Older homes can be made 'greener'

By Kim Shindle | March 9, 2010 | 2 min. read

A few minor changes can make an older home more environmentally attractive to buyers, according to many GREEN REALTORS®.83590574

More consumers are looking for homes that are energy-efficient and more ‘green,’ said REALTOR® Steve Matthews of Prudential New Jersey Properties, Montclair, NJ, who’s seeing an increase in consumer demand as his region is limited in new construction.

Matthews, who has a GREEN designation, said, “In the northeast, we’re still playing catchup to the west coast in terms of looking at issues like greening our homes.” Many northeast metropolitan areas have little or no space for little new construction and consumers have focused on how to make existing homes more environmentally friendly.

Clients thinking about selling an older home can make a few changes:

  • Add blown-in insulation and energy-efficient windows. Document the difference in your energy savings. “It doesn’t sound like a lot to start with but during the winter  months these can make significant savings,” Matthews said.
  • Conduct a home-energy audit to see where the house is losing energy. An audit will show cold or hot spots.
  • Add Energy Star appliances. These appliances add value to the home and make the home more energy efficient.
  • Make changes to the landscaping. Use indigenous plants that require less maintenance and less water.
  • Use low VOC paints when repainting the home.

“Keep documents on everything you do,” Matthews added. “Make them available to potential buyers. If someone’s especially interested in green aspects, this gives him extra confidence in what you’ve done.”

Kate Hart of Hart and Associates Staging and Design of suburban Philadelphia  agreed with Matthews. “You don’t have to gut your house to make your home more energy efficient. There are some simple things to make a difference,” she added. “Replacing windows and garage doors helps the appearance of the home and helps with energy savings. And some items are available for a tax credit as well.

“Make a list and show it when potential buyers come through,” she said. “Show the buyers the savings you’ve seen in your utilities. With the deregulation on utilities in Pennsylvania, buyers are going to be concerned as they’re looking at a new home.”

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