More buyers seeking green homes

| by John Johnson
More buyers seeking green homes

Green homes are becoming a higher priority with consumers in the market for a new home. According to a recent survey, more than half of those polled report that green home features, from energy efficient appliances to solar panels, are an important part of their purchasing decision.

What’s even better for the green industry is the survey reveals that many homeowners are pursuing homes with green features because of the money they can save. This implies that homeowners are beginning to understand the value of a green home, and that they may be willing to pay more up front to realize savings over the lifetime of the home.

“A growing number of home shoppers are seeking out homes that offer strong public transit options, high walkabilty scores and green features,” said Leslie Tyler, chief home hunter for ZipRealty, which conducted the poll.

ZipRealty is one of the first real estate companies to integrate green-friendly Transit Score ratings into the current home listings on its website, based on the popularity of the existing Walk Score feature, which scores the walkability of each listing, a major sustainability factor.

The ZipRealty survey revealed that 55 percent of homebuyersrated a home’s green features as a “somewhat important” or “very important” part of their home hunt. Just under half of those buyers (49 percent) said they were interested in green features because they could save money on things such as utility bills, while 40 percent indicated they would pursue green homes to help the environment.

Other reasons homebuyers value green features include occupant/family health (37 percent), tax credit availability (12 percent) and the home’s resale value (15 percent).

Although homebuyers overwhelmingly rated energy efficiency the most important green feature in a home (89 percent), an additional survey conducted by the brokerage of MLS-listed homes across 35 markets nationwide found that less than 1 percent of homes on the market included the term in their description of the home.

Tyler says that home sellers are missing a golden opportunity by not listing sought-after items such as Energy Star appliances that they may have installed into a home for sale, or even items as simple as energy efficient light bulbs.

“Sellers are missing an opportunity to market their home effectively to a wide net of home shoppers,” said Tyler. “Appealing to buyers can be as simple as highlighting appliances as energy-efficient, which many homeowners choose today to save money themselves. Our survey suggests that sellers of older homes could make inexpensive changes, like switching to energy efficient light bulbs or appliances, to help their home stand out from others.”

After energy efficiency, water saving devices scored as the next highest priority for homeowners, at 60 percent. One-third listed solar power is an important green feature, while 27 percent noted the use of sustainable or environmentally friendly materials during home construction.

Sean Penrith, executive director of the Earth Advantage Institute, said data collected from his firm shows a direct link to green homes selling faster and fetching more money than traditional residences.

A recent survey of homes in the Portland, Ore. region revealed that homes with a third party certification such as LEED for Homes or Earth Advantage sold for more than their non-certified counterparts, both in the new home and existing home markets. New homes in the six county Portland region sold for 18 percent more, while existing homes with a certification fetched 23 percent more.

“As energy efficiency and healthier homes gain more attention, builders and homeowners increasingly place value on home certification,” said Penrith. “It is very encouraging to see the market share of certified homes continue to rise over the past three years despite the difficulties in residential markets.”

Topics: Certification / LEED, Cost of Ownership

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