Which green products are most important to buyers and homeowners?

Last week, the National Association of Home Builders highlighted the key green products and systems that consumers are looking for in a home. The 2020 Green Single Family and Multifamily Homes SmartMarket Brief surveyed builders and remodelers regarding their consumers’ most requested green products. Though the data was collected before the impact of COVID-19 was felt on the industry, eco-friendly features are expected to remain high on wish lists overall.

“Customers, who have spent months in their homes, have developed a heightened awareness of what efficient, comfortable and healthy means to them, and builders and remodelers need to be ready to meet these needs,” NAHB noted in a press release.

According to the brief, consumers are most interested in products and services that directly affect utility bills and indoor environmental quality. Over half of builders and remodelers (57%) ranked finding a home that is energy efficient as their top request among owners and homebuyers, while most (84%) ranked it at least in their top three requests. In regard to product systems that impact indoor environmental quality (IEQ), water conservation and renewable energy, around half of builders and remodelers ranked those requests in their top three as well (44-54%). And roughly a quarter of builders and remodelers surveyed noted that owners and homebuyers requested material and resource-conserving products.

Data also showed these requests being acted upon by builders and remodelers. In regard to the most important item in terms of energy efficiency, LED lighting was the most requested among owners and homebuyers with an 85% request rate. It also ranked as the top green project in terms of what remodelers have undertaken at 91%. Additionally, direct outdoor ventilation using fans ranked as the top IEQ improvement among owners and homebuyers (72%), and there are currently 81% of builders and remodelers putting such projects into place. Likewise, the results for water conservation are the same: 72% of owners and homebuyers have requested high-efficiency plumbing fixtures as their top green product, meanwhile 81% of homebuilders have started those projects. Looking at reusable materials, 84% of builders and remodelers are implementing such products based on a 64% owner and homebuyer request rate. By contrast, owners and homebuyers have not shown much interest in solar, with only 8% requesting this renewable energy source, which may be why only 16% of such projects have been put into place.

So next time you’re writing up a listing description for a home with eco-friendly features, you might not want to concentrate on the flashy items, since simpler energy-efficient green products ranked the highest among owner and homebuyer requests. Targeting those consumer hot-buttons of efficiency when marketing a home may attract that next high-performance sale you’re hoping for.

For more information about buyer preferences, read our post on buyer home preferences post-COVID-19.

4 Programs for Buyers Without a Big Down Payment

As buying a home is the biggest purchase most people will ever make, buyers will look to you, their agent, to help them navigate the complicated world of financing their home. For many buyers, finding the required down payment money is the most difficult part of the process. For others, it may be more helpful to find a program that allows them to borrow without putting a lot of money down. Fortunately, there are a number of assistance programs for homebuyers that can help to lower the substantial upfront costs of purchasing a home. 

Let’s take a closer look at some financing programs you can recommend to buyers who might not have a large amount saved for a down payment:

1. Federal Housing Authority Loans

FHA loans offer the opportunity to borrow money with a low down payment (as little as 3.5 percent) and still access competitive interest rates. Also the federal program won’t penalize your buyer for having a low credit score. In order to qualify for this type of loan, your buyer must: 

  • Have verifiable income
  • Be able to afford the housing payment and any existing debt
  • Save at least a 3.5 percent down payment
  • Have an established credit history
  • Have a FICO score of at least 580 to 640
  • Purchase a home that does not exceed FHA loan limits

2. Veterans Administration Loans

VA home loans help service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. These loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks or other mortgage companies. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan, thus enabling the lender to provide your buyers with more favorable loan terms. In order to be eligible for a VA loan, one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Served 181 days of service during peacetime
  • Served 90 days of service during wartime
  • Served 6 years of service in the Reserves or National Guard

3. Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Program

Lesser known than its counterparts, this program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and is designed specifically for lower-income individuals who either live in a rural community or plan to move to one. This program helps buyers by providing a cash subsidy to borrowers or by guaranteeing a no down payment loan, known as a Section 502 loan. 

In order to qualify for this type of loan, however, there are a few stipulations that must be met: the home must be 1,800 square feet or smaller, it must be the buyer’s main residence, and the borrower must meet certain income eligibility requirements.  

4. State, County and Local Programs 

There are also other down payment assistance programs that can be obtained at the state, county, or even local level. These assistance programs most often come in the form of either a grant or a loan that is known as “silent seconds.” A silent second is a no-interest loan that also doesn’t require a monthly payment to be made. 

To help your client find and secure these types of programs in your area, you can turn to State Housing Financing Agencies. These entities are chartered by the individual states and were established to help local residents secure affordable housing. AgentEDU can point you in the right direction for finding market data in your area.

To learn more about how you can better manage the sales process for your clients, sign up for our course Preparing Homebuyers to Buy today. 

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