The importance of environmental issues when trying to sell a property starts with the very simple matter of obtaining an energy certificate.
Whilst many estate agents advertise properties for sale without a valid energy certificate, this is illegal and can result in huge fines. But at Fine & Country, we take compliance very seriously and we often have to help our vendors organise their energy certificates before their properties can be placed on the market.
Whilst this article is not about energy certificates or compliance, it is interesting to note how much importance buyers these days place on energy ratings and how investing in some sustainability-oriented improvements on a property can help increase both the speed of securing a sale and the selling price.
Some things are obvious, such as replacing old windows with modern double glazing, but the list of what can be done to make a property more sustainable is a long one.
Adding photovoltaic solar panels, even if they only partially cover the electricity needs of a property, will score big points both on the energy certificate rating and on the wish list of many potential buyers. But even standard solar panels for water heating score points.
Good insulation is, of course, vital and should always be a major consideration when refurbishing older properties, but one of the most solicited ‘musts’ on the wish list of many buyers is good under-floor heating.
When replacing floors in a property, at the very least owners should look into electric under-floor heating, especially if backed up by a sustainable energy source. But if the budget permits, a water-based system backed up with a good heat exchanger, again linked to a sustainable energy source, if possible, is the ideal solution.
The investment is higher than electric, but the running cost is far lower, and a good system will heat as well as cool the floor, reducing or even eliminating the need for air conditioning.
Energy is, of course, the main consideration, but water consumption is equally important to the eco-conscious buyer. Modern systems allow for the recycling of wastewater for irrigation, but even more important these days are sustainable gardens that require little or no irrigation. Simple solutions such as replacing thirsty exotic plant species with Mediterranean plantings and reducing areas of grass with coverings such as succulents can all pay dividends, both by reducing running costs and by making your property more appealing to a buyer.
At Fine & Country, we have seen a significant shift in the importance placed on environmental issues by our buyers. Over the last two years, we have sold Algarve properties to people from over 30 different countries. A few years ago, it was mostly the Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians who appeared to be the most eco-conscious, but today it is rare to encounter a buyer of any nationality who does not place sustainability right at the top of their wish list.