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Net Zero Energy Homes Cost Less Overtime

Net Zero Energy Homes Cost Less Overtime

Contrary to popular belief, net zero-energy homes offer exceptional affordability and sustainability when compared to their traditional counterparts. To understand this, you need to look not just at the cost of the home as built, but the total cost of ownership.

Net Zero Energy Homes are built to high energy efficiency standards and are combined with systems like active solar.  These homes do cost more to build.  Some sources say the added cost is 5-10% more than a traditional code-built home.  The Rocky Mountain Institute recently released new data indicating that the cost differential is narrowing.  They specifically state, “The margin is closing due to performance improvements in the building shell and heating equipment.  Zero energy ready homes cost 4% more than a code-built home and the addition of solar panels brings the increased cost of a net zero energy home to 8%.”

The increased price for these homes is recouped over time.  Net Zero Energy homeowners have lower utility bills and these homes cost less to maintain.  When you look at these homes from this perspective, it refers to the total cost of ownership.  While the price tag may be higher, because the costs are lower over time and energy prices rise over time, owners of net zero energy homes come out ahead.

Little to No Energy Costs

 Net zero energy homeowners

Net-zero homes use renewable and sustainable energy, like active solar, to power appliances, outlets, lighting, and more. In turn, homeowners avoid utility bills beyond the minimal charge to be connected to the grid for back-up power. Additionally, according to the Zero Energy Project, homeowners of net zero energy homes have lower operational costs.  Overall, owning a net-zero home can completely offset an entire year’s worth of electricity expenditures.

Reduced Maintenance Costs

Net zero energy homes reduce maintanance costs

Over time, ongoing maintenance expenditures can add up, costing homeowners thousands of dollars. These include radon-mitigation spending, mold removal, structural damage, and more.  Zero-energy homes, on the other hand, use state-of-the-art, durable materials that reduce and even eliminate many of the issues that traditional homeowners face. When combined with other attributes, “even when zero energy homes cost 4 to 8% more than a comparable standard home, they will cost less to own.” Homeowners can save thousands by avoiding heavy maintenance costs alone.

Higher Resale Valuations

 Solar Panels Increase Home Values

Net zero energy homes are a good investment.  Because they are built to very high standards, these homes hold their value.  Homes with Home Efficiency Ratings (Hers) can sell for at least 2% more in value.  Net Zero Energy Homes have Hers scores of “0”.  These homes add 3-5% more in value over conventional homes.

The Solar Energy Industries Association states that, “homes with solar systems, on average, add $15,000 in value.”

Zillow’s research indicates that adding solar does increase the value of a home.  Not only is the demand for highly energy efficient homes increasing, “the installation of solar panels not only reduces monthly energy bills, it can potentially increase the homes value by 4.1% compared to homes without solar.”

Should a homeowner decide to sell their net zero-energy home, they can expect a higher ROI than traditional homes. That’s because the home’s construction methods and energy-saving systems and solar panels are factored into the price at the time of sale. According to the Zero Energy Project, “increasingly buyers are looking for homes that are airtight and well-insulated with low energy bills and, increasingly, realtors are finding that energy efficiency features positively affect the value of a home.” Subsequently, prospective buyers associate zero-energy homes with high quality and savings, driving the resale price higher for sellers.

Valuable Tax Incentives

Ask any homeowner, and there’s a high likelihood that taxes are one of their most significant ongoing expenses. In an effort to encourage environmentally responsible home building, states like North Carolina feature exclusive opportunities like solar rebates from Duke Energy, lower interest loans, and various city, town, and federal rebate and tax credits. As a result, individuals who build net-zero houses may qualify for multi-thousand dollar savings.  The best source for finding these incentives is DSIRE, the Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Jodi Bakst, Broker Owner of Real Estate Experts, is known for her knowledge of green,  high performance homesReal Estate Experts is proud to announce its first development project; Array, North Carolina’s first 100% net-zero energy community located in Orange County North Carolina. For detailed information about this 12-lot neighborhood with 56% open space, a beautiful pond, walking trails and a community garden, visit the Array website.

If you’re interested in building a sustainable home, please reach out to Jodi Bakst by emailing [email protected] or calling (919) 697-5014.

