Going Green? Start With a Home Energy Survey

There are signs that the Miami real estate market may be close to the bottom, if it’s not already there. It’s about time, right? Everyone is looking for a steal.

Maybe that’s why, since the beginning of 2011, I have been getting more and more calls on distressed mortgage financing. The most common question asked is about the mortgage options available for REO (real estate owned) properties, most of which have been sitting for some time and have what is called deferred maintenance. My recommendation to these folks is an Energy Efficient Mortgage or EEM for short (aka Energy Improvement Mortgage). A property that has not had the power turned on for months can be riddled with problems and can benefit from the program features of an Energy Efficient Mortgage. For instance, living in South Florida, the most common issues are related to moisture and mold. One piece of advice I give to a potential client seeking a distressed property is to get a home energy survey done. A home energy survey is a visual inspection to evaluate the overall energy performance of the house you are looking to purchase. This report will provide you with a great starting point to help determine the extent of the work that would need to be done in order to complete necessary repairs.

Some specific examples of how a home energy survey can help you:

–Reduce your energy bill by pinpointing the inefficient and electricity-wasting areas of your home.

–Uncover potential problems prior to any major damage occurring, i.e. South Florida is notorious for mold which could have been cause by an improper bathroom fan.

–Improve your home’s comfort by making your house airtight. Leaving leaky windows/doors unsealed is like throwing money out the window, literally!

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Items reviewed in the typical home energy survey include:

Any visual health or safety issues

–Visible signs of moisture

–Condition of appliances

–Heating, cooling, including ventilation and duct work issues

If you are interested in a more complex report, you can also request a building performance audit. This report includes all of the inspections above, but will take it to the next level by use of high tech tools for further diagnosis. If you have been living in your home in Miami for over 10 years and looking to refinance with an Energy Efficient Mortgage and feel that your comfort is not where it used to be, this report may be the ticket to get to the bottom of your problem. Some of the diagnostics used in this process will help you:

–Determine the amount and location of air leakage from your duct work.

–Measure the effectiveness of the insulation within your walls and ceiling.

–Possible combustion safety issues.

I recommend these types of surveys to be completed on older homes ASAP if you’re looking to buy, or prior to refinancing your existing mortgage with an Energy Improvement Mortgage. Why, you ask? It’s simple. EEMs only allow you to spend a certain dollar amount on renovations and updates, so need to have a plan! You want to spend your renovation monies wisely in order to maximize your home’s energy efficiency, comfort, resale value, and marketability, and reduce your carbon footprint.

Ensuring that your home is energy efficient requires that you take the right steps, like those outlined above. There are no short-cuts. Going green also requires a little bit of time, and of course some money. A home is not just a place to hang your hat, but it is also an investment. By investing in the right energy improvements now with an Energy Improvement Mortgage, you will not only see the benefit in the short term, through lower monthly energy bills, but also in the long term, as you will be able to keep your energy costs down for years to come! Before you know it, these improvements will have paid for themselves!

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