Senate bill could provide loans for energy efficient homes

A Senate bill reintroduced on Thursday, June 6, could increase incentives for real estate buyers looking for energy efficient homes. While these eco-friendly properties are becoming a popular trend for families looking to both save money in the long run and live more environmentally conscious lifestyles, there have not been proper benefits actually built into the market to appeal to a majority of home buyers. This bipartisan measure is looking to change that, by offering mortgages larger than incomes would usually allow to buyers looking to purchase energy efficient homes.

The bill, which comes to the Senate floor with broad support from the real estate industry, is led by Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia. Speaking to the New York Times, Senator Isakson said that decreasing a house's energy consumption increases "the amount of dollars in the pockets of the homeowners." 

Currently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development already sponsors a program that encourages mortgages for sustainable properties. However, to qualify, lenders need to have already had a home inspection performed so that they can present a qualified energy report — which would quantify the home's projected energy savings — as part of the application process. 

The bill comes at a time when the consensus in the real estate industry shows that "people want green, but to date they haven't been willing to pay for it to the extent of what it costs," according to Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

However, the bill has been defeated on the Senate floor before, and it is currently not known how well it will fare in its reintroduction. So in the meantime, if you're looking to purchase an energy efficient home, make an appointment for a home inspection to best help you in qualifying for a larger mortgage.