How to Sell Your Eco-friendly, Renovated, or Smart Home 

12 January 2020, 23:58

Realty Sage asked sustainability expert Miriam Gennari, President of MetroMakeover LLC, and real estate agent with Ikon Realty in Annandale Virginia, to share her story in a 3-part series about working in the emerging eco-real estate industry — the challenges, the opportunities, and the details about her career choice.

“Knowing a house has value because of sustainability is one thing, selling it is quite another.”

 -- Miriam Gennari, VA, MD and DC Realtor and sustainability expert with metromakeover.com at Ikon Realty

If you have recently upgraded your home or if you have an eco-friendly home, marketing those features and having the right Pros to help you through the process are very important to getting your return on your investment. 

Selling Your Home: Qualified Pros 

Listing agents 

”If a homeowner decides to invest in solar, energy star appliances or environmentally-friendly and recycled materials,” Gennari illustrates, “and their real estate agent does not understand the value of those features, the homeowner never sees the reward of their effort.“

A skilled and knowledgeable agent will be able to understand and market the important features in  your home whether it's your solar or geothermal system, or the benefits of energy efficient systems and natural finishes.

Here are three steps you can take to help you qualify your agent. 

  1. Experience. Ask your agent if they’ve worked with similar features on other listings. Take a full inventory of your home’s improvements and features and then ask your agent questions about these features. And finally, find out how knowledgeable they are about marketing them.
  2. Knowledge. Seek out agents with credentials such as LEED Green Designation, LEED AP, EcoBroker or NAR Green Designation. 
  3. Get matched. Another easy way to find local agents who have the skills and knowledge to market your home is to fill out a simple, 5 minute, online questionnaire at www.realtysagepros.com. This online tool, contains a database of local real estate agents that are carefully matched to your real estate needs, including real estate agents who are knowledgeable about green homes. And it’s free, with no obligations. 

Appraisers 

Once you accept an offer on your home, the buyer’s lender will need an appraisal of the home. Be careful!  A high-performing and/or certified home should be appraised by an expert who can properly evaluate your home including the  “Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum that appraisers can attach to a standard appraisal. 

Find green qualified appraisers at the Appraisal Institute.

How To Market A Green Home 

Focus on your home’s energy efficiency, renewable energy and cost savings

Energy audits 

One of the best ways to show off an energy efficient home is by investing in an energy audit, which typically costs anywhere from $200 -$600, depending on the size of your home and your location.  Find energy auditors near you.

Solar

Solar: you have it. 

Because not all solar systems can transfer to a new homeowner check your solar agreement, before you market your home as a “solar home” to see if you can transfer the system/loan or if you need to take other steps to pay off the loan or remove the solar panels. If you cannot transfer the system with the sale of the home, then you will need to disclose that to any potential buyers, upfront.  Review these tips for more information about solar ownership. 

Also check out these marketing tips on, How to Host an Open House with Solar Panels

Solar: you don’t have it.  

Even if you don’t have solar, don’t skip out on the opportunity to market your home’s potential to add it! Go to PickMySolar.com (a Realty Sage Affiliated Partner) and simply insert your home address to get started on an evaluation. 

Tax incentives & rebates 

Take advantage of state and local tax incentives and rebates to finish your home renovations before you sell. 

But, if you are unable to get around to doing so, make sure that buyers are made aware of these tax incentives and rebates towards potential renovations, such as installing solar panels or replacing appliances, so that they don't feel the financial pinch when considering these improvements for themselves such as solar systems and appliances.  Your knowledgeable green agent can explain to the buyer, how that outdated refrigerator is something that they could replace with their own preference!

Renewable energy tax rebates can be found on energystar.gov 

State tax rebates exist as well on things like appliances. On major sites like Home Depot and Lowes, you can find state rebate options appearing alongside the appliances. 

How to make your home’s features stand out 

“Having information on how the property was built, upgraded and maintained as well as its performance is often overlooked by many agents who focus on the photos and only the fundamentals,” Gennari says.

While there are a growing number of homes with third-party certifications, there are still many more homes without a certification that have high performing and high tech features which are very beneficial to homeowners--sometimes even more so than a certified home.  

Customize marketing materials and documentation

Homes’ features are typically only found in the comments section of listings, where it is difficult to notice and even harder to understand the benefits of such features. 

There are services like custom marketing materials and Sage Score certificate on RealtySage.com, which can help showcase, not bury those features in brochures and documentation.

Real estate sites 

One of the most influential ways to market your home to potential home buyers is through real estate sites. Unfortunately for green homes, this is where most of them gain little to no traction. While most sites have widespread appeal, they offer very little opportunity when it comes to distinguishing your property from others. 

Gennari illustrates, "No two homes are exactly the same, even if they were built with the same specs by the same builder. Things like Energy Star appliances, maintenance records and general upkeep play a big role in the value of a home.” 

Here are examples of homes with eco-friendly features, certifications and smart technology, that are noticeable only by reading through the agent’s comments. 

On the other hand, when using sites like RealtySage.com, you can highlight eco-friendly features, certifications and smart technology. This information will appear ON your listing. And, you can add your listing for free. 

 

How Not to Market Your Home’s Features.

Greenwashing.

Showcasing the benefits of your upgraded and eco-friendly home is important, but don’t overdo it!  

According to a  Washington Post article “The practice is called “greenwashing,” and home shoppers need to be on guard: It means a house is being marketed as environmentally friendly and energy-saving when it doesn’t deserve that description. Greenwashing is a growing issue in real estate as multiple studies demonstrate that consumers are attracted to — and will often pay premiums for — homes that are highly efficient in saving on utility bills.”

So, don’t allow your home to be marketed as “energy efficient” when you’ve only swapped out 3 incandescent light bulbs for 3 LED ones! 

Being honest about the improvements, and educating buyers about their potential benefits like cost savings, comfort, and eco-friendliness, is the best way to win over new home buyers. 

In conclusion, if you’re considering selling your home, taking a few additional steps to help make sure that it is marketed more accurately, and that you have the most knowledgeable professionals to help you through the process. These steps will give you the best opportunity to sell your home quickly and with the best possible return on your investment.


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