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Six things to think about before you suggest green improvements

GreenYourHome

It’s a familiar scenario: You’re walking through a property with a client and the client begins to visualize it as if it were theirs..

While cosmetic improvements are always on the wish list, more homebuyers these days are placing an emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability. After all, it’s not only the environmentally responsible thing to do, but a green home translates to monetary savings for the homeowner.

As a real estate agent, you can strengthen client relations by serving as a voice of reason when your clients begin listing off their grand ideas for greener living. According to “Green Your Home: Healthy, Money-Smart, and Sustainable Living Begins at Home,” there are six things a homeowner should consider before investing in green improvements:

  1. Focus on resale value. It’s always a smart idea to think like a seller before making an upgrade or improvement. Real estate agents can play a valuable role in counseling their clients on which green features are in highest demand. One evergreen upgrade that’s inexpensive: low-flow plumbing fixtures. They add value by saving money and natural resources!
  2. Keep your climate in mind. Green technologies, such high-efficiency air-conditioning units, can save a homeowner tons of money, but are they really necessary in locations where you run the A/C only a couple months out of the year? Perhaps in these climates a radiant floor heating system would be a better investment. Don’t get wrap up in gadgetry. Invest in systems and technologies that make sense ―and cents! — in your climate.
  3. Get more for less. Sometimes the most value improvement you can make isn’t brand-new technology, but simply reusing materials you already own. A home renovation generates construction debris that doesn’t have to end up in the dumpster. Wood can be ground up for mulch, or masonry can be repurposed for planter boxes in the yard.
  4. Embrace the payback principle. The payback principle calculates how long it will take before the improvement you’ve made has paid for itself. The formula is: total cost of an improvement divided by the estimated cost savings per year.
  5. Take advantage of potential rebates and incentives. Governmental agencies offer many rebates and incentives for green improvements. In the United States, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (www.dsireusa.org). In Canada, visit www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/incentives.cfm or www.ec.gc.ca for information on rebate programs.
  6. Weigh now vs. later. What do you want accomplish today, and what will you tackle in a few years? When tackling a project, approach it in a way that sets you up for future improvements with minimal inconvenience. For instance, if you’re building a second story and intend to add solar panels to the roof later, make sure the addition is wired to accommodate the panels down the road.
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