“Eco homes” are energy efficient, green homes — a category that includes zero energy and zero energy-ready homes. Finding an eco home can be easy, if you know how to prepare your search, get the right financing, and find an agent who can guide you through the process. Here are the things you should do to make sure you’re on the right track to get that green home. 

Online Real Estate Searches

Millennials are the largest group of first-time home buyers — at 66%. According to the National Association of Realtors, 99% of Millennials search for homes using online websites, often before contacting a real estate agent to begin their search.

Most real estate sites limit the amount of important home details in the description section, especially when it comes to the green and energy-efficiency features of an eco home. For example, high performance home features like energy efficiency, zero energy, passive solar and green certifications may not be mentioned. Further, descriptions of energy-saving technologies, such as ENERGY STAR appliances and heat pumps, or smart tech features may be inaccurate, incomplete, or entirely missing. So as you browse online home listings, you may miss finding eco homes altogether, or you may miss the important differences and the benefits among the eco homes you are considering. In the worst case, you may not be able to identify which homes are truly eco homes.

RealtySage.com is different. All listings have a Sage Score, which is like a walk score for eco features. You can use the Sage Score of homes to compare features like solar, energy-efficient HVAC systems and appliances, as well as green certifications, such as LEED or ENERGY STAR— and so on. While the Realty Sage listings are national, currently they are most comprehensive in the Northeast. Their goal is to become the number one resource for green and energy-efficient homes in the nation. 


Financing an Eco Home

According to Forbes, “homebuyers want — and will pay more for — sustainable features like energy-efficient appliances, windows, and the like, alongside features that ensure better air quality.” The good news is that when it comes time to get loan pre-approval, purchasing an eco home with features such as these may increase the amount for which you qualify. For instance, if you purchase an eco home with lower monthly utility costs, you may be able to afford a higher purchase price with higher monthly payments. Lenders will look at what the costs are for homeowners on a monthly basis, so if you can show that your monthly utility costs will be reduced by purchasing an energy-efficient, green home, the lender may be able to increase the pre-approved loan amount. 


Find an Agent Who Can Do the Job

While doing a preliminary home search online is a great way to dip your toes into the water, having a knowledgeable real estate agent is where you can really get the best advice on which homes have the features and benefits that you are seeking, how to get financing, and other steps, such as the appraisal and home inspection.  

Real estate agent Miriam Gennari, president of MetroMakeover LLC in Northern Virginia says, “People are eager to learn about the value and benefits of an eco-friendly home and love to brag about it once they become aware.”  Gennari works hard to fill the gap left by national real estate websites, “I prefer to put the green features out in front. In my brochures and on the Internet, I make sure that customers and their neighbors feel informed about the sustainability of a home and where opportunities exist to increase the value of a property either before they list or even after they buy.”

To ensure you get the help you need to purchase a genuine eco home, find a green-certified broker. You can search for local agents with eco credentials like:

  • EcoBroker
  • National Association of Realtors Green Designation
  • Earth Advantage Broker

Another option for finding eco agents is RealtySagePros.com. What’s different about Realty Sage Pros is that they use data to match agents across the country, who have credentials, experience, or knowledge of eco and smart features, with appropriate buyers. Realty Sage Pro’s simple short questionnaire makes it much easier to locate agents with these characteristics in one platform. There are no obligations, contracts, or fees. 

Finding the perfect eco home and the agent to help you along the way may take a few extra steps, but your investment in a home that is healthier, more comfortable, saves you money in utility and maintenance costs, and is good for the environment for years to come, is well worth it! 

Happy eco house hunting! 

            Kari Klaus is the founder and CEO of Realty Sage.