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“By building in an area where homes have like features,” Pat Carson says, “homeowners are assured the best chance to gain market value for each additional design feature.”
Your proposed home needs to feel like something that will fly off the shelf, should things take a bad turn. That said, your banker needs to understand green benefits. But try not to over whiz bang your presentation. Stick to numbers and specifications. True, the construction department team will most likely understand, and may even appreciate your clever integration of grey water and irrigation systems—but if such a system requires extra work to get a county permit they may balk. You see, in the banking world, time is money, so general preferences are to support packaged products they can easily fit into their Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac or specific investor’s parameters. That doesn’t make it right. Or fair. But that’s the way it works.


Lenders: Like Attracts
Like Investors want to know exactly how green features will impact the long term value of the home they are about to underwrite.


Pat Carson, a mortgage officer with Washington Federal Bank, says building near other homes with similar green features makes bankers feel more confident.


“By building in an area where homes have like features,” she says, “home owners are assured the best chance to gain market value for each additional design feature.”


Understand that during the construction phase, the lending bank is definitely funding the project. But they want to be able—in most cases—to sell the loan on the secondary market once it is complete. To accomplish this, they need a very good package, justifying every single item, all verified along the way, about the home and the homeowner.


So give them value. To help your project fly, submit examples of money saved on energy in year one, year ten or over the replacement life span of the products your home may feature. Add some great descriptive language on the health and wellness aspects of green homes for air quality and quality of life. This is your chance to shine. Dig out your product stats and attach to your specification sheets with asterisks next to them so they are not missed. Be willing to speak to the underwriters about those advantages in layman’s terms. Construction specialist underwriters are working hard to match your proposal to their list and getting too far afield of that list will put the project in danger and make it harder for the homeowner.


Even modest FHA and VA home renovation lenders are getting pretty savvy about the latest in energy-efficient upgrades. Energy Star and IRS tax credit lists provide the relevant stats (handily found on HUD and IRS sites).


 


Susan Templeton is a Home Loan Consultant at Wells Fargo Home Loans in Bellingham, Wash. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design from NCSU. Her compelling vision is to improve the Earth with better homes and healthier, happier homeowners. She can be reached at: susan.templeton@wellsfargo.com

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