By Alexa Moreno Perdomo
Even though the pandemic is winding down, states are reopening and life is seemingly approaching “normal,” the aftermath of the pandemic and the shifts it causes are still being seen in a number of ways, including within the housing market. The housing market ignited during the pandemic thanks to multiple rounds of stimulus funding and the increased need for more space. Another trend that was also spurred by the pandemic was the increased focus on healthy living and how to maintain one’s health, especially within the home. Truly it was the perfect formula to entice more buyers to discover the benefits of green homes, not just one’s wallet, but also for one’s health.
This sudden increase in demand caused the housing shortage to deepen and, as a result, housing prices have soared. According to Jing Fu from Eye on Housing, in March, the S&P Dow Jones Indices grew at a seasonally adjusted rate of 20.0%, marking the eighth consecutive month of double-digit growth in home prices since August of last year. However, despite the rising prices, of the 16% of American adults considering a future home purchase, 63% are actively looking right now; some trying to cash in on the relatively low mortgage rates and pandemic-induced trends from more living space and suburban life, according to the NAHB.
In addition, according to Rose Quint at Eye on Housing, of those buyers 42% are looking for newly-built homes, which represents a shift in preference for home buyers compared to last year’s 24%.
Knowing all that information, the question now becomes: How can the green home building industry capitalize on this and attract these active homebuyers to purchase a green home?
…the time has never been more right to build and sell more green homes.”
The Tide is Coming
The coming wave of climate change has been approaching for many years and has only increased its pace these past few decades. During a 2019 UN meeting Secretary-General António Guterres said that there was only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. If climate change worsens, the world will be subjected to increased extreme weather events, water droughts, solar flares, decreased vegetation and animal variety and more; all ultimately resulting in a reduction in human population and inhabitability of the planet. As the pandemic showed us, fear can be a great motivator, but it’s also exactly the greatest way to sell a home. So rather, it’s important for the green home building industry to emphasize the benefits of a green home on a macro and micro level.
With residential and commercial buildings responsible for almost a third of US greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 40% of energy used worldwide attributable to building construction and maintenance, the green homebuilding industry can massively help reduce emissions and strains on the environment. By helping reduce emissions, green homes could help stop or reverse the effects of climate change on weather, which one in five Americans believes is hurting home values in their area, according to Redfin. This especially holds true for a quarter of Americans aged 44 and younger, who are currently leading the pack in the housing market, who already think natural disasters, extreme temperatures and/or rising sea levels have affected home values. By marketing towards that, you can capture that concern for climate change and form it into a potential reason to buy a green home.
Secondly, while turning buyers onto green homes may at times be difficult, the foundations are already there. A NAHB and Dodge Data & Analytics study found that many buyers, even ones not specifically wanting green homes, inquired about energy-efficient products, indoor air quality, water conservation products/systems and more.
The Time is Now
The housing market is currently experiencing housing shortages as a result of numerous factors including the sheer number of potential buyers in search of a new home. Paired with the current presidential administration’s expressed immediate priority of tackling climate change, the time has never been more right to build and sell more green homes. Recently announced actions by the Department of Energy, like a $30 million investment into training and supporting high-performance skilled workers, the Initiative for Better Energy, Emissions and Equity (E3) and the Partnership for Advanced Window Solutions (PAWS), will help get more high-performance home workers in the labor force and keep green homes striving to be better.
The study found that a majority of green home builders did it simply because it was the right thing to do. Let that compassion for the customer and the environment be the push the industry needs to reach higher and stake a bigger claim in the housing market.