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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!

Q: What’s the Latest Update for Our Real Estate Market?

Here’s what the latest numbers have to say about our real estate market.


The real estate market has been on quite a ride this year. As soon as people started getting adjusted to living in a COVID-19 world, the market started to heat back up and it has not slowed down.


Compared to what we saw in October 2019, the numbers show that for October 2020:


  • Closed sales are up 28.%
  • Inventory is down 48.3%
  • New listings are up 7.3%
  • Median sale price is up 7.1% to $300,000
  • Average sale price is up 9% to $350,761
  • Average days on market is down 37.5% to just 20 days


What I really want to focus on is inventory. It’s down in every market in the Triangle Area. There are less than two months of inventory in Wake County, and slightly more than one month in Durham and Cary. Overall, the Triangle Area has just 1.2 months of inventory. 


We clearly have a severe lack of supply that can’t keep up with our demand. There’s no indication that interest rates will creep up anytime soon, which will keep demand just as high.


Just because it is a seller’s market doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be positioned properly to sell for top dollar. That’s our job at Real Estate Experts: To do everything we can to position you properly for the market so you get the best return on your bottom line.


If you have any specific questions or real estate needs we can assist with, don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Q: Not In Favor of Raising Insurance Costs?

Q: Not In Favor of Raising Insurance Costs?

Homeowners insurance rates may go up by a quarter; here’s how to take action.

The day before I recorded this video, I found out that the North Carolina Insurance Commission is considering a proposal to increase homeowners insurance rates by 25%. That’s a pretty sizable jump. If you’re not in favor of this proposal, the best thing to do is to email Commissioner Mike Causey. In fact, on Thursday, December 10, there will be a public meeting to discuss this issue. 

The easiest way to email the commissioner is to visit the North Carolina Homeowners Alliance website, where there’s a form for you to fill out. (If you want to personalize the message by adding your own thoughts, you’re able to do so). When finished, just hit the submit button. 

I hope you found this video to be informative. If so, please hit the “Like” button on YouTube and subscribe to my channel for more great content. Don’t hesitate to give me a call or send an email if you have any questions or real estate needs. I’m here and ready to help!

Array Sustainable Living Covered On WCHL

Array Sustainable Living Covered On WCHL


Array, North Carolina’s First Net Zero Energy Neighborhood, being developed by Real Estate Experts, was covered on the local news on November 27th on WCHL.  Click here to listen to the story.

One Chapel Hill resident is working towards building North Carolina’s very first net-zero energy neighborhood.

Jodi Bakst is the owner of Real Estate Experts in Chapel Hill. Since the start of 2019, she has been hard at work developing North Carolina’s first 100 percent net-zero energy residential community in Orange County.

Bakst is developing Array, a 12-lot neighborhood located on 60 acres of land off Orange Grove Road just minutes west of downtown Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Bakst said creating an energy-efficient neighborhood in Orange County is ideal and timely for several reasons.

“I think that the location of this property being in Orange County – you have a preponderance of people that really do care about the environment and care about living sustainably,” Bakst said. “Then from a timing perspective, with the way that things are going with respect to climate change, and how fast things are moving in a negative direction, this is the perfect time for the residential building industry to show people that it is possible to build a home with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings consume 40 percent of the nation’s energy and 25 percent of the nation’s freshwater.

Bakst said Array’s net-zero energy homes will produce as much energy as they consume as well as meet aggressive targets for water conservation and indoor air quality. Each house will also be third party certified based on the National Green Building Standards.

“The houses that we’re talking about in Array, which are very achievable to build, are about 90 percent more efficient than a standard code-build house,” Bakst said. “What makes it net-zero energy is when you add in the solar.”

According to Array’s website, PV solar panels will be specifically sized for each energy-efficient home in the Array neighborhood. Array’s 12 lots are positioned with a north-south orientation to make maximum use of the sun and its natural energy.

In addition to solar panels, Bakst said these homes will also have continuous insulation to keep utility costs even lower. While initially more expensive to build, she said these homes are more economical in the long run.

“You do spend more money upfront but you’re spending less money to maintain your house,” Bakst said. “You have almost zero energy costs. With the net-zero energy model, there will be net metering. So each house will be tied to the grid with Duke Power, but the excess energy that you’re creating goes to the grid for storage and then for peak times for peak demand – when you need more energy – it [the energy] gets called back from the grid.”

Bakst said Duke Power will charge $14 dollars a month for each house to be connected to the grid, and that will be the sole utility cost. Other standard utilities like water and sewer will come at no additional cost as a well and septic system will be built into the neighborhood.

While net-zero energy houses are being built sporadically, Bakst said the Array neighborhood will be one of the first of its kind in the whole country. Right now, she has one of the twelve Array lots reserved. Bakst said she hopes to get the storm water and erosion control permits approved by January – the next step into making her net-zero energy neighborhood a reality.

For more details about the Array neighborhood, click here.

Q: Should Sellers Get an Inspection Before Selling?

Q: Should Sellers Get an Inspection Before Selling?

I am an advocate for sellers getting a pre-inspection before they sell.


I’ve been practicing real estate for well over 20 years, I list many homes each year, and I am a strong proponent for sellers getting an inspection before they list their house for sale. It allows sellers to choose which repairs they want to make, and decide which ones are minor enough to disregard. In North Carolina, the Offer to Purchase contract is very easy for buyers to terminate, so the more issues you can take off the table, the better. You don’t want buyers to even consider terminating. 


One thing buyers get very uneasy about is significant repairs that need to be mended. It’s all about disclosure; buyers will feel more at ease knowing the home is in good condition. It’s best when we can do the buyer’s due diligence for them. If you get a pre-inspection and it comes out well, buyers may not even get one done themselves. They might just have their inspector check the repairs to ensure they were done properly. If you have a pre-sale inspection, you have more control.


“The more issues you can take off the table, the better.”


As an example, I just had buyers that put a house under contract that did not have a pre-sale inspection. Our inspector came out of the crawl space and said that it was basically a disaster. So my buyers are, understandably, terminating. The seller could have headed that off at the pass; if he knew there were problems in the crawl space, he could have fixed all or most of them, and the buyers would have felt much better about the property. 


If we can be of any help to you at all, whether you have questions or need advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via phone or email. We’re always glad to help. I hope you found this information helpful; I’m going to keep these videos coming.

Q: How Should You Pay Your Mortgage?

Q: How Should You Pay Your Mortgage?

Here’s why I advise paying your mortgage on a bi-weekly basis.


If you’re like most people, you pay your mortgage every month. What would happen if you paid on a bi-weekly basis, though? By this, I mean paying half of your monthly total every two weeks. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, this would result in 26 half-payments rather than 24. Thus, it’s a relatively easy way to make a 13th mortgage payment each year. By making this extra payment, you can save thousands of dollars in interest and reduce your principal much faster. 


“I’m a proponent of the bi-weekly approach or at least trying to make that 13th payment each year if you can.”


For example, let’s say you have a $250,000, 30-year fixed loan at a 4% interest rate. If you made bi-weekly payments, you’d save $30,000 in interest over the life of the loan and pay your mortgage off five years faster. Even if you were in the house for seven years, you’d still save thousands in interest and pay off about $10,000 more in principal, which gives you more equity when you sell. 


Personally, I’m a proponent of the bi-weekly approach, or at least trying to make that 13th payment each year if you can. 


Remember, if you have questions about this or any real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m here to help.