I don't like change any more than the next person, but when something comes along that helps my clients make good decisions I am all for it. That is why I am excited about Portland's new "Home Energy Score" Program. Under the new program, sellers will be required to provide the energy efficiency equivalent of a "miles per gallon" rating of their house when putting it up for sale. There has been quite an uproar from the Realtor community; some are even calling the new requirement a "tax on selling your home".
Bottom line, it will cost sellers $150-300, it will help consumers analyze the true cost of living in a home like never before, and it will show buyers what changes they can make to lower their energy usage. Here are the basic facts.
The Home Energy Score ordinance (in effect January 1, 2018) requires all sellers of single-family and townhome properties within the city limits of Portland to obtain a home energy report. They must disclose the report to any real-estate agent working on their behalf and any prospective home buyers visiting their home while it’s listed for sale. Home Energy Scores will be publicly disclosed and available here and required in all listings of the property including third party listing services like RMLS, Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin.
The City passed this ordinance to support our ultimate goal of reducing carbon emissions and meeting the goals outlined in Portland’s Climate Action Plan. The program is designed to make energy performance in residential buildings transparent so that sellers and potential buyers can better understand the full costs of operating a home. There is also hope that bringing awareness to this information will motivate energy efficiency investments in homes ultimately lowering utility bills and increasing health, comfort, and safety for homeowners.
Sellers will pay an authorized Home Energy Assessor to perform an Assessment of their property in advance of listing the property for public sale. Depending on the scale of the property, an Assessment can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours and cost between $150 and $300. During an Assessment, inspectors will look at the home’s mechanical systems, insulation, and air sealing, not past utility bills. Home Energy Scores are measures of a home’s performance not of current energy usage in the home. In this way, the score is similar to the miles per gallon rating on cars.
To support homeowners through this process the City is developing a plan to assist or cover the cost of these reports for low income-qualified sellers and will provide a searchable database of authorized Home Energy Assessors.