Saturday, January 11, 2014


We are the first and only builder building energy smart custom home builders. All of our homes are built above minimum code with high-end materials and quality laborers. We GUARANTEE that our homes are more energy efficient than any other new or existing home built in Thomasville, GA. 

You simply can't buy a  NEW HOME and get a better RATING then "GUARANTEED".

When insurance companies offer discounts for lower risk customers, you can bet it’s based on reliable evidence. Think lower car insurance rates for drivers with no speeding tickets, and discounted life insurance for non-smokers.
Genworth, the large private mortgage insurance firm spun-off from General Electric, now offers a discount for buyer of energy efficient houses.  (OK – Genworth implemented this policy in Canada — but reports suggest it’s coming to the US market….
Genworth is validating that the risk of loss to the mortgage lender is lower when the borrower is in a more energy efficient house.
Blue Sky Homes Desert 2
Image via Blue Sky Building Systems
The policy makes a ton of sense.  Attributes of an energy efficient house — better air sealing, more insulation, high performance appliances — are attributes of a well-built house. These measures make a house more valuable. If the borrower gets into income trouble and can’t afford the mortgage payments, a more efficient house will likely hold its value better than a house built to lower standards.
And home value is a strong predictor of lender losses — if a borrower has home equity, default is rare because the house can be sold for more than the mortgage. For more on that, see this paper by economist John Campbell.
A more efficient house also means lower energy expenses, so the borrower might not get into income trouble in the first place. And, these lower expenses are one reason an efficient house is more valuable.
A funny thing about the mortgage market is that this kind of policy can be self-fulfilling. The fact that more energy efficient houses are more valuable is a basis for the Genworth policy to give a discount, but it’s also likely to be an outcome of the policy. That is, the discount on mortgage insurance should allow some borrowers to pay more for energy efficient houses and increase demand for those houses among homebuyers. This effect should remind lenders, investors, appraisers, and others how the current, conventional policy can be self-fulfilling in the opposite direction — loan policies that make it difficult for a borrower to borrow more to pay a premium for a more energy efficient house can inhibit the very evidence needed to support policy correction.
While most U.S. mortgage borrowers don’t get private mortgage insurance, the fact that Genworth has adopted this new policy should be a strong signal to lenders, investors, appraisers, and others to continually assess how the value of energy efficiency is reflected in the property value and the loan.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How to Identify a High Energy Performance Home

Capital Home Builders is the only and first custom and energy smart home builder in South Georgia. Our homes come with more features then any other home built in Georgia and South Georgia. We are also the only builder offering Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rated homes. We are the only builder with Residential Energy Guarantee. We will guarantee your electrical bill for Two Years and if you go over we will pay you back the difference. NO other builder in South Georgia will stand behind their homes like we do. We do not believe in building to minimum code and our homes are proof of that. You may pay 5% to 10% more for a High-Performance home, but with all of the energy savings you will make it back the first 2 years. 

So you’re looking to buy a new home…but not just any home. You want one that’s easy on the environment and uses less energy. A comfortable home that saves you money while reducing your carbon footprint.
In other words, what you want is a high energy performance home.
But how do you know when you’ve found one? I mean, how can you tell if the house you’re viewing is actually a high energy performance home? Is there a way to differentiate between a home that’s energy efficient from one that’s not?
Luckily there is and increasing numbers of builders are using it to market energy efficient homes. It’s called a HERS Index score and hopefully one day soon every house will have one.

Energy Performance and the HERS Index Score

So what is a HERS Index score anyway? The home energy rating system (HERS) was developed by RESNET to help homebuyers compare homes based on their energy performance. For example, when a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater does a home energy rating, they’ll give the home a HERS Index score based on its energy performance.

A standard new American construction home that adheres to current energy guidelines is awarded a default HERS Index score of 100, which serves as a benchmark against which all other homes are measured. A higher HERS Index score translates into a less energy efficient home, and vice-versa. A typical American resale home scores 130 on the HERS Index, making it 30% less energy efficient than a new construction home. On the other hand, if a house gets a HERS Index score of 50, it means that it’s 50% more energy efficient than a standard new construction home. And in Thomasville, GA. a typical new home has a score of 130.

