How Green Home Renovations Can Help You Sell or Rent Your Home

We consider ourselves environmentally aware. For years we’ve been putting in  CFL lightbulbs, replacing water hogging toilets with low flush versions, buying high efficiency furnaces and using non-toxic paint. Most of these choices make sense for the environment and for our bottom line … but we’ve never actually written about it at Rev N You. So when Steve emailed with this article we jumped at the chance to share this information with you guys!! In this post you’re going to learn some really great ideas to consider if you’re renovating a rental property or even doing a flipper in order to maximize the rental value or resale value.  Let us know what you think!

by Steve Stillwater

In a tough real estate market, you need every possible incentive for someone to buy (or rent) your home, rather than another comparable home on the market. How can you create that advantage for your home over the other houses in your price range? Try some green home remodeling and home renovations.

Reports from housing markets all over North America indicate that green homes sell more quickly than those without energy-saving or water-saving benefits. The reason is easy to understand. The cost of living in these homes is lower for the buyer or tenant.

But there is a more subtle reason as well. Almost everyone wants to feel that they are doing something good for the environment. Living in a home with green lifestyle features satisfies that want and gives the buyer or renter an emotional reason to choose your home in addition to a financial one. Since virtually all purchases, especially homes, have an emotional trigger as well as a logical one, offering a home with green benefits is a sure-fire way to make your home stand out. This is especially true in a tough, competitive real estate market.

So, how can you differentiate your house as a greener alternative? Here are some easy-to-implement suggestions, which will also give you benefits that you can include in your promotional materials.

  1. Make sure you can promote the advantages of energy efficiency in your sales flyer. There are a lot of ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home. For example, replace any older appliances with Energy Star appliances that use less energy. The benefits in lower utility bills will be a plus for the buyer or renter.
  2. Wrap your water tank with insulation to reduce heat loss. You can buy all the insulation you need for about $20 or less. This one is inexpensive and easy.
  3. Seal drafts around windows and doors with weather stripping or caulk, and mention that this has been done in your promotional materials. Adding some insulation to the attic is also an inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency.
  4. Install compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) everywhere. Lighting accounts for about 10-20% of average home energy use, and CFLs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. The out-of-pocket cost is minimal when you consider the value to your home, and CFLs are another benefit that will save the new occupant money. Make sure you mention this advantage in your promotional materials.
  5. Consider bamboo if you are putting in new flooring. Bamboo wears as well as hardwoods, has a beautiful appearance, and has the advantage of being widely recognized as a green building material.
  6. Use low VOC paints (VOC is an abbreviation for Volatile Organic Compounds, which are unpleasant to be around at best, and toxic at worst). Be sure to mention that they were used. Low VOC paints will reassure buyers who are health conscious.
  7. Solar panels are a huge selling point, and rebates and tax credits are offered as an incentive to defray the high up-front cost. The up front cost is still not trivial, however, and installation can take up to 3-4 months, including the planning and permitting. If you have time, solar panels are worth considering. If you are in a hurry to get your house on the market, this may not be a viable option.
  8. If installing solar panels is too costly or time-consuming to consider, a solar water heater may be a quicker, more cost-effective solution. Since about 15% of the typical home energy bill goes toward heating water, the savings for the new buyer will be meaningful, as well as a selling point for you.

Green remodeling is a great way to make your home stand above the others in a competitive marketplace. Green upgrades and features give your buyer both a financial incentive to consider your home and an emotional reason to desire owning your home. The latter may prove to be even more important.

Steve Stillwater promotes healthy, green lifestyles, with easy-to-implement ideas to use less energy and conserve resources. Living a greener lifestyle is a way of life for Steve, and he hopes that it will become a way of life for you as well. He writes regularly about practical tips and ideas for developing a green lifestyle at http://www.LivingGreenandSavingEnergy.com

Image Credit: © Norebbo | Dreamstime.com

19 Comments

Filed under Flipping, renovations

19 responses to “How Green Home Renovations Can Help You Sell or Rent Your Home

  1. Great article to remind us what we should be doing with renovations. I will be sharing this with all my real estate contacts as well as my real estate investors. Many investors often end up doing some rehab and need to be thinking this way to add value to their property both now and down the road.

