How to Sell a Green Home: Lose the Environmental Speech


By Jim Simcoe

Speed is a key component of any successful real estate deal. Sell (or rent) a property faster at the price you want, and you have less holding costs and more money available to do your next deal. The speed at which you sell your real estate investment is a crucial component and is closely tied to your marketing efforts and methods. With a green home, your marketing needs to be different than what you would do for a typical home. Typical homes compete on price (comps) and features (granite countertops). Green homes compete on value (lower utility bills, less toxins). There are more options available and more opportunities to build value above and beyond a typical competing home. With that in mind, here are five keys to successfully marketing a home with green features:

Replace "green" with "high-performance." Green is too ambiguous. High-performance sounds better and is more accurate. A home that is extremely energy-efficient is high-performance.

Sell the steak, not the sizzle. Sell the real-world green benefits of the home, not the pie-in-the-sky stuff. Buyers/renters care more about lowering their utility bills and keeping their families safe than they do about the polar bears. They may agree with the environmental reasons, but they NEED the real-world utility bill savings. Sell them on their needs first, their wants second.

Optimize your flyer. Most real estate flyers look the same: big picture of house, smaller pics of different rooms, short description, agent picture, phone number. Ninety-five percent of flyers show the features of the home, not any of the real benefits. Here's a few simple suggestions to maximize your flyer:

- Use the back of the flyer to list the green benefits of your home. List both the benefits AND the value of that benefit. Benefit: EnergyStar water heater. Value: Reduce water bill by 25 percent.
- List the projected monthly utility bill savings for your property. Also list the projected annual savings and the projected five-year savings. For example, if you save $150/month, that equates to $1,800/year; $9,000 in five years. That's not chump change.
- List the projected increase in appraised value (due to green features). For example, let's say you have a property where comps are $200,000. Green homes tend to appraise for at least 10 percent higher than comparable homes, so your home would be worth $20,000 more than comparable comps. Extrapolate that out to get to a five-year projection.

Use the terms "non-toxic" or "low toxins" instead of "eco-friendly." The latter is nice, the former is needed. Again, sell on the needed, not just the nice. I need oxygen to breathe, a Bentley would be nice.

Use wall placards within the home to highlight different areas/methods. For example, stick a placard that says "Non-Toxic Paint" on a wall painted with no-VOC paint. You can even put a little blurb underneath the title explaining the value. For example: "Non-toxic paint was used in every room in this home to ensure that you and your family are not breathing in harmful chemicals found in most interior paint like ammonia, benzine, etc. which are all neuro-toxins and have been documented to be harmful to your health."

A few areas to put placards: energy-efficient water heaters, dishwashers; around foam gasket light switches; around high-efficiency sinks/shower-heads; near insulated exposed water pipes, etc. These will help sell your property whether you or your agent are there or not.

Successful marketing is not about clever jingles or cool graphics. It's all about showing the value in your product to your prospect. Green properties are no different. Show your prospects the value (to them) of your home. Be clear and sell them on their needs. Remember, comps don't sell homes, value sells homes.

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