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Local Color and Culture

Energy Efficiency Requirements


Austin has long been among the most environmentally conscious, and active, cities in the country.  That is part of what makes Austin Austin.  An energy audit is required for all resale homes (1-4 family) at the time of sale, and new construction has been subject to required energy efficiency sampling for a long time.  Now, it appears that 100% of homes built in Austin next year will require an energy audit for compliance with international standards.  Today, I added this article to my Market News page:
Austin Business Journal, November 20, 2009
Proposal ruffles builders
The new rule will instead mandate testing for every single- or two-family unit by outside contractors.  More:  http://austin.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2009/11/23/story3.html?b=1258952400^2478101

I am all for improvements, but it seems to me that the market has pushed builders to improve energy ratings and will continue to do so.  The “good” builders obviously market their superior efficiency and the utilities savings that will result for homeowners.  Other builders won’t be able to substantiate such marketing claims, but may be able to sell their products at lower prices.

Of course, the market will also determine how much value buyers attach to improvements, and there is a limit.  This proposal will “level the field” by imposing the same costs on all builders equally, but buyers will still limit how much they are willing to pay for better energy efficiency.  At some point, that will limit the sale of new homes in Austin and/or push new construction farther and farther from the city.

The article notes that statewide adoption of the international standards is required to qualify for federal stimulus funds.  Does increasing the cost of housing and increasing sprawl really qualify as “stimulus”?

About Bill Morris, Realtor

Many years of business experience (high tech, client service, business organization and start-up, including 18 years in real estate) tell me that service is the key to success and I look forward to serving you. I represent both buyers and sellers throughout the Austin metropolitan area, which means first-hand market knowledge is brought to bear on serving your needs. Learn more about my background and experience, my commitment to my clients, my profession, and to the real estate industry at CentralTexasHomeSearch.com.

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