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Choose your words carefully with "eco-friendly" homes

By Mike WheatleyMarch 03, 2016
  • Environmentally friendly homes are easier to market than most, but real estate pros would be wise to choose their words carefully, because they can have a big impact on how consumer's perceive a building's value.

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    One of the most popular terms real estate pros like to use in their listings is the word “green” to describe an environmentally-friendly home. But, according to a 2015 study on consumer preferences by the National Association of Home Builders, most consumers dislike the word, and perceive homes marketed as being “eco-friendly” as having more value than those described as “green”.

    The survey revealed that 68 percent of the 3,370 survey respondents who purchased a home in the last three years say the term “eco-friendly” can be equated to better value.

    The survey also identified a number of other words which real estate pros should try to avoid when marketing the sustainability features of a home. For example:

    • Use “comfortable” instead of “liveable”.
    • Use “environmentally friendly” rather than “green conscious."
    • Use “energy efficient” house and not “high-efficiency” home."
    • Use “water-saving” in place of “low-flow."
    • Use “lower utility bills” instead of “reduced energy use."
    • Use “healthy living environment” rather than “nontoxic materials."

    Suzanne Shelton of the Shelton Group, a marketing and communications firm that focuses on energy and the environment, said in an interview that industry professionals have made it a habit to use lots of terms that consumers don't always understand, and that can be counter-productive. For example, she said the term “net zero”, which means a home that uses no energy, actually “registers negative with home buyers” and should be avoided.

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