Why the HERS Index Score is Important to Builders

Thanks to the HERS Index and HERS Index scores, for the first time homebuyers can actually get an true understanding about how energy efficient a home really is. This naturally changes the way people are viewing homes they’re interested in and builders have been quick to understand that. Consequently, many are now actively marketing their homes using HERS Index scores to advertise potential savings that homebuyers could enjoy when purchasing a high energy performance home.
In addition to this, utility companies too are jumping on the bandwagon by offering builders rebates on energy costs based on their homes’ HERS Index scores. In fact, LG&E and KU Energy, a utility company based in Louisville, Kentucky, recently had their Energy-Saving New Homes Program recognized as a RESNET Energy Smart Program. The program rewards enrolled builders with rebates based on the HERS Index scores of their houses. For example, single family dwellings with HERS Index scores of 85 are eligible for a rebate of $440, and it increases up to $1,200 for homes that score 50 or lower. LG&E and KU Energy are the first utility in the U.S. to earn this designation from RESNET.

What Does All This Mean to Homebuyers?

Thanks to increased efforts and awareness, it’s now getting easier for homebuyers to identify and buy high energy performance homes. As the popularity of HERS Index scores continues to grow, and with builders actively promoting energy efficient homes via their scores, the future is starting to look a little…well…greener than it once did!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Are green building attributes properly valued?

We've been building green custom smart homes since 2005,  Before buying a home in Thomasville, GA. educate yourself on the home you are looking to purchase and the quality construction of that home. The words “minimum code” is dedicate to homes that are not built to green or high performance. A “minimum code” will not have a HERS index of 50 or lower. A “minimum code” will have a HERS Index of 100 to 130 which means it is 80% more costly to operate then a High-performance home. Again, a true energy efficient home is tested by a third-party,

Now Realtors can blow smoke up your keister and tell you that the electrical bill of a minimum code home is $100.00/month when we know that a minimum code home is, again 80% more costly to operate than a true green high performance home.

Now we are sure there are many other creative ways an agent can show a low monthly bill by deciding to show the buyer an off month electrical bill, like from spring where the A/C unit is not used or a vacation month. But the only true way is by having it tested by a third-party Rater.

Do you have a “green” home? Or want to buy or build a green home? You’re not alone. According to the 2012 Yahoo Real Estate Home Horizons Study, Americans say a green or energy-efficient home would be a hallmark of their dream home, taking precedence — for the first time ever — over common favorites like water views or living in a gated community.
If you are looking to refinance, buy or build a home which outperforms typical code-built homes in energy efficiency, you probably have contemplated the question, what is the value of green?
A common belief is that lenders and appraisers cannot put a monetary value on green building features in the loan approval process. Not true. There is growing willingness, on the part of lenders, appraisers and Realtors to reflect the advantage of green in your home value, due in part to increased support from the federal government and the Appraisal Institute, and a willingness amongst homebuyers to pay more for high-performing third-party- certified green homes.
An extensive study conducted by the University of California analyzed 1.6 million single-family home sales from 2007 to 2012, and found that third-party green-certified homes sold for 9 percent more on average than comparable non-green-certified homes.
Residential appraisers often turn to the multiple-listing service (MLS ) for comparable sales data to assist in valuing properties. Santa Fe’s MLS is one of 185 MLS databases nationwide that have green data fields; there are approximately 665 others that do not. Increasing use of these fields by Realtors will assist appraisal values for green homes.
Appraisers can also use the Appraisal Institute’s Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum, a nationally recognized document that categorically highlights the energy, water, solar and other green features of a home so as to be monetized in the valuation of the appraisal. There are other valuation techniques available to appraisers; however, a green appraisal requires more training, skill and time than a standard appraisal.
Any owner requesting a green appraisal has the right to require that your lender use an appraiser experienced in green property valuation. Santa Fe has several appraisers with green valuation experience. If you hope to maximize the value of the green features in your appraisal, you should also present your qualified appraiser with easy-to-understand, itemized cost data for the energy, water, solar and other green improvements you made versus a code minimum home.
With the help of a HERS rater, you can also itemize the cost savings of your energy upgrades versus code-minimum construction. It is the responsibility of the builder or homeowner to inform the appraiser of these added value features.
As we emerge from the housing lull and move into a new era of slow but steady growth, we have a golden (and green) opportunity to increase the value of the green home projects we are conducting in the City Different.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Capital Home Builders is Building to a Higher Standard!

