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Can Green Homes Gain Momentum in the Real Estate Market?

Green homes stand out from the pack

Whether one takes global warming seriously or not, one truth stands tall for any home buyer – energy efficiency, resource conservation and healthy indoor air is becoming a must.  But with the economy still unraveling and the cloud of uncertainty hanging over our heads, a question looms… Can green homes gain traction in the real estate market?

Where I live, our real estate market in the entire Santa Clara County in California has been quite unpredictable.  It went from four months of inventory into less than one month of inventory in one year and no one really knows what the future holds.  Even some of the biggest market experts have been embarrassed and increasingly keep their Nostradamus like market predictions to themselves.

At the same time, for the past few years, we may have noticed a quiet revolution taking place in our hearts…  Not only we are craving to live happier, healthier and more empowered lives, we are seeking friends and environments that will support that earning.  Also, with raising energy costs and ever growing health problems, many of us are looking for answers right where we sleep – our homes.

So what has kept more people from seeking out these eco and health friendly homes?  Mainly, lack of awareness but also money.  We’ve been conditioned to think that everything green and organic come with an extra big price tag.  However, when it comes to homes it’s not always true.

New home builders like Pinn Brothers who have built green home developments in San Jose claim that their homes are not more expensive than their non-green certified competition.  After researching comparable sales I had to agree.  The reason being is that builders are able to buy renewable energy systems like solar panels at bulk prices and receive incentives from PG&E and the state.  In fact, smart builders can use less resources to build homes and save money on materials.  This effectively helps developers pass the savings to the consumer.

Now if an older home has undergone a deep retrofit and was upgraded with energy saving systems like solar panels or solar water heater, it may indeed cost a bit more than regular homes.  One must keep in mind though that here we must look at price vs. cost of ownership analysis.  What do I mean?  Well, imagine your home had a mortgage that is $100 higher than your neighbor’s but you were saving $150 in utility bills, would that be such a terrible predicament to be in?

One may say… but wait, some folks really go all out with their upgrades and “eco-chic” elements that they will never re-coup the costs.  It’s true, but it’s also true with high end upgrades that have nothing to do with energy efficiency or sustainability.

As for the future of our real estate market and green homes my crystal ball has nothing but beautiful images.  Why?  Because environmentally sensible homes are the future.  Not only because they cause less pollution but also because owning one will absolutely, most definitely make perfect financial sense.

Think about it, if you had a choice whether to buy a home that is healthy for our kids, energy efficient and conserves resources or a home that was built in some cookie cutter approach that had very few green features and higher energy bills, which would you choose?  You see, once we are increasingly presented with this choice in the future, the decision will be as easy as popping a soap bubble.

Personally, I am extremely overjoyed to see more and more people considering the impact their homes have on the environment.  Something very profound is taking place during this economic turmoil – we’re shaping to be smarter consumers and grow in wisdom that we must consider a long-term value of owning “stuff”.  That is why green homes in San Jose and entire country will not only gain momentum in real estate market but will be the standard in the very near future.

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