Sustainable Home Features
Although many buyers may be on the lookout for visible green options, such as solar panels and water reclamation systems, there are many sustainable features they cannot easily see on a drive-by. Help buyers by educating them about the other energy-efficient upgrades they can look for, such as insulation, doors and windows, Energy Star–certified appliances, and smart technologies in the home and garden (e.g., smart thermostats and satellite-connected outdoor sprinklers).
When borrowers seek advice on upgrades to existing homes, point them toward high-efficiency heating and cooling options, low VOC flooring and paint options, and energy-efficient lighting choices.
When buyers look for energy-efficient homes or plan to make energy-efficient upgrades to a home they purchase, more loan options can open up. Current homeowners can also benefit, as they can use some of these loans for a refinance that will cover energy-efficient improvements.
FHA loans, VA loans, and other loans may offer green options with the possibility of excluding the costs of the energy-efficient upgrades when qualifying for the mortgage loan or considering the debt-to-income ratio. Lenders may provide rate discounts for green homes to help encourage investment in sustainability. Some loans will simply roll the upgrade funds into the loan, and others will repay you from an escrow account when you submit the proof of upgrades completed.
Greening Your Business
Borrowers are also attracted to sustainable businesses, so you can work to ensure that your business is as green as the homes they buy.
Start with your consumables. Use recycled materials when possible, and reduce paper by relying on secure electronic means of document delivery. When using paper, purchase Forest Stewardship Council certified paper and sustainable inks. If you offer coffee and tea in your office, provide reusable cups instead of disposable options. Cloth napkins and real silverware and dishes for snacks will also help reduce waste.
Then, look at your energy usage. If you’re renting office space or using co-working options, you may not have much control over energy use, but you can ask the landlord to choose green power alternatives and provide efficient options to tenants. If you work from a home office, consider keeping the temperature lower in the winter and higher in the summer to lower heating and cooling costs. Although you don’t want your borrowers (or yourself) to shiver or sweat, a degree or two usually doesn’t make a huge difference in comfort but can lower energy usage.
Finally, partner with other sustainability-minded businesses. Not only will it improve your overall environmental impact to work with other green businesses, but it will also increase your word-of-mouth marketing through reciprocal referrals. Showing that you practice sustainability, not just talk about it, will greatly increase your credibility with green-conscious borrowers.
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