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Real Estate

'Green' mortgage: Providers ponder energy rewards

The Senate is considering bipartisan legislation that would require Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and other federal mortgage entities to revamp their rules to reward energy savings.

Supporters of energy efficiency want lenders to take the net savings from energy improvements into consideration when they underwrite and impose mortgage fees, and they also want appraisers to take into account the value of new items and retrofits.

Meanwhile, a study of 71,000 home loans by University of North Carolina researchers revealed that mortgages on energy-efficient properties are 32 percent less likely to default.

More than 125 multiple listing services nationwide provide "green fields" in online listing information displays so that energy improvements and certifications for Energy Star-qualified appliances, solar power, and other features can be described.

Moreover, the Appraisal Institute is offering green valuation training for appraisers and has established a comprehensive "green addendum" that could result in higher property valuations.

In addition, Genworth Mortgage Insurance plans to offer green rewards to U.S. borrowers like it already does in Canada where borrowers receive a 10 percent refund on mortgage insurance premiums, online discounts for common household items, and even a break on their debt-to-income ratio for underwriting purposes if the home meets national or provincial energy efficiency guidelines.

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