You may think there is too much "pork" in the recently signed stimulus bill. Or perhaps too much spending or too may tax cuts. Its passage may offend your Keynesian or Monetarist economic views, and may, you believe, lead to the very demise of capitalism itself (OK, that may be going too far). You may not think we need a stimulus at all-that we should let the free market recover on its own. Whatever your political and economic viewpoint, if you believe our country's energy policy needs a fundamental change, and that energy efficiency and renewable energy can simultaneously stimulate the economy and help the planet, chances are you are excited about the green provisions of the bill.
To say the stimulus is big is an understatement. It is huge, colossal, gargantuan even. It is the largest spending bill the world has ever seen, which is a frightening proposition to say the least. However, if you can get past the staggering debt created by the bill, you'll find unprecedented subsidies for the energy sector. Here is an abbreviated summary of some of the energy-related provisions that can impact your real estate business:
- $6.3 billion for energy efficiency in multifamily housing getting federal assistance, such as HUD-sponsored low-income housing
- $5 billion to weatherize more than 1 million homes owned by "modest-income" families
- $4.5 billion to increase the energy efficiency of federal buildings
- $4 billion to repair and modernize public housing units
- $2 billion to increase the tax credit for hybrid cars to $7,500
- $1.4 billion for bonds to carry out state and local renewable energy and conservation projects
- $510 million to repair and modernize more than 4,000 Native American housing units
- $500 million to train workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy
- $300 million for consumer rebates for energy-efficient appliances
- $268 million to remove caps on a 30 percent residential credit for solar, wind, and geothermal
- $250 million to HUD to improve the efficiency of government-subsidized apartments
The New York Times released a detailed breakdown of the energy provisions here.
Interesting Facts About the $5 Billion Dedicated to Weatherization Assistance
- This amount could weatherize 1 million homes and, directly and indirectly, create 375,000 jobs.
- Low-income families will save an average of $350 annually from weatherization.
- Every investment of $1 billion in clean energy programs creates nearly 5,000 more jobs than traditional infrastructure spending.
As a real estate professional, you may be wondering how you can benefit from all of this spending. Here are a few suggestions:
You can always contact your state energy office and obtain information about their weatherization program. Once you have this information, how can you apply it?
Do you know someone on your lead list, or perhaps a past client, who could use some free insulation or some caulking around their windows? Why wouldn't you take the time to connect a potential client with free weatherization money for home improvements that will actually improve their comfort and quality of life?
When the time comes to sell their home, who do you think they are going to call? Mr. Big Shot REALTOR® with the huge advertising budget? Or the considerate agent who thoughtfully took the time to help make their winter a little more comfortable?
Maybe you've already helped a family move into a green home, or have helped them retrofit it. You already know that green topics are important to them, so why wouldn't you tell them about the $7,500 tax credit for purchasing a plug-in hybrid vehicle?
Do they already have a hybrid? Tell them about the rebates for energy-efficient appliances.
Even better, how about informing them about the removal of the 30 percent cap on residential solar systems? Combine this credit with local incentives currently offered by a number of states and your clients can start producing their own energy for around 1/4th of the sticker price. Now that's exciting!
Whatever the scenario, you should know that your competition will be putting the stimulus to good use. How will your business benefit? Start planning today.