A majority of respondents in a survey by Realtor.com said they would like to own an eco-friendly residence and are willing to pay more for it.
The online survey of 1,439 consumers didn't define "eco-friendly." For homeowners in the south, an important eco-friendly feature might be energy-efficient air conditioning, says Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist with Realtor.com. But in another part of the country, it might mean solar panels. Because of the disparities, the survey let respondents decide how to define the term.
Overall, respondents say energy-efficient appliances, lighting and air conditioning were among the most desired eco-friendly home features, Piper says, with nearly 80 percent of respondents saying they want all three.
Piper says a majority of respondents who currently live in an eco-friendly home are older than 40 and have children. She attributes that to a higher level of education about environmentalism. "In the 1970s, you saw people who recycled bottles or cans for the cash or did composting," she says. Ten or 15 years later, people began putting more thought into how to be environmental in their homes, especially when they had children, she adds. "It's becoming more of an everyday routine that brings about awareness."
In her experience as a realtor, Piper says she has seen clients take advantage of a range of eco-friendly options, from simply changing light bulbs or installing low-flow shower heads and water filters to the more complicated and expensive, such as replacing single-pane windows or installing solar panels.
The additional cost of an eco-friendly home would depend on what features it contains and where it's located, Piper says. In the survey, more than 70 percent say they believe eco-friendly features add monetary value to a residence, and 68 percent say they would pay more for it. Of those who would pay more, the majority -- 24 percent – indicate they'd pay 3 percent to 5 percent more. Whether they would actually put their money where their mouth is remains to be seen, but Piper believes the trend toward eco-friendly homes will continue to grow. Builders are already responding, she says. "Green homes are in high demand, and people want recognition for living in a green home."
Keep up with your wealth and mortgages, and follow me on Twitter.
Get more news, money-saving tips and expert advice by signing up for a free Bankrate newsletter.