Thank you for reading, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Real Estate Experts Partners With American Forests

Real Estate Experts Partners With American Forests


Today I’m going to talk about Real Estate Experts partnering with American Forests to plant trees.

Real Estate Experts is committed to the environment and helping reduce our carbon footprint, and to do this, we have decided that we are going to partner with American Forests. We’re donating $50 from every real estate transaction to American Forests; for each donation, 50 trees will be planted on behalf of our client.

American Forests is a very interesting organization; they’ve been around since 1875—they’re the oldest organization of its type committed to maintaining and preserving trees, forests, and reforestation. Since 1990 alone, American Forests has planted over 60 million trees in forests and reforestation projects across all 50 states.

So why donate money to plant trees?  Well, one big reason is that trees absorb carbon emissions, and this helps with all of the carbon emissions that are out there in the environment. The more trees we plant, the better we can do at counteracting emissions.

The amount of carbon emissions in the environment is also killing trees, unfortunately, and damaging forests. You can see this with the forest fires in California and now these huge fires in Australia; so planting more trees is actually more important than ever.

It’s my personal goal that as a company we plant 5,000 trees this year.


There are more benefits to planting trees; more trees help in biodiversity because they help protect waterways and wildlife and actually even create jobs in the United States. There are nearly 3 million jobs in this country that are related to forests, so I’m proud that the Real Estate Experts decided to partner with American Forests.

It’s my personal goal that as a company we plant 5,000 trees this year, so if you’d like to help us reach our goal, please don’t hesitate to reach out and talk with us about the home buying or selling process. We’ll help you get the job done.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this video, and if so, please hit the like button and subscribe to our YouTube channel; there are more videos coming. Thank you!

Why Install Solar Panels on Your Home?

Why Install Solar Panels on Your Home?

Installing solar panels on your home offers many benefits—some you might not be aware of.

Why install solar panels on your home?

When you install solar panels, they become your home’s energy source. You can wipe out not only your current energy bill, but also any future increases to that energy bill. Solar energy is clean, renewable, reduces pollution, and reduces your carbon footprint.

There’s one more benefit to using solar energy, but time is running out to take advantage of it. 2019 is the last year to take advantage of the 30% federal income tax credit you get if you install solar panels. Next year, that tax credit will be reduced to 26%. In 2021, it gets reduced to 21%. Then in 2022, it drops all the way to 10%.

In years past, some states offered additional tax credits, but that’s not available in North Carolina anymore. If you live in an area where Duke Energy is your utility company, however, they offer a 40% to 50% rebate for using solar energy.

Now that you know the benefits, what about the cost? In the US, the average cost of installing solar panels after the 30% tax credit is between $10,000 and $14,000. For example, let’s say you install panels that cost $20,000 and your yearly federal income tax bill is $7,000. Since $20,000 times 30% equals $6,000, you’d only owe $1,000 on your federal income tax.

There are a lot of other factors to consider to calculate your exact cost like what your total energy needs are, which panels are most appropriate for your home, which system you plan on installing, etc. The best way to calculate these expenses is to contact a qualified solar installation company, and in the Triangle area, I can’t speak highly enough of Southern Energy Management. If you contact them, they’ll come out to your house and give you a full cost analysis. To find out more, check out their website

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of installing solar panels or you have any other real estate questions I can answer, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.

Going Green

Going Green

How many times have you heard the phrase, “location, location, location”? Most likely, it’s something you’re well acquainted with, especially in the real estate world. Location and price are two very important factors in determining desirability of a house, but recently sustainability and “green” housing options have also influenced desirability. Many realtors and real estate professionals are starting to hear from clients about their interest in green or sustainable housing.

Green construction is gaining momentum. Even real estate empires are turning towards sustainable technology; think Durst Organisation’s Bank of America Tower in New York City. Even the Empire State Building has been refurbished to utilize green construction and sustainable technology. The idea behind sustainable technology and green construction works to promote an understanding of the future of our earth. “If there are going to be 9 billion people on the planet in 2050, you’ve got to feed them, house them, find them work and they’re going to need more energy,” says former JP Morgan managing director Doug Lawrence.

