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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Green Homes Sell Faster at Higher Prices: Real estate pro Kathy Maguire describes how home buyers seek out more energy-efficient properties

Apr 01, 2015 08:34AM ● By By Kathy Maguire

One thing to consider before listing a home on the market for sale is a summary of what energy-efficiency features the home may have. Demonstrating to potential buyers that a home is equipped to save energy and keep utility bills low can make it sell for more money—and faster, too.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), as many as 90 percent of people shopping for a new home consider efficiency very important. A survey conducted by the Association found that efficient features influence the decision of 72 percent of buyers, and 61 percent would be willing to pay $5,000 more for a house if it meant having lower utility bills.

Although there is no specific data available for Arizona green homes, according to NAHB, green-certified homes in California sell for $34,800 more than their equivalent non-green counterparts. Similar studies from Seattle and Portland found that green homes sold at similar premiums. Furthermore, the study in Seattle found that green homes sold 22 percent faster. So not only can homeowners make more money, efficiency upgrades could make a home so attractive that it jumps to the front of the line for prospective buyers.

Make sure that a real estate agent is aware of all the work that went into the “green-up” of the house and that those features are highlighted in its MLS listing. Retain copies of utility bills to show buyers and let them be amazed at how low monthly utility bills are.

Before listing a home, there are a host of ways to increase its energy efficiency. Start with simple steps, like sealing any drafty areas and making sure that insulation is up to par. Owners often sell their appliances with the house, so when it's time to upgrade, purchase models that are Energy-Star certified. Use energy-efficient light bulbs, such as compact fluorescents or LEDs, to illuminate the home inexpensively. Upgrade windows to double- or even triple-pane models for maximum efficiency or caulk existing windows to prevent air leaks.

Other energy tips include installing an instant, or tankless, water heater, and use low-flow faucets to keep the water bill down. Convert to a smart thermostat to automatically find efficiencies and garner savings from heating and cooling bills. Keep in mind that solar panels on the roof can reduce your electricity costs dramatically, too.

Consider hiring a qualified professional to conduct an energy audit and help find other ways to cut down on utility bills. The best part is that even if there is no plan to sell the house any time soon, the savings will still materialize every month.

Kathy Maguire is a residential real estate agent with DPR Realty, LLC. She is EcoBroker certified and holds the National Association of Realtor’s GREEN designation, as well as GRI and ABR designations. For more information, visit KathyMaguire.com.

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