You’re thinking about selling your house within the next year and want to make some changes to add legitimate value to the place. You really want to differentiate your home from other similar homes within a mile (or so), but you don’t know how to do it. Plus, analysts are talking about how the market is overvalued and house prices may drop–the temperature is rising with the increasing tension in house prices, interest rates, and hold-out buyers. Well, there’s a report out called "High Energy Costs Inspire New Features in Homes," prepared by American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. I think this is an excellent source of information.
Efficiency gains can be found in low-tech or high-tech renovations. With concerns over high energy prices, one of the most popular renovations, according to the study, was to place extra insulation in the attic. A cooler roof + attic lessens the burden on your air conditioner in the home. Also, some other features that declined in popularity were larger hallways/increased circulation and upscale entryways. These features add space (and energy requirements) to the home but they don’t add any usable space. If I were building a new house, these statistics would be really important to the design of my house, especially if I were considering selling the place at anytime in the distant future.
The study also pointed out home products that are gaining in popularity. As you can see, the most popular products were those that manage energy consumption and have low maintenance. The "energy efficient" category includes items such as triple glazed windows. Notice the popularity of the tankless water heater and water saving devices. Lots of cities are feeling the crunch of water shortages…it’s nice not to be tied to "hog"-style use of water and electricity.
Look at this study as a trend barometer that lays out what people most demand and will soon come to be expected in future houses. If you want to replace the water heater and happen to have some extra cash, get the tankless–they have tax incentives for those things and it’s not that bad of an investment. Homebuilders will catch on to these trends and moving forward, all houses will come standard with energy-efficient features.
If you want to sell, get on board and bring your home up to par with features that people want. It’ll make the broker’s job that much easier.