Not only can you take part in saving the environment, but you can also reduce your carbon footprint. Sustainable technology is a great way to minimize your carbon footprint, your impact on the environment, and even change your finances by changing your utility payments.

Sustainable Technology

The number of homes being built in the United States with environmentally friendly features is only increasing. From 2006 to 2010, the percentage of these homes increased from 2% to 16%. That’s a big change for only a few years!

In 2013, nearly 400,000 households had rooftop solar panels according to an assessment done by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Hopefully, that number will grow past 900,000 households by 2020. Combine those numbers with homes that are using environmentally healthy products or appliances like green label flooring, energy efficient appliances, and alternative energies… and you’ve got millions of homes “going green” throughout the country.

Environmentally sustainable housing options are increasingly common, even if a house isn’t entirely “green”. There are so many ways builders and developers can add in sustainable features to the homes they’re creating. To get a better understanding of those housing features might look like, here are some “green” or sustainable housing options:

  • Solar panels
  • Natural lighting
  • Water conservation
  • Energy star appliances
  • Renewable energy
  • Rain water collection
  • Recycled materials
  • Use of local materials

Is Energy Efficiency or Sustainable Technology for You?

If you are interested in energy efficiency and green living, you have no doubt contemplated solar energy for your home. Indeed, solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. A solar power system consisting of solar panels is the go-to solution for green living enthusiasts.  For many, however, the cost of solar panels has been an issue. Solar Power Authority is a fantastic resource to use in order to determine whether you can afford solar panels. Check them out here, and get a free quote on solar panel implementation.  Not only will you find out local costs of solar panels, but you’ll also be able to find industry leaders throughout the country.

Using the Real Estate Experts advanced search function, you can discover what homes near you are outfitted with your preferred green building features. Optional features include:

  • Active Solar Design
  • Drought Resist Landscaping
  • Electric Car Charging Station
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Exhaust Garage Fan
  • Fresh Air Ventilation
  • Geo-thermal HVAC System
  • High Efficient Toilets
  • Insulated Basement Walls
  • LED Lighting
  • Solar Hot Water
  • Locally Sourced Materials
  • Low Voc Paints/Seals/Varnish
  • Passive Solar Design
  • Programmable Thermostats
  • Radiant Barrier Roof Deck
  • Rainwater Collection
  • Sealed Attic
  • Sealed Combustion FP
  • Solar Passive Heating
  • On Demand Hot Water Circ
  • Solar Power Photovoltaics

Real Estate Experts

Are you interested in finding a home with green or sustainable features? Environmentally friendly homes don’t have to be as expensive as you think. At Real Estate Experts, we’re current on green living, energy efficient homes, and even sustainable options. We’re excited to help you find your dream house, and outfit it with whatever sustainable options that work for you. If you’re looking to build a home, we’re happy to help connect you with builders in our network who feature energy efficiency, or green materials.

Unsure of what updates to make before selling your home? Real Estate Experts are here to help. Visit us online.  Call us today at 919-813-6449 or e-mail us at  [email protected] for additional information.




Neighborhood Spotlight: Oaks at Turner Creek

Neighborhood Spotlight: Oaks at Turner Creek

Oaks at Turner CreekIf you are in the market for a newly constructed home in the Cary/Apex area, you will want to check out Oaks at Turner Creek, a new community located off Turner Creek Road, just across the street from Turner Creek Road Elementary School. You can’t go wrong with the quality of these luxurious, energy-smart M/I Homes, coupled with a coveted Cary location (Money magazine recently named Cary, North Carolina as the best place to live in North Carolina, and the 37th  best place to live in the US.)

Oaks at Turner Creek Location

Oaks at Turner Creek Location

Oaks at Turner Creek is a private community tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life,  yet convenient to Beaver
Creek Shopping Center, Streets at Southpointe Mall, and plenty of restaurants, grocery, and big box stores. You can choose from among 45 single-family homes that are surrounded by a beautiful treed buffer. Residents will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a kids’ playground, as well as walking trails surrounding a winding creek and pond.

