If you're buying a house or refinancing, it's worth looking into a green mortgage. There are several kinds of mortgages that qualify as green, depending on whether your home is energy efficient, close to public transportation, or just green in general.
A green mortgage can be a bit harder to find, though, so we've pulled together a few tips.
- Location efficient mortgages are available for homes in Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. By taking into account the amount of money you'll be saving by taking public transportation instead of spending $4.50 a gallon on gas, they can increase the amount of money you can borrow. This is a pilot program, and one worth supporting. Find out more at locationefficiency.com.
- Energy efficiency mortgages require a report of your home's energy use, which costs a few hundred dollars and requires a bit more coordination. These loans are more readily available, and now that the market has slowed down, mortgage brokers and banks may be more willing to do the extra paperwork. The Daily Green has a good introduction to these mortgages. Call around to a bank or broker until you find one who has done one before and who doesn't immediately try to sell you another type of loan.
- Green mortgage brokers such as morgagegreen may credit you back money for a house that is green-rated or offer a discounted rate, or bundle carbon offsets together with the loan, but this may be a false economy. Shop around and evaluate the price of any extras before committing to a loan from one of these lenders. If carbon offsets are important to you, you can always buy the separately.
Think creatively about other types of mortgages that you might be able to turn green. For example, many cities have public-private loans available similar to those offered by the Portland Development Commission. These loans can help you to buy or renovate houses, and often have very attractive rates for first-time buyers or particular neighborhoods. Credit unions are another place to look for innovative—and possibly green—loans.
If you've found a good broker or green loan program, let us know about it!