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Why You Should Prioritize Energy Efficiency When You Renovate

John Thomas February 18, 2016
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Why Energy Efficiency Must Be a Priority On Your Renovation

Instead of being an implicitly smart piece of modern society, energy efficiency and the whole green movement have been effectively politicized.

By flipping the script on the issue and turning it from financially wise to politicized, certain people have produced ignorance and apathy around embracing a more sustainable, energy efficient lifestyle.

Why? Why do people allow the narrative to constructed for them instead of shaping it themselves?

Let us have an educated discussion minus any tree hugging. let’s talk dollars and sense by focusing on the the personal economics of the issue.

You do like saving money? You also like a higher resale value on your home when the time comes to sell, right?

Good, we are clearly on the same page.

The Most Wanted List – Features That Buyers Require and/or Want

We should start at the beginning. The home features that buyers – as a whole – look for when they are on the hunt.

And yes, we have lumped some very different home buying demographics into an oversized and overly simplistic, bucket labelled “home buyers”. We will break the demographics down further in part two of this energy efficiency series..

To those looking at buying their first home, you may think these are unattainable. As a complete set you might be right, but individually these features may partially be available at first

As you grow and plan for the inevitable move-up purchase, you will want to consider these features in your renovation and home improvement plans. They will help you maximize your investment.

So, what do home buyers want?

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) surveys potential homebuyers on their “must-have/required” and “desirable” home features quite frequently.

There has been a clearly defined trend over the past 5+ years.

buyers in the market for a new home are increasingly and overwhelmingly leaning toward energy efficiency has a must have.

In fact, EnergyStar appliances topped the list with 94 percent of homebuyers wanting them included. Appliances were not standing alone however, 91 percent surveyed want an energy-star rating for the entire home and another 89 percent want energy-star rated windows.

Outside of energy efficiency, home buyers continued to emphasize practicality on their preferred feature list with focus on storage, how space is used and modern amenities: 89% bought a home with a laundry room, 78% bought a home with a garage, 57% bought a home with a fireplace and 41% bought a home with a basement

Generational Demographics – Different Age, Different Preferences

In addition to NAR’s study, surveys by GfK Roper Reports and 24/7 Wall Street looked at preferences among younger buyers and older buyers. Sellers can use this information to target their marketing to the buyers they think are most likely to purchase their home.

For example, the surveys found that hardwood floors were more important to younger buyers than to Baby Boomers.

Older buyers think a private master bath is an important feature to have in their home. While younger buyers want this as well, it’s less of a priority for their age group.

First-time buyers and younger buyers are looking for an open floor plan and a home office with up-to-date wiring, so if you have an older home to sell it may be wise to invest a little money in upgrading your technology.

You can also stage your home to show that your separate living room and dining room can be flexible spaces to use for an office or casual gathering space.

Younger buyers tend to be more interested in energy efficiency than older buyers, so if you decide to replace your appliances make sure you choose Energy Star models.

Let’s digest the list individually some features that were broad spectrum. We are going to add a twist because it is surprisingly easy to give older buyers what they want while including features that younger demographics demand – energy efficiency.

EnergyStar Appliances

Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 94%

Cost to improve: TBD based on budget

It’s hard not to buy EnergyStar appliances these days. Most new appliances meet the criteria and if they don’t  you should not even consider purchasing them.

Separate Laundry Area

Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 93%

Cost to renovate: $2,637 – $3,077 for an 80-square-foot space

Fifty-seven percent of home buyers say they wouldn’t buy a home without a laundry area. The estimated cost is for a laundry room renovation and includes replacing existing cabinetry, countertops, the sink and flooring, painting the walls, and updating the plumbing and lighting fixtures.

It is also responsible for a large part of your home’s energy use and a stellar way that home sellers can satisfy two buyer desires – separate laundry area AND energy efficient appliances – in one fell swoop.

Exterior Lighting

Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 90%

Cost to install: $150 to $250 per fixture

Homes with exterior lighting help grab potential buyers’ attention before they even set foot in the front door. In fact, exterior lighting is the most-wanted outdoor feature, according to NAHB.

In addition to added security, exterior lighting also increases curb appeal and extends the hours in which you can enjoy your outside living areas.

Energy Star-Qualified Windows

Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 89%

Cost (including installation): $270 – $800 per window

Swapping out your old windows for new fuel-efficient versions will help your home stand out to buyers looking to cut down on utility costs.

Garage Storage Space

Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 86%

Cost to install: $2,025 – $2,363 for a 380-square-foot space

Buyers with hobbies, buyers with an affinity for lots of “stuff”, buyers that are handyman inclined and need room to work, and buyers with growing families that will need lots of storage space either now or in the future.

Unlike an attic or backyard shed, the garage is accessible — generally just a few steps away from the front door, making it easier to transport items such as tools or patio chairs or boxes of toys to and from other parts of your house.

The installation cost includes adding cabinetry, a peg wallboard for tools and improved lighting and electrical circuits

Tips to Make It Energy Efficient: Start by using sustainable materials, like bamboo and natural cork board, along with hypoallergenic and eco-friendly seals and paints.

Eat-In Kitchens

Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 85%

Cost to install: $1,000+

The traditional dining room has been dead for years. Most buyers prefer more productive uses of their space. Hardly frequented and rarely used describe many homeowners dining room areas.

Eat-in kitchens are a must-have for many home buyers, especially families with children.

A note for those buyers that have trouble envisioning what a space might look like after renovations – the location of the dining room in most older homes make it feasible to change a two room kitchen + dining space into a more open and modern eat-in kitchen.

You only need to remove an interior wall in many cases.

Removing a wall is relatively inexpensive, but that price can quickly escalate if there’s additional repair work that needs to be done

Something to consider when planning for this improvement, is that 85% of potential buyers also placed a high priority on a walk-in pantry. Another opportunity for you to provide multiple benefits with one renovation if you are a seller.

All of these improvements can be addressed with one of our renovation mortgage products. Whether it be the HomeStyle or the FHA 203k, energy efficiency should be a priority in your next home.

About John Thomas

John Thomas and his team are long-time Delaware natives. They know the local real estate market as well as they know the loan products that help them serve it. Dedicated to helping first-time buyers; the John Thomas Team are experts on first-time buyer loan programs (FHA, VA, USDA) and conduct monthly first-time buyer seminars that have been attended by more than 3000 Delaware buyers.