A more simple home means saving money on bills, operating in a more eco-friendly way, and being able to focus more on life than the upkeep of a home. As newer generations deviate more from the idea of the “nuclear family”, white picket fence style, we begin to focus on other aspects of a property, and a large focus is energy-efficiency and sustainability. Becoming aware of these options will help you to make a more accurate appraisal.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it will help you in getting more familiar with what to look for during an appraisal. Let’s look at a few eco-features you may come across:

Appliances and Electronics

  • Low-flush toilets, low-flow faucets and shower heads.
  • Motion-sense lighting, LED lighting, and lights with dimmers.
  • Any product with a WaterSense label is certified to use at least 20% less water. WaterSense labels can be found on faucets, shower heads, and toilets. Be sure to look out for other eco-friendly labels.
  • Products with an Energy Star label is energy-efficient. Energy Star products can range from appliances, like washers and refrigerators, HVAC systems, and lighting fixtures.

Building Materials

  • Insulation: added insulation in the attic, and/or eco-friendly type of insulation, like wool or cotton.
  • Windows: double-paned, triple-paned, or low-e windows.
  • Heating/Cooling Systems: geothermal and/or Energy Star labelled products.

Energy Sources

  • Solar panels
  • Wind turbines

How this Affects Appraisals

Many times, appraisers are unaware of the energy-efficient features of a home, either because they are unqualified or untrained in assessing that value, or do not have access to that kind of data. Check with the homeowner to see if they have any data on green features in their home, including what energy code it was built to fit. You can also check the home’s green certifications, like certifications from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy, or Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating. The more information on the efficiency and eco-friendliness of a home, and knowledge about how to appraise it, the better. Not only will you get a more accurate appraisal, you could avoid having to rely on your E&O insurance if legal action is taken due to a misrepresentation in appraisal value.