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Much of the U.S. has been in the grip of unseasonably cold temperatures and heavy snow this winter, which means utility bills are heating up.

According to NAR’s 2013 Home Buyer and Seller Profile, a home’s environmental efficiency has increasingly factored into consumer’s home buying decisions due to rising energy costs. In fact, heating and cooling costs were at least somewhat important to 85 percent of recent home buyers.

While thermostats are rising, the unusually bad winter weather could curtail some home buyer shopping and impact contract activity in the months ahead.

Story Springboard

• A cold start

While peak home-buying season isn’t until spring, some buyers might not be deterred by the cold weather and may be starting their house-hunting trek now. Talk to a Realtor® about whether cold temperatures and snow deter local home sales. Ask recent home buyers if the cold weather impacted their home search.