Man adjusting thermostat

Redfin helping buyers understand energy costs 

The company has added a feature to its listings that gives buyers an estimate of a home's electricity usage, seasonal changes and cost.

January 12, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • Agents can point their buyers to the data to give them a fuller picture of costs.
  • Redfin partnered with WattBuy to display energy cost estimates on more than 85 million listings.
  • Listing pages will also include estimates of how much a homeowner could save by installing solar panels.

With energy costs a significant part of monthly household bills, Redfin is helping buyers and their agents better understand the total expenses for homes on the listing portal.

The company announced that it has partnered with WattBuy to display an estimate for each eligible home's monthly electricity usage, bill and seasonal changes in electricity usage. It will also estimate how much a homeowner could save if they install solar panels.

Given the already-high cost of many homes, ongoing expenses like utilities are definitely on the minds of buyers when looking at a home, said Heather Mahmood-Corley, a Redfin agent in Phoenix.

"Just about every buyer I tour with asks me about energy costs, especially out-of-state buyers who are concerned about what it will cost to keep their home cool during the summer," Mahmood-Corley said in an email. "Those buyers are also always curious about the pros and cons of using solar, given that it's typically an expensive update to make. I'm excited to have these new tools available to help my buyers make the best financial decision for themselves."

Buyers aren't the only ones thinking about energy costs. Many homeowners wonder if adding solar panels will give them an advantage when it's time to sell (a Zillow study found that homes with eco-friendly features, including solar, can sell faster and for more money).

"Some clients do ask me about the benefit of adding solar to their home, typically after they're already under contract or are thinking about how to maximize their resale value. It's nice to have a new tool to share with them to help make the best financial decision," said Tacoma, Wash. Redfin agent Darlene Heseltine.

According to a news release, Redfin will display cost and usage information on both on-market and off-market homes, totaling more than 85 million listings. The feature is located directly below Redfin's existing payment calculator.

The company said one reason it added the feature is many homebuyers make incorrect assumptions about how much they would pay in energy costs.

"Our research shows that many movers assume their utility costs will be similar in their new home, but that's sometimes way off-base," said Redfin Chief Growth Officer Christian Taubman. "By showing this information from WattBuy for every home, we're giving homebuyers the information they need to make better decisions."

The feature may also prompt potential homebuyers to think about ways to reduce energy costs.

"As forward-thinking businesses like Redfin realize how important energy cost reductions, rooftop solar, and sustainability solutions are to their customers, WattBuy is meeting this new need," said Naman Trivedi, WattBuy CEO. 

Redfin has added a variety of features to its listings in the past year, including zoning information, internet service provider data as well as risk levels for fire, drought and severe storms.

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