Most home buyers are interested in purchasing a house with energy-efficient features. Not only can a “green” property help you save money over time, but it cuts back on your family’s carbon footprint and assists in the fight against global warming.
However, MLS listing services, the traditional way that both buyers and Realtors search for potential properties, do not have a specific place to list green features.
In addition, most appraisers do not have a good understanding of how valuable various green features are worth and therefore do not include them in their reports. This is a significant problem for both buyers and sellers.
An eco-friendly property is a property designed and built with the environment in mind. It uses sustainable materials and practices to reduce its environmental impact. Eco-friendly properties can offer a number of benefits for property buyers, including:
- Lower energy bills: Eco-friendly properties are typically more energy-efficient than traditional homes, which can lead to lower energy bills.
- Increased property value: Eco-friendly properties are often seen as more desirable by buyers, which can increase property value.
- A healthier living environment: Sustainable properties are often built with healthier materials and practices, which can lead to a healthier living environment for the occupants.
For the environment, eco-friendly properties offer a number of benefits, including:
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Eco-friendly properties typically emit less greenhouse gases than traditional homes, which can help to reduce climate change.
- Improved air quality: They can help to improve air quality by using less energy and emitting fewer pollutants.
- Conservation of natural resources: Green properties can help to conserve natural resources by using less water and energy.
Key features of sustainable properties
- Sustainable materials: Eco-friendly properties are typically built with sustainable materials, such as recycled materials, sustainably harvested wood, and natural building materials.
- Water-saving features: Eco-friendly properties have features that help to conserve water, such as rainwater harvesting systems and low-flow toilets.
- Sustainable landscaping: Eco-friendly properties have landscaping that is designed to be sustainable, using native plants and water-saving irrigation systems.
- Energy-efficient design: Eco-friendly properties are designed to be energy-efficient, using features such as insulation, energy-efficient appliances, and solar panels.
If you are considering buying an eco-friendly property, you can do a few things to find one. You can look for properties that have been certified by a green building organization, such as LEED or Green Globes.
You can also look for properties that have features that are known to be eco-friendly, such as solar panels or rainwater harvesting systems.
The importance of energy-efficient features
Recent studies have documented exactly how important green features are to prospective buyers.
One report indicated that close to 95 percent of more than 3000 respondents valued Energy Star appliances highly in their search for the perfect home. Those same individuals were prepared to pay approximately $7,000 more for a home that included energy-efficient features as long as they could bring down their utility bills by about a thousand dollars a year.
In addition to appliances, Energy Star has a variety of products that range from doors and windows to heating and cooling systems; all of these products are known to increase the value of a home.
Although new homes usually provide data for buyers on their energy ratings and certifications, previously owned homes generally do not have that information available. MLS systems, which are used by a large number of real estate agents and buyers to narrow down their home search, don’t include a lot of information about energy-efficient features.
There are approximately 850 different MLS services across the country, but only about 25 percent of them have an area where green features can be listed. While change is happening, and systems are beginning to include more information, it is not occurring at a very fast rate.
The flaw with appraisals
One of the first things an appraiser does when determining the value of your property is to pull information about comparable homes that were recently sold in the area. Because of the issue with the MLS systems, appraisers have no way of knowing whether or not a “comparable” property has green features.
In addition, most appraisers don’t understand how much value energy-efficient appliances or heating and cooling systems can add to a home. As a result, both buyers and sellers suffer when the appraisal is sent on to a lender.
Sellers with an energy-efficient home need to impress upon their Realtor the importance of highlighting the property’s green features in the MLS listing. In addition, ask the appraiser who comes out to your home to use a green addendum, which was released by the Appraisal Institute and helps bring attention to the environmentally friendly features of a home.
Finally, check to be sure the appraiser has evaluated a green home before they come out to your house.