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Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Fifth Element of Home Ownership

With the frenzied housing market we’ve experienced, it’s easy to overlook the fifth element of home ownership.

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Owning a home is much more than the first four elements: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. If you’re buying a home, always ask for a year’s worth of energy bills so you can be prepared for what you’re purchasing. After all, the fifth element of home ownership is Utilities!

It’s also a great idea to ask if any improvements were done to a home to lower your energy bills. Find out the age of the HVAC, water heater, and refrigerator. If the house has a pool, ask if the pool pump was replaced with a variable speed pool pump. The major components of a home can add quite a bit to an electric bill if they haven’t been replaced lately.

If a home has been certified by a third party organization, research how the certification was achieved. Each certification is slightly different; some can be a point-based system while others add up components of the home. For example: if the home earned a HERS (Home Energy Rating Score) index, that number should be less than 200. Newer homes have scores in the 50-70 range. Like a golf score, the lower the number, the better. 

One such home certification is Pearl Certification. Pearl Certification entered the valley in 2018 and is a certification for resale homes only. If you’re considering selling your home and have added energy efficient upgrades, or made major modifications to lower your energy bills, it’s wise to research Pearl Certification as the certification provides 3rd party verified results, marketing material and data to help your home appraise at value when it sells. The certification was created in 2015 by Cynthia Adams and Robin LeBaron, who saw the need to expand marketing presence and work to gain value for features that often go unnoticed in residential resale home sales.  

Pearl has most recently added the Green Door, which is a consumer portal to upload energy efficient features and owned solar panel information. The information can be used towards a Pearl Certification if desired. Currently, the certifications start at Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Solar Certified. 

Having been through the process of Pearl Certification myself, my home earned Pearl Gold in 2018. Since adding solar panels recently, I’m still working to achieve an even higher certification. Whether your home has energy efficient features or not, make sure to consult a professional who is educated and knowledgeable about the current state of the real estate market.

Jan Green has been an agent in Phoenix since 2003 and has earned the Master Certification for High Performance Homes, is a NAR GREEN designee and an EcoBroker since 2008; instructor for the Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®, volunteer for the US Green Building Council and is President of Sustainability Advisors.

Keep up with all of Green Living’s original content online and on social media.

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