Green features help sell homes

May 16, 2008 7:53:11 PM PDT
A rare bit of good news from the housing industry emerged on Friday. There is an increase in construction of new homes in more than two years. It is up 8.2 percent nationwide. Nonetheless, the number is a bit deceptive because builders are putting up fewer single-family houses and a lot more apartments.

Vantage of Palo Alto is the largest solar powered residential project on the peninsula. The community is made up of 76 townhomes and buyers like Jadi Yan lined up early.

"When we heard this was a green home, we said, we'll go ahead and purchase," said Yan.

Each home comes with 13 standard green features including solar panels, duel pane windows, and drought resistant native landscaping. There are now just 13 homes left to sell, six still under construction.

"The green technology has allowed us to surpass anything that we could have imagined," said Mark Rowson with Warmington Homes.

Demand has been so great for these eco friendly homes that prices have defied the market, going up several times in the last year.

When Vantage first went on the market last April, prices for the 1,200 square foot homes started at $828,000. That same unit now sells for $890,000. The larger 1,600 foot model sold for $1.12 million. List price today is $1.18 million.

"People are coming in and saying 'OK.' They just like what they see, they like the features and benefits, they like the ecology of friendly features, they love the schools, they love the area," says Galen Carnicelli, a Vantage sales consultant.

In San Jose Pinn Bros has two solar projects. They're the first single family homes in San Jose with solar as a standard feature. In this case the solar is built into the roofing material. The home prices at orchard heights start at $1.15 million and demand exceeds supply.

"We've had two releases and they've sold out. We're going to have a release tomorrow of 11 and we expect more than triple," said Bev Buckley, from Orchard Heights.

It is almost a secret that buyers are returning to the housing market and being green is a bonus many buyers can't resist.