Energy-efficient, smart features could increase resale value of your home

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published August 13, 2014

ROCHESTER — Home improvement projects are a great way to increase the resale value of your house, especially if you know what buyers in your market are looking for.

While buyers consistently look for updates to major elements of the exterior structure — such as a new roof, new siding and new windows — many of today’s homebuyers are also adding luxury features, such as energy-efficiency and smart technology, to their wish list.

Before sinking money into home improvement projects this year, local experts say it’s always important to keep in mind that the actual cost and payback for each project can vary, depending on both your home’s condition and overall real estate market values in your region.

First-time home buyers, in a marketplace with homes selling between $80,000-$200,000,  are typically drawn to homes with updated basic mechanics, according to Rickey Busler, associate broker/Realtor for RE/MAX Vision.

“If you have good bones — like new windows, a hot water tank, furnace, updated electrical — those are things people will put the most weight on,” he said.

From there, buyers have been known to keep an eye out for energy-efficient products.

“People are looking for, ‘How am I going to save money on my monthly bill? Does it have a high-efficiency furnace? Does it have a high-efficiency hot water tank? What about the appliances? Are they EnergyStar appliances?’ Those are things that they would be looking for. Even the windows. Energy efficient windows — that’s something that people really are looking for. Anything to help keep their heating and cooling costs down,” Busler explained.

Smart technology features come more into play in a higher-end market, with homes starting around $300,000 and heading up into the millions, he said.

“In your higher-end markets, that’s when you are going to start seeing people looking for smart technology — where you can control the lights and heat and alarms and everything through a tablet,” he said.

“That is something that does appear more often and is very appealing, and is something that buyers in that category would be looking for,” he said.

Marshall Marinace, president of the Electronic Security Association, says smart technology products have been popular sellers for his company for a number of years. As the largest trade association representing the electronic life safety and security industry, ESA’s member companies install, integrate, and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance, and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental clients.

For the past couple of years, he said sales have increased in smart or “extended” security services. In addition to the capabilities of a traditional alarm system, Busler said a smart security system connects to your wireless network and can send notifications about activity within your home to your smartphone or tablet. Another added feature is the ability to monitor and secure your home remotely by simply logging into your system via a mobile app or desktop browser to view a live feed from your surveillance cameras, lock the front door, arm your system and more.

More recently, ESA has seen an uptick in smart or “remote” thermostats and remote door locks, which Busler said have really grown in the last two years. Smart thermostats have the ability to learn your heating and cooling preferences, and adjust the temperature without you lifting a finger. But convenience isn’t the only selling point, he explained. With an advanced thermostat, you can control the temperature of your home remotely and employ power conservation settings when your home is vacant, which can reduce your heating and cooling bill.

“What we are finding is that the younger crowd, the more tech-savvy people, are the ones that really want all these additional features,” Busler said.