Green Homes – Buying Tips
Ecologically friendly homes are slowly becoming big business, as more and more people are becoming aware of the environmental problems that are stacking up against the future prospects of our planet.
I found an interesting article from the NBC News site on what you should look out for when you are thinking of buying a green home. So, check out ‘Green homes – Buying Tips’
Tips for buyers looking for a green home
If you’re in the market to buy an eco-friendly dwelling, researchers say you should expect to pay more for a so-called green home.
How much more depends on a number of factors, but in a recent study looking at data from 1.6 million California home sales from 2007 to 2012, University of California researchers found that green-certified single-family homes sold for $34,800 more — or 9 percent more — than comparable homes that weren’t certified green.
“Most buyers start from the standpoint of wanting an energy-efficient home,” she says. “But for about half of my buyers, going green ultimately becomes a deciding factor in the home they choose to purchase.”
How do you define a ‘green’ home?
If want to buy a green home, the first thing you should do is ask yourself why, says David Bergman, who teaches green architecture at Parsons The New School for Design in New York and wrote the book “Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide.”
“It’s an important question because people tend to buy a green home for one of three reasons, and while each of those reasons overlap somewhat, they do determine what the buyer really means by green.”
According to Bergman, green can be as simple as saving on energy costs, which means buyers will want to focus on energy-efficient appliances, weatherproof windows and good insulation.
Alternatively, some buyers define green in personal health terms, so they want a home that uses nontoxic materials. For these buyers, even seemingly innocuous carpeting is a big deal, because carpets can be a nightmare for people with allergies.
Last, some buyers define green as contributing to a sustainable future. For those buyers, Bergman says, it’s often important to look for building materials that are locally sourced and sustainable.
It’s also possible to find a broker or real estate agent with green certification. Earth Advantage is one popular certification authority. But it’s important to remember that there isn’t a standardized national certification.
Look for the signs of a green home
Are you looking at a truly green home? Finding the answer could be more complex than you might think.
According to Bergman, buyers can usually tell quite a bit about a home just by looking at the appliances (Energy Star is a big plus), the windows (double pane), and the heating and air-conditioning system. But to learn about the insulation — which can make a big difference on the utility bill — buyers will often have to ask or rely on an energy audit, which could run about $500.
Discern the home’s relation to the land
“A green home isn’t just a green structure, it’s a home that makes the best use of the land,” Aoyagi says. “Asking simple questions like which direction the home is oriented toward can tell you a lot about the home’s green credentials.”
Does the seller care about green?
Buyers who buy green inevitably do so from sellers who care about green. Consequently, Turner says buyers can learn a lot just by engaging the seller or agent in a conversation about the home’s green features.
What’s the break-even period?
While some buyers will pay a premium for green no matter what, most buyers want to know if they will get a return on their investment, according to Bergman. For example, they want to know how long it will take to break even after paying for energy-efficient features.
What about the mortgage?
Some buyers report difficulty in getting lenders and appraisers to recognize the value of a green home.
“Unfortunately, the lending industry just isn’t as up to speed on green as we’d like it to be,” Turner says.
While green buyers may have a hard time convincing lenders their utility costs will be substantially lower than in a standard home, they’re not entirely without resources. Last year, the Appraisal Institute, a trade group for real estate appraisers, introduced a new, optional form that helps appraisers better take into account energy-efficient and green features when valuing homes.
Making the financial case for a green home may not be as cut-and-dried as for standard homes, Turner says, but the marketing is changing fast when it comes to green.