Three Green Things Sellers Can Do When Selling a House

Note:  This is the next post in my series of the ABCs of Buying, Selling and Investing in Real Estate.  Each post I select a letter (G this post) and write a fictional advice column about it.   The story is fake, but the advice is real(ty).

This post continues the story in Three Great Gestures All Home Sellers Should Make for Buyers.

Glen is a recently divorced grump who came to me one day asking how he can overcome his bad attitude and connect with buyers when selling a house.   After our initial conversation, he called me back a few days later telling me how he had decided to put his house on the market himself.  After one day on the market and numerous phone calls, he finally had one person interested enough to come over to see the property.   Glen had done everything we had discussed so he was surprised by the negative reaction of the buyer.   Apparently, the buyer was turned off by the old appliances in the home and the lack of anything “environmental” consideration.  The buyer was really turned off that Glen would not have thought of this step when preparing the home for sell.   Glen muttered something under his breath about “snowflakes” and asked me directly what the buyer was talking about…he was clueless.   

This is what I told Glen….

I first wanted Glen to recognize that selling the home himself to save money was going to most likely backfire on him.  Most sellers who go this path will end up hiring an agent within 21 days of putting the home on the market.  Most homeowners find out quickly how maddening it is to deal buyer’s behaviors, and being unable to price the property correctly for sale.   As I have told many customers in the past, if you overprice a home, you will probably be stuck with it until you realize the market has rejected your property because of the value you placed on it.   When selling a house, there are so many unknown variables that sometimes it is better for a seller to admit defeat and hire an agent to do it for them.   He admitted that he might end up doing that exact thing, but wanted me to get to my thoughts on environmental items to consider when selling a home.   Basically, I told him that many new builds today take careful care to include green things in the homes that will help with the decay of the environment.  Most likely, the buyer had been to one of these homes and wanted to see them in older homes as well.  I told him that there are many green things he can do when selling his home, but here are three I would recommend. 

1. Tankless Water Heaters – Tankless water heaters are something that mystified me at first.   I didn’t really understand what they were or how they worked.   I have since been educated by my beautiful wife why these appliances might be attractive to buyers when selling a house.   How are these appliances green?   There is some debate that they are not as environmentally friendly as we have been lead to believe.  However, the main ideas behind the tankless water heater is that you heat water only when you need it versus keeping a tank of water heated via a pilot light.  It takes less fuel to run a tankless water heater so you are saving the environment by not using as much energy to get hot water so you are saving on the amount of fuel products you use.   The nasty pilot light stays on 24/7 so over the lifetime of a water heater you get some pretty significant emissions coming from it.   These emissions do not happen with a tankless water heater.   Finally, most water heaters end up in the dump, but tankless water heaters are almost all recyclable so we save some precious room in our landfills.   Check here for more reasons why these appliances are good for you. 

2. Energy-Star Appliances – My wife and I had the nice chore of going down to the local hardware store and picking up a new dryer.   Our dryer apparently ran out of steam and we couldn’t even shut the door on it.    When looking through several of the dryers, we saw a lot of “Energy Star” Stickers.   These appliances are supposed to be good for the environment and save you money in the long run.   Here is an explanation of what it means to be Energy Star.  

Every appliance comes with two price tags: what it costs to take it home and what it costs to operate and maintain it each month. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies and use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances. From refrigerators to clothes washers, ENERGY STAR qualified appliances save energy, save money, and help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants at the source. 

And did I mention, you save money on utility bills.   It can be as much as $80 per year per appliance.   it is not a lot of money, but every bit helps!   

3. Solar –  The last green thing I mentioned to Glen that is a consideration when selling a house is solar panels.   Here in Texas, it can be a challenge to justify these panels based on cost, because the traditional utilities are offered so cheaply.  However, solar is considered one of the most green things you can do.  Solar panels help with the environment by helping to combat greenhouse gases, produced by the electric companies when they generate electricity, and help us to rely less on fossil fuels, which will eventually run out.   Another great aspect of solar panels is that you can hook it up to “house batteries” (like this one from Tesla) and store energy yourself so you are not reliant on the grid anymore for your power.   As often as we have the power go out here in Texas, this is a nice idea.   I did give Glen a warning, however, about solar panels.   It does not really add much value to a home..  As with any home repair/upgrade, you have to weigh the costs of the improvement against what it will bring to the value of your home.   It might not be worth it in the long run.     

Glen acknowledged that he now understood why some buyers might be interested in these green options on homes.   He was not sure about the overall investment of the green things making it worthwhile to the value of his home.  The Tankless Water Heater seemed to him to be the best option as many people would see the benefit of it.   He was not sold that Energy Star appliances or solar panels would do anything to help him sell his home.   In the end, I believe he walked away  with a better understanding.   I told him I would see him in three weeks when he decided to list the home with me versus selling it himself.