In today’s soft real estate market, home buyers increasingly are willing to wait to get what they want, at a price they are willing to pay. Moreover, as the cost of heating and cooling a home has increased significantly over the past few years, consumers are also paying increased attention to monthly energy bills associated with properties they are considering. Buyer hesitation is leaving sellers in the lurch and realtors without commissions. The current environment is ripe for a new marketing message, especially one that can turn issues that are detremental to home sales – like higher fuel prices – into an advantage.
Market a home based in its energy efficiency. Energy efficiency has become a true differentiator in this market. Whenever possible, realtors should market homes based on comparable energy efficiency – focusing on monthly cost savings and reduced impact on climate change.
Encourage buyers and sellers to take advantage of FHA Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM). These mortgages allow home owners to tack on 100% of the cost for energy efficiency improvements to an already approved mortgage (up to $4k or 5% of the value of the home, up to a maximum of $8k, whichever is greater). US Department of Energy is a good source for information on EEMs.
Buyers should consider investments that yield even modest improvements in energy efficiency, as they can result in significant reductions in monthly energy bills. Sellers should consider how these investments will reduce anticipated energy bills and improve a home’s salability.
Engage customers by providing educational content and hands-on tools. Consumers have not traditionally focused on opportunities to improve energy efficiency. Realtors should provide appropriate materials to educate both buyers and sellers.
Moreover, realtors should provide energy cost savings calculators that enable consumers to understand the impact of investments in energy efficiency. Wisconsin Public Service provides a comprehensive one.