In October, 2009, the Queensland State Government announced the introduction of a Sustainability Declaration. The Declaration is a step in the right direction for guiding the development of a more energy, water and resource efficient culture of real estate development, building, and sales in Queensland. Buyers will be encouraged, when making a purchase decision, to assess the sustainability of their purchase from more than just a sale price perspective. The identification of the ongoing benefits or costs of a home from energy and water consumption could mean homes with sustainability features are priced at a premium. With rising energy prices imminent and the likelihood that water usage prices will rise in the near future, homes that minimise consumption could fetch sellers' higher prices and real estate agents better commissions. However, this is all speculation.
The sustainability declaration is a compulsory form that must be completed to the best of the seller's ability and knowledge before a house, townhouse, duplex (class 1a buildings) or unit (class 2 building) is offered or marketed for sale from 1 January 2010. The declaration will help inform buyers about the sustainability features of the property and increase community awareness of the value of these features. The declaration identifies the sustainability features of a home in four key areas:
A home cannot be advertised for sale (by a seller or a seller's agent) unless the advertisement contains information about where a potential buyer may obtain a copy of the completed sustainability declaration. This could be as simple as a statement announcing that the declaration is available from the agent's office. This does not apply to newspaper advertisements, magazine advertisements or generic signage which has not been prepared specifically for the property. A copy of the completed sustainability declaration must also be conspicuously displayed whenever a home is open for inspection by the seller, such as an open house (Department of Infrastructure and Planning, 2009).
The only thing for sure is that on January 1st 2010, the declaration will become mandatory and it will be another normal part of the selling process after a few short months. Industry sources are already hearing from the real estate industry that there could be liability issues associated with the completion of the declarations and that sellers won't be able to make heads nor tails of the declarations without assistance from a new ‘brigade' of sustainability consultants.