We are focused on high quality built homes not square footage!
Capital Home Builders Designated as a RESNET Energy Smart Homes Builder for Committing to Build Energy Efficient Homes and Marketing Their Homes HERS Index Score

ThomasvilleGeorgia based home builder Capital Home Builders has entered into an agreement with the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) to provide new home buyers an important measurement of long-term energy performance of each new home the company builds.  The intent of the agreement is to raise consumers’ knowledge of new home energy performance by using RESNET’s HERS Index.  Use of the HERS Index will differentiate homes built by Capital Home Builders from other homes for sale in the Thomas County housing

Capital Home Builders is custom energy efficient home builder. The company was the first homebuilder to acquire the ENERGY STAR designation in South Georgia.  For more information on the company visit their web site at

The RESNET HERS Index is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. The HERS or Home Energy Rating System was developed by RESNET and is the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. Certified RESNET Home Energy Raters conduct inspections to verify a home’s energy performance and determine what improvements can be made to increase it. For more information go to

Izzy of Capital Home Builders, said RESNET’s HERS provides a quantitative measure of energy efficiency and permits comparisons between homes.   “It is expected that Capital Home Builders’ agreement with RESNET will serve as a model to other local and regional builders that would have positive outcomes for consumers and the new home industry,”

Steve Baden, executive director of RESNET lauded Capital Home Builders’ leadership for improving the energy performance of new homes.  “Today’s new homes are much more efficient in comparison to homes built just a decade ago.  These homes are more affordable to maintain, comfortable and have a higher value.  Thanks to leaders like Capital Home Builders, builders are increasing the energy performance of the homes they build.  This is good for consumers, the environment, the local economy and our national security.  It is great to have such a quality builder like Capital Home Builders educating homebuyers on the RESNET HERS Index.”
RESNET EnergySmart Builder
In making the commitment Capital Home Builders has been designated by RESNET as an RESNET Energy Smart Builder. RESNET Energy Smart Builders are leading the transformation of the housing towards high energy performance homes. These leading builders are committed to having all of their homes energy rated following RESNET’s stringent standards and marketing their homes HERS Index Score.

Energy-efficient homes seem to sell faster, fetch higher prices

Capital Home Builders Energy-efficient homes provide more efficient, healthful, and comfortable living environments by treating the structure as a complete system, where every component must work in harmony. Energy-efficient homes also use fresh-air ventilation and pressure-management techniques that maintain better air quality and comfort. AND, a properly balanced heating and cooling system means maximum energy efficiency. We are the only builder in Thomasville and South Georgia to have the best built homes and the only builder to have all of our homes "HERS Rated"
Some research projects in California, Oregon and Washington offer hints that energy efficiency and sustainability certifications for homes may result in easier sales and higher prices.

Home energy efficiency and sustainability have been major policy priorities for the Obama administration, but lurking in the background are two consistent questions: Beyond the documentable savings on utility bills, do such steps add to the resale value of a home? And do they make it easier or faster to sell your property?

Housing groups and housing officials say that definitive statistical data covering multiple regions of the country are scarce. But some localized research projects in Oregon, Washington and California offer promising hints.
In a study covering existing and new houses sold from May 2010 through April of this year, the Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit group based in Portland, Ore., found that newly constructed homes with third-party certifications for sustainability and energy efficiency sold for 9% more on average than noncertified homes in the six-county Portland metropolitan area. Existing houses with certifications sold for 30% more.
The raw sales data in the study were provided by the Portland Regional Multiple Listing Service. "Certified" houses were defined as those carrying Energy Star or LEED for Homes designations or Earth Advantage home certifications. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) The latest study was the fourth in an annual series conducted by Earth Advantage, each of which has shown clear price premiums for certified houses.
But officials caution that using average sales prices pulled from MLS data without trying to measure "comparable" homes against one another directly may not be conclusive. For instance, newly constructed certified houses may be more expensive to start, and existing certified homes may be larger and more likely to be in higher-cost neighborhoods where homeowner adoption rates for energy-efficiency measures are higher.
Nonetheless, said Dakota Gale, Earth Advantage's manager of sustainable finance, looking back at four years of studies, "we can still see a consistent trend that third-party certification continues to result in a higher sales price, even during the past year when home sales were down."
A study conducted two years ago by the institute in Seattle and Portland identified what may be another plus: Homes marketed with energy-efficiency certifications appear to sell faster on average than those without. The study tried to come up with rough comparability in appraisal terms between certified and noncertified properties, and it found that in Portland, certified homes spent 18 days less time on the market after listing than noncertified counterparts. In both Portland and Seattle, researchers documented price premiums — 9.6% in Seattle, 4.2% in Portland — in a statistical analysis with a 95% confidence level.
A recent study on houses in San Diego and Sacramento published by the National Bureau of Economic Research took a different tack: When you install photovoltaic solar panels on your roof, how much do you get back in market resale terms, beyond monthly energy savings?
Researchers examined a sample of home sales in the $500,000 range in both metropolitan areas between 2003 and 2010 and found that, on average, solar panel installations cost owners $35,967. But with federal and state subsidies, the net average cost came down to $20,892. This net expenditure, in turn, yielded an increase in appraised value by $20,194 — a 97% rate of recovery on the investment.
Though less than 100%, the rate is much higher than most home improvements in the most recent "Cost vs. Value" study conducted by Remodeling magazine — well above major kitchen and bathroom renovations.
Kevin Morrow, senior program manager for green building at the National Assn. of Home Builders, says that although many newly constructed homes come with energy and sustainability certifications, banks don't necessarily recognize their value when it comes to providing mortgage money.
For example, bank underwriters often do not include reduced monthly utility costs in the household income/household expense ratios that affect the maximum mortgage amounts available to buyers.
"The case needs to be made" to lenders, he said, "that, hey, these houses will cost less to operate, so they should be worth more."
Morrow added that appraisers are part of the issue as well if they don't have the training to recognize and credit extra value to houses that have money-saving solar installations, geothermal heating and cooling, Energy Star appliances, water conservation features and other green improvements.
The Appraisal Institute, the largest group representing that industry, says it has sponsored "green" appraisal courses for 2,300 appraisers during the last two years. It says it strongly supports efforts to better incorporate energy and environmental factors into mortgage underwriting and home valuations, including a possible congressional mandate requiring it.

