By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Guild Mortgage has partnered with The Home Depot to help buyers save on utility costs and manage multiple payments by bundling the cost of new energy-efficient appliances into their home loan.
The GreenSmart Advantage program offers options to finance energy or water-efficient improvements up to 5% of a home’s appraised value by consolidating the costs into a mortgage.
Refrigerators, dishwashers, smart thermostats, washing machines, and dryers are examples of what can be included.
Primary FHA purchase transactions are eligible. A 3.5% down payment and a credit score above 580 are required to qualify.
Mary Ann McGarry is CEO of Guild Mortgage, which is headquartered in San Diego. She said in a statement that the company is always looking for ways to ease their client’s transition into a new home, especially first-time homebuyers.
“We know utility costs can be a big expense for homeowners and replacing old, outdated appliances add to those costs. With GreenSmart Advantage we can help our clients start off right, with energy cost savings that can last throughout the life of their loan. Beyond the cost savings, this program gives homeowners peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ll have brand new, energy-efficient appliances that are better for the environment,” McGarry said.
Erin Watts, Vice President of Product Strategy at Guild Mortgage, sat down with The Mortgage Note to learn more.
When asked if part of the thinking is that eco-friendly homes will do better when a buyer eventually sells their home, Watts said it is more about making life energy-efficient and preventing surprise expenses down the road.
“We’re thinking about the overall picture of the borrower and making sure we’re putting them in the best position, giving them an opportunity to lower costs where they can,” Watts said.
Watts said that many people can’t afford a surprise expense. A recent survey from Bankrate shows that only four in 10 Americans have enough saved to cover an unplanned expense of $1,000.
“Part of the idea is that, with this program, that’s one less thing they have to worry about. You get a new refrigerator, a new washer and dryer, a dishwasher. You’re not going to be as concerned about those types of things breaking and then you have to go replace them and the cost you would incur with that,” Watts said.
Once approved for the GreenSmart Advantage program, homebuyers go online to determine what they want to buy or finance from a virtual showroom of energy-efficient appliances. They submit their list to The Home Depot, which issues a final invoice to Guild.
When the loan closes, Guild coordinates with The Home Depot to schedule direct delivery and installation of the appliances.
An analysis from Zillow has found that homes with eco-friendly features can sell faster and for more money than similar homes without them.
Zillow looked at environment-related features mentioned in listing descriptions for 3.1 million home sales in 2020 and 2021. The analysis found that homes featuring electric vehicle chargers and drought-resistant landscaping can sell more than nine days faster than similar homes.
Realtors are noticing the demand and a recent survey showed that roughly two out of three agents and brokers see value in promoting energy efficiency in listings, according to leaders at the National Association of Realtors.
Half of the realtors surveyed have recently helped clients buy or sell a home with green features, up from 32% in 2021.
NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, a Realtor from Plano, Texas, and a broker associate at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas, said sustainability continues to play a growing role in consumers’ purchasing decisions, and this is becoming even more prevalent in the real estate market.
“With the residential property market, in particular, homebuyers have expressed increased interest in eco-friendly factors like solar panels and energy efficiency,” Smith said.
Some celebrities who are eco-conscious have spent millions of dollars to build houses that leave behind minimal carbon footprints.
They include the likes of Julia Roberts, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady.
What does this mean for sellers who are putting their houses on the market this spring?
Putting sustainability features front and center when listing and showing a home can help. Many buyers want Energy Star-rated appliances and windows, triple-pane insulated glass windows, efficient lighting, and water-conserving toilets.
Solar panels can also help sell a home, especially if there is an electric vehicle charger on the property.
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