If you’re going to list your home in this market, you know that you’re going to need more than a sign in your front yard and granite countertops.  Selling for top dollar in a real estate market with lots of inventory like here in the Greater Phoenix Area means having a competitive edge or two that sets your home apart from the others.  In Get Your Home Ready to Sell, Part 1, we talked about why sellers benefit from working with a Realtor.  In Part 2, we’re going to talk about going green so that you can sell your house for more green.

The second competitive edge you will need is a number of upgrades or features that your neighbors may not all have.  Try making your house more environmentally friendly.  Why?  With energy costs rising every year, buyers are becoming more sensitive to a home’s energy efficiency.  In fact, according to The 2007 NAR Profile of Buyers Home Feature Preferences, 92% of all home buyers consider energy efficiency at least somewhat important in their decision to purchase a particular home, and 46% of all home buyers rank energy efficiency as very important.

Hopefully after reading the words “environmentally friendly” and “energy efficiency,” you haven’t started conjuring up images of bulky solar panels and compost piles in your backyard.  Going green can mean replacing your major appliances with those that have been approved by the EPA’s “Energy Star” program, or it can mean implementing indoor water conservation measures.  There are a wide range of energe efficient upgrades that you can make to your home.  Before you make any, you should consult with your Realtor as to which will actually help your home sell faster given your local market conditions.

The best news about going green is that green homes can appeal to homebuyers at all different income levels.  Lower-income buyers need to be taught about energy-efficient mortgages and long-term energy savings, while higher-income buyers respond well to improved indoor air quality and environmental conservation.  Although, more and more buyers are asking about all of these issues.

One of those issues that most buyers would be interested in learning about is an energy-efficient mortgage.  EEM’s allow buyers to buy more home than they could traditionally afford – either through a 2% stretch, which adds future energy savings to income to qualify buyers for 2% more debt, or through flexible loan-to-value ratios, which allows buyers to finance up to 100% of the home’s value.  The FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all sponsor EEM’s for homes that have been certified as energy efficient by an accredited energy rating system.  To be referred to a green lender who offers energy-efficient mortgages, ask your Realtor.

In order to certify your home as energy efficient, hire an energy rater.  There are various energy ratings that an energy rater can use, but one of the most widely used is the Home Energy Rating System (HERS).  The HERS method rates a home on a scale of 0 to 100 by comparing it to a computer model of the same house built to the specifications of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Model Energy Code (www.energycodes.gov).  A score of 80 indicates that the house meets the Model Code.  A score of 86 or higher indicates that the house can be certified as an EPA Energy Star home.

In the end, though, most home buyers are still interested in their bottom line.  Expect to provide real statistics and numbers to show the value of your green upgrades.  If you’re getting your house ready to sell and thinking about going green, work with your Realtor to determine the upgrades that will garner you the highest return on investment and make you the next home to sell in your neighborhood!  Once you’ve decided to go green, you’ll need another competitive edge.  Read about it in Get Your Home Ready to Sell, Part 3.