The NorthstarMLS® Multiple Listing Service and the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) are pleased to announce the addition of two new fields to MLS home listings in Minnesota and western Wisconsin that take effect on June 6, 2013. These fields are tremendously important for new homes in particular, allowing prospective buyers an easy way to assess a home’s energy and environmental qualities.

The new fields, the HERS score and green-certification check off, are gaining importance to homebuilders as buyers seek more in-depth information before they choose a home. BATC did extensive research when developing MN Green Path, its two-year-old green certification and energy-testing program, about what homebuyers want today and the trends into the future. It was very clear that what homebuyers really want is the ability to choose a level of green and energy efficiency that suits them — but that means they need easily accessible and independently verified information.

“Our agents have made it very clear that information on energy ratings and green features are very important to their homebuyer clients,” said John Mosey, President of NorthstarMLS. “We concluded that adding these two fields and accompanying documentation to our home listings is the most effective way to offer a simple yet powerful tool for Realtors® to better meet the needs of their individual clients.”

The HERS score is the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is measured. The HERS (Home Energy Rating System) was developed by RESNET, an independent, non-profit organization that sets national standards for energy ratings, ensuring accuracy and consistency. Certified RESNET raters conduct on-site inspections and energy tests during construction and at the home’s completion. Data gathered by RESNET raters is entered into energy modeling software that calculates the home’s energy rating or HERS score. The three-digit HERS score rates homes against an index of the average U.S. new home’s energy efficiency HERS of 100 based on the 2004 International Residential Code for construction. The lower the score, the more energy efficient the home. (In Minnesota, homes built to code generally test at around 80 while older homes often test around 120-130, if not higher.)

Already, energy testing is becoming the standard for new homes in Minnesota. In Spring 2013, over 30 percent of homes on BATC’s Parade of Homes were tested and received a Green Path Home Performance Report (HPR), which documents the home’s HERS score. When Minnesota adopts the next generation of building codes (sometime in 2014), testing is expected to be required. By then, new home buyers will demand to see a HERS score just like they demand to see a MPG rating before they buy a new car.

The second new NorthstarMLS field recognizes that some buyers want homes with a higher level of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. These buyers look to a number of green build programs that offer certification to homes that meet their standards. MN Green Path Advanced and Master Certified, LEED for Homes, Wisconsin Green Build, and MN GreenStar are examples of such programs. Homes listed as Green Certified under any of these programs can use the new check off, and will require appropriate backup information.

BATC has been working with NorthstarMLS for several years, aided at times by other green building groups, to bring this important information to real estate agents and ultimately consumers. Green and energy information included on MLS listings has been proven effective in a number of other communities across the United States. Now, buyers choosing a home in the Twin Cities region can make even better informed decisions about the most expensive purchase they are likely to make.

“We are very pleased to have the NorthstarMLS recognize how energy testing and green building is impacting the purchase decisions,” explained BATC Executive Director David Siegel. “In markets where similar data has been available through MLS services for a number of years, buyers are clearly taking this information into account when making decisions, often impacting sales price and time on market.”

About NorthstarMLS: NorthstarMLS® serves more than 14,000 REALTORS® in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Realtors use the NorthstarMLS system to cooperate between buyers’ and sellers’ representation resulting in over $12.4 billion in real estate transaction activity in 2012. The NorthstarMLS system conducted more than $12.4 billion of real estate transaction volume in 2012. We give customers access to more than 36,000 Active listings, more than 1.3 million comparable and Sold properties, and millions of property records from all Minnesota and Wisconsin counties.

About BATC: The Builders Association of the Twin Cities is the leading voice for builders and remodelers. BATC represents 1,100 builders, remodelers, developers and industry suppliers with a mission of helping its members grow their businesses through marketing, advocacy and industry connections. BATC is widely recognized as a powerful force at the state Legislature and with state regulatory agencies. It’s also known for its twice-a-year signature events: The Parade of HomesSM and Remodelers Showcase®. In addition, BATC offers Minnesota’s Green Path, a growing new home and remodeling certification program providing healthy, durable, energy-efficient homes to buyers and homeowners.

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