Also located nearby are Duke University, NC State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Crossroads Shopping Center, and Research Triangle Park. Enjoy walking, hiking, and fishing at the nearby Thomas E. Brooks Park.

The Oaks at Turner Creek Home Prices

Homes in the community range from 2,500 to 3,200-plus square feet with three to five bedrooms.  Homes are priced from $409,990 – $505,180. Five unique floor plans are available. Amenities include open family gathering areas, generous Owner Suites, lofts, bonus rooms, and flex rooms. Each home can be customized with plenty of options, such as a gourmet kitchen, spa baths, downstairs guest rooms, and screened-in porches. All homes will include a two-car garage.

The Oaks at Turner Creek Green Living Options

M/I Homes of Raleigh builds 100% Energy Star Certified Homes to the specifications of their “Whole Home Standard,” saving you money on your energy bills while providing you complete comfort throughout your home. M/I Homes’ green features are the result of their commitment to the ultimate energy-efficient home. Each home is wrapped in a weather-tight envelope, with every seam sealed and every crevasse caulked. Each M/I home is  independently rated to certify the energy savings. For an M/I home, you can save up to an average of 30% over the cost of home built to standard code. Their ratings even beat Energy Star® targets.

Oaks at Turner Creek Plat


To find out more about this new community in Cary or to take a look at some of the homes, contact us today at  919-813-6449 or [email protected].  When buying a home, even new construction, it is important to have a buyers agent. At Real Estate Experts, we are fierce representative for our clients and known as expert buyer agents.  
Contact us and see how we can help you find just the home you are looking for.
Is The Cost Of Solar Panels Worth It?

Is The Cost Of Solar Panels Worth It?

Solar PanelsIf you are interested in energy efficiency and green living, you have no doubt contemplated solar energy for your home. Indeed, solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. A solar power system consisting of solar panels is the go-to solution for green living enthusiasts.  For many, however, the cost of solar panels has been an issue.

Solar panels are photovoltaic (PV) cells. Basically, they are unique batteries that harness sunlight, transform it into energy, and then send that energy to an inverter, which converts it into electricity to power the home. Installing solar panels can decrease your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

However, many homeowners are unsure whether the cost of solar panels will pay off long-term, as well as how it will affect the value of their home. If you are considering solar panels for your home, here are some factors to take into consideration:

How Much Energy do you Use?

You will want to estimate the electrical needs of your home. Electricity is measured in kW, and estimates for a home in the United States place electricity use at around 1 kW per hour. The average electricity price is 10 cents per kW. Each month has 730 hours, which means the estimate for the average US home electric bill is $73. You can use an online energy calculator based on your own appliances, at sites like Save on Energy or Consumers Power, to find a more accurate estimate of your energy needs.

How Many Panels are Required?

The size of a system depends on two things: insolation and how much energy is needed. Insolation is the amount of full sun during a given period of time, and differs depending on the region you live in. In North Carolina, the average amount of full sun hours are: High, 5.05; Low, 4.00; Average 4.71. This places North Carolina at about average efficiency compared to the rest of the country. Again, you will refer to how much energy you use in order to calculate the number of panels. The average solar panel can generate around 10 watts per square foot.

What is the Cost of Solar Panels?

Keep in mind, you will be paying not only for the cost of the panels themselves, but for installation and the electrical system required to prepare your home for utilizing the energy produced. The average cost of solar panels is from $7 to $9 per watt, which means that a 5kW system could cost between $25,000 and $35,000. You may be able to take advantage of incentives offered by your utility company or other sources to offset the cost. Unfortunately, there is no tax credt available to North Carolina homeowners investing in solar energy. In 2015, state lawmakers voted to let North Carolina’s 35 percent tax credit for investment in renewable energy expire.

So is it Worth it?

There are many factors to consider before you take the plunge to invest in solar panels. The very informative website Solar Power Authority provides a wealth of detailed information to help you compare top solar companies, calculate your solar savings, and use their resources to make the best solar decision for your budget. However, if you are considering selling your home within the next several years, the return on investment will be minimal. You will not be able to add the cost of your solar energy system to the asking price of your home.

If you want to look for a home with green features, let our top real estate agents at Real Estate Experts know.