How to Sell Your Home Sustainably

How to Sell Your Home Sustainably

Allison Verdoorn
Feb 8, 2011

My husband and I are in the process of getting our home ready for sale and what a miserable process that is. Each step of the way I have been surprised at how many choices there are to make that could easily make selling our home very unsustainable. Here some things we've learned along the way to make it a low impact activity on our environment.

Selling your house isn't fun but that doesn't mean it can't be green!

Getting Your House Ready to Show

We were able to move out before showing our house, so that meant we had to pack and stage at the same time. This has been great for us as there isn't the daily cleaning ritual in anticipation of a showing. Even if you're living in your home until it sells these tips can be helpful as you're likely to stage and do at least a little packing and decluttering.

Use Staging as a Test

  • As you all know, staging means making your house look its best before it goes on the market. So, why didn't you do this a long time ago? Use this time to make your home look sleek and clean and see if you can live a more minimal lifestyle. Pare down your stuff and see what you actually use. Take the things you learn about the way you live with you to your new home.
  • This is also a great time to refine your style. Make your place look cohesive, keeping only the things you love and look beautiful out will not only make your home look better it will make it sell faster too. Landis has a great post on decluttering your space.

Take Advantage of Packing

  • Packing is a great time to get organized, use this time to think about what you really need, what you will use in your new home and how you want to live.
  • Donate things you don't use. You know you have them, those things that you never unpacked since last time you moved, or that box in the back of your closet. If you've gone more than a year without it you probably don't need it.

Deep Green Clean

Before your house goes on the market you need to do a really good deep clean and it's tempting to reach for the chemicals and paper towels but we have lots of cleaning tips to help you resist the urge.

Make Green Improvements

Upgrade or Spruce Up Appliances and Fixtures

  • We put in a more attractive faucet and chose a great looking low flow fixture. Not only do we secretly set our new owners up for reduced water use we were able to donate our old fixture to a charity and make our kitchen look a little shinier.
  • In addition, while we've lived in the house we've changed all of our shower fixtures over to low flow.
  • Many people put new appliances in right before sale, so choose ones that are Energy Star and have low water needs.
  • Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator while you're pulling it out for your deep clean to make it run more efficiently.
  • Replace your furnace filter right before you move and write the date and type of filter on it to allow for the new owner to keep your furnace running smoothly.
  • If you're not living in your home turn down your water heater, and if you're not allowing people viewing the home to use the toilets turn the water off.
  • Turn the heat/ AC down if the home will be occupant free, while you should keep it comfortable for showings the fact that people are spending a short time in your home means it doesn't have to be perfectly climate controlled at all times.
  • Put your lights on a timer to correspond to times that showings are most likely to occur. In our area that is after work and on the weekends. While you're at it, confirm that all of your light bulbs are efficient.

Make a Green Guide for your House

Give the new owners a head start when they move it.

  • Are there any quirky things about your place that you have found that improves the environmental qualities?
  • Is there a great place nearby to purchase green supplies?
  • Do any of your appliances need a little kick or nudge in a specific way that will reduce the chance that the new owner will replace it instead of living with the quirk? Lots of times appliances will work just fine if they get a little love and are used by someone who knows the ropes. Give them the tips to keep the appliances running smoothly.

Write down all of your best tips and pass them off at closing to start the new occupants off on a good foot so your green qualities can rub off on them.

On the Market

Tout the Green Aspect of your Home in the Listing

Make sure that you let buyers know all about the green improvements and aspects of your home in the listing. Be sure to include if you have Energy Star appliances, alternative energy sources, natural light, optimal solar orientation, low VOC paints, low flow fixtures, efficient space plan or a great garden. Make your home attractive not only to people who are looking for a sustainable home but those who want to save money too with your smart living choices.

Ask your Realtor to Skip the Flyers
With the Multiple Listing Service online and available to everyone there really isn't a need to print out flyers to have in your home. Instead of flyers advertize in online classifieds, on social networking and by word of mouth.

Make your Move

Move your furniture and boxes as efficiently as possible. This will be different for each case, but think carefully and weigh your options. Is it better to get a truck and do one big move or will smaller loads in friends' cars make less of an impact? Thinking about it for a few minutes before making your plan can make things easier and greener.

And finally, when you move into your new place hit the ground running with your green lifestyle. Be organized and thoughtful with the way you live to help you love your home.

(Image: Flickr Member Coffeego licensed for use under Creative Commons )

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