Even as deals for homes escalate and homes take off the market, some buyers are sticking to standards for home features that go beyond hardwood floors and steel appliances. stainless. The demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendly elements in homes has remained stable.
Almost two-thirds of real estate agents surveyed in March said promoting energy efficiency in listings could help attract buyers, according to a report of the National Association of Real Estate Agents. More than half said their clients were interested in sustainability, and almost a third said they had been involved in buying or selling a property with “green” or environmentally friendly characteristics in the country. over the past 12 months.
“A growing number of consumers are looking for homes with features that are good for the environment and by extension good for their wallet by reducing utility expenses in the long run,” Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and information behavioral studies at the National Association. real estate agents, said in a statement. “The pandemic has led to an increased focus on wellness, and sustainability is an important variable in this overall equation for some people. “
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Features that save on monthly bills can help homeowners who face higher housing costs as the competitive market pushes up home prices.
In a 2020 report examining the habits of buyers and sellers, the National Association of Realtors found that most buyers who bought between July 2019 and June 2020 said green features were at least somewhat important.
More than four in five buyers said heating and cooling costs were the most important environmental factors, according to a survey of about 8,200 recent buyers. Energy-efficient windows, doors and siding came next on the priority list, followed by lighting and appliances. About half of buyers said landscaping for energy conservation was at least important enough to them.
The glow from solar panels atop a house has become more common in neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area as the technology has become widespread. Local home builders tout the use of energy efficient elements and systems in their construction. Home designers help current homeowners add green features.
More and more listing services allow home buyers to search by green features. Bright MLS, a multiple ads service that covers the Mid-Atlantic region, has broadened its ad search fields over the years to include phrases like low flow devices, pre-wired for wind turbine (s), and recovered materials to follow the interests of clients. And the company expects demand to increase in the years to come. This made these features easier to include for sellers ‘agents and buyers’ agents to find. The ads service plans to work with third parties who collect data on green items to automatically incorporate this information into real estate ads.
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“I wouldn’t be shocked by the changing demographics, people’s opinions are changing and people want to know what impact their property will have on the environment,” said Frank Major, CTO at Bright MLS. “Green fields are something that we think is more and more important as we go along.”
Not all homebuyers are interested in the environmental impact of a property, Major said, but “for those who care, this is going to be important to them, so we want them to have access to this information. “.
Christopher Raad, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, said that while consumers increasingly want more information on green features, the current market and lack of inventory may mean some buyers are abandoning those desires in favor. from entering a house.
“It’s difficult to make this a top priority just because of the tough market we find ourselves in right now,” he said. “If there is a top priority in your home search, you really need to be fully on top of what’s coming to the market as soon as possible. “
Today’s builders and homeowners face the same kinds of shortages and delays in energy-efficient appliances, systems and accessories that builders see for materials of all types.
Most homeowners want standard fuel-efficient upgrades primarily to save on utilities long-term bills or to leave a smaller environmental footprint, said Johanna Adamiak, owner of Rooted by Design. She specializes in sustainable design in home improvement and furnishing projects in the Philadelphia area.
Among Adamiak’s clients, “I would say about half are interested in making green or sustainable choices for their home,” she said, “but most don’t understand what it entails or how to do it. – even this type of selection ”.
Homeowners “don’t necessarily know that the things they choose to fill their home can also be green or sustainable,” she said. For those most concerned about where products are made and the materials used, for example, Adamiak tries to find parts made from natural rather than synthetic materials, use local suppliers, and reuse second-hand parts. .
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“I find that even people who don’t necessarily prioritize the environment like to see these options mixed in with the selections for their home,” she said. “They might not always choose that option, but sometimes, if we can meet the other constraints of a project, they’re more open to it, which has been an exciting change to see.”
Homeowners interested in energy efficiency should consider insulation, airtightness, water heating, air cooling and heating systems, appliances and electronics in their home. House. They can hire builders who use sustainable or recycled building materials for additions or home construction. Federal, state and local energy-efficient incentives and financing can help homeowners with costs.
The good news for consumers is that, like with any technology, “green” systems have become much more efficient and cheaper over time, including solar power, said Dara Bortman, senior vice president of marketing. and sales at Exact Solar, a solar system installation company. based in Bucks County.
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“People are comfortable [solar] works, ”she said. “They see that their neighbors have solar panels on their house. People are more comfortable with what it looks like.
Bortman is a member of the board of directors of the American Solar Energy Society, a solar energy advocacy group aimed at educating real estate agents, appraisers, home inspectors and other real estate professionals on the how solar systems work and how they can add value to a property, she said. She advises homeowners who sell solar homes and want the best return on their investment to use their utility bill data in their marketing and to choose real estate agents with some knowledge of solar power sales.
The National Association of Realtors offers green certification for its members, resources on energy efficiency and sustainability, and tools to help clients understand the costs of operating green real estate listings.
Bortman predicts that over the next five to ten years, more builders will build homes with smart features built in to make homes energy efficient so homeowners don’t have to piece together these items themselves. She said a societal shift towards 100% clean energy is no longer a question of ifs, but when and how.
“Consumers will drive this demand for more efficient homes,” she said. “Especially young consumers. They really understand.