The Wheaton townhouse her client wanted to sell needed a bit of dressing up, but the real-estate agent Laura Reedy Stukel thought that putting away some of the sports memorabilia and buying fashionable new bedspreads was only a first step. To supplement those, she zeroed in on the home’s environmental attributes. The two-bedroom townhouse, priced at $169,900, had a few green features already: an efficient water heater, a programmable thermostat, and passive solar gain from its south-facing windows. Reedy Stukel proposed that the seller offer incentives to a buyer that would make further green improvements easy to afford—and the seller went for it.
The townhouse is the first property in “Ready, Set, Green!”, Reedy Stukel’s ambitious plan to, as she says, “bridge the gap between houses that could be more energy efficient and the buyers who want to make them that way.” Her idea is that, while high-income buyers can afford to purchase a new green home like the one profiled here last Thursday, there are other less-expensive homes that were already standing before green construction became popular.
Unfortunately, the folks who would like to make those homes more eco-friendly are often young people with limited resources. Many of them “are sitting on the sidelines doing research on how to get an energy-efficient home in their price range,” says Reedy Stukel, a certified Eco-Broker whose family has run Elmhurst’s L. W. Reedy real-estate agency for three generations. “This makes it easier for them.”
Here’s how it would work for the Wheaton townhouse. After a contract price is reached, the seller will pay about $400 for a comprehensive audit of the home’s energy use, along with recommendations for how to improve it. The seller will also provide a $3,000 credit toward acting on those recommendations—which, as you can see in the video, are likely to include replacing the aging, inefficient furnace and some kitchen appliances, and installing insulated windows on the second floor. Then Erin Griffin, a vice president at Corby Mortgage —a company that offers lower interest rates for mortgages on energy-efficient homes—will take into account the plans to reduce the home’s energy bills when figuring out what the buyers can afford as a monthly payment.
With available tax credits for energy efficiency and other incentives, Reedy Stukel calculates that the buyers of a $175,000 home would have a total incentive package of $4,650, all to be spent on green upgrades. On a $500,000 purchase, she estimates the total package would add up to $18,300. “With a simple investment, the seller can reach this whole pool of green buyers,” says Reedy Stukel. “That’s a way to make your property stand out.”
This is her first property listed in the Ready, Set Green! program, but Reedy Stukel expects to have more. And with President Obama intent on promoting green renovations, she expects energy-efficiency loans to become more readily available within the next year to 18 months. “In the meantime,” Reedy Stukel says, “I want to help as many people do this as I can.”