One would think that a home that operates at 20% or better efficiency, resulting in lower costs, would better qualify a home buyer for the mortgage. After all, they can afford a higher mortgage payment if their utility bills are lower. And, in fairness, there has been an FHA "energy-efficient mortgage" program for years. It hasn't been a huge success, due to requirements for an energy audit, and some say a lack of appraisers who could adequately describe and evaluate increased value due to energy efficiency.
There are new mortgage opportunities in the works from Fannie Mae and the federal EnergyStar program that should help home buyers in upgrading and financing homes for lower energy consumption and smaller carbon footprints. Fannie Mae is expected to announce before the summer a program to reward home buyers who take out conventional mortgages and earmark part of the funding for energy improvements. Not only helping the environment, programs like this should help home buyers to start out right with a home that's more efficient with energy, saving them money every month of ownership in the future. There are also programs in place to train appraisers to better identify and value energy efficiency improvements to a home.
The federal EnergyStar program is also planning to announce new partnerships with major lenders by July. The goal will be the same, encouraging energy efficiency upgrades to lower living costs and help home buyers to qualify for mortgages with improvements financed in the deal.