Today's home buyers are smart buyers.

And that means they are looking for smart features, including earth-friendly materials and products.

It's no wonder an eco-friendly home is desirable.

It's a healthier place to live. It's economical because it reduces water and energy costs. And, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing you're reducing your personal carbon footprint.

What eco-friendly attributes does your home have that you can boast about when it's time to sell? 

Think green

According to HomeAdvisor’s 2017 True Cost Survey, homeowners spent nearly 60% more on home improvement projects that year than they did the previous one. And while there are countless improvements you can make to your home, some of them deliver more bang for your buck than others. 

Some green upgrades-- like a tankless water heating system, solar panels, and construction materials from renewable sources --  might be so pricey they aren't going to return your investment unless you continue living in the home long term. As a home seller, you need to think more short-term.

Three of the most economical and environmentally sane investments you can make when you're planning to sell are improvements in your HVAC  system, your kitchen, and your landscaping. These improvements are clearly visible so they earn you bonus points from buyers.

Improve your heating and cooling  

Although not the most glamorous or visually appealing upgrade, improving your home's heating and air conditioning system prior to putting it up for sale is an enormous selling point.

If your home was built more than 10 years ago and still has its original heating and cooling system, it's not energy efficient. Home buyers are often wary of older homes, and outdated HVAC is one of the reasons.

Your Realtor can point out to buyers that the new system will substantially reduce the average energy costs by as much as 20%. That means lower utility bills and a decreased carbon footprint -- both tempting selling points in any real estate transaction.

Other energy-saving perks that can impress buyers are a programmable thermostat, double pane windows, and non-toxic blown-in insulation. Depending on the condition of your home and the local market, it could be worth your money to add extras like these. 

Update your kitchen

Are you that homeowner who says, "I'm not going to fix up my kitchen for the next owner?" That's short-term thinking of the wrong kind.

DIYNetwork reports that "If you plan on updating only one room in your home, it should be the kitchen. Large, open kitchens have become the social hub of the modern home. High-end touches like granite countertops and energy-efficient stainless appliances are the gold standard in modern kitchens."

Don't be the seller who underestimates the ROI you can realize when you install upgrades like new countertops and Energy Star appliances. Realtors and other experts across the board agree that a kitchen remodel done right can return between 80% and 85% of your actual cost. Compared to other remodeling projects, that's a handsome return.

Of the 93% of homeowners who are updating countertops during a kitchen renovation, most are aware of buyers' preferences and are choosing natural stone materials. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it's durable, non-toxic, sanitary, and always attractive in a classic way.

Other green upgrades to your kitchen are a low-flow faucet; floors made of cork, sustainable hardwood, or bamboo; an under-the-counter water purifier; a recycling area; and a convection oven.

Rethink your landscape

No home seller can ignore the importance of curb appeal. The way the front of your home looks can determine whether driveby home shoppers are interested in your home or not. Landscape can make the difference.

A professionally designed landscape will incorporate
varying textures, shapes, and colors.

You don't have to spend a fortune, but hiring an experienced landscaper to design a custom plan for your front and backyard spaces can make all the difference in your home's appeal to potential buyers.

If you plan to keep some of your yard's existing landscaping elements, a professional landscaper should be happy to work with you to develop a unique plan, one that buyers will appreciate for its good looks and its eco-friendly features.

You want your landscape to be based on plants that don't demand lots of water to look good and stay healthy. You also want it to be easy to maintain. It should not require ongoing applications of toxic chemicals or excessive use of power equipment for its upkeep.

Fortunately, there are plenty of plants that require little or no upkeep. Some of my favorites are Variegated Ribbon Grass, Thornless Common Honeylocust, and Grey Owl Juniper shrubs. These are the kind of plants that let you -- and that next owner -- enjoy the benefits of a beautifully landscaped yard without the chore of yardwork and maintenance.

Central to the idea of sustainable and healthy landscaping is the notion that what you plant is suitable to your climate. Growing tropical plants in the desert is just one example of poor ecology. To learn what kind of landscaping is appropriate to your locale you can contact your county extension service for free literature and online advice.

It's easy being green 

It's not just young buyers or other niche markets that are interested in conserving resources like water and energy and living in ways that don't harm the environment. If your home wasn't recently built or recently remodeled with environmental factors in mind, you may want to consider some of these renovations.

Environmentally smart home improvement projects can come with big price tags, but if you choose the right ones, you'll see a faster home sale with less negotiating and good ROI.

Top photo: hgtv