7 tips for buyers looking for a green home

If you're in the market to buy an eco-friendly dwelling, researchers say you should expect to pay more for a so-called green home. How much more depends on a number of factors, but in a recent study looking at data from 1.6 million California home sales from 2007 to 2012, University of California researchers found that green-certified single-family homes sold for $34,800 more -- or 9 percent more -- than comparable homes that weren't certified green.

Green is in vogue. Amber Turner, a broker with Living Room Realtors in Portland, Ore., estimates that about three-quarters of her buyers begin their search with a strong interest in green, even if what they mean by green is vague.

"Most buyers start from the standpoint of wanting an energy-efficient home," she says. "But for about half of my buyers, going green ultimately becomes a deciding factor in the home they choose to purchase."

While the growing interest in green has Turner excited, she worries that some buyers are falling victim to green washing, the practice of marketing a product as eco-friendly when it really isn't. (Thomasville, GA)

"If you want to buy a green home, you definitely have to do some extra homework," says Turner.

How do you define a ‘green’ home?If want to buy a green home, the first thing you should do is ask yourself why, says David Bergman, who teaches green architecture at Parsons The New School for Design in New York and wrote the book "Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide."

"It's an important question because people tend to buy a green home for one of three reasons, and while each of those reasons overlap somewhat, they do determine what the buyer really means by green."

According to Bergman, green can be as simple as saving on energy costs, which means buyers will want to focus on energy-efficient appliances, weatherproof windows and good insulation.

Alternatively, some buyers define green in personal health terms, so they want a home that uses nontoxic materials. For these buyers, even seemingly innocuous carpeting is a big deal, because carpets can be a nightmare for people with allergies.
Last, some buyers define green as contributing to a sustainable future. For those buyers, Bergman says, it's often important to look for building materials that are locally sourced and sustainable.

If you're serious about looking at green homes, you should work with an agent who sells green, Turner says.

"There are a lot of little things you'll see in a green home that are different," Turner says. "So it's helpful to have an agent who's worked in that part of the market." Marlene Bienes (EcoBroker) RoseCityRealty

Referrals are one of the best ways to find an agent who specializes in green. But it's not the only way, according to Turner, who advises buyers to look for green real estate tours in their area.

"I got up to speed on green by spending several years in a group that toured local green homes," Turner says. "The group was free and open to Realtors as well as the general public."

It's also possible to find a broker or real estate agent with green certification. Marlene Bienes (EcoBroker) RoseCityRealty Earth Advantage is one popular certification authority. But it's important to remember that there isn't a standardized national certification. Plenty of brokers know green, even if they don't have the credentials. Not in Thomasville, GA.  Likewise, it's important to research the certifying authority, because the mere presence of a certificate doesn't necessarily mean the real estate agent is an expert.

Look for the signs of a green homeAre you looking at a truly green home? Finding the answer could be more complex than you might think.

According to Bergman, buyers can usually tell quite a bit about a home just by looking at the appliances (Energy Star is a big plus), the windows (double pane), and the heating and air-conditioning system. But to learn about the insulation -- which can make a big difference on the utility bill -- buyers will often have to ask or rely on an energy audit, which could run about $500. (HERS)

"Asking to see past utility bills is an option," Make sure the bill is not from winter. Bergman says, "but the bill won't tell you everything you need to know about energy efficiency because human behavior is such a big factor."

