Energy audits not as common during sales process as they could be

It's no secret in the real estate industry that home energy efficiency is usually most critical for newly built properties, not for existing homes. The reasons for this are mostly cost related, as just last week, this blog reported that new homes can cost significantly more than used properties. In short, buyers do not mind funding energy efficiency if they're already paying a premium for a home, but many others are less willing to take the plunge when it comes to existing properties.

At the time of sale, buyers will often request a home inspection in order to find structural problems with a property or other maladies, such as mold, that could cost the buyer a significant amount of money to repair. Still, energy audits have been shown to be profitable for both buyers and sellers alike.

Boston real estate broker Leland DiMeco told The Washington Post that an energy audit he recently insisted upon ended up netting sellers an extra $50,000 that they had not originally anticipated, after they fixed many of the home's energy efficiency problems. Buyers were willing to pay a premium because the sellers were upfront and transparent about changes they had made before putting the home on the market.

"[An] audit might save the buyer thousands of dollars in future operating costs by pinpointing features of the house that need correction to improve efficiency," according to the newspaper. "It might also be a tip-off to a sobering reality: This house is an energy guzzler. And that might prompt the buyer to say: Either the asking price comes down, the seller fixes the problems, or I walk."

Homeowners will ultimately need to determine whether an energy audit is worth the cost, and should they decide to do so, their real estate agent should know of an experienced D.C. home inspector working in the area who has experience with energy audits.