Adding green features and making ecofriendly improvements are the hot new ways to make your home stand out over others to sell it quickly and for the best possible price. According to Carson Matthews, associate broker and EcoBroker in Atlanta, green certified homes are selling closer to the list price in a much shorter time period than non-certified homes are selling. In 2009, the average green certified home sold in 106 days compared to the non-certified average of 186. While these figures are for the Atlanta market, anecdotal evidence suggests the same holds true in our market.
Supporting the concept that green features sell homes are the results of Better Homes and Gardens’ “Next Home Survey for 2010,” which reveals what consumers want in their next home and their overall priorities for home improvement projects. An astonishing 87 percent of respondents said a greener, more energy-efficient home is a priority.
Although Better Homes and Gardens’ respondents may be more educated than the average American on the concept of green and sustainability, buyers do understand energy efficiency and want new products and features in their homes.
Chobee Hoy, president of Chobee Hoy Associates in Brookline, MA, says that today’s buyers are more interested than ever in energy-efficient homes.
“Almost 70 percent of all buyers find energy [efficiency] to be a key factor when looking for a home. That can be energy-efficient appliances, windows, doors, sealing ducts to eliminate drafts, etc. Sellers who focus on making these improvements will sell their homes quicker. [Energy efficiency] combined with…fair market value is the key to selling in today’s economy. I highly encourage my sellers to see what improvements they can make. Not only will this help them sell their home, it will also reduce their monthly energy bills,” Hoy says.
While buyers may recognize the environmental benefits and energy-saving attributes of green features in homes, they may appreciate even more that they don’t need to replace these appliances, fixtures, and finishes for a long time.
Steve Matthews, Realtor, Prudential New Jersey Properties in Montclair, NJ, relates: “It has been my experience that homes with green features are more ‘updated.’ In this market updated and energy efficient are synonymous with quick sales at top dollar. Many buyers aren’t aware that they are looking at green features…for example, many will say I want a home with new windows. They have heard that new windows equal less draft and lower energy bills,” Matthews says.
Similarly, Mary Ellen Wasielewski, a broker in the metro West Boston area, had this to say about buyers: “It is my feeling that energy-efficient windows, heating, and cooling will bring a quicker sale and a higher sale price than a comparable home without these features.” She was quick to point out, however, that the reason might be their newness: “they are newer and will not have to be replaced by the buyer. Potential buyers do understand the cost savings of energy-efficient features. The same would go for appliances, hard wood floors [and other ecofriendly features].”
Whether the motivation is to create a healthier home, a more energy efficient one, or one with the latest, ecofriendly features and finishes, going green indeed can give your home an edge in this market.
Here’s a list of improvements that increase energy efficiency and save buyers money. The following home improvements do one or more of the following:
• Increase energy efficiency
• Improve air quality
• Are better for the planet
Be sure potential buyers know about any green features in your home. Note any changes in energy efficiency for buyers and when a product is Energy Star-rated. The following is a partial listing of green home improvements. For more, see my “Eco-Friendly Appliances and Features Chart” at: NormaHartie.com. Download a copy of it and make it available to buyers.
Tankless water heaters
Buyer’s benefit: Save 30 percent on water heating bills; a family of four would save on average $175 a year. Tanks also last approximately 20 years, which is far longer than conventional tanks.
Buyer’s benefit: New windows will save 10-20 percent on an energy bill and increase comfort with no drafts.
Choose an ecofriendly insulation for better air quality, as the traditional fiberglass continues to emit toxic fumes for up to 20 years. Cellulose, recycled denim, Icynene, and Excel Building Solutions’s Warmcel are all ecofriendly.
Buyer’s benefit: Any added insulation will increase energy efficiency. (If you choose green insulation, add healthier air quality to benefits.)
Buyer’s benefit: Save 20 percent on heating and cooling.
Buyer’s benefit: Save about $180 a year with Energy Star- rated programmable thermostat.
Buyer’s benefit: Each CFL saves about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime. A CFL produces about 75 percent less heat than an incandescent light bulb, making them safer to operate and cuts energy costs associated with home cooling.
Buyer’s benefit: New roof can save up to 15 percent of annual cooling costs. Visit energystar.gov for a calculator to determine how much money can be saved with a new roof.
Solar panels and geothermal pump
Solar panels and geothermal pumps are costly, but can drastically reduce or even eliminate energy costs in a home. Buyer’s benefit: Little or no heating or cooling costs
Energy Star-rated appliances
People appreciate new appliances and stainless is the most popular finish. If you can afford only one new appliance, make it an Energy Star-rated refrigerator.
When renovating—from kitchens to flooring—always choose the most ecofriendly products. That means solid wood floors from sustainable sources in place of carpet, natural countertops over synthetic and so on.