real estate

7 tips for buyers who want a green home

7 tips for buyers who want a green home
7 tips for buyers who want a green home © Ponsulak/

If you're in the market to buy an eco-friendly dwelling, researchers say you should expect to pay more for a so-called green home. How much more depends on a number of factors, but in a recent study looking at data from 1.6 million California home sales from 2007 to 2012, University of California researchers found that green-certified single-family homes sold for $34,800 more -- or 9 percent more -- than comparable homes that weren't certified green.

Green is in vogue. Amber Turner, a broker with Living Room Realtors in Portland, Ore., estimates that about three-quarters of her buyers begin their search with a strong interest in green, even if what they mean by green is vague.

"Most buyers start from the standpoint of wanting an energy-efficient home," she says. "But for about half of my buyers, going green ultimately becomes a deciding factor in the home they choose to purchase."

While the growing interest in green has Turner excited, she worries that some buyers are falling victim to green washing, the practice of marketing a product as eco-friendly when it really isn't.

"If you want to buy a green home, you definitely have to do some extra homework," says Turner.

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If you want an environmentally friendly green home, be prepared to fork over more of the other kind of green.

University of California researchers found that green-certified single-family homes in the Golden State sold for about $35,000 more -- or 9 percent extra -- than comparable traditional homes.

If you want to get the most out of a green home purchase, there are a few things you should do. First, ask yourself why you want to do it.

If you're mostly interested in saving on energy costs, you may be able to accomplish that fairly simply, by focusing on features such as energy-efficient appliances and good insulation. It's best to find an agent who specializes in the green home market and will understand your needs.

You also should try to find out how long it will take you to break even after paying extra for energy-efficient features. One expert says you'll save in the long run if you plan on staying 10 years or more.



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