Owning a green home isn’t just an aspiration for the rich and famous anymore. It’s unlikely that your average green buyer will want to go all Julia Roberts and take on a $20 million green renovation, but with more and more states setting energy standards for new construction, odds are you’ll be listing a green home sooner than you think.
Keeping that in mind, green homes come with their own set of marketing strategies. Whether you want to carve out a green niche or just prepare yourself for the inevitable, here are four ways to get started.
1. Get All the Facts
Whether the home has been upgraded by the previous owner or newly constructed, you must acquire all records associated with the green features.
Jan Green (her maiden name really is Green!), a REALTOR® GREEN, ECOBROKER® with RE/MAX Excalibur Realty in Scottsdale, Ariz., suggests getting Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scores, warranties, proofs of cost and certifications, to name a few. If applicable, she also advises obtaining a copy of the solar lease so that the agent knows the status of ownership for the solar system. If the system is owned, get a hold of the energy bills before and after installation to prove value during an appraisal.
2. Target the Listing
Despite a growing interest in green homes, they aren’t for everyone. As with any marketing message, it’s important to tailor your listing to the appropriate audience. Green recommends listing with certain portals that cater to green buyers. Her go-to sites include:
3. Green Your Listing Description
“Saying a home is energy efficient isn’t enough for today’s savvy buyer,” notes Green. “There has been a lot of ‘green washing’ in almost every industry and consumers are starting to become wary of that word.”
To really sell it with a listing description, use exact terminology. Be sure you’re using the correct names and labels to support the home’s certification. Green stresses being as specific as possible, such as indicating "low-emissive windows" instead of "new windows."
If you opt for mailers or other print materials to market the home, avoid riffing off a list of environmentally-friendly upgrades. Instead, note how each feature can help the prospective homeowner save money.
Related Story: Serving Green Homebuyers
4. Highlight Savings
Last year, heating and cooling costs were deemed “somewhat” important to 85 percent of homebuyers. With more than half concerned about utilities, it’s clear that lower bills each month should be your prime selling point.
“The number one reason [for seeking a green home] is rising utility costs,” says Green. “Monthly utility costs can be the second highest expense in owning a home after the mortgage payment. Consumers are becoming much more aware that these homes offer lower bills each month.”
When discussing utility savings with green buyers, make sure you’ve calculated averages that apply to each unique financial situation. I stress averages, because usage is a factor and builder quotes are often generalized.
Learn more about NAR’s Green Designation here.
Jan Green is a REALTOR® GREEN, ECOBROKER® with RE/MAX Excalibur Realty, specializing in green real estate and distressed properties. She is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a volunteer for the Residential Green Building Committee, and a member of the Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce. In conjunction with USGBC, she’s coordinating the first ever solar course for appraisers. To connect with Jan, visit relocatingtoscottsdale.com or www.gotgreen.info.
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s Online Associate Editor and social butterfly. She gets most of her eco-sense from her father, a retired environmental engineer.