Insurance boost for off-grid homes

Make a house a green home
The American Clean Energy and Security Act is best known for its controversial “cap-and-trade” carbon emissions program, but the bill also contains an entire subsection devoted to creating incentives for consumers and federal agencies to build and finance more energy-efficient dwellings.

Under the Bill, State governments would be required to ensure that homeowners whose energy technologies allowed them to become  independent of utility companies for their power are not denied property hazard coverage by insurance companies.

That will make getting a mortgage on an off-grid property much easier.

It would be nice if you could just cancel theinsurance once you have the mortage, but sometimes it is as condition of the financing

At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a new generation of energy-efficient mortgages is being rolled out, starting with FHA loans that offer 5 percent larger mortgage amounts to people who plan to undertake energy-efficiency improvements.

Possible additional incentives in the pipeline: Give applicants credit for a home loan in exchange for documentable savings in annual energy expenditures.

The FHA is directed to ensure a minimum of 50,000 new energy-efficient mortgages during the coming three years. An energy-efficient house is defined as one in which energy consumption is reduced by 20 percent following renovations.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are directed to develop new mortgage products and more flexible underwriting guidelines to reward energy-conscious borrowers and builders.

*Real estate appraisers would be required to take energy improvements and the money they save into account as they value houses. For example, if you spent $30,000 on a series of major upgrades, an appraiser would need to consider the annual cost savings in energy produced and the impact, if any, on market value. States would require licensed appraisers to undergo additional professional training for their new energy-efficiency valuation responsibilities.

Federal financial regulators would be directed to support the establishment of privately run “green banking centers” in banks and credit unions across the country. The centers would help consumers understand how best to obtain financing for energy-conserving home improvements, second and primary mortgages, and energy audits and ratings.

A Seattle-based real estate firm, G2B Ventures, which is raising $50 million for an Efficient Real Estate Fund to buy up and rehab houses, says green-certified, high-energy conserving homes in its area sold for 7.5 percent more per square foot and 24 percent faster between 2007 and 2008.

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