Real estate: energy quality of buildings in Italy improved in 2021

30/6/2022

Despite the pandemic in 2021, the number of renovated properties sold in better performing classes has increased. There still remains a largely untapped potential in the energy requalification of existing buildings

The desire for less energy-consuming homes is on the rise. The number of properties sold in the best performing energy classes grew in 2021 and there is a 30% of purchases of new buildings in class A1, in view of a stability of the energy quality of buildings and houses, which however are still far from the objectives set by the European Union for 2030.

This is what emerges from the analysis on the monitoring of the dynamics of the real estate market according to the energy characteristics of buildings, conducted by ENEA, I-Com (Institute for Competitiveness) and Fiaip (Italian Federation of Professional Real Estate Agents), on a sample of over 600 Fiaip professional real estate agents for nine years.

The survey shows that the number of properties falling in the energy class G in 2021 is still prevalent and highlights a net increase in sales (+ 34%), accompanied by a good increase in renovations and for Fiaip real estate agents the first impacts on the market of the 110% Superbonus measure as well as a consolidation of all "green tax incentives" are evident.

The study highlights that the percentage of properties belonging to the energy class G was still the most widespread in 2021, during which an increase of the energy quality of the renovated and used properties however emerged. This is also due to tax incentives, notably the 110% Superbonus, which started to be implemented in 2021, after a year in which citizens, due to the pandemic, had given priority to looking for homes with more indoor and outdoor spaces than to energy efficiency and seismic safety.

Since the majority of transactions involves buildings in the lower energy classes, it is clear that in extreme suburban areas, almost 80% of the properties sold belong to the less performing energy classes (E, F and G), while in the areas of value the percentage of properties in the first energy classes (A and B) is 36%. Similarly, the annual Fiaip - ENEA - I-Com report highlights a very high efficiency potential for the buildings to be renovated, which are still largely energy inefficient (90% of real estate transactions in the last three energy classes). If on the one hand new properties show very high figures (77%, substantially constant over the last four years), the renovated properties are recovering from the fall recorded between 2019 and 2020, after the net growth of the 2017 three-year period. -2019, reaching 32% in 2021.

According to real estate agents, 60% of property buyers have a sufficient awareness of the importance of energy efficiency, while only 22% have an inadequate (20%) or insufficient (2%) awareness. With respect to the ability to adequately enhance the energy quality of residential properties, the panel of respondents believes that almost 40% of those who sell properties have a good (23%) or very good (15%) capacity for enhancing energy efficiency. In less than 20% of cases there is an inadequate level of ability.

Finally, the Fiaip - ENEA - I-Com survey shows that, among the characteristics pertaining the energy quality of a property, buyers are more sensitive to highly efficient air conditioning systems (23.3%), good insulation of  structures (21%) and fixtures (20.9%) and renewable energy generation plants (17.6%), therefore their presence should be better highlighted in real estate advertisements.

According to property buyers, financial investment does not facilitate the real estate energy efficiency process. The analysis shows that even today the financial sector, as perceived by professional real estate agents, does not adequately reflect the added value associated with the energy efficiency of buildings. The financial institutions themselves have a precautionary attitude towards the risks of fraud or insolvency and are often conditioned by the lack of adequate skills in the evaluation of energy efficiency projects, which lead to the exclusion of energy savings among loan guarantees.

Franco D'Amore, I-Com Vice President - although some impacts are not negligible. Just under a quarter of the real estate agents interviewed noted an increase in attention to the issue of energy efficiency in property buyers, as a result of the pandemic. The data on the tax measure to promote renovation of poorly efficient properties is more promising: just under 50% of the sample of real estate agents found this measure to have an impact on the real estate market.

Despite these encouraging data, the share of refurbished and sold properties that fall into the top energy classes remains stuck at a percentage just over 30%. A percentage which is too low and shows how often in building renovations an important window of opportunity is wasted to also energy upgrade a property. In the next edition of the study, it will be interesting to evaluate the impact on the energy efficiency of buildings of the huge increases in energy costs occurred in 2022 and caused by the recovery of post-Covid global energy demand and further exacerbated, in Europe, from the ongoing war in Ukraine ”.

laria Bertini, Head of the ENEA Energy Efficiency Unit Department "Despite the progress made in recent years thanks to measures like the 110% Superbonus and other incentives to achieve the 2030 energy saving objectives and for the complete decarbonisation of the construction sector in 2050, as required by the National Strategy for the Energy Requalification of the National Real Estate Asset, further structural measures will be needed, together with a greater capacity of the credit system to offer financial instruments for the energy requalification of buildings. The pandemic - concluded Bertini - has profoundly affect our societies in terms of economic, social and individual habits, while still offering us the opportunity to appreciate the advantages of high energy performances homes The energy upgrading of buildings in the civil sector, accounting for approximately 45% of final energy consumption and 17.5% of direct CO2 emissions, can provide an important contribution not only to reduce costs in the bill, but also to counteract our dependence on fossil fuels and achieve the energy transition”.

Gian Battista Baccarini, National President of Fiaip - the growing desire of Italians to own a more energy efficient and more seismically consolidated home. After  2020, which showed a slowdown in the growth of requests for less energy-intensive houses, as the search for large indoor and outdoor living spaces was felt as a priority- continued Baccarini - 2021 showed a significant increase in purchases of energy efficient houses and houses to be made energy efficient thanks primarily to tax bonuses, in particular the 110% Superbonus"  To facilitate the real estate energy transition process and meet the ambitious community objectives of 2030 and 2050, considering that 80% of the real estate assets still fall in the last three energy classes - continued Baccarini - it is necessary to consolidate active government policies aimed at making structural all tax bonuses, extend the Superbonus 110% to the entire real estate assets, and facilitate its access by eliminating the current limits for credit assignement, thus putting an end to the confusion generated by continuous regulatory interventions ".

"In this way - concluded Baccarini - the community will be accompanied and encouraged in the ecological transition needed to face the challenges of climate change, high bills, environmental sustainability, while contributing to valorise the entire national real estate assets in order to protect the savings of Italian families and to the benefit of the construction-real estate sector, which has always proved to be a  leading  enabler  of economic, social and employment growth in our Country".

Osservatorio  immobiliare nazionale settore urbano 2021

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