In tight real estate markets one sure thing is that sellers have to highlight the finest qualities of their homes. Yet, sometimes the very benefits buyers might be interested in are overlooked.
Sometimes sellers forget to mention important upgrades and other times the listing services used make it difficult for buyers to search for green properties. While statistics show that buyers won't necessarily chose an eco-friendly home over a standard one simply because it's green, they can be influenced to purchase the former if the home will save them money. There are a few areas of a home that can really help save money, but the sources of the savings are hidden in the walls and roof. "Insulation is relatively inexpensive for the return on investment. You will save the most money by doing a lot of insulation in your house," says Steven Mark Design Consultant at Marrokal Design & Remodeling.
The San Diego-based remodeling company uses green materials like recycled blue jeans that are turned into insulation as well as special roofing to help lower the energy costs by allowing heating and air conditioning systems to work less to keep the home comfortable.
"On our roof sheathing we're using a special plywood that has a little layer of metal in it that reflects the UV rays before they go into your attic," says Mark. He says by using this special radiant barrier plywood the attic will be considerably cooler. "The attic is going to be 20 or 30 degrees cooler in the summertime which then means the insulation and air conditioner and everything else you need to get your living space to a comfortable temperature is now reduced," says Mark.
Of course, buyers should be told about all those energy-saving appliances that you might have installed over the years. For instance, say there are two decades-old homes on the market, but the first houses old appliances and the second features new energy-saving appliances. The upgrades in the second home are a distinct advantage that should be made very clear to buyers. While this seems obvious, sometimes sellers neglect to mention all the perks.
Remember, the things that aren't always visible can save a surprising amount. Tankless water heaters, for example, are becoming more in demand. That's probably because you can have as much as 30 percent savings of a normal utility bill using a tankless water heater according to Dennis Hargraves of El Cajon Heating & Plumbing Supply. Additionally, consumers can get big rebates.
"Tankless water heaters … they can get up to 60 percent of their installation and cost of the heater it could be up to $1,500 in rebates or tax credits," says Hargraves.
Special water-saving shower fixtures and low-flush toilets can also be enticing to buyers. If you haven't already installed them, consider replacing an old toilet with a more efficient one. Also, don't worry about the low-flush not being effective, Hargraves says the functionality has greatly improved; no need for double flushing. Plus, there's incentive to install them.
"There are vouchers available so a customer can receive up to $50 to $100 per toilet by going to the 1.28 flushes versus the others," says Hargraves.
It's a good idea to keep a three-ring binder to help you remember all the upgrades and eco-friendly additions when it comes time to sell your home. Be sure to include the sales receipts, product warranties, operating instructions, and any other pertinent notes into the binder. Don't forget to review the material in your binder so that you're prepared to highlight your green improvements when you meet with your real estate agent.