Terry Shuffler is vice president and general manager of the Austin division of Trendmaker Homes’ a member of the TRI Pointe Group.

Energy efficiency, a key sales strategy

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As home buyers demand more energy efficiency and cost savings, homebuilders can provide education on energy-wise features and strategies

For home builders, energy efficiency is good business and sound sales strategy (Photo: Courtesy Trendmaker Homes).
June 15, 2017

More and more buyers are looking for energy-efficient homes that contribute to a healthier environment, offer more comfort, and help lower energy bills. Energy efficiency isn’t just a nice option; it’s a requirement for builders that want to sell more homes.

Builders can offer energy-efficient features that start with the foundation and infrastructure of the home all the way through to the appliances and finishes. These include insulation, filtration, pre-engineered wood, LED lighting, appliances, and more. Here’s how home builders can leverage these features to set themselves apart.

Develop programs that offer specific savings. Specific energy-efficient programs offer buyers energy-savings and healthy living options via features that come standard with the cost of the home. Many exceed local code or local requirements and result in better interior air quality, less energy usage, and lower utility bills. Strategies include use of building materials from recycled and renewable resources and landscape design that helps conserve water usage. For us, an important focus is on keeping humidity levels down in Houston and Austin, where we build. We also include a suite of state-of-the-art home technology and automation features. Introduction of leading-edge technology features at new communities helps buyers see their savings and control them.

Help buyers visualize the technology. To help buyers understand how a home’s energy-efficient features perform, many builders use exhibits such as cutaways in the wall and exhibits throughout the models. Make sure your sales team is familiar with specific advantages and is ready to field questions on energy efficiency from potential buyers. This way, builders can highlight value-add options to buyers. Because most of the efficiency features offered are built into the overall price of Trendmaker’s new homes (such as LED light bulbs that come standard in every home), it doesn’t feel like an added cost for the buyer. That is one huge selling point, and it's one that buyers understand.

Educate buyers. The advantages to building a new energy-efficient home are numerous, but builders need to call them out for buyers. Mention that radiant roof barriers and low-formaldehyde insulation offer increased comfort through temperature control, greater savings through lower utility bills, and healthier communities with lower carbon footprints. Weatherstripping and insulation may not be the materials buyers come in asking about, but after learning that these materials stop moisture and control the humidity inside the home, buyers perceive increased value.  

Test—then communicate the savings. Builders can go beyond the typical measures by using a third-party thermography check to ensure that each home’s envelope is tight. All our homes are inspected by a third party that uses an infrared scanner to indicate thermal loss and water intrusion in the building envelope. This check also scans for electrical shorts, air leaks, and missing insulation. To go even further, builders can have their new homes independently certified to exceed local energy codes, on the premise that efficient homes are better-built homes. No matter which testing or certifications you go for, tell buyers why they're important. Provide them with a copy of the report so they can see and have a record of their home’s performance.

Homebuyers are savvier than ever. Energy efficiency is as sought-after an amenity as hard-working floorplans, new finishes, and up-to-date features. Builders that can communicate energy-efficient benefits to buyers can provide added value to the growing number of buyers that want these features in their homes.  

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