Green Features Added to Real Estate Listings

Environmentally innovative—or “green”—houses are now easier to spot, thanks to the Gainesville/Alachua County Association of Realtors.

The organization has added 73 energy-saving and environmentally friendly features to the items that a real estate agent can highlight in creating multiple listing service entries.

“Demand for green features is growing,” says David Gibbs, an agent with Coldwell Bank M.M. Parrish Realtors, who was a member of the group that developed the service. “They come up in conversation with every buyer.

Gibbs, who is a Green Designated Realtor through the National Association of Realtors, says that when other features in two homes are comparable, green features like high-efficiency air conditioners and added insulation can help set a home apart—and ultimately help it sell more quickly.

The features listed also include environmentally friendly features such as cabinets, paint and carpeting that produce fewer, if any, toxic air emissions. “Having a healthy indoor air quality is important to many people, including those whose kids have asthma,” Gibbs says.

Savvy buyers are attuned to healthy features, says Liberty Phoenix Lord, a real estate agent and owner of IndigoGreen Building Solutions.

“They realize that new homes can have tight envelopes that don’t give toxic gases anywhere to go,” she says. “Their priorities are different than previous buyers, and they’re interested in finding homes that are remodeled or built with few or no volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.”

The list of green features even includes no carpeting. “This will help buyers who are looking to avoid the toxic chemicals used in many carpets as well as the dust, dirt and mildew trapped in carpet,” Phoenix Lord explains.

The listings will result in a better database for identifying and comparing homes with green features. “Having this information will help appraisers determine the value that green features add to selling prices,” Gibbs says. “Until now, appraisers had no way of finding comparables in terms of green features.”

Homeowners need to be able to document their green features, Gibbs says. “You should have paperwork showing the efficiency of your air conditioner, the amount of insulation added and so on,” he says. The documentation can include FGBC Florida Green Home Standard Green Home Standard certification, awarded through the Florida Green Building Council.

“It costs about $900 to get this certification, but it can be well worth it because you have someone verifying that you’ve got the green features you were paying for when you remodel or have a new home built,” Phoenix Lord says.

And the added savings of an energy-efficient home can translate into more than just a financial benefit, Gibbs says. “Forty percent of America’s energy goes to the buildings that we live in and work in, ” he says. “If we can help increase demand for energy efficient homes, we can reduce the demand for energy. This is finally hitting the average American’s radar.”


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