By: Preston Guyton, REALTOR
As the development and use of green technology becomes more mainstream, increasing numbers of home buyers are interested in buying properties that already feature green building standards and systems. In order for green builders to tap into this market effectively, they should gain a greater understanding of their target demographic, and feature homes and systems that offer the kinds of technology buyers expect.
Identify Priorities for Target Demographics
Buyers look at homes differently based on a number of factors. People who market green homes or green building programs must take these distinctions into consideration, or risk alienating more buyers in the most likely demographics. However, stereotypes can often be wrong. In a 2016 study about home buying preferences by generation, buyers in middle-age or nearing retirement rated energy-efficient appliances and systems of higher importance than younger buyers. Marketing materials that address the common concerns and needs of specific demographics, without playing into negative stereotypes, will have a greater reach.
Assess Understanding of Buying Population
The standard home buyer is inundated with information about energy consumption, energy efficiency, and the importance of controlling one’s carbon footprint. However, the reality is that the average person does not have a firm understanding of what this might actually mean for the homes they buy and the way they use them. A 2016 study on consumers’ beliefs about their energy usage and needs reflects a difference between participants’ perception and reality. For example, about 80 percent of homeowners believe they use less energy than they did five years ago, but most of them use more. Delving into these kinds of misconceptions can help builders to target the inaccuracies and provide useful information to better educate potential buyers. This has an added benefit of establishing the builder as a reliable source for information.
Demonstrate Owner Access and Control
Green builders can also take advantage of insights coming directly from the energy industry, to get ideas for ways to increase positive brand awareness and provide options that buyers expect from green technology. Buyers who are looking for energy-efficient homes and homes with green features are also looking for smart integration of efficient systems. They want more control of their energy consumption in their own hands, with increased access to information in real-time. This research indicates that builders will be more likely to succeed in selling green upgrades if they can also show buyers how the home will be set up to allow them to maximize understanding and savings.
Emphasize Practical Investment
Of course, home buyers come into the process with a broader set of expectations, and most do not have the option to choose energy efficiency alone. Knowing that buyers may want more energy efficiency but not fully understand how green technology and innovations achieve it, builders should spell out the comprehensive benefits of green homes as clearly and specifically as possible. Telling buyers that a home with energy-efficient appliances and a smart thermostat will be more comfortable is vague. Identifying common sources of discomfort (e.g. an inconsistently heated or cooled home due to ineffective insulation) and proposing green solutions will help buyers to better grasp how green building becomes a practical investment across several aspects of their lives.
Promote Adherence to Popular Green Building Standards
Many buyers, especially those who are interested in efficient building, are familiar with common certifications used in residential structures and systems. They may believe that Energy Star-certified appliances are a better long-term investment than appliances without the designation, largely due to brand awareness. Builders can capitalize on the popularity of government and international certification programs such as Energy Star or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and mention appropriate certifications to make it easier for buyers to understand what the builder offers.
Green technology in home building is a popular feature that is gaining more traction with home buyers every year. When builders pay attention to what their buyers need in a property generally, and show how green homes can meet their needs without forcing a compromise on comfort or expense, they can attract more interest in their homes and green upgrades.