Which green products are most important to buyers and homeowners?

Written by Alessia Girardin

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.

Staging for the post coronavirus error: 3 features buyers will want

Staging for the post-coronavirus era: 3 features buyers are going to want

There are many ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives, but one of the most obvious is that it has contained us in our homes — maybe for months.

While life on lockdown will eventually end, a calamity of this scale means lasting, permanent changes in the way we work and live. Just as the Great Depression gave rise to a “waste not, want not” generation, the coronavirus has given rise to a “work from home” revolution that’s likely to stick around in one form or another. And that, among other factors, is likely to shape what buyers want in a home. Agent Publishing talked to agents and stagers across the country to find out what will be important moving forward.

  1. Home office

At the top of the list is a dedicated home office. Remodeling site Houzz recently polled its community of homeowners and design professionals and found that the majority of respondents (55%) have a home office, but a quarter (25%) work from their dining or kitchen table, with one in ten laboring from the sofa (11%).

According to the poll, top challenges associated with unexpectedly working from home in light of the coronavirus pandemic include: Finding a private or quiet location away from high-traffic living areas (30%), securing a computer with a strong Wi-Fi connection (25%) and creating a comfortable workspace (25%).

With that in mind, agents marketing homes without dedicated offices need to get creative, said Houston agent Amber Kuhl, with The Collection Real Estate by JLA Realty. “It’s going to be super important to fit in some sort of office space where there wasn’t one before,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged office, but you do need to stay at the forefront of what clients are looking for.” Kuhl and her partner Kelly Donawa, who offer staging as part of their concierge services, suggested the following home office hacks:

  • Carve out an office space in a nook or entryway.
  • Turn a hall closet into an office by adding built-ins.
  • Install a vanity cutout on the periphery of the kitchen, in a pantry or wet bar area.
  • Utilize unused space like an upstairs landing or underneath a staircase.
  • Make the dining room do double duty.
  • Reimagine the master bedroom as a multi-function room.
  1. Private outdoor space

Showcasing outdoor space has always been important, according to Ilaria Barion, owner of Arizona-based staging company Ilaria Barion Design, but thanks to social distancing, it’s now a top priority. “Outdoor space defines the kind of lifestyle you can have,” Barion said. “We normally recommend staging as many outdoor spaces as possible. If you have to cut out anything, cut out the bedroom.”

Depending on the target market, Barion recommends focusing on one of two things when it comes to outdoor space: entertaining or family time. While family-friendly outdoor spaces outfitted with pools, fire pits and outdoor kitchens tend to sell themselves, condos and townhomes with limited outdoor space require a little more imagination.

“For a condo with a small balcony, I think having two chairs and a small table with a bottle of wine is nice. If you have outdoor space off the kitchen and facing the back of the building, then add a grill and eating area.”

Keep the furniture mostly neutral, Barion said, and add pops of color with pillows or cushions and flowers. “You’re not selling the furniture, you’re selling the experience,” she said. Outdoor lighting, rugs and plants will add a sense of luxury and help create an emotional connection that’s particularly important right now. “If someone connects emotionally, they’re less price sensitive. It’s also important to change the language in a listing to highlight outdoor space.”

  1. Mudroom

Often the main point of entry between the garage and the kitchen and a depository for coats, shoes and sports gear, the mudroom has taken on new importance during the COVID-19 pandemic as a decontamination station and place to stash potentially infected packages, grocery bags and even takeout bags.

But what if there’s no mudroom? According to Rachel Cristobal, owner of Staging Sells in Chicago, an easy solution can often be found in the garage.

“I would suggest putting in some type of a bench with cubbies for boots and shoes as close to the doorway as possible along with some disinfectant wipes for door handles,” she said. Installing a pegboard wall is another cheap and easy solution. “You can hang bins to hold packages, install shelves and get as creative as you want.”

While the garage is probably one of the best places, if that’s not available, try to carve out some space on the front porch or front entryway, she said.

Throughout history, how we inhabit physical space has been a primary defense against epidemics, and this time is no different. “We’re going to see people come out of this with a much better understanding of lifestyle and awareness of what they’re looking for in a home,” Kuhl said. “Learning to rework space makes all the difference in the world. It can be a simple re-tooling. That’s what agents are going to be tasked with moving forward.”

For more information on staging homes, watch AgentEDU’s course on staging and preparing a listing for the market.