Green Homes and the Changing Demands for Sustainable Real Estate

Photo: Jeremy Levine

Photo: Jeremy Levine

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma dominating our thoughts these last few weeks, national news headlines are paying more attention (see here or here for examples) to the resilience of our built infrastructure.  That's a step in the right direction, of course, though a priority on environmental sustainability and resilience needs to be maintained (especially suring times of relative environmental calm) in order to foster meaningful long-term policy changes. 

It's a welcome sign, then, that the real estate market itself is showing signs of increasing interest in green homes.  Greg Geilman, a realtor who blogs about shifting trends in the real estate market, provides the guest post below.  His points hit close to home.  When I was in the market for a home last year, I found myself attracted to homes that included green features such as solar panels, high-efficiency lighting, or a pellet stove.  Now that I'm settled in, I have been debating the costs and benefits of installing solar panels. According to Greg, I'm not alone in having these thoughts, and the collective interest in green homes is having a measurable impact on the real estate market.  Without further ado:


The New Generation of Home Buyers Wants to go Green

Guest Post by Greg Geilman

There have always been trends in home buying, and the latest trend is buyers that are
demanding green homes. These buyers are focused on ways to have a smaller carbon
footprint and a lower impact on the planet. Because of their desire to have green homes,
the construction and real estate market are also being required to change. These are
markets that are often slow to change and do things differently, but they are finding that
they really do not have a choice moving forward. If sellers and builders want to attract
buyers, they have to go green as much as possible.

How Do Green Home Buyers Affect the Construction Market?

The construction market is affected by green home buyers in two different ways. The first
is simple. Builders need to create houses that will sell, and if more buyers want green
more builders will create them. These homes can include features such as energy
efficient windows and appliances, along with certifications for the type of lumber used
and other factors. With so many options, builders will have to pick and choose what
works for them and for their buyers.

The second way is more subtle. Builders and the overall construction market can be
affected financially, because building green homes has a different pricing structure than
building more standard homes. But whether buyers will pay more for these homes or not
affects the markup that builders receive. This can change the construction market, for
both good and bad. It forces builders to make a choice about what level of green homes
they are willing to build, as well.

What Does the Green Home Buying Movement Mean for Current Homeowners?

New construction homes that are being created by builders are not the only aspect of the
market to consider when it comes to buyers wanting green homes. It also affects the real
estate market, because sellers must consider the issue when they put their homes on the
market. Their biggest question is whether they want to make changes to their home to
make it more green before they try to sell. In most instances, whether they do this or not
will be affected by the cost of the changes that would need to be made.

Overall, anything that is energy efficient can be a good choice for a seller to consider.
Appliances, windows and doors, water heaters, and other items that reduce the amount of
power the home uses are popular with sellers who want to make changes. Buyers may
also like LED light bulbs, an automated thermostat, and apps that let them control
lighting, temperature, and other aspects of their home from other locations. Sellers will
have to decide which, if any, of these options are worth the expense in an effort to get
their home sold. The earlier these changes are made can make the difference, too. If a
homeowner makes an efficiency upgrade years in advance of selling, they reap the
rewards of saving energy over time, and making extra money on the price tag of the
home down the line.

Is This Trend Only for the Younger Generation?

The younger generation of home buyers helped kickstart this trend, but now other
generations are starting to come on board. Nearly all buyers use technology, and they are
interested in some of the ways their home can be automated, or ways they can have more
control over things like their power bill based on how much energy they consume. While
not as interested overall as younger buyers, older buyers are not shying away from green
homes, either.

One of the reasons these older buyers like green homes is because these kinds of homes
can be less expensive to operate and maintain. Once proper green systems are installed
there is little that needs to be done to maintain them over and above more standard
systems, so they can save a homeowner a lot of money over the long term. Older or
younger, buyers are starting to see the advantage to saving money and the planet at the
same time, and that is what green homes can provide them, both now and in the future –
and builders are taking notice.