Many years ago I worked briefly for a builder who offered a Ferrari to anyone who purchased a particular home. The builder specialized in very high end houses and only had a few under construction at any one time. When the downturn of the late 80s hit, he had a couple of homes that languished on the market for over a year. As an incentive he parked a Ferrari in the garage of one of the homes and advertised that the car went with the home. I’m not a car person, but even I know there aren’t too many inexpensive Ferraris floating around. I assume the home finally sold–I didn’t keep up with it after he shut down construction operations and I found myself out of work.
More homes for sale than there are interested purchasers creates a buyer’s market and sellers can get creative in their attempts to get their houses noticed. I recently read that KB Homes, a national homebuilder, has a new sales tool they’re trying out in an effort to attract buyers for their new houses. I not only think it’s a good idea–I believe anyone considering the purchase of an old house should create their own version of the program.
KB Homes is placing a sticker on their homes letting potential buyers know how much their average energy bills should be. The sticker is much the same as the fuel usage sticker on new cars. The amount is based on an average family using energy in a responsible manner in the local climate. Information on all the energy saving products in the house is also listed.
Families considering the purchase of an old house during this buyer’s market might want to consider taking this energy sticker concept one step further. Ask to see the seller’s utility bills from the past year and if they would arrange an energy audit for the old house. Energy audits are usually inexpensive and can alert you to items that might need attention after you settle on the home. Home inspectors point out areas that may be safety or structural concerns–an energy audit shows you possibilities for energy savings.
Purchasing an old house is a big step and the more information you have before signing your name on the dotted line–the less chance of having bad surprises later. I purchased an older home many years ago and about fainted when I got my first heating bill during a cold winter. If you have an old house you’re trying to sell in this tough market, it might be a good idea to arrange for an energy audit now. Showing a potential buyer that you’ve addressed the issues on the report might be the difference in whether they purchase your home or the one down the street.