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Energy efficiency as important as aesthetic features for house buyers

Posted on: June 27th, 2012 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Green

There is a widely held opinion that the things that matter most to home buyers are gourmet kitchens and spectacular indoor / outdoor flow

The reality though is that this perception is changing, and energy efficiency to provide a warm and dry home is fast rising up the shopping list for buyers.

A survey undertaken by in association with the Green Building Council for the Sustainable Housing Summit surveyed over 1,700 people as to their attitude to features seen as important when looking for a home to buy.

The number one feature that home buyers judged as most important was the orientation of the property to the sun. More than half of those surveyed regarded this as of “very high importance” with a further one third rating it as “high importance”. This compares to the importance of a gourmet kitchen, which scored just 16% on the scale of “very high importance” with 34% judging it as of “high importance”.

After orientation to the sun, the next most important feature was a high level of insulation. Scoring a 46% on the scale of “very high importance” and 35% of “high importance, insulation surpassed other aesthetic features such as a 3rd bedroom and off street parking, as well as the ubiquitous “indoor / outdoor flow”.

The full list of 18 features are detailed below on a mean importance score on a 1 to 5 scale. The features highlighted in red relate to energy efficiency and performance rating of a home.

Inspection Priorities

The survey went on to investigate to what extent buyers had inquired or inspected for aspects of environment / energy performance. In this case the 3 features that are “visible” and top-of-mind for buyers were inquired of in more than 70% of the time – presence of insulation, inquiring about heating and asking questions about dampness. Certainly buyers appear to be front-footed on these performance features that impact the warmth and comfort of the home.

On the other hand fewer asked questions about water an operating costs or any environmental features of the home each inquired about by less than a third of buyers.


Price Premium

Of those questioned who were looking to sell their property or had recently sold a staggering 88% believed that there was the potential for a price premium for properties that could demonstrate performance features such as energy, water and heating efficiency.

We then went on to seek to find out what type of features would most impact this perception of a price premium. The big 3 items were high levels of insulation, efficient heating and cooling system and double-glazing. Judged of lower opinion on a 1 to 5 importance rating score were low energy lighting, fixtures and fitting with low toxicity and or an independent rating certificate for a home’s performance.

This is the first such comprehensive survey undertaken into this area of home buying. It certainly has established that energy performance and the warmth and health aspects of a home are very much on the shopping list. As to what buyers look for as a signal, at this stage it appears to be very much around tangible items that can be seen and touched as opposed as to performance measures behind features. Time will tell if these performance measures move up the priority list and start to surpass that granite benchtop.


Article Discussion

  1. John Walker says:

    Very interesting survey. But, why did you ask different questions of sellers compared to buyers. It is interesting to us that efficient heating and cooling is seen as a high priority by sellers but the same question hasn’t been asked of buyers. Maybe next time ask the same questions so the perceptions of both groups can be compared directly.

    Also you infer that wanting sun and good insulation means they want a warm home. Why didn’t you just ask them if they wanted a warm home? If they do want a warm house this may also mean they want a good heating system too.

  2. John

    Thanks for the question. I do agree with you that it would be interesting to ask buyers their views of components that would contribute to a better living environment. What we were looking for was how sellers might judge the investment tradeoff of fitting these types of systems vs a premium potential in the selling price.

    As to the issue of warmer more comfortable home – I would judge that most people would want this and various components may contribute this of which orientation and insulation are key but so is efficient heating system.

    I think the great take out from the survey is how engaged buyers and sellers are now to these issues and how they are on the agenda. This is great news as it can only help the country overall if our housing stock is improved and therefore contributes to a better quality of life.

    We will be running a similar survey again soon I suspect and I would like to take note of your suggestions as well as some that came out from the Sustainable Housing Summit held yesterday.

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