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Are "green" homes worth more?

We've written before about the trend in the housing market favoring energy efficient homes. Here in Michigan, some discerning buyers have sought out homes with specific features that make it more environmentally and less expensive to maintain. These features include sky lighting, geothermal heating systems, solar panels, improved insulation and roofing, and many other add-ons. So why is it that these residential properties have an advantage on the market?

A recent report showed that this is becoming a significant factor elsewhere in the country as well. "We observed a phenomenon we've termed the 'Prius effect' - a positive correlation between the value of green home labels and environmental ideology, as measured by the rate of hybrid registrations," said one of the report's authors.

In California, where the data was taken from, homes sold for about nine percent more if they were "green" compared with homes that were not seen as environmentally friendly. The study examined 1.6 million residential real estate sales. Home fetching the highest prices often had LEED certifications, Energy Star ratings, or other similar badges of honor.

In Washington, green-certified homes sold for about 8.5 percent more than other homes from 2007 to 2009. Green homes in Portland, Oregon had an increased value of about 12 percent.

So what does this mean for Michigan buyers and sellers? For sellers, this may be a good time to go back and reassess appliance, lighting, and other elements in your home that may be energy efficient. Putting a green foot forward could help improve your property's standing in the market. For buyers, keeping an eye out for bargains on homes that are energy efficient but not trendy may help save money in the long run.

Source: USA Today, "Study: Green homes sell for 9% more in California," Wendy Koch, July 19, 2012.

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