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By Chris Kaucnik

RISMEDIA, July 4, 2008-Offering something unique and timely can always help sell a home more quickly and possibly closer to the listing price. Aside from the usual home-staging techniques, implementing some easy, but key energy and water-saving options, too, might just do the trick. Savvy buyers will ask what utility costs are or to see actual bills-especially in older homes-and be impressed at measures taken to reduce those costs.

Here are some easy, smaller projects that can increase a home’s appeal in a time of high energy costs with an extraordinary focus on being green. And, of course, make sure you market the home with these positive, new features:

-Replace regular light bulbs in permanent fixtures with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs use about one-fifth as much energy as regular bulbs, and last about 12 times longer).
-Install low-flow showerheads, which will save on water heating and use.
-Install an Energy Star-qualified, programmable thermostat.
-Close the damper on the fireplace. It sounds simple, but is often forgotten from season to season and causes drafts and high energy loss.
-Add insulation to an attic.
-Seal basement rim joists. This is along the top of the basement wall where the cement or block comes in contact with the wood frame. This is a common area of air leakage.
-Insulate water heater tanks for energy savings.
-Repair water leaks in tubs, showers and sinks. Not only are they big water wasters, but a leak really shows the home is not cared for anymore.
-Perform duct sealing or hire a contractor. Twenty percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts.

Another visible change that may attract a buyer is using renewable sources in any flooring you might replace prior to listing, such as recycled carpeting, bamboo, cork or other flooring from fast-growing wood sources.

You can also recommend a home energy audit to help your clients identify other easy, but important fixes and demonstrate to potential buyers that sellers are serious about home maintenance and improvement. It will give buyers a fun jumpstart, too, on accomplishing more efficiency improvements in their new home.

Being willing to partner with buyers creates an air of security that the home is still cared about. It sends the message that all parties want the buyers to have as great an experience in the home as the previous family did.

You can see that encouraging these smaller, but important, green ideas with your clients can be very beneficial to a quicker home sale.

Chris Kaucnik is marketing director for Home Warranty of America, Inc.

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