Published in The Dallas Morning News
The housing market has gone green. Buyers are increasingly asking for more environmentally-friendly homes — and the real estate industry is answering their call.1
Take the renaissance currently underway in many urban areas. Americans are opting for denser, greener living options — such as mixed-use residential developments that offer amenities from shopping to recreation.2 These buildings are generally more energy-efficient and are conveniently located near public transportation.
Even in traditional single-family homes, buyers now want — and are willing to pay for — the latest innovations, from solar panels and electric vehicle charging ports to composting stations and more efficient hot water and heating and cooling systems.
Homebuilders are becoming more attuned to these evolving priorities. A 2020 Dodge Data & Analytics study found that one in three single-family homebuilders said 50% or more of current projects are "green builds."3 These builds include design features, materials, and construction processes that minimize a new home's environmental impact.4
Real estate agents have also taken note of buyers' growing interest in sustainable housing. Half say they've been directly involved with a property that had green features in the last year, according to a survey published by the National Association of REALTORS® in April.5
Real estate agents are learning how to help buyers decipher the details behind homes' construction — and recommend additional cost-saving, environmentally beneficial measures. Sometimes those tips are simple, like advising buyers to add door strips and check for air leaks6 around the attic and windows.
In other cases, agents may need to provide more in-depth counsel — say, filling buyers in on the particulars about state and federal tax credits that are available for solar installation.7, 8 These credits can ultimately net buyers thousands of dollars.9
Much of the real estate industry has also embraced the smart-growth approach to development that meets buyers' demand for walking trails, bike paths, and public transit options.10
Consider the National Association of REALTORS® Transforming Neighborhoods Program, which aims to convert vacant, deteriorated, and abandoned properties into places of productive — and more environmentally-friendly — use.11, 12 Here in Dallas, thousands of buildings and plots of land lay vacant that could fit the bill for transformation projects of this kind.13
Real estate agents are also advocating for green land use and zoning rules that incentivize compact, mixed-use development in hubs like Austin and San Antonio, as well as smaller suburbs across the Lone Star State.14, 15, 16, 17, 18 In day-to-day life, that means schools around the corner from the home and, within a few blocks' radius, your pick of local markets, cafes, and shops.
Government funding promises to aid these efforts. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for instance, recently awarded Brownsville and Fort Worth with Choice Neighborhoods grants to support neighborhood revitalization projects.19, 20 And the recently-passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allocate new resources to help improve local infrastructure with an eye towards climate resilience and sustainable transportation options.21
Today's homebuyers have entirely new standards for the houses and neighborhoods they'll live in. The real estate market is increasingly delivering the green future that they're seeking.Leslie Rouda Smith is president of the National Association of REALTORS® and a real estate agent at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas.
5 Residential Sustainability Report, p. 5
9 Residential Sustainability Report, p. 5