Credit is the key word these days. Not only are window manufacturers being scrutinized by their creditors but so are their potential customers! Getting the sale is only half the battle. Helping the customer to obtain financing is now a challenge these days. Home equity lines of credit are tougher to get and unsecured lines of credit are even more difficult. A few years ago, a credit score of 600 or higher was good enough to get financing for those new windows, but now it is much more important to have a score closer to 700 to get a loan with a decent interest rate or to get a loan at all. It sure can be discouraging for a window salesperson to spend time working on a sale only to find out in the end that the customer will not be able to get financing to complete the purchase. Indeed, some salespeople are selling only part of the remodeling project and putting the customer on their “go back to” list to sell the rest of the job at a later date.Many communities offer home repair loans for lower income or rural families.

There are programs out there to assist these families in obtaining funds to make repairs to their homes, including the replacement of windows. An example of one such program is the Home Repair Program in the Village of Morton Grove, IL. The Village of Morton Grove participates with other agencies to provide access to funds to increase the affordability of home ownership. There are multiple programs available to residents who need assistance to make home repairs or to purchase their first home. Up to $25,000 is available to fund essential repairs to one’s home. Typical repairs include: roofing, doors, windows, weatherization, electrical, plumbing and heating. Cosmetic updates such as kitchen and bath remodeling are not eligible for this program. An interest free loan is taken out on behalf of the homeowner with the property serving as collateral. There are no monthly payments required and there is 0% interest. The loan does not have to be repaid until you move or sell the home. In order to be eligible, you must live in the home as your primary residence and be income-qualified.

So what we are seeing is somewhat of a polarized market with low income families able to finance new windows with home repair programs and high income families able to purchase windows from their savings accounts. The challenge now becomes helping the moderate income prospects who are oftentimes performing a balancing act with their discretionary income and so are in need of financing to replace windows or perform other critical home repairs. Affordable financing is still available but only to the most credit worthy customers.

What could really help is a substantial tax incentive for installing more energy-efficient windows. This will help our country reduce our overall energy demand thereby lowering the cost of energy for everyone. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has allowed consumers to receive a federal tax credit for energy efficient improvements made on their homes in 2006 and 2007. It will apply again in 2009. For some reason, 2008 was excluded in this program. This program is nice in that it allows a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost of eligible windows and skylights. However, it is capped at $200.

We need more! Fifty percent of the 110 million homes in this country still have single pane windows. In cold climates, energy-efficient dual-pane windows with low-E glass can reduce heating bills by up to 34 percent. Likewise, installing energy efficient windows in southern parts of the country can reduce cooling costs by up to 38 percent.

Hopefully, Congress will act upon this huge opportunity we have to significantly reduce our country’s overall energy demand by installing more energy efficient windows, and they will help stimulate the process, not only by working to alleviate the credit crunch, but also by expanding programs for energy tax credits.

If this happens, everybody wins!

1 Comment

  1. Isn’t it ironic that the feds decided there are too many windows that meet Energy Star and are in the process of making it more difficult to meet future levels. Why doesn’t the government mandate that ALL WINDOWS & DOORS have to have Low-E glass. This would still mean that only a certain percentage of windows would meet Energy Star but 100% of consumer and maybe even commercial windows would be energy efficient.

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