Going Green Sells Homes and More

The sale of existing homes and buildings faces stiff competition from new construction builders who, in competing with foreclosures, are now using cutting edge, healthy, ecofriendly technology and code compliance to differentiate themselves. These builders pay close attention to surveys and trends, and existing home sellers and property owners will also want to follow suit.

An increasing number of new buildings are built to meet the EPA’s Energy Star Program, USGBC’s LEED certifications, HERS Home Energy Rating System, NAHB’s Green Building Program, and regional programs such as Build It Green, Built Green, EarthCraft House, Earth Advantage and others. On January 1, 2011 the new California Green Building Code, goes into affect, which requires all new construction to include specific healthy, eco-friendly alternatives.

Along with this competition from new construction, buyer requests for “green” and healthy features in a home is growing. Nearly 50 percent of American adults said that their New Year’s resolution for 2010 was to go green, and even more said they are going to strive to reduce their household energy usage this year, according to a new survey by Move.com. In Green Outlook 2009: Trends Driving Change, McGraw-Hill Construction found that 70% of homebuyers said they were more inclined to buy a green home in a down economy than a non-green home. More buyers are looking to not only curtail high utility bills, but also save the planet and their health. With the rising cost of medical expenses it’s only logical that there is money to be saved by using healthy materials inside a building.

Featuring a home’s green assets creates an attractive selling point in today’s market, and many real estate professionals are getting specialized training. The National Association of Realtors has created the NAR GREEN designation, and the Association of Energy and Environmental Real Estate Professionals (AEEREP) has the Eco Broker Green Designation. These organizations and others collaborated in the creation of the Green MLS Tool Kit ( http://www.GreentheMLS.org ) aimed at showing local MLSs how to add a green initiative. The Southern California MLS form includes an extensive list of “green” features.

In the May 2009 Certified Home Performance study, conducted by the Earth Advantage Institute and with the assistance of brokers, appraisers, and university professors, it was found there is a sale price premium and marketing time advantage for homes that have a third-party green certification. The study’s abstract says: “certified homes in the Seattle metro area sold at a price premium of 9.6% when compared to non-certified counterparts, based on a sample of 68 certified homes. In the Portland metro area, certified homes sold at a price premium ranging between 3% and 5%. In addition, the certified homes stayed on the market for 18 days less than non-certified homes.” Other statistics in Atlanta during 2009 show certified green homes sold 3.6% closer to list price and were on the market 31 days less than conventional new construction (108 vs.139 days).

The economics make sense for rental properties as well. A Study by the Institute of Business and Economic Research in April 2008 shows higher rent and occupancy rates for “green” office buildings throughout the U.S. Also of concern for property owners is the affect of indoor air quality on occupants’ health. Buildings with poor indoor air quality due to molds, toxins, radon and electromagnetic fields can create unexpected expenses. Not only will correcting these issues bring higher rents and occupancy rates, but remediation will be far less costly than litigation from occupants.

As long ago as November 17, 2008, Daily Real Estate News published results from a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate survey. The survey said bout 48 percent of home owners would spend $2,500 or more to green up their homes for resale. One-third say they would be willing to spend $5,000 or more on green improvements to make their homes more appealing. So, property owners, it’s not just a passing fad. The movement is on. Be sure to include “green” eco healthy features in your property.

Copyright 2010 Cynthia Grier. All rights reserved.

Ornamental Trees and Plants – Home and Garden

Ornamental plants and trees are used for decorative places and not for earning wealth. In residential landscaping, ornamental trees usually mean smaller trees that cannot support tree houses, hammocks or tree swings. You can have a tree in your backyard even if you do not have too much space. You can choose small ornamental trees which will give you the pleasure of having trees in your yards without affecting its appeal. For truly small areas, you can opt for ornamental plants which can add fragrance or beauty for your home.

The best possession in a home owner’s landscape is the flowering ornamental trees which combine the size of a small tree with the beauty of a flower. This can add a lot of beauty to your yard and enhance the home decor. While it comes to choosing ornamental trees or plants there are several options. You can choose a saucer magnolia with its pinkish blossoms or crape myrtles on account of their blooming period which is quite long. You can also choose dogwood trees on account of their horizontal branches.

While opting for landscaping, some house owners prefer the weeping ornamental trees. These trees have long and looping branches which add to the aesthetic value of the house. Some trees such as the weeping cherry tree are also trees that flower. Even in this case you can choose from a variety of trees according to their flowering traits, size and seasons of growth.

While thinking of remodeling your house and incorporating landscaping you can also choose ornamental plants which can increase value during decorating the interiors. Shrubs are unique because they do not have the single trunk and in this way they differ from the trees. Some shrubs that are trimmed to give the look of a trunk are called the ornamental plant. Ornamental plants require great care to give great results and in this way they differ from the ornamental trees which can grow even without diligent care.

Landscaping ads value of your home and must be considered during home improvement. It is also essential to maintain the garden area well after such ideas are incorporated. A home gardener can be appointed to prune and trim and the plants at regular intervals so that the beauty and atmosphere is beautifully maintained and the home becomes a truly heavenly place to reside in.

Home Vegetable Garden – Planning Your Garden Year After Year

Humans tend to be creatures of habit – I know I am. So when I first started vegetable gardening, my instinct was to find a spot for my tomatoes and then plant them there year after year. However, as I later learned, this was not good for my garden. Diversity is what a garden needs – the systematic rotation of plants from different families. There is a technical term for this: “crop rotation”.

Crop rotation in a home vegetable garden requires planning the location of each planting to ensure you are not planting a vegetable from the same family of vegetables in the same location in a three year cycle. Crop rotation is an important part of an organic gardening strategy, helping gardeners:

* Protect against pests and diseases
Vegetables in the same plant family are often susceptible to the same pests and diseases; crop rotation helps protect vegetables by making the location less hospitable to these organisms. By introducing a vegetable in a different family, the pests and diseases die off due to lack of a food source.

* Guard against nutrient depletion
Vegetables in different families have different nutrient requirements. By rotating plant families, you are less likely to deplete the soil of individual nutrients. Some vegetables (like beans and peas), actually add nitrogen to the soil. So rotating beans and peas with vegetables that require a lot of nitrogen can be an effective strategy for protecting soil fertility.

* Improve soil structure
Healthy soil contains a lot of organic material which is home to a host of beneficial microbes. These microbes play an important role in maintaining good soil structure, making it easier for vegetables to grow as roots have an easier time penetrating the soil. Crop rotation protects these microbes by helping the soil retain its organic matter.

To be successful with a crop rotation program, gardeners need to keep records from year to year in order to track the location of each planting within the vegetable garden. Without detailed records, it would be difficult to manage a crop rotation program. For those who do not enjoy record keeping, you can use a garden planner application which handles the tracking for you and places plants in the optimal location considering crop rotation requirements.