Raine & Horne CEO Angus Raine has backed the proposed Nationwide Home Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), although he acknowledges most buyers still don't value a home's energy efficiency.
“With homeowners facing the onerous prospect of higher energy charges, any initiative aimed at making homes more environmentally friendly and therefore hopefully cheaper to run should be commended,” Mr Raine told Real Estate Business.
“I take umbrage with those suggesting the government’s propose NatHERS will slash thousands of dollars from the values of Australian homes.”
Mr Raine’s comments come at the same time the Queensland state government has announced plans to remove the sustainability declaration form that must currently be included with any sale.
Mr Raine said while the green rating of a home could possibly be considered a secondary consideration for buyers, who still look for traditional factors like location and price, any initiative that helped save energy costs was worthwhile.
“Take the ACT, for instance, which has had a green ratings scheme since 1999. According to Raine & Horne Canberra, the rating system has had very little impact on buyer demand or vendor expectations in the nation’s capital,” he said.
“Clearly cutting home energy costs is a sensible objective, and already some of our state governments have introduced some excellent initiatives that the federal government might wish to consider.”
In Queensland, the state government has rolled out the ‘Climate Smart Home Service’, which supplies home owners with energy saving products and information for a small fee, he said.
Just two months ahead of the March 24 state election, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced the government would seek to slash the number of documents required to sell a home in Queensland. This included the removal of the standalone sustainability declaration form.
“At the moment each one of [the standalone documents] means a separate form, each with a fee, and often repeating the same type of information," said the Premier.
“We intend to rid the industry of unnecessary complications making it easier to buy and sell a home in Queensland.”
Queensland real estate principal Gerrie Bowden, from Moreton Bay Regional Real Estate, believes the sustainability declaration was a waste of time.
“In my experience buyers don’t look for a house that has solar panels, they look for location and cost,” she told Real Estate Business.
“I mention sustainability features as a bonus to the property but I have never had a client ask about the energy rating of a home. Never.”
According to Ms Bowden, the sustainability declaration is not an issue when it comes to new homes.
“People know that new homes comply to standards and most have a six or more star rating anyway, so it has become quite redundant,” she said.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) CEO Anton Kardash said he was unsure why buyers had not responded positively to the sustainability information.
“Anecdotally it seems buyer are more interested in a variety of other issues when looking at a home,” he told Real Estate Business.
“They seem to put a household’s sustainability at the bottom of the list.”
Yet according to sustainability training coordinator Chiara Pacifici, from Perth-based Green Gurus, energy efficient homes are directly related to an increase in value.
“In 2008, the government released a study that identified the effect energy efficiency ratings have on house prices and it was determined that if the energy performance of a house improved by one star, on average, its market value will increase by about three per cent,” she wrote in Real Estate Business last year.
According to the sustainability expert, agents should help inform the marketplace about the quality and energy efficiency of properties.
“Today, information provided to consumers at point of sale provides little detail on aspects of the home that may determine its high or low quality performance but which can lead to adverse selection in the marketplace,” Ms Pacifici said.
“Energy and water costs are rising to meet the costs of supply, and households are looking for ways to ‘future proof’ their homes from these costs.
“A prudent real estate professional will be wise to prepare and gain knowledge of sustainability features so that they can better service their clients.”