If you live in Austin and are thinking about selling your house, you might want to accelerate those plans. The Austin City Council plans to pass housing mandates, in an effort to cut energy use and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“Imagine having to pay thousands of dollars to upgrade your home before you even put it on the market,” according to KXAN.com. “Socar Chatmon-Thomas, chairman of the realtors board, says, ‘This could mean upwards of $7,000, $8,000, $10,000, changing out their A.C. unit, changing out their hot water heater, going to tankless, making sure that all of their insulation is updated, weather stripping, possibly new windows.'”

Since most of these are beneficial repairs, what’s wrong with making them mandatory? For starters, people often sell their homes because their lives or financial circumstances have changed. Many are not sitting on a pile of ready cash. Forcing them to spend several thousand dollars to comply with housing mandates will, at best, reduce the equity they’ll have after the sale. This means a smaller down payment available for the next house, which means they either lower their aspirations or decide to stay in a house they’d rather sell.The new housing mandates will also drive up the cost of Austin housing – both old and new. Austin already has the second highest average home price of any Texas MLS region, and neighborhood activists are pushing city leaders for more “affordable housing.” What does that mean? A small number of high-end units made available to low-income families, subsidized through higher prices paid by the remaining purchasers. Meanwhile, the middle class gets squeezed to the suburbs.

– Drew Thornley