The governor of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that by 2021 would require that people selling their homes provide potential buyers with home energy performance ratings.
The Boston Globe said the measure filed by Gov. Charlie Baker earlier in the week would be the first of its kind in the U.S.
At the outset, the bill would require energy raters such as Mass Save to provide homeowners with a home energy scorecard when they have a free assessment done. Beginning in 2021, anyone selling a building with one to four residential units, and listing the property for sale publicly, would be required to provide potential buyers with energy performance ratings.
The governor’s office said in a press release the legislation is part of the state’s effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions and help state residents save money.
The scorecards would include an estimate of annual energy consumption based on features such as lighting, insulation and HVAC equipment. Homeowners also would get recommendations for efficiency upgrades, such as better water heaters, and more efficient heating and cooling equipment.
Massachusetts has been ranked best in the country for energy efficiency programs for the past seven years by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “Upon passage of this legislation, [it] would be the first state in the country to require home energy scorecards for residential homes to be made available to potential homebuyers,” the governor’s office said.
Should the bill pass, the state’s Department of Energy Resources would design the scorecard and develop standards and training for providers.
Real estate group not so thrilled
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors is opposed to the legislation. In a prepared statement, Rita Coffey, the association’s president and the general manager of a Century 21 agency in Weymouth, said, “Realtors are for energy efficiency but the mandatory nature of this bill won’t do what its supporters hope it will. The key to increasing energy efficiency in Massachusetts is through incentives, not mandates.”
The association said the measure would “really stick it to” homeowners with low and moderate incomes because they might not have the money to make energy-related improvements to their homes before a sale. Lower energy scores could mean lower values.
Home prices are rising to their highest levels on record in Massachusetts, in part because of a declining inventory of homes for sale. The number of homes for sale has declined in 72 of the last 73 months, and the association says getting a mandatory home energy audit before a house could be listed for sale would worsen the situation.
“Massachusetts is starved for housing inventory,” Coffey’s statement said. “In fact, it’s so severe, that we’re seeing the lowest number of homes on the market since we’ve been tracking this data. This scarcity is increasing home prices to a point where many first-time homebuyers are being forced out of the market and deciding to look in other states to buy a home.”