Sustainability Factors Gain Traction for Real Estate

wind turbine surrounded by grass

“Sustainability” may seem to be a term that lends itself to vagueness—but you can nail it down. It’s “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” Earlier this spring, the National Association of Realtors® issued a comprehensive report that began to put hard figures to the growing effect that sustainability issues are having on current real estate activity. It surveyed member agents and brokers on the bottom-line impact they see in today’s market. It looks to be appreciable—definitely more than an exercise in abstract idealism.

Probably the most significant single finding for how green features may affect real estate marketing is the reported value of energy-saving features in listings. Sixty-five percent of agents and brokers reported such features were either “very” or “somewhat” valuable in their impact on sales. Solar energy was a good example: 40% of their buying clients viewed solar panels as increasing “the perceived property value” of homes being offered (and 82% of respondents said that solar panel-equipped homes were currently available in their own market). The majority (55%) of their buying clients were reportedly at least somewhat interested in sustainability.

The perception of green features to today’s buyers is one thing. However, for homeowners trying to gauge the practical selling advantage that adding sustainability features might have, it’s still difficult to pin down. This latest report was noteworthy in documenting that 32% of Realtors report that they have had direct involvement with a marketed property that boasted green features.

One Harvard Business Review article, “The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability,” documented some dollars-and-cents performance dimensions that executives are discovering. When they adopt sustainable practices, significant cost reductions can be achieved when operational efficiency improves. For house-hunters mindful of rising utility bills, the implications are no longer so elusive. If consumers continue to respond to the immediate practical advantages that can accompany the introduction of household products with enhanced sustainability features, the future implications on the local market will continue to gain traction.