Sustainability Tips

Sustainable Home Upgrades Boost Selling Price

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Recent studies have shown that sustainable home upgrades like photovoltaic panels, Energy Star appliances and even low VOC paints can really boost a property’s bottom line and convince a buyer when compared to other conventional homes.

According to research conducted by the Earth Advantage Institute, homes with third-party green certifications can sell for up to 30% more than comparable residences without such ratings. A similar study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded solar panels have a 97% return on investment, and can boost a house’s selling price by 3 to 4 percent. This data clearly shows sustainable home upgrades are becoming more important to buyers looking to live in a healthy, eco-friendly environment, but according to experienced Colorado real estate broker Lara Williams, it’s also important to choose green upgrades wisely and market them properly.

“If a listing agent can clearly convey to the market the green upgrades that a buyer has installed, and especially the energy upgrades, the home will get special attention, and probably sell faster and at a premium,” said Williams, who actually funded Green Team Real Estate, a company that focuses on buying and selling “green” homes. She offers potential buyers a page listing with all the green upgrades of the house they’re interested in and also places cards around the house, pointing out all its sustainable features. One other thing she recommends is showing real proof of the difference these upgrades can make – like energy and heating bills for the same month the year before and after installing efficient systems. If you have made some improvements to make your home more sustainable, but don’t feel you can market them very well to a buyer, try getting n touch with a specialized green real-estate agent. There’s already a profitable green realty niche out there, so finding one in your area shouldn’t be that difficult.

in terms of what green home upgrades you should focus on to boost its selling value, Lara Williams has some interesting suggestions:

• “If you need to clean up your yard, add native plants and plants that require less water and maintenance.”

• “If your home really needs new interior paint, spend a little more money and buy low VOC, because this really matters to a growing number of people, especially people with young children.”

• “If you are planning to update an old bathroom, install a low-flow toilet, shower head and faucet. Consider a countertop made with a recycled content product.”

Above are the more affordable options, but pricier upgrades could also speed a home’s sale and increase its selling price, but these are only worth installing if you plan on enjoying them yourself for a few years, as you might not recuperate their true value when you sell the house. However, she does warn expensive green upgrades can backfire and ultimately slow down the sale. Williams gives the example of a homeowner who spent $80,000 on photovoltaic panels and geothermal heating for his home, in 2004, and added this sum to the selling price. No one was willing to pay that much, and they ended up receiving almost no premium over similar homes without energy-efficient systems.

Here are the upscale green upgrades she recommends you should consider:

“Concrete floors work well with in-floor radiant heat, which is a wonderful way to heat a home that you can enjoy while you live there and should also attract buyers.”

• “Bamboo and cork flooring are beautiful . . . and really help to differentiate a home.”

• “If you have old aluminum windows that leak badly, consider upgrading them with a double-paned vinyl low-e (window), and then promote that update.”

Although it’s clear sustainable home improvements improve the bottom line, there are other factors to consider, like the state of the market, and the level of awareness and interest in solar energy and green living in general, so spend your cash wisely.

via St. Petersburg Times

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