Realtors Should Support Mandatory Home Energy Assessments

Published on November 26, 2018

Realtors Should Support Mandatory Home Energy Assessments

Up until recently, the provincial government had a strategy to introduce mandatory Home Energy Assessments for every home that goes up for sale. This strategy was a part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, and was scheduled to start in 2019 but was recently cancelled - receiving much support from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

It is common to call a Home Energy Assessment an ‘Audit’, however this may lead to some confusion as well as a misrepresentation as to what a Home Energy Assessment actually is. The purpose of a Home Energy Assessment is more about the evaluation of a home’s efficiency, as well as figuring out what options would net the highest level of efficiency improvements per dollar spent. The actual efficiency score a home receives, or its EnerGuide Rating, is far less important than the value that can be obtained from improving a home’s level of energy efficiency. This makes it possible for the word ‘Audit’ to be misleading for many homeowners, homebuyers, and realtors.

Home Energy Assessments Increase Value

Improving the value of a home is beneficial to realtors in many ways. It can increase their clients satisfaction during both sales and home purchases, and work to increase the amount of commission they can make based off of the home’s increased value. In terms of a Home Energy Assessment, the increase in value comes from the additional information that a buyer or seller can be provided with, offering an in-depth look towards a home’s efficiency levels and expected energy bills. This creates an informed buyer who has more confidence in terms of the home’s yearly expenditures, and they are able to set their budget accordingly. For homebuyers, the more information that a realtor can provide about a home the better, as this improves the transparency of the sale.

Having energy efficiency information on hand is extremely beneficial to realtors, as they can not only wield this information to help their clients make an informed decision, but they can also use the assessment’s suggestions for improving energy efficiency as a way of showing what could be done in the future to reduce the home’s energy consumption and make it even more affordable. The cost-effectiveness of each modification or retrofit is also included in the assessment, and is able to act as an incentive towards how easy it is for the buyer to grow with the home and customize its efficiency to meet their needs.  

In the past it has not been uncommon for homebuyers to ask their realtor to find them homes with amenities such as a pool or large acreage, but it is now becoming increasingly common for homebuyers to request homes that have low utility bills and high levels of efficiency. If Home Energy Assessments were mandatory, it would become easier for realtors to satisfy the efficiency desires of their clients - further increasing buyer satisfaction, and make narrowing down the perfect home for a client more straightforward.

Environmental Benefits

By having Home Energy Assessments be mandatory on all homes for sale in Ontario, residents across the province can be made aware of their home’s level of energy efficiency, and be shown what could be done to reduce their home’s energy consumption before they put it up for sale. Oftentimes, homeowners are unaware as to how much more efficient their home could become, and what that means in terms of lowering operating costs as well as their carbon footprint.  Sound environmental practices are becoming more of a concern to the average Canadian, and having a system that shows homeowners just how easy it often is to improve their home’s efficiency can significantly contribute to reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Seeing a report that assess their home’s efficiency may also cause some homeowners to seek out an even greener living space than they had previously thought they wanted, as they may wish to lower their family’s greenhouse gas emissions and utility bills by an even larger amount through the purchase of highly efficient home.

Even though the most common suggestions in a Home Energy Assessment are often simple and cost effective solutions - such as improving the level of insulation in the attic, or caulking leaky areas where air is able to escape - every homeowner’s desires are different. A home that could benefit from even just a minor improvement to energy efficiency may still not be efficient enough for some homeowners, in which case it would be helpful for the realtor to show them alternative options, such as a Net-Zero Home.

Home Energy Assessments Benefit Everyone

With mandatory Home Energy Assessments on all homes for sale in Ontario, realtors, home buyers, home sellers, homeowners, and the environment could all expect to see a benefit. Realtors could help their clients make informed decisions, and help them search for homes based on things like operating costs and carbon emissions. Homeowners would be able to see just how cost-effective improving home efficiency can be, as well as how long it will take for them to see a return on their investment - should they decide to improve energy efficiency before putting their home up on the market. And the environment would stand to see a reduction in household greenhouse gas emissions, helping Canada reach its goals for emission reduction as set out in the Paris Agreement.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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