EnergyStar homes have become the gold standard, but homebuyers remain hesitant to splurge on solar roofs or eco-friendly siding, says Mellman.
“Some of my customers inquire about those systems, but they don’t see the return on it,” Sandoval explains about pricey green add-ons. “It’s too costly at this time. Unfortunately, a lot of our customers have lost a lot of their retirement in the stock market, and they’re just trying to get a basic house to last them in their retirement. They would love to have those sorts of things, but they have to think of the costs.”
Tax breaks also play a role, and the lack of them in Virginia makes them even less appealing for prospective homebuyers, says Sandoval. Adds Mellman: “People want to have a green home and incorporate those features, but to a certain extent they’re not going to stretch themselves to get those things. Also, appraisers weren’t including those things for awhile, so a home would sell for less than its actual value and the cost of construction.”
Still, energy-efficiency has become a mainstay for empty-nesters looking to cut down the costs of heating and cooling a home, while other amenities, like EnergyStar windows, are becoming more commonplace and widely embraced.
“Green is no longer an amenity,” says McIlwain. “EnergyStar, EnergyStar windows, very efficient HVAC systems, siding to take advantage of solar power—those are the homes that are selling and they’re becoming the standard. They’re materials you’ve got be attuned to.”
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