Linking two popular concepts – “green” and “affordable” – will be one of the keys to success for builders and developers in the 2011 market. That’s because most residential buyers and multifamily renters do not yet understand how these frequently used marketing terms actually fit together. As a result, the first and foremost criteria for buyers continues to be price, rather than value. 

Across the nation, today’s buyers are becoming increasingly interested in living a “sustainable” lifestyle.  Reducing water consumption through the installation of low-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads, for instance, is seen as a desirable “green” feature in a new home. The same holds true for energy-efficient appliances, airtight windows, increased insulation and other attributes of environmentally friendly homes.

However, affordability is still the primary issue for most buyers today. Before purchasing a new home, the buyer wants to get both the best price and the lowest cost of ownership. In fact, the ongoing costs are probably more crucial today in an economic environment characterized by high levels of joblessness, lack of income growth and turbulent financial markets.

This presents a clear opportunity for builders and developers who can educate the market about the health, environmental and economic benefits of a green house. Another plus is that buyers in many regions can take advantage of energy-saving incentives from governments or utilities. Naturally, a builder who can bring a green house to market at a price competitive with a non-green product can really have an advantage, particularly at the lower price points.

In fact, the importance of the affordability issue in 2011 means that builders will need to put more emphasis on maximizing a buyer’s lifestyle in a new home with less square footage than in the past. That also means builders need understand buyer preferences in their local markets when prioritizing home’s features and amenities.  Through intelligent design and energy-saving systems, builders can construct attractive and affordable homes that deliver a true value to the buyer.