Portland made history in 2018 when it made Home Energy Scores mandatory for all homes going on the market. And as we passed the three year anniversary of this mandate going into effect, the results were promising. According to the City of Portland, the goals of the program have been met, or at times even exceeded.
That makes a great success story, right? Here we are in Portland, helping out the planet while simultaneously keeping buyers informed. But there’s no getting around the less pleasant aspect: for this program to succeed, it had to be enforced. To be blunt, enforcement usually means money. And this case is no different. Fines for not disclosing a Home Energy Score can reach up to $500 (and that can repeat if the seller continues to refuse to comply).
But after a difficult year for so many in 2020, Portland is changing its tune in 2021.
Home Energy Score Penalties Previously Suspended
Due to COVID19 Portland had stopped issuing fines in 2020 for homes that didn’t disclose a Home Energy Score.
This was big news, since it was the first time in over 3 years that we’ve seen a pause in the home energy score policy’s enforcement. The intention behind this move was to alleviate some of the financial burden for folks who have been hit hard by the pandemic. But you’re looking at a pretty small window of time, as fines will resume sooner than you might think.
Enforcement of Portland Home Energy Scores to Resume in May 2021
The City of Portland announced that regular fines would resume on May 1st. Homes listed before May, provided they sell quickly, could potentially avoid having a Home Energy Score assessment altogether.
One of the biggest real estate news stories of the year has been Portland’s historic low inventory. You’re looking at bidding wars and homes selling within a week over the list price. So theoretically, a seller could put their home on the market right now without disclosing a Home Energy Score and get away scot-free. (Literally. Fun fact: the term “scot-free” comes from the Scandinavian word “skat,” meaning a tax or payment.)
But according to RMLS data, the 90 day average for days on the market for homes in Portland is 27 – nearly a month. And sellers have only two weeks before enforcement kicks back in. So all in all, it seems like the City of Portland’s suspension of penalties was a nice gesture, but one that’s unlikely to change the picture for most folks newly listing their home.
Portland Home Energy Score Exemptions and Assistance
That being said, there are permanent programs in place that help out low income sellers with cost of having a Home Energy Score assessment performed. First off, some homes are exempt entirely. You are exempt from disclosing a Home Energy Score if your home:
- Is in foreclosure or is part of a trustee’s sale
- Is deemed uninhabitable due to a casualty (such as damage from a major weather event)
- Is condemned and considered a safety hazard
- Qualifies for public auction (meaning, enough back taxes that the government seizes control)
- Is “under control of a court appointed receiver due to financial distress” (a receivership is one option to avoid bankruptcy, so this is similar to a foreclosure situation)
Do none of these situations apply to you, but you still feel that getting a Home Energy Score assessment is a financial burden? Consider the city’s Income Qualified Home Energy Score program. Under this program‘s guidelines, anyone with a household income at or below 80% of Portland’s Area Median Income (AMI) is eligible for a free assessment. This was expanded from 60% in February of 2021 in order to increase access to low income households.
Not sure if you qualify? The city’s website provides an excellent tool that calculates your AMI for you. Simply put in the number of people in your household, including dependents, and your yearly income. Their calculator will give you an idea of whether you qualify before you go through the process of applying. Right now, for a household of two, the maximum household income is $50,000.
Should You Still Get a Home Energy Score?
While you might be able to get away with skipping this step for the next couple weeks, it’s still in your best interest to have an assessment done. For one thing, the May 1st resumption of penalties will creep up before you know it. Our easy pricing of only $125 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $500+ fines you can get saddled with. And while, yes, houses are selling faster than usual right now, there’s no guarantee you’ll make it in under the deadline. Peace of mind during the complicated selling process is key.
On top of that, it’s been shown that 2 out of 3 buyers in Portland check the Home Energy Score during their shopping process. While it’s a seller’s market in Portland right now, buyers are becoming increasingly savvy about energy costs. And the prominence Home Energy Scores in Portland area real estate is only expanding. Not disclosing your score could lead to mistrust and wariness on the part of prospective buyers.
So why not order a Home Energy Score and show those prospective buyers exactly what you home has to offer? With our easy pricing, you can also add on a laser floor plan and/or a 3D virtual tour! Rather than a burden, these simple steps are a way to market you home at its best. Contact us today, and we’ll make it easy to show your home in the best light.