What You Say Matters — Selling High Performance to Your Customers

Business Management

Weeks being homebound have flexed the muscles (i.e., systems) of houses across the United States and most likely created heightened consumer awareness of utility bill costs and system performance, fresh air ventilation and filtering capabilities, as well as odors such as lingering cooking smells or damp air.

Living harder in their homes has people considering what they really want in their next house. Efficient, comfortable and healthy homes are likely to be high on the list of “must-haves” for those looking to buy or to remodel.

Many of the homes you have been building may already check these boxes. The 2020 Green Single Family and Multifamily Homes SmartMarket Brief showed that most builders are building with green features — particularly those involving energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality — whether or not they identify themselves as green builders.

Now is the opportunity to shift your business model or to reframe how you market your homes to meet this anticipated shift in customer demand. When talking to potential home buyers, consider highlighting features that meet some of these new "must-haves." Talk to customers in terms that they understand and relate to, and that can change the conversation from cost to value added.

In the 2020 SmartMarket Brief, builders ranked the top three terms for describing green features that have the greatest influence on their customers. The top terms were:

  • Operating Efficiency (53%, with 19% ranking it first)
  • Long-term Utility Cost Savings (49%, with 19% ranking it first)
  • Quality Construction (48%, with 22% ranking it first)
  • Healthier Home (22%, with 4% ranking it first)

Of the general terms often used by building professionals — green, high performance and sustainable — "high-performance" ranked the highest, with 38% putting it in their top three and 18% ranking it first. Only 12% of builders think "sustainable" resonates well with customers and "green" didn’t even make the list.

The top conversations to shift customer discussions from the cost of green to the value of high performance cited by single-family builder/remodeler survey respondents are:

  • Lower Operating Costs (84% builders/85% remodelers)
  • Greater Comfort/Better Occupant Experience (52% builders/54% remodelers)
  • Improved Health and Well-Being (43% builders/59% remodelers)

The 2020 SmartMarket Brief — the latest in a series of studies conducted by Dodge Data & Analysis, in partnership with NAHB — also contains results on builders’ perspectives on green building market activity, costs and trends, marketing green homes, drivers and obstacles for green building, and the use of green products and practices. The full report is available for free download at nahb.org/smr.

For more details about NAHB’s sustainable and green building initiatives, contact Sustainability and Green Building Program Manager Michelle Diller. To stay current on high-performance residential building, follow NAHB’s Sustainability and Green Building team on Twitter.

Subscribe to NAHBNow

Log in or create account to subscribe to notifications of new posts.

Log in to subscribe