Selling a home to appeal to eco-conscious buyers
Our residential property conveyancing solicitors look at what you can do to make your home more sustainable and more attractive to eco-conscious buyers
Eco features matter more to some home buyers than the size of the garden, according to a recent survey by Money.com. Solar panels now rank ahead of ensuite bathrooms on our property wish-list and, as energy prices rise, this trend looks set to continue. So, if you are selling your home, how do you appeal to today’s eco-conscious buyers?
‘Buyers are certainly more concerned about energy efficiency,’ agrees Katie Auburn a Solicitor in the residential property team with Bradford & Son Solicitors. ‘Fortunately, you can improve your home’s performance and make it easier to sell without spending thousands of pounds on innovative technology.’
Your EPC can help you
You will need a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before marketing your home, and it will then be available to any potential buyer.
The EPC is a short report, produced by an accredited energy assessor, on the energy efficiency of a property. It will rate your home A to G, with A being the most energy efficient grading. The EPC should also include recommendations to improve your home’s rating. An EPC lasts for ten years. So, your home may already have one. If you cannot find a copy, you can check on the website https://www.gov.uk/find-energy-certificate.
Take care to consider the EPC’s recommendations before putting your home on the market. It may reveal some straightforward ways to make your home eco-friendlier. If you are commissioning a new EPC, you may want to increase your home’s energy efficiency first. There may be cost-effective ways of doing this, for example, by switching to LED bulbs or insulating your loft. You can find suggestions at Simple Energy Advice.
Having a higher EPC rating may be more important for some types of property. For example, from 2025, the Government may require rental properties to have at least a C rating. So, if your property could appeal to buy-to-let investors, then you may want to bear this in mind.
Focus on the most cost-effective ways to add value
Improving your home’s energy efficiency can involve a lot of time and initial expense. So, if you plan to move soon, consider the schedule for any works and whether you will recover your costs. In some cases, you may be better off improving your new home. For example, a new geothermal heat pump can cost around £13,000 but is unlikely to add an equivalent amount to the sale price you achieve. On the other hand, an electric vehicle charging point can be inexpensive to install but, according to a recent study, can attract a premium from buyers.
Every home is unique, and what works well for one property may be more difficult to implement in another. For example, some properties may not be suitable for cavity wall insulation due to solid walls or because the work may aggravate damp issues. Talking things through with your surveyor or an independent energy assessor can help you consider your options objectively. Your estate agent may also have views on the impact on your home’s marketability. For example, solar panels can divide opinion. Some buyers welcome the potential savings, while others find they detract from the ‘kerb appeal’ particularly on older, heritage style properties.
If you have plans to update or extend your home anyway, it can make sense to incorporate some energy saving features. Upgrading to a new boiler, or installing double, or even triple, glazing could make your home more attractive, especially to buyers concerned about rising energy costs. Using more bio-friendly paint, low in volatile organic compounds, could help you appeal to their eco-credentials without having to spend a lot.
Make sure you obtain all the necessary statutory consents
For some improvements, you may need building regulations consent and planning permission. It is important to obtain the correct consents, or the local authority could require you to reinstate your home to its original condition. An oversight also risks derailing your sale as your buyer will want evidence of compliance before proceeding.
You will only need planning permission if your improvement works amount to development. In any case, unless your home is listed or other special considerations apply, permitted development rights may avoid the need to make an express application. You should check with your local planning authority or solicitor whether there are any conditions with which you must comply. For example, there are limits on how far solar panels can project.
Building regulations aim to ensure the quality of work and to protect the environment. Most significant improvements, for example, solid or cavity wall insulation, double glazing, solar panels, or new boilers, all require building regulations consent. If the contractor installing them is authorised under a competent person scheme, then they should ensure compliance and provide you with the relevant certificate. However, you should always confirm this before engaging them.
Other consents you may need
If your property is leasehold, then you may also need your landlord’s consent, although they will not usually be able to withhold their consent unreasonably. The terms of your lease will determine this.
Occasionally, there may be title restrictions which mean you need a third party’s consent, or they may limit what you can do to your property. If you plan major work, such as installing solar panels, then you should check your property’s title for any restrictions first or ask your solicitor to do so.
Keep the paperwork safe
When you are busy getting your home ready for sale, it can be easy to forget the paperwork. However, as well as any necessary consents, remember to keep any guarantees or warranties safe. Your buyers are likely to require these before completing their purchase.
Talk to your solicitor if you do not have the relevant consent or certificate, ideally before putting your home on the market. Sometimes it is possible to obtain a missing permission or confirmation retrospectively. However, this could prevent you taking out insurance against the risk of enforcement action, which can sometimes be a better option, especially if you want to proceed quickly.
Small changes can make a difference
You may decide not to make any major improvements to your home because the cost outweighs the benefit. However, it is still worth considering how to appeal to eco-conscious buyers. It could be something as simple as installing a smart meter or programmable thermostats. Even remembering to get your boiler serviced regularly can help, letting you address any minor issue before it becomes a problem. An up-to-date service record and receipt can also reassure buyers your home is efficient and well-maintained.
For further information, please contact the residential property team on 01709 377412. Bradford & Son has its office in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.