At a time when people are hyper-focused on their home and its livability due to the pandemic, properties with “green” or eco-friendly features are of growing interest among consumers, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The 1.4 million-member trade group released its 2021 Realtors and Sustainability Report this week in honor of Earth Day. The report included the results of an online survey fielded in March that garnered 5,048 Realtor respondents and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.38 percent.
According to the report, 32 percent of the respondents said they had been directly involved with buying or selling a property that had green or eco-friendly features in the past 12 months, though the survey also revealed a lack of attention to such features. While 36 percent of respondents said their multiple listing service had data fields for such features and 10 percent said their MLS did not, more than half — 54 percent — said they did not know.
Among those whose MLS did have green fields, 36 percent used them to promote green features, 25 percent highlighted energy information and 13 percent listed green certifications, NAR said.
“A growing number of consumers are seeking homes with features that are good for the environment and, by extension, good for their wallets by reducing utility expenses in the long run,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, in a statement.
“The pandemic has led to an increased focus on wellness, and sustainability is an important variable in that overall equation for some people.”
Still, in a market whose overwhelming characteristic is an intense inventory crisis, green features may be icing on a cake they don’t have. Just over half of respondents, 55 percent, said their clients were interested in sustainability, which is down a bit from 59 percent two years ago who said their clients were “at least somewhat interested in sustainability.”
Just under two-thirds of respondents, 65 percent, said promoting energy efficiency in listings was valuable, down slightly from 2019 when 69 percent said that promoting energy efficiency in their listings “was very or somewhat valuable.”
The vast majority of Realtor respondents, 82 percent, said properties with solar panels were available in their market and 40 percent said solar panels increased the perceived property value of a home while only 12 percent said it decreased the value. The remainder either said the panels had no effect or they didn’t know.
When asked whether solar panels had an effect on time on market, 40 percent said such homes spent neither more or less time on market while 35 percent said it was unclear.
Asked about the effect of a high-performance home, which NAR defined as “a systematic building science approach to home improvements that enhance indoor comfort, health, operational efficiency and durability,” on its dollar value, most respondents (57 percent) said they weren’t sure while 22 percent said such a home had an increased dollar value compared to other similar homes.
Just over a fifth of respondents, 22 percent, said there were tiny homes available in their market while 60 percent said there weren’t. The remainder didn’t know.
Regarding homes with green certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Energy Star or NGBS (National Green Building Standard), 45 percent of respondents said such homes spent neither more nor less time on market while a nearly equal share, 46 percent, said the effect on time on market was unclear.
The Realtor respondents were mixed on the impact of extreme weather events on their market. Nearly identical shares were at least somewhat concerned as were not very concerned or not concerned at all.
The home features that respondents believed were most important to clients included the windows, doors, and siding (39 percent); proximity to frequently visited places (38 percent); a comfortable living space (37 percent); a home’s utility bills and operating costs (23 percent); and commuting costs (15 percent), NAR said. Specific eco-friendly features such as a smart home or renewable energy systems were less important.
A quarter of respondents, 25 percent, had clients who frequently or sometimes requested to see properties close to public transit while 14 percent said a neighborhood’s walkability was very important to their clients — the same share as two years ago.