Sustainability Practices in Real Estate: Room for Growth
April 13, 2017 | Amanda Riggs
The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed its members to learn more about sustainability issues real estate agents face in their industry. More specifically, what environmentally sustainable features are buyers looking for when they purchase a home, how do wind and solar energy factor into a buyer’s perception of the home’s value, and what market considerations could improve sustainability practices?
First, NAR members affirmatively said that promoting energy efficiency features in their listing was very or somewhat valuable at 71 percent. The availability and demand for green features in the home, on the other hand, was still a relatively small market. Seventy percent of agents and brokers were not involved in a transaction with a property that had green features in the last 12 months. Sixty percent of agents said that buyers were interested in sustainability issues.
Agents said buyers considered the following as very important: comfortable living spaces (71 percent), proximity to frequently visited places (40 percent), windows, doors, and siding features (39 percent), and a home’s utility bills (28 percent).
Eighty percent of real estate agents said solar panels were available for home owners in their markets. Forty-two percent of agents said solar panels increased the perceived value of the property, compared to 31 percent that said they had no effect. As for wind farms, 71 percent said these were not available in their markets and 38 percent said wind farms had no effect on the perceived property value. Only 24 percent of agents said that tiny homes were available in their markets at this time (tiny homes defined as a home that is 600 square feet or less).
With room for growth, real estate agents listed a number of issues and market considerations that need attention to connect buyers to sustainable practices. The top issues include: understanding lending options for energy upgrades or solar panels (44 percent), improving the energy efficiency of existing housing stock (40 percent), lack of MLS data on home performance and/or solar installations (34 percent), and the valuation of homes with solar panels (30 percent).