Various studies have shown us the benefits that homebuyers seek in green homes, and Home Innovation has regularly shared that trend information in the hope that builders and remodelers would utilize the research findings to refine their sales pitch and marketing materials. Until recently, however, we did not know definitively if green homes met or surpassed customer expectations post-sale. The longer-term satisfaction levels of green homeowners had not been measured.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Guild Quality, a leading provider of customer satisfaction surveying for the building industry, conducted a study of 187 individuals who purchased or built an NGBS Green Certified home within the last three years. The survey results, released Feb. 2014, provide useful insight into homeowners’ overall satisfaction, decision-making, valued home features, and areas where additional communication/education was needed from builders and sales agents. Builders and developers who are already building NGBS Green Certified Homes can utilize these survey findings to refine their green messaging and sales pitch. Builders who have not yet made the decision to build NGBS green certified homes may want to reconsider as the evidence continues to mount that green certification is a terrific way to set your homes apart from the competition.
Green homeowners reported that they are generally satisfied with their home purchase. Survey respondents indicated overwhelming overall satisfaction and willingness to promote the purchase a green home.
Given that builders and remodelers typically develop client relationships through word-of-mouth and local reputation, this “promotion” factor is a tangible benefit to builders who choose to “go green.” When builders offer efficient and durable homes that are independently verified and third-party certified to a national standard, they are not only differentiating themselves from their non-green competitors but also effortlessly growing their business through satisfied customers.
The green homeowners surveyed demonstrated an understanding of what was meant by the terms “green home” and “building green.” A large majority were fully aware that they were purchasing a green certified.
While many builders may assume a significant “understanding gap” between builders and consumers, the gap may not be as substantial as some may think. Based on these results, green home builders should feel encouraged to discuss green home features and benefits with potential homebuyers openly and completely.
The Satisfaction Study revealed that green features were a key factor in the buying process. A majority (70%) of the green homeowners surveyed were actively searching for a green home (to build or buy) at the time they purchased their NGBS Green Certified home. In fact, one respondent stated, “We didn’t look at any builders other than green builders. Having a green home was the most important issue for us.”
This research finding indicates that green builders could benefit (more and/or higher bids) from actively promoting green home features, like NGBS Green certification.
When respondents were asked to rank the home features that were most important to their purchasing decision, the following results were seen:
#3—Energy Efficiency (65%)
#4—Air Quality (59%)
#5—Water Usage (37%)
Too often builders conclude that energy efficiency is the only green benefit that consumer’s value. Numerous studies, including this one, demonstrate that is simply not the case. Energy efficiency is an important consideration for home buyers and it typically ranks in the top five most important features, but it almost never the only or most important consideration.
Likewise, when asked to name specific features that were important, the homeowners replied with both specific building products and benefits. These included: Insulation, Efficiency, Energy, Geothermal, Windows, Usage, and Cost.
Based on the variety of responses, builders and sales agents should be sure to reference green features other than just energy efficiency and hone their sales message to their client.
The survey results identified homeowner education and maintenance as one area needing improvement. Homeowners reported that they wished they had received more education on how to operate and maximize the benefits of their green home.
While homeowner education and maintenance is a requirement for any NGBS Green certification to be issued, builders should consider opportunities to revamp their existing homeowner education programs. For example—an in-person training or video may enable homeowners to retain the information more fully than they would by reading a printed guide.
For more information and to download the full report visit nahb.org.