with the property. These usually include such things as a leaky roof, a garage door which does not open, or a bathtub that leaks along the floor. Generally, buyers don’t make a big fuss about a window that isn’t well insulated or a door with worn weatherstripping. Although, buyers will be motivated to right what they perceive as a wrong if there are many more little problems which equal a big deal in the form of a lawsuit.

If your property is energy efficient, that too, will be a huge selling point and make the cost of getting a home energy audit well worth it. Take it a step further and put together a quick-read monthly energy cost sheet that people can see when they come to see your property. Buyers who see independent verification of a home’s energy efficiency will be far more likely to be motivated to tender a purchase offer that’s at or near top dollar. The bottom line is, if your home is energy efficient, it’s a great selling tool.