Massachusetts Legislators Choose to ‘Do No Harm’ to Homeowners and the Real Estate Market

As of August 1, 2016, The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® (MAR) and its 22,000 members applaud the decision of the Massachusetts Legislature to do no harm to homeowners by not including mandatory energy inspections and scoring provisions in the conference committee report on energy diversity. If passed, these mandates would have been detrimental to the Massachusetts real estate market, especially low- and moderate-income homeowners.

 “We would like to thank the members of the Senate-House Conference Committee who worked tirelessly on the energy diversity bill and made the right decision to remove provisions of the bill that would have hurt private homeowners and the real estate market,” said 2016 MAR President Annie Blatz, branch executive at Kinlin Grover Real Estate on Cape Cod. “MAR will continue to promote the importance of energy efficiency to homeowners and voluntary programs like Mass Save that have been successful in making Massachusetts the most energy-efficient state in the US for the past five years.”

Why Mandatory Energy Inspections and Labels are Bad for Massachusetts Homeowners and the Real Estate Market:

The Issue: Realtors® support energy efficiency, but oppose mandatory energy inspections and labeling on homes prior to sale. The specific reasons are:

  • Both buyers and sellers already have the opportunity to request an energy audit prior to a purchasing agreement;
  • Energy scoring could stigmatize older homes and entire neighborhoods (the median age of a home in Mass. is over 50 years);
  • Low- and moderate-income homeowners who can’t afford upgrades would be disproportionately impacted and would see home values drop;
  • Instead of focusing on ways to incentivize all homeowners to make energy efficient upgrades to their home, such proposals would complicate an already complicated process of buying and selling a home.

Proponents like to compare home energy labels to MPG ratings of new cars or Energy Star scores on new appliances. Older cars and appliances, however, are not rated and neither should older homes. If passed, these requirements would have been like putting a new MPG requirement on a 50-plus-year-old car; it doesn’t make sense.

Get to know MAR's Position on Energy Efficiency

MAR Public Policy Statement on Energy: "The free market system is the most appropriate means to influence the public to conserve energy, and in the domestic expansion and development of existing and new energy sources, which are essential to our nation's security and economic prosperity."

Realtors® Support

  • The role of state government in joining with private enterprise to reach and develop alternative energy sources, as well as to promote energy conservation and efficiency
  • The concept of positive incentives for conservation activities such as energy tax credits and other financial incentives, for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation activities
  • Increased emphasis on energy efficient technology by the nation's building industry
  • The voluntary design, construction, and management of buildings in an environmentally-conscious and energy-efficient manner

    Realtors® Oppose

  • The concept of mandating the labeling or scoring of homes, particularly at transfer, in terms of their perceived energy efficiency and, specifically the potentially disparate impacts of such a scoring mechanism on older homes.

  • Realtors® Promote Mass Save

  • Realtors® have promoted Mass Save energy audits to homeowners since its inception
  • MAR supported legislation requiring home inspectors to provide Mass Save audit information as part of the home inspection process
  • MAR is currently working with EverSource and National Grid to create education and incentive programs to increase the number of audits and energy improvements completed by homeowners

  • Energy Education

  • MAR's Realtor® Institute program includes segments on energy efficiency
  • The Realtor® Association’s GREEN Designation is designed for Realtors® looking to learn about issues of energy efficiency and sustainability in real estate
  • MAR offers ongoing webinars on energy efficiency for its 22,000 members

  • Participation and Advocacy

  • MAR is an active member of the state's Energy Advisory Council, which is considering ways to maintain and improve Massachusetts #1 national position in energy efficiency

  • Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

  • Realtor® affiliated multiple listing services make it possible for Realtors® and their clients to easily market and find homes for sale that include energy efficiency upgrades