NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 6, 2009

Under a new city law, residents of Austin, Texas, must purchase costly energy audits before they will be allowed to sell their homes.  Prospective sellers must provide evidence they've had a professional analysis of items such as heating systems, cooling systems, draftiness and insulation.  Austin joins San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif., as the only cities requiring such energy audits, which typically cost $200 to $300 apiece.  The requirement is an additional burden on homeowners already finding it difficult to sell their residences in a depressed housing market, says the Heartland Institute.

Experts agree that this is a bad policy:

  • H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, says this may not seem like much, but in a tough economy, the city council is shooting homeowners in the foot by making it more costly and difficult to sell a home; homes will be rated on something that may or may not be important to people, and based on these standards, it could cost sales by laying an additional cost on sellers and buyers.
  • Alan Steinberg, 2008 Republican candidate for Congress in Texas's 22nd district, believes government intervention into private markets is uncalled for and an unnecessary action that will only harm individuals in an already depressed market while benefiting special interests.
  • Drew Thornley, an environmental policy analyst, says that if prospective buyers desire an energy-efficiency assessment, they have the freedom to search for such information, on their own dime; whereas home sellers have no choice but to comply, or else they are potentially subject to criminal prosecution.

Furthermore, says Steinberg, consumer protection would be better met through requiring home inspections that could result in the identification of structural flaws than energy audits that are generally conducted by individuals interested in selling products to homeowners.

Source: Krystle Russin, "Austin Residents Must Conduct Energy Audits Before Selling Home," Heartland Institute, September 1, 2009.


Browse more articles on Government Issues