When presenter Dave Porter asked a packed session at the NAHB Green Building Conference today whether they had ever had an appraiser ask about their houses’ energy-efficient features, only two or three hands went up.
Porter wasn’t surprised. Across the country, he said, appraisal companies and lenders have been slow to acknowledge builders, buyers, and owners of green homes as they apply for financing. He urged attendees to advocate for a system that gives credit for high-performance products and techniques.
"You have every right to ask for a competent appraiser who knows about energy-efficient and green building,” said the president of Stanwood, Wash.-based environmental consulting and training firm Porterworks. “You should demand it.”
Many attending the educational session said they were fed up with appraisers and lenders who don’t put enough value on the sustainable features of a green house. For example, Porter says, appraisers’ 1004 form provides a mere two lines for information about energy-efficient or other high-performance features.
“It’s the two-line joke,” he said. “How are you supposed to list all of the important green features of a home in that small space?”
In addition, the money-saving aspects of green dwellings are not considered by current appraisal practices, Porter says. For example, the owner of a green home might save $300 on energy bills each month compared to the owner of a leaky outdated home, but this savings is not taken into account during the loan application process.
“Right now, we’re not looking at the total cost of homeownership,” he says.
Green home builders and buyers need to advocate for appraisal reform before anything will change: “I’m talking about an uprising,” he said, only half jokingly.
While the Appraisal Institute [www.appraisalinstitute.org] recently begun offering one-day workshops and Webinars on green building, Porter is skeptical.
“I don’t know if one day is enough, I’m a little concerned about that,” he said.