Likewise, it's a good idea for buyers to ask about documentation on green features. But they shouldn't be surprised or dissuaded if the seller can't provide paperwork.
"The certification process for a lot of green features may not be standardized yet, but if it's there, it's a good idea to use it," Turner says.

Discern the home’s relation to the landOne often-overlooked aspect of buying a green home is the property, says Cassy Aoyagi, owner of FormLA Landscaping in Los Angeles.

"A green home isn't just a green structure, it's a home that makes the best use of the land," Aoyagi says. "Asking simple questions like which direction the home is oriented toward can tell you a lot about the home's green credentials."

The house's orientation determines how much sun exposure it gets, which affects heating and air-conditioning use. Likewise, it's important to understand the prevailing winds, because they affect the temperature inside the home.

Outside, Aoyagi says buyers should also pay attention to the landscaping. If it's dominated by non-native plants, that should raise alarms for green buyers.

"In some parts of the country, water is a serious issue, so non-native plants are going to raise your costs and make it harder to be green," Aoyagi says. "But no matter where you are, there's always the issue of maintenance, which costs money and uses energy. Sustainable landscaping is about understanding how to pick plants and trees that don't need the same maintenance as a lawn."

Does the seller care about green?Buyers who buy green inevitably do so from sellers who care about green. Consequently, Turner says buyers can learn a lot just by engaging the seller or agent in a conversation about the home's green features.

"The more questions you ask about green, the more likely you are to figure out if they're selling you a truly green home or a green wash," she says.

To get an edge on a would-be green washer, do a little Internet research.
"The Internet is full of these quick little lists that tell you how to make a home green without much effort," Turner says. "If you find that the seller has done the bare minimum of updates that coincide with the top two or three on those lists, there's a good chance you're talking to someone who isn't as serious about green as you."

On the other hand, Turner points out, sellers who are passionate about green tend to have deep knowledge of the topic.

What’s the break-even period?While some buyers will pay a premium for green no matter what, most buyers want to know if they will get a return on their investment, according to Bergman. For example, they want to know how long it will take to break even after paying for energy-efficient features.

Each home is different, but Bergman says buyers who plan stay for a decade or more stand a good chance of saving money by going green, even if they pay an upfront premium.

On the other hand, buyers who are in it for the short run, or who want to flip the house, should understand that a lot of the savings comes from lower energy bills, which means owning a green home for five years or less probably won't pay off.

What about the mortgage?Some buyers report difficulty in getting lenders and appraisers to recognize the value of a green home.

"Unfortunately, the lending industry just isn't as up to speed on green as we'd like it to be," Turner says. She adds that it's sometimes hard for appraisers to find comparable houses nearby, because green homes are relatively new.

While green buyers may have a hard time convincing lenders their utility costs will be substantially lower than in a standard home, they're not entirely without resources. Last year, the Appraisal Institute, a trade group for real estate appraisers, introduced a new, optional form that helps appraisers better take into account energy-efficient and green features when valuing homes.

Making the financial case for a green home may not be as cut-and-dried as for standard homes, Turner says, but the marketing is changing fast when it comes to green.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Watch For "Green" Claims To Rise In Real Estate

The town of Thomasville, GA Is NOT immune to “Green Washing”

I was recently introduced to an article in the St. Petersburg Times that deals with the now-popular term "greenwashing". It was called "'Green' Houses in Name Only?" by Chuin-Wei Yap. I thought the author did a good job of framing the problem that is starting to crop up everywhere in real estate - sellers inappropriately identifying their homes as "green" or "energy efficient". I loved this quote:

"As home building slumps and environmentalism becomes a business advantage, a fast-growing market for green homes is becoming synonymous with "buyer beware"

The article addressed the lack of proper oversight in "green" claims and the frustrations certifying organizations face when they see claims being made. Since most of the oversight still is voluntary, there's nothing to stop a builder (or realtor) from making a claim that the home is energy efficient or even green-built. In fact, we have at least one builder I know of who's labeling their homes as energy efficient (they're nothing special, and are not certified as Energy Star or better to my knowledge). When I questioned the claim to the listing agent (in a friendly way) I got silence in reply.

"Greenwashing" is the general term for mis-representation or over-representation of a product's environmentally-friendly attributes. Keep a sharp eye out for this trend in real estate and "buyer beware".