Friday, January 10, 2020

Here's How to Make Your Green Home Someone's Dream Home

DIYHomeStagingTips
When the home you are listing is an up-to-date, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly green home, some buyers will be skittish about exactly what they are buying.

"It's fancy, schmancy and trendy," they're thinking, "But what does that mean to me and my pocketbook and what skills will I have to learn to maintain these new systems?"

Your job as a home seller is to set these qualms to rest and let the prospective buyers know the distinct advantages of buying a green home. Most likely you'll communicate with prospects only through your listing agent, so it's crucial that your Realtor understands these benefits.

There are two ways to do this. One is to have a walk-through of your property with her, when you will point out the specifics that are considered energy-efficient money-savers or safety features. Or you can pass along literature you have (or can create) that explains these features, such as copies of the manuals that came with your Energy Star refrigerator or programmable thermostat. Alternatively, you can provide online links to these manuals.

Ideally, you can do both. It's all about communication.   

Talk About the Safety

Especially if your home is an older one, buyers might be concerned that materials and construction techniques used 50 or 100 years ago won't be energy-efficient by today's standards. They might be worried about the structural integrity, termites, radon, outgassing plastics, lead paint, asbestos, mold, and outdated plumbing or electrical systems.

Let your Realtor know whatever you know about the strength and quality of the materials in your home, highlighting their reduced impact on the environment. For example, if your home is partially constructed of recycled steel, buyers might be happy to know that steel is the most recycled material on earth, with up to 90%  of recycled content.

A home inspection will reveal if there are problems with plumbing or electric wiring, but if buyers are nervous about an old fuse box or copper pipes, they might walk away rather than pay for an inspection.

If your home has asbestos siding, buyers need to be reassured that it poses no danger unless it is cut, sawed, or broken into small enough asbestos fibers that can become airborne. Actually, undisturbed asbestos is rot-proof, fireproof, and good at insulating a home. Termites don't bother it, and it's easy to paint.

Point out materials that may be unfamiliar to buyers, like flooring made from sustainable bamboo, or recycled flooring materials like stone, old wood, cork, and rubber. Emphasize the methods used to create certain recyclable plastic components, like reaction injection molding  -- the new way molded polyurethane parts are made, when two liquid components are mixed and injected into the mold where they chemically react and cure.

The Realtor should know about exterior lights that automatically come on at dusk and off at dawn, about the video doorbell that lets you see from your phone who's at the door, and about any home security system you have, including the fact of whether or not these things convey with the home purchase. The more information your home shoppers have, the more confident they'll feel about buying your home.

Talk about the Savings

Buyers love saving money. The more specific you can be about energy costs, the better. Heating and cooling make up 54% of annual utility bills in an average home. If buyers think they are paying extra for your double-paned glass windows and other energy-efficient features, let your Realtor have a statement from your utility company that shows your billing for the past year to demonstrate the savings that come with good windows and up-to-date insulation and HVAC systems.

If your major appliances convey with your house and they are new-ish,
make sure buyers know they are energy-efficient. Photo: ComEd  
Major appliances account for 25% of a home's energy costs. If you are replacing older appliances with newer models as part of your staging, you might even leave the yellow and black Energy Star stickers on them to make it obvious how energy-efficient they are!

If you've had insulation added to your attic space, basement, or crawl space, let your Realtor have copies of the invoices itemizing the work that was done. Buyers will be happy that they don't have to pay for the work.

Buyers can also learn that you've swapped out your incandescents with warm-colored LED bulbs that last 50 times longer.

A programmable thermostat looks impressive, the simple ones aren't expensive, and they can shave as much as 10% off heating and cooling costs. If you have a tankless water heater, specify it in the MLS data, because people will notice. Typical water heating accounts for 12% of a home's utility bill.

Look for ways to decrease energy consumption further before listing your green home. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program estimates that adding insulation and properly sealing air leaks, monthly energy bills could be slashed by up to 20%.

Eco-friendly homes emphasize lower energy use for the sake of a reduced carbon footprint, and less energy consumed means more money saved.

Talk about the Environment

While some eco-friendly, green homes feature unconventional landscaping like an overgrown wildflower meadow for a front yard, or an expanse of barren rocks and sand in place of turf, an environmentally sound landscape doesn't have to call attention to itself.

A drought-resistant yard design that relies on native plants
can look good all year. Photo: ThePressDemocrat   

If your landscaping is appropriate for your climate, if it conserves water, if it incorporates indigenous plants instead of exotics, if it includes some wild areas as habitats for wildlife like birds and butterflies, if deciduous trees shade your home in summer and evergreen trees protect it from winter winds, and if you have mulched around flower beds and trees to reduce water usage and minimize lawn, then you have a right to brag about it as an environmentally friendly landscape.

Other signs that you are conscious of your home's impact on the environment: a bat house that will help control the mosquito population, ground covers that don't require chemical fertilizers or irrigation to thrive, and a rain barrel. Most people don't realize that one inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square foot roof can produce 600 gallons of water that can be collected in rain barrels at the corners of the home and used to irrigate a property.     

Your city or county may have restrictions in place that ban some plants as invasive species, that don't allow an outdoor clothesline, that determine how near trees can be to your home, or how much water can be used for irrigation. Ideally, any irrigating you do will be on a drip system rather than a more wasteful spray system.

When you're marketing your home, it's crucial to fine-tune your curb appeal by keeping trees and shrubs pruned and tidy. Avoid "topping" them, and instead practice "crown thinning" to keep them healthy and attractive, removing only 10 to 15% of the live growth in the tree's interior.

Once you've listed your home, you'll need to check features like fountains, birdbaths, and pools so they are clean and functioning. If you have a pool, it can boost your home’s value by up to 7%, if it is customary in your market area and if the pool is in good condition.

Get the look. Get the book.

Your home may be greener than you realize! Advertise your eco-friendly qualities by making them obvious and attractive.

Selling an eco-friendly home doesn't have to be a challenge. In fact, savvy buyers will appreciate the modern conveniences, the safety, and the ethics of your property. Even buyers reluctant to purchase a home only a techy could love, once they are educated, will happily get on board. And that means a purchase offer coming your way!

Learn more about how to get your home sold quickly at a price you like by downloading my eBooks on home staging.  You can start your staging today.

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