Think you have a high-performing home? Ask your real estate agent these three questions

Think you have a high-performing home? Ask your real estate agent these three questions

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By Cynthia Adams

 If you own a high-performing home, you could be missing out on 5% in "hidden" home value if your home is not properly priced and marketed. This 5% premium is the average value-add Pearl found in our peer-reviewed study of Pearl Certified homes, authored by an independent appraiser. Finding the right agent to help you sell your home could mean thousands of extra dollars in your pocket.

High-performing homes are like high-performing cars: they provide an enhanced quality of life for people who own them. How do we define a high-performing home?

  • For new homes, the shortcut is a third-party certification or energy score. The label and/or score documents the home has been built to a higher standard (ENERGY STAR, Earthcraft, Pearl Certified, LEED, HERS rated).
  • For existing homes, look for upgraded features that contribute to the home's energy efficiency, comfort, indoor air quality, and/or energy production (e.g., solar panels) and certifications like Home Performance w/ ENERGY STAR and Pearl Certified.

What is a high-performing home feature? With new and existing homes, high-performing features include ones most people think of - like ENERGY STAR appliances, LED lighting and energy efficient HVAC. But they also include features people normally don’t think of - like attic insulation, professionally air-sealing of the home and/or ductwork; energy efficient windows/doors, tankless water heater, etc.

If your home has features like these above, here are three questions to ask your real estate agent:

  1. How will you incorporate my high-performing home features into the listing?

Real estate agents have a fiduciary duty to their sellers with respect to "disclosure" and "reasonable care" when it comes to advice on price, inspections, and negotiations. If a seller tells their agent that the home was built to a higher standard or has been upgraded to include features that increase its energy efficiency and comfort, a responsible agent will work with the seller to verify and document the home's features so that they can be captured in the appropriate Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data fields. It’s important for this information to be in the MLS so that a buyer's agent can search for these features and a future appraiser has access to the information.

Ideally, a seller will work with an agent who has used MLS Green Fields to accurately represent listings in the past. Pearl Certification can provide a third party asset inventory to collect appropriate efficiency rating information and certify the home. Pearl’s certification also includes an MLS Green Field Listing Report for the listing agent.

  2. How will you incorporate these features into your marketing?

In other words, ask your agent about how s/he will include information on the home's features as they relate to "buyer benefits." High-performing homes offer quality of life benefits that buyers can emotionally connect to - for example, a well-insulated home will be quieter and more comfortable. People are much more willing to pay more for what they value, but they may need some education on what about your home is valuable. The good news here is that the right kind of marketing will also engage buyers, making it more likely that your property stands out from others. Examples of effective marketing include posting information on social media channels, providing a self-guided home tour, and perhaps a flyer on the home’s special features for buyers to take with them. Pearl’s certification package includes marketing pieces like these, and we hear positive feedback from buyers exposed to them.

3. How will these features factor into your recommendation for pricing?

To support a higher price, the home must be listed correctly and marketed well. Not every high-performing home will sell for more. There may be a number of mitigating factors that detract from a higher price - for example, a dated interior or a less desirable neighborhood. Some sellers prefer to keep the pricing lower so that the home will sell faster.

However, your agent should be prepared to explain how s/he pulled comparable homes and created the Comparative Market Analysis. Agents can also work with the seller to document replacement costs for the high-performing home features as a way to provide back up for a higher sale price. Third-party certifications like Pearl can add value by also providing an official Appraisal Addendum and certification report to document the special features that contribute to home value.

While there certainly are many knowledgeable agents who understand the special challenges and opportunities of listing a high-performing home, those agents who are NAR Green Designees, Ecobrokers, and/or Pearl Partner agents have had special training on working with high-performing homes.

If your home has some high-performing features, but you're not sure if it would qualify for a certification, you can take Pearl's free online survey to find out.

As a seller of a high-performing home, don't leave your own money on the table. Ask your agent these three questions and see the return on investment you deserve at resale.

Cynthia Adams is CEO and co-founder of Pearl Certification. She has served as Chair of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, the Virginia Energy Council and was Executive Director of the Local Alliance Energy Program in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This post originally appeared in the Daily Progress and is republished with permission.


Topics: Building Green, Certification / LEED, Energy Audits, Energy Star, Going Green, Healthy Homes, Home Design & Plans, Rebates / Tax Credits, Sustainability Trends & Statistics, Sustainable Communities

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