  2. Thanks Louise! And I certainly appreciate you sharing this with others. I thought Steve had a lot of great ideas … many I haven’t considered. And I do believe that we’re going to find more and more renters and home buyers that are willing to pay more to get a home that is less toxic and more kind to the environment so it is a subject we should all be learning more about and applying where we can!!

  3. Hi Julie/Dave,

    The point on CFLs is great.
    I am guilty of not having CFLs everywhere.
    This is one good takeaway for me.

    I think I will be doing some CFL shopping at Home Depot this weekend! 🙂

    • GREAT!! Makes my night that we’ve inspired you to be a little bit more environmentally friendly … besides … you’ll save some cash doing it too!! 🙂

  4. Great post…I used to think along these lines, as well. Not so much, anymore. Last year I ran a “green” flip on a starter home and buyers didn’t respond the way I expected. Safe to say I probably won’t go with the green strategy again for awhile.

    Lessons learned from my green flip here:
    http://www.thefirstflip.com/2/post/2010/01/green-flips-dont-pay.html

    Perhaps other flippers have had more success? Lots of people talk about this as a strategy, but I haven’t read many actual examples of implementing it….

    • Greg – thanks for sharing. I have a hard time seeing how it would work on a flip unless the market is hungry for green renovations. In certain areas in Vancouver green IS a selling feature … and people will pay more for it. BUT most home buyers are price conscious. And that is the bottom line. As an investor I wouldn’t pay more for a green home unless I could rent it for a lot more … which I can’t.

      Personally I think the real benefits of being green are realized over time … so in buy and hold investing buying an energy efficient furnace, changing all the lightbulbs and insulating the water heater all make total sense. The investment today pays off in a few short years … and then turns to profit in the future.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Hey Julie, thanks for this article…its a very interesting topic. This is a topic rarely discussed in my market and I’m not sure I’ve ever come across it as a selling feature. That being said, I suspect that for a long term buy & hold, some of these simple things will be differentiators.

      • Greg: I agree with Julie. Adding some green features is tougher for a flip, better with a longer term in mind. And I think the market will trend in this direction over time.

  5. Beth

    Great tips. I have a couple of rent houses here in Texas … not much demand from renters looking for environmentally friendly options BUT my tenants that pay the utilities do appreciate the extra steps I take to make the homes energy efficient. I wouldn’t say I get higher rent for it but I do believe it makes it easier to attract high quality tenants.

    In the future, I believe it will be one of those things that you just have to do. Maybe it doesn’t make sense financially but it will be something people expect you to do in order to be a sustainable and responsible business.

    Good article. Thanks.

  6. Great tips Julie. The savings that can come with a few small “fixes” such as moving to CFLs, and sealing your home well can be quite drastic.

    I’d go one further and highlight any efficiencies through the home with signage. I saw a home that did an incredible job by highlighting all the improvements that were made that would save the buyer cash.

    Buyers LOVE to save cash!

  7. Water is the most important source to hydrate your body and eyes and joints, but if you hate your taste of tap water in particular chlorine, how could it be water to drink? You know what damage might have on the environment because your empty plastic bottle?
    You are free to buy cheap cotton and charcoal filter, and set it has changed little over your cock, but you still taste like chlorine in the water, nothing can be clarity of your water.

    The taste of the filter is damaged, you must change now, not to mention the slow flow of water, I was a victim once.

    Now imagine that the system exists to kill 99%, if not all the germs in drinking water and improve the taste of your water, you taste the spring water. Here it is technology that ultraviolet lamps, ultraviolet light is now to make your drinking water?

  8. In your kitchen, sink is one of the most important parts of your kitchen appearance and performance. If you can combine useful and beautiful sink, you have a great kitchen for cooking.

  9. The choice of lighting in your house should be such that it compliments the color of the walls, and is in line with the interior of your home. For the purpose of your outdoor lighting, and great care is necessary to check the type of lighting, climate change and disadvantages of keeping the design of the course.

    However, it is important to a wide range of lamps that fit your budget and the fine and work together to choose for your home. Finally, the lights too much or too little reason the impact of your home.

    As the lights in your home is a prerequisite, the installation of open fires in different places in the darkness is seen. Modern outdoor lighting is that of the now wanted for his popularity among many consumers. The modern exterior lighting consists of elements, and in all weather types.

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