Austin City Council adopted some changes to the Energy Conservation and Disclosure Ordnance for homes sold after May 2nd 2011. In a nutshell, condo sellers have to perform ECAD Audits and the reports have to be handed over to buyers earlier in the process.
Before the changes, the seller could theoretically hand over the report on the day of closing, at which point the buyer might learn of leaky ducts, huge leaks in the weatherstripping and poor attic insulation. A competent home inspector would point out the last two, though not everyone uses an inspector – competent or otherwise.
With the updated ordnance the seller has to hand over the report to the buyer three days before the end of their purchase contract option period, which gives the competent buyer time to negotiate on the findings – as with a regular general inspector report. If the buyer wants no option period, the report needs to change hands before the purchase contract is executed.
So how does a seller take advantage of this requirement? By being prepared. My take is that any homeowner would be interested in the results of an ECAD Audit, and given that they’re valid for 10 years, there’s no reason to leave it until your home sale preparation to perform the diagnostics. In that respect, ECAD Audit improvements aren’t like replacing carpet prior to sale – there’s no depreciation or degradation of the investment in it if you do it four years before sale. It’s also relatively inexpensive.
“ECAD audits are an often overlooked opportunity for home and condo owners to learn valuable information about their homes’ performance.” explains Positive Energy’s Kristof Irwin. Home performance in Kristof’s mind includes comfort, durability, health and efficiency concerns.
There are other programs that allow you to avoid the ECAD- for example the ENERGY STAR free walkthrough analysis for homes 10 years or older. If you perform this analysis and get $500 or more in rebates for carrying out recommended work, then you are exempt from the ECAD Audit. There are rebates for Window work, HVAC replacement, Attic Insulation and Air Infiltration and Duct Sealing outlined in this Austin Energy Pamphlet.
The key difference in the programs is that the ECAD specifically tests air and duct leakage, and these are some of the things that are simplest to fix with the biggest results. So a savvy buyer is going to look for these things over non-specific improvements that have garnered $500 in rebates. Many buyers love detail and a home with nothing to hide – so as a seller it’s important to collect data to support the idea that you’re selling a well-maintained home. That includes reports, receipts and descriptions and dates of work completed.
Sellers: to find out if you are exempt from an ECAD Audit on selling your Austin home, use Austin Energy™s self-check site
Garreth Wilcock is an Austin Realtor and EcoBroker and helps buyers and sellers understand how to get the most of the ECAD Audits. 512 215 4785