Will Your Power Bills Scare Off the Buyers??

Industry Observer

When buyers evaluate homes they might want to buy, one thing that often comes up is the energy efficiency (or lack thereof) of a particular home.  A savvy buyer wants to make sure they know the full cost of owning the home they choose, and even if the purchase price is affordable, there is more to be considered. 

Will the winter heat bills all of a sudden blow up their budget?  Is the house well insulated or are they going to be feeling drafts the moment summer is over?  Is the furnace old and inefficient?


Scared buyer

Yes, the smart buyers do ask these questions.  A common request from a really serious buyer is to review the recent power bills for the last year.  Certainly each family has a unique lifestyle so that if the current owners of the house are a family of five, with three teenage girls, and the elderly mother of one spouse, their power bill may be higher than the single person considering buying.

But if you already hate your power bills at the house you are selling, it may be well worth the time to investigate if there are easy ways to improve things - for you and your potential buyers.  You may want to start with scheduling an energy evaluation to see where you could make improvements that make sense for the length of time you intend to own the house (ie some improvements are pretty costly on the front end and you might need to stay in the house for years to see the payback equal out).  But adding some insulation, sealing up areas around doors and windows, installing a programmable thermostat, getting your furnace serviced for top efficiency - these may be very low cost/high benefit kinds of things to consider.

Your buyers will be much less nervous if your power bills are not through the roof - and you will enjoy the savings until you do sell!


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Nancy Conner, City Realty Inc,    360-701-1086     nancy@cityrealtyinc.net      

Comments (47)

Rosie Moore
Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City - Sugar Land, TX

I agree with Joan #27. Everyone's energy usage is different.  And, I don't think it is a bad idea to get an energy evaluation. Simple furnace or a/c maintenance can ensure these appliances are being used to their efficient potential. Thanks for the blog!

Feb 02, 2014 12:46 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I think it mean quite a bit these days. Energy costs are a bit up! :)


Love and light,


Feb 02, 2014 12:58 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Nancy, I fully agree with you. As much as it all depends on the habits and requirements, this is something that should be a concern for buyers!

We have 'MASS SAVE' program that does a thorough check on how one can save energy.

Feb 02, 2014 03:11 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA


I'd also suggest those buyers who move from a condo to a house research more about utilities costs( not to have any surprises in future). I remember, when I moved to a house, my first bill for electricity/water/trash was a huge shock.

Energy efficient appliances and a proper home isolation is the must to keep some utilities payments low.

Feb 02, 2014 03:44 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Energy useage is very personal; different families have different sensitivities to how much they use. That being said, locally homeowners can get a free energy audit and use those results to help sell their homes.

Feb 02, 2014 08:58 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good mornng Nancy. Great topic and accurate. In my experience both personally and professionally, heating and cooling costs do matter: a lot.

Feb 02, 2014 09:28 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Nancy, I think buyers do want to know what their utility expenses will run when purchasing a home. Although different life styles will dictate how much is used, it will still give the purchaser an idea of the costs.

Feb 02, 2014 10:40 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Around my home, we just bundle up when it gets cold but not everyone takes that approach...Definitely a factor but can be handled

Feb 02, 2014 11:08 PM
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

I perform Home Inspections and Energy Audits here in Reno andit is very rare for people to ask for utility info. While it's a great idea it's true that occupants do have an impact on this. If your touring a house look for some signs that might give you a clue to how the house performs. Electric heaters, plastic on windows lots or wood or pellets stored up, and old heating or cooling systems. I know FHA loans are not as desireable as they once were but doing an Energy Efficient Mortgage is a great option for those older houses. 

Feb 02, 2014 11:31 PM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Nancy:  Ironic .. my brother-in-law just told us that he is planning on having the utility companies come to perform an energy audit next week.  Truly makes sense for a whole host of reasons ...


Feb 02, 2014 11:35 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Buyers want to see these costs. It can make or break a sale.

Feb 03, 2014 01:18 AM
Jim Griffin
HouseLens: Video Marketing for Real Estate - Nashville, TN

Great point, Nancy. Energy efficiency is bigger on the radar than it used to be, especially in urban areas with high energy costs. On the flip side, energy-efficient improvements can be a great selling point. One of my co-workers lives in a historic Nashville neighborhood; when he and his wife sold their first house there a few years ago, the buyers told their agent they were really drawn by the new windows and HVAC system.

Feb 03, 2014 04:49 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

Thanks Robert - many, many buyers do like to make sure the whole package of costs fits into their budget without too much pinching.

That's interesting Eric!  Here most houses have either electric or gas heat (owned by the same company...) but in some of the rural areas where natural gas is not available we do see propane.

Joan, there are indeed a lot of variables that can impact energy costs, so any info on seller's bills is only one bit of info for the buyers to weigh.

Feb 03, 2014 04:53 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

Thanks Rosie - energy evaluations are a great tool to make sure that costs aren't higher than they need to be.  And regular "tune-ups" for heat systems can also sure help make sure maximum efficiency is reached.

Hi Laura - with so much of the country having a REALLY cold winter, I suspect energy bills are on many people's minds.  We've been lucky to (so far) have a pretty mild winter here.

Your Mass Save program sounds like a great one Praful!  Our power company is also pretty proactive at encouraging people to improve energy efficiency with rebates and special offers.  Always great to get some help lowering those bills!

Feb 03, 2014 04:57 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

Good point Inna!  I can remember buyers moving from either a condo or a rental where utilities were either included in the HOA fee or paid by the landlord - that sure can be a shock to realize it's a new expense to budget for!

True Nina - as we are seeing more people here get the energy audits, it is and likely will continue to be something sellers can show as a plus (if they do have an energy efficient home)

Hi Sheila - thanks!  I agree that I sure do scrutinize my utility costs and try to figure if there are ways to lower them!

Feb 03, 2014 05:16 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

Yes, Michael - it does at least give them a starting point to consider if maybe they will want to/need to do some energy efficiency upgrades in the home - or maybe decide it just is not the right home for them at all!

Love it Richie!  Brings back memories of my mom telling my siblings and I to just go put on another layer if we were saying we were cold!

Feb 03, 2014 05:18 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

Rob, you bring up an excellent point that sometimes there are some little hints to help a buyer!  Since we don't typically have super hot summers here, when I show a house that has window air conditioners in several rooms, I always wonder.... And we have at least one local lender who will incorporate the cost savings of adding energy efficiency in how they consider the debt to income ratio of a buyer.

Feb 03, 2014 05:21 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

Hi Gene!  Well, if he lives back there in "deep freeze country", it sure does make sense to let an energy audit point to any ways to cut costs and gain comfort!

Debbie - and it really can go either way.  Buyers can be really reassured to find out their utility bills won't be too awful - and in comparing similar homes, it can be a deciding factor.

Exactly Jim!  A wise seller can really position their home to stand out (in a positive sense) if they can detail energy improvements they have made!

Feb 03, 2014 05:25 AM
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

Another useful energy saving tip I forgot, an electric blanket.  A programmable thermostat lowers the room temperature overnight, but an electric blanket keeps you warm while sleeping.  Then the programmable thermostat raises the room temperature again before the morning alarm clock goes off.

Feb 03, 2014 09:15 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

Great tip Jerry - there are so many good ideas like those to keep people comfortable without costing them a fortune in power bills!

Feb 04, 2014 06:15 AM