The Color Of Money

By Ven Griva

March 21, 2008 5 min read


Green might be the key to getting your home sold

By Ven Griva

Copley News Service

While many segments of the real estate industry are feeling the negative effects of the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis, demand continues to grow for homes or condominiums built with the environment in mind.

That's a fact you might want to keep in mind if you are planning on selling your home.

A number of market forces are contributing to this eco-friendly trend: The aging baby boom population is turning toward smaller, easier to maintain homes; builders are purchasing more green materials; and manufacturers are producing more green building materials, which drives down prices.

That's the assessment of Rhys Stucker, director of the VISION House Series, a sequence of showcase homes being built nationwide by the National Association of Home Builders to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable design, construction techniques and products.

"The green market is the only one that's up this year," Stucker said, quoting a study by McGraw-Hill construction and the National Association of Home Builders. "This year could be the tipping point. More than half of home builders are going green."

Stucker ticks off four things that make a green home:

- The use of sustainable products in construction.

- Efficient use of resources such as water and energy.

- A healthy indoor environment free of allergens and mold.

- Durable products that can over time pay for their additional cost.

If the home you wish to sell is built with any or all of these features, your next step is to market them aggressively.

But be careful, real estate marketing experts say. The people looking for green homes aren't necessarily worried so much about Mother Nature as they are about their pocketbooks and quality of life.

Brooke Warrick, president of market research and consulting firm American Lives in Carmel Valley, Calif., says that's a good approach.

"Selling green features is like telling a child to eat his vegetables," quips Warrick. "If you try to sell it based on the virtue of green, you've lost the battle to begin with."

The best way to market your home is to tell potential buyers they'll save a bundle if they buy an energy-efficient home and that their green home will reap higher resale prices.

If you are working with a real estate agent, make sure he or she is aware of the green features your home may have. Emphasize that green doesn't necessarily cost more and will generally save money in the long run.

It doesn't matter how well built, or how green your home is, if you or your agent fail to communicate the value of green to your potential buyers. Include the information in your home listings, brokerage Web sites or brochures put together to market your home.

Most green building products were developed to do something better than their conventional counterparts - they may be stronger, last longer, use resources more efficiently, or manufactured in an environmentally sound manner.

The high cost of energy is one concern for home buyers, and comfort drives high energy use. When it gets hot or cold, people turn on the air conditioning or furnace. By emphasizing the systems your home features from the start, you can offer potential buyers greater comfort while reducing their utility bills.

The same can be said of appliances. If your home comes with a new, efficient water heater or refrigerator, those are things you will want to emphasize to potential buyers.

Finally, the public health community has identified homes as one of the most significant threats to child health. When preparing your home for market, you might want to take a long look at the products you put to use.

Consider using the following when sprucing up your home:

- Paints and adhesives that are low in or exclude volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

- Building products with low or no formaldehyde emissions.

- Water-based, low-VOC wood finishes.

- High-quality air filters on heating/cooling unit.

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