Top 9 GREEN Home Improvements

Posted by: Jessica Gopalakrishnan on January 12th, 2010

A few months ago we announced the top 12 do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvements for people selling their home.

green-home-improvementWith the environment and sustainability in the hearts and minds of many Americans, HomeGain has also surveyed Realtors for the top 9 GREEN DIY home improvements.  Nearly 1,000 REALTORS® responded to the survey.

While the results show that green home improvement projects may not be as popular as traditional non-green improvements (percentage of Realtors who recommend them), the GREEN trend does seem to be catching on as people realize the benefits. (See Realtor comments below.)

According to a McGraw Hill study, 70% of homebuyers would rather buy a green home than a non-green home in a down economy. The Management Information Services/ICMA has said that “landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.” According to, to date, around 1,100 Realtors have earned the NAR Green Designation (out of 1.3 million registered Realtors in the U.S.).

Based on national average cost and return on investment (ROI) to sellers…

The top 5 GREEN home improvements that Realtors recommend to home sellers are:

  1. Plant native trees and plants ($141 average cost / $399 average price increase / 284% average ROI / 65% of agents recommended)
  2. Replace air filters ($76 cost / $201 price increase / 266% ROI / 63% recommended)
  3. GREEN home staging ($223 cost / $445 price increase / 199% ROI / 47% recommended)
  4. Weather strip and caulk doors and windows ($169 cost / $313 price increase / 185% ROI / 68% recommended)
  5. Install programmable thermostats ($146 cost / $249 price increase / 170% ROI / 62% recommended)

The complete 9 GREEN home improvements are as follows:


Realtor, Jeffrey Bastress, and HomeGain member, has been an advocate of Green real estate for the past few years:

Startpoint Realty is totally designed as eco friendly, as we have no bricks and mortar, use virtual office websites to communicate with customers and a transaction platform to post all documents once for all parties. We give trees as closing gifts to our Buyers and donate trees to the Arbor Day Foundation in the name of our Sellers as a closing gift. My website is a GREEN resource center for buyers and sellers, and I advise my agents and others on how to GREEN their websites and better consult with their clients. I am also a builder and working with a LEED certified team of architects and contractors and have 2 GREEN LEED certified homes we are planning on building with clients that have indicated they are hiring us to do so.”

Green Home Staging

Green home staging is focused on environmental sustainability. It is geared at reducing waste that is may be added to landfills and other environmental benefits. In addition to traditional staging advice, Green stagers offer education and guidance to the seller by developinggreen-home-staging ways to effectively “green” market their home. Green stagers reuse props; create props from recycling materials from partnerships with other local businesses; recycle old and worn out props by donating them. In a green staging assessment, they also suggest how to incorporate ways to repair or upgrade in regards to the conservation of resources, water efficiencies and recycling.

VOC Paint

Conventional paints contained high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that produced a breathable gas when applied. VOCs diminish air quality and may be detrimental to your health. Today, alternative manufacturing techniques have allowed the development of low- and no-VOC paints that release no, or minimal VOC pollutants, and are virtually odor free.

Comments From Surveyed Realtors (by region):


“Clean air returns, not just replace filters.”

“Most of these things aren’t going to be looked at up front so they don’t add value but you should go ahead and take care of weather strippinig and replacing air filters so that it doesn’t come up on inspections and then make the home appear to be unkept.” – Karen Harrison RE/MAX of Orange Beach

“Being ‘Green’ is usually more expensive than the immediate short run savings will offset and therefore this is still a very hard area to push in our area.”

“Energy saver electricals, use energy star appliances.”

“My market is older construction and mostly not refit to ‘Green’ standards.  Market does not recognize value for these improvements – yet – but I believe they will become more important in the future.”


“I did this to my own home and I have to tell you the monthly savings was very impressive. It would be helpful if the owners could show the difference in their bills with Green energy. My latest is to try to study design and how to add green products as much as I can. I think new buyers are young and savvy with regard to this. I sell California but i am from New Orleans, LA originally. Now this is an interesting phenomena because California has made me ‘green friendly’ but New Orleans is hungry for this technology and doing loads of rebuilding with green products.”

“Buyers cannot see most of these items so there would be no value in a selling doing them unless they did them all and were advertising it as a totally green house.”

“Unless I know that my market is GREEN I do not make any of those recommendations. If I were the buyer it would mean a lot to me to have these things done.”

“I also advise my clients with older water heaters and/or furnaces to take advantage of tax credits and replace them with new energy saving models and get the tax advantage plus make the home more appealing to potential buyers.  Also, taking advantage of any passive solar the home may have that is being under-utilized. I also offer a home audit and/0r whole house inspection to help owners see what can be done to make the home more energy efficient, which can help sell the home faster with a higher offer.”


“Have energy certified appliances and air handlers, plus hot water heater.”

“Check and renew insulation!”

