Clients who express an interest in buying a green home may do so for different reasons. Some may be singularly focused on the cost efficiency of the home. Meanwhile, others may be committed to lowering their environmental footprint and want a home constructed from eco-friendly, locally sourced, and sustainable materials. In addition, sellers may want your advice on quick fixes that will make their home more attractive to eco-conscious buyers.
Regardless of a client’s green agenda, being able to articulate the environmentally friendly features present at each showing can improve your relationships with all your clients. It also allows you to highlight your familiarity with features that are valued by a growing segment of homeowners.
What Is Green?
A green home starts with energy efficiency. It should have ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances, windows, and doors. Spray-foam insulation is typically used, and the heating and cooling system is likely to be newer and have an air-purifying add-on to reduce allergens and dust particles. To conserve energy, the water heater should be tankless and the thermostat programmable.
The finishings should also be eco-friendly. Paint designated as low to no VOC (volatile organic compounds) is generally used, nontoxic stains are applied on the hardwood floors, and any installed carpeting should be free from formaldehyde.
The exterior of the home will likely be hardscaped to promote the use of outdoor spaces, and any landscaping done in a way to minimize maintenance and conserve on water, as well as the need for mowing and leaf-blowing equipment.
The actual construction of the home, especially if it is newer, should consist of sustainable materials—no exotic or rare woods. A truly green home is also designed to cause minimal disruption to the environment around it. Many are built only after wind and sunlight patterns are fully understood to ensure optimal energy efficiency.
Discerning the Different Shades of Green
Since saving money on energy efficiency benefits every buyer, consider asking sellers’ agents to supply energy-use information. This may include utility bills, manufacturers’ descriptions, and the years of installation for the appliances, windows, and doors.
When walking through homes, train yourself to do a visual spot check to gauge just how green a seller is. Telltale signs would include the presence of recycling bins, rain barrels, triple-paned windows, and power strips (with equipment turned off when not in use). The absence of incandescent bulbs or gas-powered yard equipment in the garage also indicates an eco-friendly seller.
Be a Green Resource
Become conversant in the features, costs, and potential savings expected from replacing windows, adding tankless water heaters, and upgrading insulation, particularly for clients who are interested in including these in a potential home. Sellers may want to add these features to help make their homes more attractive. However, be sure that if they do, they understand the difference between improving their house’s efficiency and making it a truly green home.
Even if a client doesn’t express an interest in green home features, it is good practice to be prepared. Letting them know what they are looking at and why it’s important to enhancing the value and comfort level of the home can help them appreciate the level of service you offer and your concern for their well-being once they move in.
When a client is green-aware and making a lifestyle choice, you should also be ready to provide an assessment of the overall neighborhood. This may include accessibility to farmers’ markets, community gardens, recycling programs, biking and walking options, water conservation measures, and even the local ordinances around keeping hens. Also, stay up to date with local incentives for energy-efficiency improvements and where electric car charging stations are being added.
There used to be a time when it wasn’t all that easy being green—not anymore. There are many online resources and certification programs for Real Estate Agents interested in putting more green into their showings.