By Michael Tobias
Real estate agents will give you some good tips to make your house sell fast. Thorough cleaning, some thoughtful organizing and tidying, and creative home staging will certainly help. But faced with a global energy crisis, discerning buyers will want to know that the home they are buying will be easy and efficient to operate. They will also want to know what fixtures and systems are incorporated in the house to enable them to benefit in terms of energy-efficiency and water-conservancy features because these will impact long-term on the running costs of the property.
Most people are loath to spend a lot of money on home improvements when they are planning to sell, especially when they need to sell quickly. Admittedly, the general rule of thumb is not to over-grade but rather to spend money on updates that will be visually appealing and will sort out any obvious, unacceptable faults, like dripping faucets and leaking toilets.
In terms of energy-efficiency, there are some relatively minor investments you can make that will provide you with a certain return on investment (ROI). These range from replacing old showerheads and faucets with low-flow WaterSense products and changing all light bulbs to energy-efficient, cost-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to improving insulation.
Upgrading windows with double glazing, replacing furnaces, and installing an energy-efficient, solar hot water system will undoubtedly improve the energy-efficiency of your house as a whole, but the cost implications may not suit every house seller – even though people who flip real estate often buy old houses that need repairs and fix them up before reselling.
The truth is that many flippers invest large amounts of capital in their endeavor to make a good profit. This, in itself, shows that it’s not necessarily a bad idea to do a decent upgrade, particularly in relation to saving energy and conserving water, both of which will reduce long-term running costs – a winning sales feature for many buyers.
Large appliances including refrigerators, stoves, and washers can waste a lot of energy (and water) but these units don’t necessarily stay in the house when you sell. If this is the case, rather focus on systems that will increase the value of the property.
In any case, whichever way you decide to go, it will usually pay to consult a reputable HVAC engineer who can advise what upgrades to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems would be cost-effective and worth the investment you, as a seller, are prepared to make. You might even opt for an energy audit to help you make decisions. Some utility companies offer these for free or for a minimal charge.
Top Tips to Make Your Home Sell
These tips include pointers on energy-efficiency as well as several other tips that should never be ignored when selling.
- Price your house right. If you decide to spend money on home improvements before you put the house on the market, make sure you will potentially be able to recoup your investment. Some of the factors that can impact prices include location and basics facilities – number of bedrooms, bathrooms and so on.
- First impressions do count, so work on curb appeal and make sure your house is sparkling clean and tidy. You don’t have to redecorate, but get rid of the clutter. Consider freshening up dull, dreary rooms with a lick of paint. If walls are grubby and you don’t want to paint, give them a good scrub. Do everything possible to reduce unpleasant odors including those resulting from your fur-kids (the reality is that most pets smell, no matter how cute they are), smoking, and cooking … unless you’re baking!
- Repair anything that’s broken. Absolutely anything, from cracked panes of glass, loose cupboard, window or door hinges, and deck handrails, to plumbing elements including pipes and fixtures. Even small household leaks can be responsible for the loss of gallons of water daily, so fix any you know about. Apart from anything else, a dripping tap will draw attention to itself, as will a leaking toilet. If you have potential buyers through the house on a rainy day, any other leaks will be obvious too!
- Change your conventional showerhead, faucets, and toilet flushing system for low-flow fixtures. This will reduce water consumption and save energy, and the new fittings will look shiny, bright, and clean. This can be used as a selling point, especially if you buy WaterSense products that are labeled.
- Improve the efficiency of your water heater. If your existing water heater doesn’t meet the storage water heater national standards, and you have the budget to install a new water heater, talk to a company that offers plumbing engineering services in Chicago, New York, Toronto, or whichever city is closest to where you live.
- If you aren’t in a position to install a new solar water heater, at very least ensure that the hot water lines are properly insulated. Also, turn the temperature of the water heater down to “warm”. Share this information with your real estate broker to ensure a good ROI.
- If the roof, loft, or walls of your house aren’t properly insulated, this can result in a mammoth amount of energy being wasted. A house with good insulation will definitely command a higher selling price, so seriously consider rectifying bad insulation at least in your loft if you have one.
- Make sure that all the light bulbs in your home are CFLs or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Make certain your broker knows you have done this because it’s going to have a big impact on energy bills long term.
Lastly, if you’re buying or building a new home, do everything in your power to ensure fixtures and systems are energy efficient. If you are buying, refer to the checklist above to see if your seller has taken the same sort of steps you have taken (or plan to take). You won’t be sorry.
Michael Tobias is the founder and principal of Nearby Engineers and New York Engineers, an Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Company in America. He leads a team of more than 30 mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineers from the company headquarters in New York City, and has led numerous projects in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, and California, as well as Singapore and Malaysia. He specializes in sustainable building technology and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council.