Today’s home buyers are making the shift toward greener homes that provide energy savings. This point is most evident at Meritage Homes, which is outselling its competitors 3:1 in Arizona’s decimated markets with a new line of energy-efficient homes called Meritage Green. C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs for Meritage says, “Meritage Green is an innovative product that has attracted a steady stream of buyers and builders from around the country to learn about it, and sales have been surprisingly strong everywhere we open.” Virtual tours of the Meritage Green product along with executive interviews are available at www.avidbuilder.com.
Why is its new “green” product working? Home buyers are attracted to houses that offer energy savings, affordability, and sensible design choices. For the past four years, the nation’s largest study of home design conducted by AVID Ratings confirms this fact. In 2010, the “AVID Home Design Driver Report” was released at the International Builders’ Show and outlined the results of its latest survey. Following the show, the study was reported by Market Watch and MSN, and became a headline news article on Yahoo’s front page, making it one of the most read articles in the U.S. that week.
The study surveyed over 11,335 homeowners throughout the U.S. who built a new home in the last nine years or purchased a newly constructed home within that same time period. Since these people lived in a newly constructed home, they had a higher probability of buying new construction again. So, we asked them to rate various home features as “if they were in the market to buy a newly constructed home.” The study identified six buyer segments: first-timers, move-ups, displaced (moving due to death, divorce, or work), empty-nesters, second homes, and custom home buyers. Each buyer was then asked to categorize various home features into one of the following: must have, really want, tradable, or eliminate.
For homeowners in the 2010 study, home energy-efficiency features outshone all else. The questions in this research study focused on a number of areas including both renewable materials and energy-efficient features. Overall, the energy-efficient features were the highest-rated home design elements of the study. When compared to renewable materials, it is evident that the renewable aspect of “green” has not yet penetrated consumer demand to the same degree as energy efficiency.
Builders today should recognize the clear advantage of new, energy-efficient homes over the resale market. For the first time in many decades, buyers recognize that today’s new homes are built with distinct advantages over yesterday’s homes. Houses that help pay for themselves through energy cost savings are a clear winner in the eyes of the consumer and offer an unprecedented opportunity for builders able to meet this growing demand. If you compare responses about green design features to the other types of home features asked about in this study, it is clear that home buyers want efficient products in their homes.
The Meritage Green product represents a paradigm shift by offering homes that are affordable, appealing, and help pay for themselves through energy savings. In the end, it is clear that Meritage is on to something special. Skyrocketing sales in the middle of the greatest housing recession is no fluke.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.