Breaking news: Warmer, healthier homes are worth more Home buyers’ expectations are rising

15 July 2021 by Jason Quinn

This recent Stuff story was a pretty well-considered look at whether improvements in thermal performance influence sale prices. I’ve covered this ground before, in my book and in this blog post, looking at whether Passive House certification will increase a building’s value.

There’s still no rigorous data for New Zealand and so we use as a proxy the data from overseas markets where third-party certifications are more established. However, the anecdotal evidence in the Stuff article is encouraging. It quotes real estate agents saying homes that have been retrofitted for energy efficiency (double glazing, insulation, heat pumps) are easier to sell, attract more buyers and can (sometimes significantly) boost the final sale prices. 

At its heart, it’s simple: an energy-efficient house is worth more, because it’s a better house. The buyers are getting more for their money. I’m perplexed that this basic fact still escapes some people. The impact of the Healthy Homes regulations is also raised in the Stuff article but in the context of potential buyers wanting to rent a house out before they live in it. 

It stands to reason there is another factor at play here. Many tenants will have now had the opportunity to experience for themselves the difference basic improvements make, like a home with more insulation or an efficient heating source. It makes sense that they would seek out and value energy-efficiency and thermal comfort when it comes to buying their own house. (As I concluded in my book*, a good part of the reason New Zealanders live in terrible houses is they don’t have another point of reference.) As for those landlords who have had to upgrade their rental properties, surely it prompts them to improve their own home.

And while retrofitting is hugely important, there’s something else that needs to be said. All our new buildings need to be far better performers—all the way up to Passive House standard—so we don’t keep adding to the huge list of homes that need to be upgraded for better health and reduced carbon emissions.

The comments section on Stuff can be legendarily toxic, but this comment (above) made me raise my glass.

*See the sidebar, Why do we put up with it in Section 1 of Passive House for New Zealand: The warm, healthy homes we need

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