“I haven’t found green improvements to be a sought-after element yet.  However, a new energy efficient HVAC system, windows and roofing definitely makes a difference to most folks as they are such expensive items to replace. “

Mid West

“If homeowners were to get tax credits on ‘green’ improvments it would be easier to make them motivated to do so and then easier for us, Realtors, market them as green…”

“I hadn’t thought of suggesting these Green improvements before, but now I will!”

What’s Your Opinion?

[polldaddy poll="2511104"]







HomeGain received survey responses from nearly 1,000 real estate agents in each of the U.S. regions. All agents might not necessarily agree on the same pre-sale strategy. See “% of agents recommending” column above. Differences of opinions may vary based on the climate of the market, region of the country or condition of the home in question. The percentage of agents that agree on the positive impact of a particular pre-sale activity is summarized here.

Try the Home Sale Maximizer Tool below:

Get the Home Sale Maximizer widget for your website by clicking here.



17 Comments on “Top 9 GREEN Home Improvements”

Elizabeth Bolton, Cambridge Realtor

Truthfully I’m not convinced that these home improvements will make a difference for home sellers. For homeowners perhaps – all but the staging are great ideas to save energy in your own home.
In addition to providing shade and possibly lowering your fertilizer and water use, native plants will work wonders to attract birds and animals to your yard – and how fun is that? To learn more about best things to plant, the book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife In Our Gardens is an excellent resource.

Tallamy, Douglas W.

Kaye HIrt

Do you know where we can buy recycled glass countertops in the Midwest?

Portland Condo Auctions

Great list! These are something that a seller or the selling agent can do to make a huge difference in how long a house sits on the market. Remember that you are trying to make someone feel at home just as much as you are trying to sell your house.


Rudy McCormick

Green improvements have been around a while based on other names. Every home being sold who’s owner had pets needs an allergen filter…If we get a tax credit for doing these things that will just make it that much easier to be “green”.

Christine Rae

I have to say people said staging wouldnt work or add value and now it does; EcoStaging(TM) will work IF you market it correctly – just like staging does. a) it’s marketing and b) its about saving money of done correctly. Learn why its important and why you should have this knowledge as an agent and as a card carrying member of the planet by taking the training necessary for you to help buyer and seller. visit our website for training details

Aluminum fence

Green improvements have been around all this time. Every home being sold needs to be clean, so that were free from an healthy stuff. better make it clean and green.

Christine Rae

I feel as a stager (and we teach our students)it is important to help a seller gain the best foothold in the marketplace inorder to secure equity. We recommend environmentally sound products GREEN CLEAN kit and we teach a great green build science program which teaches you the why as well as what Securing a sellers equity is crucial, preserving savings for buyers is vital and saving the planet is priceless. Doesnt matter if you believe it or not its n ot your equity – sustainability matters!

Thomas Hill

I’ve read many articles about eco-friendly tips, and this by far is one of the better article tips I’ve encountered. The simplicity of the tips gives out surprisingly effective ways to lessen the usage of chemicals in cleaning one’s home. In todays era, you can also opt for eco-friendly Newton roofing and gutters. Boston supports the use of eco-friendly materials, making resident here breath easy and live safely.

New York City AC contractors

Programmable thermostats and changing or cleaning air filters cut down a lot on heating and cooling bills. These tips are right in line with the expert opinions.

Diamond Tools

Good information and pretty thorough as well, do you mind if I reference back to it? I’m blogging about this too, and you have some good info I hadn’t seen before and I’d like to post a similar article. I look forward to reading follow ups and hope it stays updated.

Diamond Blades & Tools

video games

I’m with her”Truthfully I’m not convinced that these home improvements will make a difference for home sellers. For homeowners perhaps – all but the staging are great ideas to save energy in your own home.
In addition to providing shade and possibly lowering your fertilizer and water use, native plants will work wonders to attract birds and animals to your yard – and how fun is that? To learn more about best things to plant, the book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife In Our Gardens is an excellent resource.

Indian Natural Stones

Good information. it is useful for home improvement.

New Homes Durham NC

Having a green home community is one of the best things we have done for our environment.

Hobro Solutions

Hope this article could give effect more to the people who read it. I do, they said if the earth would be a better place if we all start realize the benefits of a green living. don’t be to excited to change the earth, you could start it from your every day activities. Let start to change it, Now.


thank you!

water damage portland or

Very nice post. We try to stray green with our water damage restoration business. This is the right thing to do for environment and for people.


Sensational info. I look forward to seeing more.

Leave a Comment


For Real Estate Agents

Online Marekting Solutions

For Home Buyers and Sellers

e.g., 1250 S Main St, Burbank, CA or 91506
     Search Foreclosures    Search New Homes    Search Rentals    

Blog Categories

Blog Archives

Real Estate Blogs

Top Articles

Recent Comments

Guaranteed LeadsReferral Lead ProgramListings PackageVisits to your WebsiteFind REALTOR®Homes For SaleHome Values