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Staging Your Listing to Be…Affordable?

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Laura Stukel is a Realtor with L.W. Reedy Real Estate in Elmhurst.

One trend is coming across loud and clear for home sales this year – demonstrate lower monthly bills and you will attract buyers!  After all, 50 to 75 percent of homebuyers compare utility bills when looking for their next home.

Chicago Magazine made this their leading advice for selling homes this season: staging for energy efficiency is a great way to make your home stand out to value-conscious buyers.  The first bit of advice in the article, which was titled “Boost Your Home’s Value – If You Want to Sell This Summer,” was energy efficiency.

A sampling of other articles says the same:

So what are some steps you can take if you want to attract value-conscious buyers?  Here are some great staging tips for your listing.

  • Install a programmable thermostat. This is now a prerequisite for “well-maintained” homes. The good news is that a basic $50 programmable thermostat can save over $100 per year on heating and cooling!
  • Replace light bulbs in  five key areas Ditto above – another prerequisite. Focus on the five most used lights first to see the savings start to add up on the next ComEd bill:  the outdoors; the kitchen; the family/living room; the dining room/eating space; and the bedrooms.
  • Lighting Facts – Get the perfect color light bulb! You can get all sorts of “normal” shaped bulbs now too.  A warm, yellowish light is just like the incandescents buyers are used to. Look for bulbs that have a color temperature around 2700 degrees kelvin for the best ambiance.  The new light bulb label (left) make it easy to find a color temperature and pick a bulb that really gives off a cozy vibe.
  • Earn rebates on CFL bulbs.  Your clients can even use a ComEd retailer and earn a rebate on replacement bulbs!

If your client really wants to stand out, you can encourage them to participate in the Illinois Home Performance with Energy Star program. They will follow a home improvement process focused on cutting energy use by 15 percent.

The program follows a quality system that starts by qualifying contractors and ends by testing the results of improvements to make sure they actually worked. Once complete, homeowners will receive a silver or gold certificate, depending on savings achieved. It’s a great document to share with prospective buyers to show that improvements meet the high standards of Energy Star. Plus, the certificate is even a searchable field in MRED’s ConnectMLS (look for the “green supporting documents field” in the Utilities/Green Tab). Also, qualified appraisers can look for third-party green documentation when assessing value.

Understanding local energy efficiency programs can help you become a real estate superstar once your listing is under contract. Many home inspection hot spots are really just energy efficiency improvements waiting to happen. For example, one of my clients is waiting to close on a short-sale condo.  She’s putting all her cash into a downpayment, but the heating and air conditioning is at the end of their useful lives, and the seller took the washer and dryer.

Enter Energy Impact Illinois (EI2), a program supported by a Department of Energy Grant.  EI2 makes it easier than ever to understand the best way to replace key systems in a home, and also identifies qualified rebates and loans to cover the work. Check out their “Make Improvements” list to see if any of their tips and rebates relate to your home inspection issues.  Who knows, by empowering your buyer with great resources, “big problems” might become much less of a concern and actually improve the way your deal is coming together!

For my client, she learned she can qualify for a home equity loan after closing at an interest rate better than her credit card can offer.  She should earn up to $650 back on the furnace and AC from Nicor and ComEd and $75 off a new washer from ComEd.

Do I look like a genius or what?  My efficiency smarts directly resulted in a deal!

Whether your client can promote big efficiency improvements or just needs to demonstrate basic value – now is the time to showcase how your listing is not just a great value to buy, but to operate too!  And there have never been better resources to help you serve clients in this space.

Laura Stukel is a Realtor with L.W. Reedy Real Estate in Elmhurst. She can be reached at:

L.W. Reedy Real Estate
101 North York Road
Elmhurst, IL 60126
Office: 630-833-1700
Mobile: 773-251-1631
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @notyetgreen

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