By Sherry Swensk

It’s the home-buying-and-selling season. Thankfully, home values are on the rise, and so is the demand for eco-friendly abodes. That can really pay off if you’re putting your energy-efficient residence on the market. And buyers with green upgrades at the top of their must-have lists will save more green in the long-run investing in a house that boasts sustainability.

Market trends show that everything from added insulation, to Low-E windows, solar water heaters and power-producing solar photovoltaic panels that can take your house off the grid can help it sell faster and snag a higher price. Savvy buyers have a keen eye for Energy Star appliances and water-saving landscapes, not to mention subtle, but money-saving features like variable-speed pool pumps and air conditioners with high SEER ratings for more efficient cooling.

Green house iconFinding a specialized green real estate agent who can truly key in on the eco-value of a home will save you time and money. Annette Bubak is a Green Designated Realtor and trains other Las Vegas area agents through the National Association of REALTORS. She helps raise their eco-awareness so they can identify important green features for their planet-conscious customers.

“Buyers have never looked so hard at cost of living before, and the high cost of energy is at the forefront of their minds,” said Bubak. She says energy efficiency is the number one reason buyers look for a new home and the market shows they are willing to pay up to 10 percent more for it; it’s now a priority.

“Improved building codes have vigorously driven energy efficiency in the past decade or more,” Bubak explained. “Today’s new homes are at least 30 percent more efficient than homes built just 10 years ago.”

In today’s eco-friendly housing market, solar is the new green when it comes to energy. Whether you purchase it or lease it, according to Bubak, the home market is shifting from reducing energy to producing it. She said more than twenty-five new home developments now offer leasing solar as an option for buyers.

Homeowners who have invested in higher efficiency may not even realize their home’s selling power thanks to those enhancements. There are many ways to advertise your home’s green attributes to potential buyers. The Green MLS Guide is a great new tool that agents can use to highlight all eco-upgrades. Buyers’ agents can use the guide to identify an existing home’s high-performance features without beating the streets to survey each property in person. It saves time by putting the eco-investments at the top of the list.

Home appraisals can now include a “Green and Energy Efficient Addendum” that can identify a home’s environmental design and operation. The document identifies attributes that improve comfort, performance and utility in the areas of water, energy, indoor air quality, maintenance and operation. Ask for a green appraiser who knows what items to look for that make a home more eco-valuable than the one next door.

For sellers, Bubak says keep your receipts to prove the improvements. Features like low VOC interior paints that help keep a home’s toxin level down do matter. Simple installations such as low-flow toilets and showerheads that save water can mean a lot to planet-friendly families. And touches like counter tops and flooring made from recycled or recyclable materials show you’ve invested in the environment.

If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home full of eco-improvements, it’s good to know that investing to help save the planet will reward you with some extra green at closing and for years to come.

Sherry SwenskSherry Swensk produces the daily segment “Living Green for Las Vegas” for 8 News Now. Read her blog at Stay up to date with Sherry on Facebook and Twitter and @SherrySwensk