Elain Szu, Home Buyer in 94123

Homeowners: What green changes will improve the value of my home?

Asked by Elain Szu, 94123 Thu Apr 2, 2009

My family owns several properties between the five of us - two in California, two in Maryland, one in Austin, TX and a few condos in Providence, RI - so we are always looking for ways to "green" our homes and make them more eco-friendly. And with the current housing market coupled with growing concerns about limited energy/water resources, I'm especially concerned about sustaining our home values.

I'm interested to hear what has worked for other home owners to 1) improve their home value and 2) save some cash on energy or water bills. Do home buyers look for these kinds of improvements? What do you value if you're currently looking to buy? Love to hear the opinions of other homeowners and buyers.

Thanks!

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Answers

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Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor’s answer
Get a new high efficiency furnace! There is a huge tax credit available for you right now. Not only will this improve your home's value, it will help you with your taxes. I have the numbers of heating professionals ready to guide you through the entire process.

Let me know how I can help.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2009
We've chosen to make changes to our home and rental properties that may not always have a top return on investment, but are great choices for the world we live in as well - such as energy efficient windows. Not only do we attract top tenants, but feel good about the impact this makes on our environment. We also use low/no VOC paints - did you realize that the volatile organic compounds are released into the air LONG after the smell of paint is gone? Replacing toilets, shower heads and appliances with energy efficient models has been a priority as well. There are billions of $$ available for economic stimulus for making green changes - I've attached the links for more information.
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 3, 2009
Elain,

Sustaining home values will likely be the challenge no matter what you do to make them eco-friendly. A lot of those expenses going into green updates won't come back to you for some time to come. The recent hits on the economy are working against you. The things that will be noted as eco-friendly with value added have been mentioned, in detail already; however the value may likely not be monetary (equity) initially; the value may be in immediate personal satisfaction because of the priority put on conservation or maybe the value will come into play upon promotion of the home as most desireable and economical among the competition when it's finally put up for sale. Getting a greener home is a more costly way to build/remodel in many ways. It requires replacing the old for the new (or cleaverly recycled)- which costs dollars....dollars that won't necessarily come back to you in the short run. If you are looking for attributes that will help a home sell better (but not necessarily for more money if the economy stays sluggish) in the long term then some of the preceding ideas are the way to go. Keep in mind, greening a home requires dollars that may not give a profitable return for quite some time, but over time will benefit you or future owners. But at least you can have satisfaction in knowing you've taken strides to protect and preserve the environment while you're waiting for the return on your investment.

June Lizotte, Real Estate Broker
Providing REAL Service
Prudential NW Properties
6400 SE Lake Rd., Suite 200
Portand, OR 97222
jlizotte@prunw.com
503-310-8032
Web Reference: http://www.junelizotte.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 3, 2009
Elain, you've got your answers here, but must say I love the idea that Trulia move their operations here as:
"Portland is just a smaller more hip more green weirder and funkier San Francisco!". Dirk, you should take your quote to the Portland City Council...that could be our new P-town slogan!!! Love it...
Janeese Jackson, Principal Broker
Real Estate Resource
503-709-0802
jj@janeesejackson.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2009
I posted this earlier. Here is where the real world lives on this issue!

Well that is a very good question. In this market will a consumer actually pay a lot more for extensive eco-friendly and green building techniques.

Overall the interest level is high. But consumers are so "deal driven" that I do not think at the end of the day they are going to pay more. For me being a Realtor in the oft chilly Northwest and having been doing that for 25 Years I have seen some major demarcations in this area.

#1 Improvement here: 1993 Building Code update required new standards on Windows and Insulation effectively doubling the insulated factor of both. NOTHING can enhance the value of a home more than Overall energy efficiency. This leads to HUGE cost savings and the amount of insulation in floors, walls, ceilings, and foundations is the #1 return on Investment and I feel is the most valuable. Windows are a part of this. Efficient Low-E Glass windows are a very big factor. The combination that we use now in the Pacific Northwest makes for a cozy home that can be heated at 1/2 the cost of a home with lesser quality.

#2 Now that our home is cozy we gotta heat this sucker. Therefore I must stress the need for High Efficiency Furnaces and Heaters. I have seen everything from Oil and Wood Fired Hot Water radiant to solar and ground loop heat pumps. Again this is area specific. In most areas Heating does better as a Natural Gas Unit and Cooling is certainly electric for the most part. A 90-95% high efficiency Gas Furnace with a Variable speed fan and proper venting with a cold air induction from the outside is a big plus. This is smart technology and saves hundreds if not thousands on heating and cooling costs over time. I have a 100 year old property and we have a hard time keeping it warm but we use a combination of a 95% Gas Furnace and some very smart European Wall mounted electric units that operate on a convection current with no electric fan. Thy work very well too. No matter what the age of the home I would say this is an issue that can pay big dividends in the homes value and livability and this is easy to upgrade.

#3: Solar Elements and Design: While Solar systems are still expensive and a few years out for the masses, incorporating Solar designs and orientation into planning, developments, and housing is here to stay. Here is a Grey climate like Seattle and Portland we can still take significant advantage of the sun by oriented the home and Efficient Windows or Passive solar designs into our housing. It makes the home brighter, more livable, warmer, and nothing enhances the value of a home the way that this type of thing can. People see a home and say "I am not sure what it is but i just love that place!" and many times we find it to be due to smart design and use of solar.

Other Green elements like Bamboo, Water Recollection Systems, Eco-Roofs, Low emission Paints and finishes all help too. In Portland we believe we are the greenest city in the US and maybe in the world. Of course there is a myriad of Green and LEED Certified techniques we can brag about. Here I think our planning and committment is he most important thing. Many features can enhance the value but only a few can say they have stood the test of time. The three I mentioned I believe make the most difference!

Great Question Sharon! Can I interest you in a Green Eco Friendly Cottage in the Silicon Forest where I live? I can even hook you up with an electric car or shuttle that can take you 1/2 mile to the MAX light rail as you travel to your job in The Greenest Place in The world...Portland! Maybe Trulia needs to move out of that area an come up here and join in the Fun! After all...Portland is just a smaller more hip more green weirder and funkier San Francisco!

Have a great one and thanks!

Dirk Knudsen
Re/Max Hall of Fame
Re/Max Metro Gold
#1 and #2 Rated Team in Oregon 2007 2008
Web Reference: http://www.theknudsens.com
Web Reference: http://www.theknudsens.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2009
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