Home Energy Score: What are leading Oregon realtors saying?

March 3, 2021 | By: MacKenzie Winchel

Homeowners and renters in the Portland area have found themselves spending more time in their homes this year than any other time. Many families have been working at home, supporting online learning, cooking, and having video calls with friends and family near and far. We are becoming more aware of the importance of our home environments as energy costs increase and poor outdoor air quality impacts time indoors.  

The Home Energy Score (HES) is a tool that empowers homebuyers and sellers to understand the potential energy use of the home. There are now over 20,000 Portland area homes that have received a Portland Home Energy Score. Because Home Energy Scores are required when listing a home for sale, Portland’s local real estate professionals and their clients are becoming increasingly familiar with this relatively new feature in Portland listings and are finding a wide range of ways to use the score to their advantage. 

Because of our years offering real estate training and our involvement in implementing the Home Energy Score program, the Earth Advantage team often hears from real estate professionals. We have developed a variety of resources to help agents navigate this relatively new process and effectively explain the score to their clients. . Based on these conversations with local real estate professionals, we’ve summarized a few perspectives about how they’ve integrated the Home Energy Score into their businesses.

Selling Agents & HES: Risk Management

Theresa St. MartinAs a Principal Broker at Windermere Stellar, Teresa St. Martin is very aware of the various risks and hazards of a typical real estate transaction. St. Martin considers the Home Energy Score a helpful tool to further limit a client’s exposure when selling a home. Teresa says, “A home with an HES provides an additional level of disclosure, by an independent source, that reduces a seller’s risk.” This risk reduction extends to the selling agent, as the disclosure of the score provides additional levels of protection about the condition of key features of the home prior to sale. Given this added benefit, Portland’s selling agents can arrange for the score on behalf of their client, much like they would coordinate other advantageous activities before a listing goes live. Teresa St. Martin, Windermere Stellar

Buying Agents & HES: Helping Clients Make Informed Decisions

Ana de la RuaWhen Living Room Realty's Ana de la Rua learned about Portland’s Home Energy Score requirement she quickly saw it as an opportunity to discuss issues with her clients that were not always top of mind for them. As a buying agent, Ana references the Home Energy Score report to highlight potential cost savings or opportunities for improvement while attending open houses with her clients. As Ana notes, “It makes it easier to talk to my clients about things like insulation and the state of the home's mechanical equipment. The Home Energy Score is an additional reference point that speaks directly to the homebuyer and can lead to making a smarter decision on a home.” Ana de la Rua, Living Room Realty

Buying Agents & HES: Helping Homebuyers Evaluate Flipped Houses 

Like many other cities, our local real estate market includes homes that are flipped by investors. It is not uncommon to see a home purchased, updated, and then re-listed weeks or months later. Buying agents often work with clients who get excited by these sparkling homes, with their glossy paint, new light fixtures, and fresh landscaping. The information in a Home Energy Score report details many of the home conditions that can quickly show how much improvement was actually done. The HES illuminates this often hidden information, and can greatly aid buyers in understanding if the house is actually worth the list price. 

Without the score, an average home-buying client can miss indicators of an older home with modern-day energy efficient attributes such as new insulation, air sealing and HVAC equipment. A capable agent who can show a buyer how to read and use the Home Energy Score report as a tool can add a lot of value for their client.

Buying Agents & HES: Helping Buyers with Affordability Concerns

Hillary BourassaHomeownership is more than just paying the mortgage. Even a median Portland homebuyer can be financially vulnerable to unforeseen costs. Think Real Estate's Hilary Bourassa is clear about how she uses the Home Energy Score with many of her clients. It helps to change the conversation (with a client), Hilary says. "The Home Energy Score takes the focus away from granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, and onto housing affordability by making utility cost information consistently available up-front. Access to the Home Energy Score allows homebuyers to clearly understand the total cost of homeownership and adequately prepare for future costs. Hilary Bourassa, Think Real Estate

These perspectives show that whether potentially reducing risk, increasing value for home sellers, or protecting homebuyers from unforeseen expenditures, the score is becoming a powerful tool to make more informed decisions. Check out more resources for real estate professional resources, including courses about Home Energy Score, at Earth Advantage’s real estate professional resources page.

Download Stories from the Field: Using the Home Energy Score to Influence Real Estate case study.

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Twitter: @EarthAdvantage
LinkedIn: Mackenzie Winchel